President Muhammadu Buhari
The Supreme Court has struck out the appeal of candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP), Chief Ambrose Owuru against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The appeal was struck out on the grounds that Owuru and his party engaged in gross abuse of court processes by filing two notices of appeal contrary to the provisions of the law.
In a unanimous decision of the Apex Court read by Justice Mary Peter-Odili on Thursday, the court held that the appellants failed to appeal against the August 22 ruling of the presidential election petition tribunal which struck out their petition for being incompetent.
Justice Odili upheld the argument of the counsel to President Muhammdu Buhari, that of INEC and Mr Lateef Fagbemi counsel to the APC that the two appellants embarked on a journey aimed at misdirecting the court by filing two notices of appeal and simultaneously used the two notices to formulate grounds of appeal, contrary to the provisions of the law.
The court haven upheld the preliminary objections of the three respondents to the appeal said that the HDP’s appeal has nothing to stand upon and consequently struck out the appeal.
When the matter was called, counsel to President Buhari, Wole Olanipekun, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Yunus Usman, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) Lateef Fagbemi had in separate preliminary objections asked the Apex Court to strike out the appeal on the grounds that the appellants contravened the law by filing two notices of appeal in one matter.
The three senior lawyers drew the attention of the court to the first notice of appeal filed on August 28 and the second one filed on September 2, which were simultaneously used to formulate issues in the main appeal and which were predicated on different grounds. The first one has 12 grounds and the second, eight grounds.
The respondents argued that the action of the appellants by the two notices of appeal constituted gross abuse of court process and aimed at irritating and annoying the respondents.
However, counsel to the appellants, Isaac Udoka, made spirited efforts to convince the apex court on why the two notices of appeal were filed in respect of one matter.
Udoka submitted that the appellants were forced to do so because the presidential election petition tribunal did not release a clean copy of its august 22 judgment on time while the time to file a notice of appeal was running out.
But Justice Odili rejected the plea of the appellants that the second notice of appeal be used as continuation of the first one, adding that apart from formulating different issues and grounds on the two offending notice of appeal, they were properly so titled as notice of appeal.
The panel held that it was wrong for the appellants to have filed two notices of appeal and simultaneously used the two to argue their case even when they were within the time allowed by law to file a proper notice of appeal.
The court, therefore, upheld the objection of the respondents to the hearing of the appeal and consequently struck it out.