The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has struck out an application which sought an order to bar the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola from swearing-in the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, on May 29 and extend the tenure of president Muhammadu Buhari pending the determination of whether getting 25% votes in the FCT is compulsory.
The suit was filed by Messrs Anyaegbunam Okoye, David Adzer, Jeffery Ucheh, Osang Paul and Chibuike Nwachukwu against the CJN and the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
Describing themselves as registered voters of the FCT, Abuja, they had sought the following reliefs:
“A declaration that no state of the country is at the same time the FCT for any propose whatsoever, including, in particular, under section 134 (2) (b) of the Constitution.
“A declaration that no candidate in the February 25 presidential election in the country may validly be declared elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria without that candidate obtaining at least 25% of the votes cast in the FCT, Abuja.
“A declaration that no candidate in the February 25 presidential election may validly be sworn in as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, without such candidate having obtained 25% of the votes case in FCT, Abuja.
“A declaration that following the February 25 presidential election and until a successor is determined in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and sworn in, the term of office of his Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCON, as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria subsists and endures in accordance with the provisions of section 135 (1) (a) of the Constitution”.
“An order setting aside or suspending any declaration and/or issuance of a Certificate of a Return to any candidate in the February 25 presidential election in the country as having been elected, save and except it is judicially determined with finality that such candidate fulfilled the conditions stated in section 134(2) (b) of the Constitution.”
But the judge had adjourned the case to May 18, directing the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Chuks Nwachukwu, to address the court on locus standi (right to appear in court), jurisdiction and whether his case is already pending before the presidential election petition Tribunal.
Days after the inauguration of Tinubu, THE WHISTLER observed that the plaintiffs and their supporters protested around the court, demanding that the judge should make a pronouncement on their case urgently.
The lawyer was also seen addressing newsmen on the day his clients’ supporters protested, saying the judge has to urgently rule on his application.
Passing his judgement on Tuesday, Ekwo struck out the case on the grounds of the applicants’ lawyer’s failure to establish that his application regarding status of FCT is not pending before the ongoing Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal sitting.
The judge also held that they lacked legal right to commence the suit.
The judge also observed that the plaintiffs’ lawyer was the actual brain behind the case and not his supposed clients.
He described the lawye’s behaviour as a misconduct on his part.
“I can discern that the averments thereof are merely the voice of Esau and the hands of Jacob.
“It means that the said Chucks Nwachukwu of counsel for the plaintiffs instigated this suit and merely got the plaintiffs to stand in as parties while he handles the suit as a lawyer.
“This is an unprofessional conduct on the part of the said Chucks Nwachukwu of counsel of the plaintiffs.
“It is unfortunate that lawyers like Chucks Nwachukwu of counsel to the plaintiffs continue to engage in this sort of activity by procuring innocent citizens to act as fronts in litigations which are actually their personal cases.
“This is done with such impunity and lack of fear of the consequence to the chagrin and ruin of the reputation of the legal system in this country.
“It is so because the learned counsel has made himself to believe that he can flout the Rule of Profession Conduct for Legal Practitioners without any consequence,” the judge said.
The judge added, “On the whole I find that this action is premised on recklessness, frivolity and complete lack of knowledge of elementary principle of law as it relates to the Constitution and Electoral Act, 2022.
Not done, Ekwo directed the registrar of the court to forward all the processes filed by the lawyer to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee under the Body of Benchers, asking the body to determine whether Chucks Nwachukwu is fit to practise the legal profession.
The court subsequently ordered him to pay the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Chief Justice of Nigeria N20 million as cost.