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Thursday, February 2, 2017

$15m: Court dismisses Patience Jonathan’s suit against SERAP

The Federal High Court in Lagos has struck out the suit filed by wife of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, against the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun struck out Patience’s suit on Tuesday after the plaintiff’s lawyer had told the judge that his client was no longer willing to pursue the case.
 
A group, the Union of Niger Delta Youth Organisation for Equity, had, on behalf of itself and Patience, sued SERAP for allegedly championing a campaign of calumny against Patience.
The group and Patience had accused SERAP of instigating the Attorney General of the Federation to prosecute Patience in relation to a controversial $15m seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
At the Tuesday’s proceedings in the case, however, the plaintiff’s lawyer applied to the court to withdraw the suit.
In response, counsel for SERAP, Mr. Babatunde Ogala, said he was not opposed to the withdrawal, saying the suit, which he described as grossly incompetent, should not have been filed in the first place.
Consequently, Justice Olatoregun struck out the suit and awarded a cost of N25,000 against the plaintiff in favour of SERAP.
NDYOE had, in October last year, filed the suit, marked FHC/L/CS/1349/2016, urging Justice Olatoregun to restrain SERAP from “taking any further steps in further vilification, condemnation and conviction of the former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, in all public media.”
The group had further sought an order “directing SERAP to stay all actions and to desist forthwith from proceeding against Dame Patience Jonathan with any process whatsoever, pending the hearing and determination of the originating summons.”
In response to the suit, however, SERAP filed a preliminary objection, asking the court to dismiss the suit for being incompetent.
Among other things, SERAP argued that NDYOE was not a registered organisation and was unknown to law.
SERAP also faulted the mode in which the suit was commenced, saying the plaintiff misled itself by approaching the court through an originating summons.
SERAP had maintained that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
Ogala had described the suit as an abuse of court process, insisting that the plaintiffs had failed to disclose any reasonable cause of action in the suit.
“Mrs. Jonathan and her group cannot and have not articulated what legal wrong SERAP has done or what legal dispute they have with SERAP. They have not shown that the matter is justiciable and that a dispute exists between them and SERAP. Mrs. Jonathan’s case against SERAP is therefore a flagrant abuse of court process and as such must be dismissed,” Ogala had contended.

 
 
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