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JUST IN: Court refuses to stop Tinubu’s inauguration, fines plaintiffs N15m for filing frivolous suit

A federal high court in Abuja has dismissed a suit seeking to stop the swearing-in of Bola Tinubu, candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), as Nigeria’s president.

With 8,794,726 votes, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Tinubu the winner of the presidential poll held on February 25.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/ 657/2023, the plaintiffs — Praise Isaiah, Paul Audu and Anongu Moses — alleged that Tinubu lied on oath in his form EC9 that he was not a citizen of another country.

They also alleged that the president-elect lied on oath about his age.

They argued that Tinubu’s action was in gross violation of Section 117 of the Criminal Code Act as well as Section 156 of the Penal Code Act.

Consequently, the plaintiffs prayed the court to order that Tinubu be arrested, detained and prevented from being sworn in, pending the determination of cases before the presidential election petition court.

They equally prayed the court to ban Tinubu from vying for any elective position for the next 10 years.

However, in its ruling on Friday, James Omotosho, presiding judge, held that the suit was “unconstitutional, frivolous and vexatious”, adding that the plaintiffs lacked the locus standi (legal right) to institute the action striping the court of the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

Omotosho held that the suit was an abuse of court process and a waste of judicial time.

He added that the suit was in bad faith and aimed to expose the judiciary to ridicule.

The judge said the court would not lend itself to be used as an instrument to destabilise the country.

He said it is only the presidential election petition court that has the jurisdiction to hear the suit.

He threatened to petition the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee against the plaintiffs’ lawyer for instituting an action “capable of dragging the judiciary to the mud”.

Consequently, Omotosho dismissed the suit and awarded a cost of N10m in Tinubu’s favour, N5m in favour of the APC to be paid by the plaintiffs.

The judge also ordered the counsel to the plaintiffs to pay N1 million to each of the respondents in the suit.

The respondents include president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, All Progressives Congress (APC), the attorney-general of the federation (AGF), the director-general of the Department of State Services (DSS), the inspector-general of police (IGP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

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