On Monday, a Federal High Court in Abuja fined Mr. Festus Keyamo, the immediate-past Minister of State for Labour and Employment and Spokesperson of Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), N10 million for filing a “frivolous suit” against the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the February 25, 2023, election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and the Independent Corrupt Practises and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
Keyamo responded on Monday by vowing to fight the court’s judgement, saying the “struggle on this issue continues.”
After Keyamo lost before the Federal High Court, Abuja, Phrank Shuibu, Atiku Abubakar’s Special Assistant on Public Communication, advised him to throw away his law degree.
Justice James Omotosho fined Keyamo N10 million, awarding N5 million to Abubakar and the ICPC.
“Frivolous, vexatious and abuse of court processes,” Justice Omotosho ordered the fine to be paid “at 10 per cent per annum until the cost is finally liquidated.”
After the suit was dismissed, Atiku’s attorney, Benson Igbanoi, and the ICPC’s, Oluwakemi Odogun, requested cost.
Keyamo filed FHC/ABJ/CS/84/2023 on January 20, 2023.
He requested that the EFCC, ICPC, and CCB investigate and prosecute Abubakar.
Keyamo acted on Michael Achimugu’s allegations that Abubakar plotted with ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo to rip off the government via “Special Purpose Vehicles” between 1999 and 2007.
The ex-minister sued after his 72-hour ultimatum to the three investigative agencies expired.
He said that Abubakar violated Section 18(2) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, and Section 96(1) of the Penal Code, disqualifying him from the Feb. 25 election.
Atiku (1st defendant), through his lawyer, filed a notice of preliminary objection requesting an order dismissing the complaint for incompetence, lack of locus standi, jurisdiction, and non-disclosure of reasonable cause against him.
The EFCC, ICPC, and CCB’s preliminary objections also questioned the suit’s competency and the court’s jurisdiction.
Justice Omotosho said that he had to decide whether the suit was frivolous and whether Keyamo could get relief.
The judge indicated the court’s jurisdiction and the applicant’s locus standi would be assessed.
“Locus standi is the ability to sue. It asks what the plaintiff does with the defendants.
He stated adequate locus standi prevents busybodies from filing suits and wasting court time.
He said the court did not suggest the ex-minister could not ask statutory agencies to investigate Abubakar, but that he had not established why Abubakar’s acts damaged him.
A citizen’s right to report crime does not violate anyone’s fundamental rights.
“But the complainant is to complain to the statutory agencies and not to drag the 1st defendant with the agencies to court to seek an order to compel the agencies to investigate the suspect,” he stated.
Justice Omotosho ruled that investigating authorities have authority to investigate every matter and determine if it should be prosecuted, citing similar examples.
He stated the court cannot force investigating agencies to use their discretionary powers.
The judge, who read Keyamo’s letter giving the investigating authorities 72 hours to investigate Abubakar, said the Court of Appeal admonished public servants against abuse of authority.
He said citizens rarely gave statutory officials 72 hours to investigate and prosecute an alleged wrongdoing.
An action was filed shortly after 72 hours. Is 72 hours enough to investigate and conclude this action? “No,” he replied.
Omotosho said Keyamo did not give the statutory authorities an adequate time to act before filing the litigation, “This means that the action was filed in bad faith.”
He called the case frivolous.
He stated Keyamo behaved like “an errand boy.”
He stated public employees should know that statutory authorities shouldn’t settle political disputes.
Thus, the judge applauded the EFCC, ICPC, and CCB for not acting as if Keyamo was directing them.
He stated the plaintiff should know the claim will fail.
Omotosho rejected the claim as frivolous, vexatious, and a judicial process abuse.
After the verdict, ICPC lawyer Odogun requested a N30 million fine for his client.
She claimed the ICPC had defended the case diligently and wasted time and resources.
Mr. Igbanoi, Abubakar’s lawyer, asked the court to sanction Keyamo N200 million as his client was former vice president and presidential contender in the last election.
O. C. Uju, Keyamo’s attorney, opposed the two lawyers’ request to dismiss their application for a fee.
Abubakar and ICPC received N5 million fines from the judge.
The former minister’s Assistant Head of Chambers said he will challenge the court’s ruling.
The statement read: “Earlier today, a Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed the case filed by Festus Keyamo, against the candidate of the PDP in the last Presidential Election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar over the SPV saga principally because the court was of the opinion that the law-enforcement agencies were not given enough time to commence investigations before the suit was filed, amongst other sundry reasons.
Our client respectfully disagrees with the ruling because law-enforcement agencies did not show their desire to begin investigations, even if granted extra time.
“We want to establish a legal principle that society cannot wait forever for law-enforcement agencies to do their statutory duties. The suit was meant to encourage agencies to investigate.
“We are immediately appealing the decision to the Court of Appeal as the struggle on this issue continues.”
Shuibu advised Keyamo to toss his law degree after his loss in the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Shuibu said, “Eager to satisfy his paymasters, Keyamo did not wait for up to three days for the EFCC and other agencies to act on his petition but hurriedly filed a suit before the court seeking an order to mandate the agencies to act.”
Shaibu stated Keyamo’s latest judgement showed his legal incompetence.
Shaibu said the judgement proved the former minister was playing dirty politics.
He added: “Justice Omotosho has confirmed Keyamo’s incompetence. One wonders how he became senior advocate. Keyamo ignored repeated explanations that Atiku’s accusations were false.
He behaved like a political jobber instead than a senior advocate. He’s shamed everywhere. He worked for Chief Gani Fwehinmi? “How sad!”
Shaibu said Keyamo’s latest loss was not shocking because he had lost numerous high-profile cases as an EFCC prosecutor.
“We informed Nigerians that the jobless former minister would lose,” he stated. His prognosis matched his EFCC prosecution failure. Today’s justification.
“He prosecuted Governor Timipre Sylva for the EFCC but lost. He lost for the EFCC against Femi Fani-Kayode.
Keyamo failed in the Tinubu certificate controversy case against the Lagos State House of Assembly, ID/639M/99. Keyamo’s prosecution of former House Speaker Dimeji Bankole also failed.
“Keyamo became famous by filing frivolous lawsuits to entertain the media. He must discard his legal degree to become a social media influencer.