Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Justice John Tsoho of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has struck out a suit that sought the arrest and prosecution of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe; a former Minister of Aviation Mr Femi Fani-Kayode; and two other persons that stood surety for the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Nnamdi Kanu’ Tochukwu Uchendu and Emmanuel Shallom Ben.
The suit, which was filed by Mr Isiah Ayugu, had asked the court for an order of mandamus compelling the Police and the Department of State Services to promptly initiate criminal action against those he accused of complicity in Kanu’s escape from the country.
The plaintiff told the court in his suit FHC/ABJ/CS/1254/18, filed by his counsel, Mr Oghenovo Otemu, that the respondents had a case to answer.
Among other things, he asked the court to grant an order to mandate security agencies to investigate and prosecute Abaribe and the others, including Kanu’s lawyer, Mr Ifeanyi Ejiofor, for “working together to propagate and spread lies and falsehood that Kanu was abducted, kidnapped, arrested and detained by the Nigerian military, when indeed they were well aware of Kanu’s whereabouts because they played roles in helping him to disappear from Nigeria.”
But the respondents had through their counsel, Mr Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN, challenged the competence of the suit.
In a notice of preliminary objection, the respondents urged the court to dismiss it for want of merit, adding that it amounted to gross abuse of the judicial process since a similar case in Suit No. FHC/CR/383/2015, was also pending before the same high court.
Besides, the respondents argued that the suit was hypothetical in nature, saying it failed to disclose live issues that could be litigated upon.
They prayed the court not to allow itself to be steered to engage in a fruitless academic exercise.
Although the notice of preliminary objection was served on all the parties, but the plaintiff counsel neither responded nor appeared in Court when his case was to his knowledge was adjourned to yesterday for hearing.
When the case came up, the court, in a ruling that was delivered by trial Justice John Tsoho, struck out the case for want of diligent prosecution.
Justice Tsoho noted that the plaintiff failed to appear for hearing of the matter, even though his lawyer was present when the case was adjourned.
The judge said he had no option than to terminate further proceeding on the matter since there was no explanation as to why the plaintiff was not represented in court.
“The plaintiff counsel was in court on 11/1/19 when suit was adjourned today for hearing. Today, he is not in court and there is no explanation for absence.
“I, therefore, also agree with other reasons adduced by the Learned Silk, and hereby strike out the suit for want of diligent prosecution,” Justice Tsoho held.
Speaking after the judgment, Machukwu Ume disclosed that the court had on January 11, 2019, ordered Plaintiff to file updated process joining newly joined but he failed to do so.
“Secondly, we filed Preliminary Objections all were served but he as well as others failed to respond. The Preliminary Objections clearly showed that this suit was an abuse of court as annexures show that same issue is already before another court,” he said.
The absence of the plaintiff in court today means the Preliminary Objections filed has convinced of the futility of his suit.