A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday the 5th of June, 2023, dismissed the suit instituted by Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN (erstwhile Minister of State, Labour and Productivity), against former Vice-President and the PDP candidate in the last presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
In a ruling delivered on the preliminary Objections filed by Atiku’s Counsel, Prof. Mike Ozekhome and Miss Oluwakemi Odogun of the ICPC, the Honorable Justice James Omotosho in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/84/2023 also awarded the sum of N10 million cost against Keyamo, to be paid by him in the sum of N5 million to Atiku and N5 Million to the ICPC, respectively. The court also added a 10% interest rate per annum until full liquidation of same.
Festus Keyamo had in the suit through his Counsel, Mr. Festus Ukpe, Esq, sought an order of the court to compel the Code Of Conduct Bureau (CCB), EFCC and ICPC to Invite and/or arrest, investigate and prosecute Atiku Abubakar; with a supporting affidavit deposed to by one Michael Achimugu, who alleged that Atiku used a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to corruptly enrich himself while he was Vice- President of Nigeria. He had therefore sought orders of the court to direct and/or compel the Anti-Graft Agencies to arrest, Investigate and prosecute Atiku.
In response to the originating process, Atiku had through his counsel Ozekhome, raised a preliminary objection to the suit, to the effect that Keyamo lacked the locus standi to institute the said suit, having failed to disclose what he suffered over and beyond other members of the public. Ozekhomne, further contended in his written response for Atiku that Keyamo did not disclose any wrong done to him by Atiku, or what damage he had suffered; describing him as a busybody and meddlesome interloper, as the entire suit disclosed no reasonable cause of action whatsoever. While arguing the matter, Barr Benson Igbanoi, Esq, holding the brief of Ozekhome also argued that the suit constituted a gross abuse of office, the plaintiff being a public officer, occupying a public office and using public funds to file and prosecute same. He further contended that the suit was indeed instituted in bad faith; frivolous; vexatious and therefore a waste of precious judicial time.
Justice James Omotosho, in a well-considered ruling, agreed wholly with Ozekhome that Keyamo lacked locus standi to institute the suit, having failed to establish any special interest over and beyond other members of the public, or show any damage suffered by him.
The court went further to hold that Keyamo’s letter to the CCB, ICPC, and EFCC (2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants, respectively in the suit) in which he gave them an ultimatum of 72 hours to arrest, investigate and prosecute Atiku, was done in bad faith, as the agencies were not in any way his errand boys. The court posed the question, if 72 hours were ever sufficient to investigate and commence the prosecution of allegations of such magnitude, to which Justice Omotosho in his answer, said was a CAPITAL NO!
The court, therefore, concluded that the action of the plaintiff in rushing to file the suit was a move done in bad faith, more so coming from a lawyer of his standing.
The court also frowned at the unconscionable manner the plaintiff behaved as public institutions must be regarded and protected. The Judge commended the EFCC and ICPC for showing restraint and not allowing themselves to take orders from Keyamo (the plaintiff) as if they were his servants.
Consequently, the court dismissed the suit in its entirety for being frivolous, Vexatious and an abuse of court process, with a cost of N5 million each against Keyamo respectively in favour of Atiku and the ICPC respectively; with a 10% interest per annum, until full liquidation of same.