By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, struck out the suit challenging the eligibility of President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the forthcoming presidential election.
Though the suit was originally slated for hearing yesterday, the plaintiffs in the matter, Professor Tunde Samuel, Dr. Junaidu Mohammed, Mr. Rasak Adeogun and Yahaya Ezeemoo Ndu, however, made a U-turn and withdrew the case.
Immediately the suit was called-up for hearing, counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr. Alex Okoja, prayed the court to terminate further proceedings on the matter, saying his clients had already entered a notice of discontinuance at the court’s registry.
Okoja told the court that his clients filed the notice of discontinuance since February 4, though he failed to give any reason behind their sudden lack of zeal to pursue the case to its logical conclusion. He said the withdrawal notice had already been served on President Jonathan.
Meanwhile, President Jonathan who was represented by his lawyer, Mr. Ade Okeaya-Inneh, SAN, while acknowledging receipt of the notice for withdrawal of the matter, urged the court to award cost against the plaintiffs for filing a “frivolous suit” against him.
He argued, “My lord, we have been served and we have no objection, but we will be asking for cost. We have been in and out of court on this particular matter. We have already filed our processes. This matter was filed by seven SANs, and I assume with greatest respect that they should have taken out time to evaluate the merit of the matter before bringing us here.”
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed while striking out the suit, awarded a cost of N50,000 against the plaintiffs. According to the judge, “In law, cost follows events. A party who took out an action against another party and went ahead to cause a hearing notice to be issued by the court on that party, only to turn around and withdraw the matter, must be ready for some sanction. In the circumstance of this suit, therefore, the defendant is entitled to a cost. I award the cost of N50,000 to the defendant and this suit is hereby struck out”.
The plaintiffs had in the suit they withdrew yesterday, sought for an order restraining President Jonathan from participating in the elections. In the originating summons they filed through their lawyer, Malam Yusuf Ali, SAN, the plaintiffs contended that Jonathan was ineligible for re-election.