Court fines HDP 2019 presidential candidate N40m for trying to stop Tinubu’s inauguration

The Court Of Appeal has slammed a N40 million fine on an ex-presidential candidate, Ambrose Owuru, for filing a suit to stop the inauguration of President-elect Bola Tinubu.

The three-member panel of the court led by Jamil Tukur determined that by initiating a frivolous, vexatious, and annoying lawsuit to irritate the respondents, Owuru had engaged in a blatant abuse of the legal system.

Owuru, the presidential candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the 2019 elections, filed a suit in April challenging the outcome of the 2019 elections. He claimed he won the poll.

He requested that the court declare the President’s seat vacant and order that he be sworn in as the legitimate winner.

However, in its judgment on Thursday, May 25, the appellate court decided that the appellant’s complaints about the 2019 presidential election were unusual and unwarranted, given that they had been taken to the highest court and were rejected for lack of substance.

The court ruled that Owuru’s attempt to revive the case that was dismissed in 2019 was made to bring lower courts into conflict with the supremacy of the apex court.

The court ordered that the defendants in the case — President Muhammadu Buhari, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Tinubu — should receive N10 million each from Owuru.

In April, Owuru filed approached the Court of Appeal to stop the inauguration of President-elec Tinubu on May 29.

Owuru, a constitutional lawyer, in the suit marked CA/CV/259/2023, prayed to the court for an order stopping the inauguration.

Claiming that he won the 2019 presidential election, Owuru had earlier filed a suit seeking to be declared president and sworn in, in place of Buhari.

In the latest suit, he prayed the Court of Appeal to prohibit Buhari, the AGF and INEC from inaugurating the 2023 President-elect on May 29.

In addition, he requested a second order declaring that any form of inauguration Buhari holds on May 29, 2023, will be treated as an “interim placeholder” administration while his substantive appeal is heard and decided.

An eight-paragraph affidavit supporting the request asks the Court of Appeal for a speedy hearing before Tinubu is sworn in.

In the affidavit deposed to by an Abuja-based legal practitioner, Adebayo Anafowode, Owuru said he was concerned that the pending lawsuit he filed against Buhari should be given a prompt hearing so it would not be rendered ineffective.

“The applicant (Owuru) as the adjudged winner of the February 16, 2019, presidential election reserves the right of first refusal over any later presidential election returns in the face of usurpation of adjudged acquired constitutional rights.”

In January 2023, an Abuja Federal High Court dismissed a suit filed by Owuru to challenge Buhari’s emergence as the candidate of the APC in 2019.

The presiding judge, Inyang Ekwo, threw out the suit on three significant grounds.

According to the judge, the suit constituted a gross abuse of the court process.

He also held that it was statute barred and an affront to the supremacy of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Ekwo further held that the suit was baseless and frivolous.

Following the dismissal of the suit at the Federal High Court, Owuru filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal.