Keyamo to judge: You’re wrong! I won’t pay N10million to Atiku, ICPC; heads on appeal 

Keyamo to judge: You’re wrong! I won’t pay N10million to Atiku, ICPC; heads on appeal 

Festus Keyamo, former Minister of State for Labour and Employment, has indicated that he would be filing an appeal against the N10 million fine that was awarded against him in a suit he filed for the probe of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2023 presidential election.

Justice James Omotosho, of the Federal High Court Abuja, had slammed N5million apiece against the main spokesman of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council (APC-PCC), for the harm he did to the former VP and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the two defendants in the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/84/2023, after the court dismissed it as “frivolous, vexatious, and an abuse of court processes,” adding that he should be paying a 10 per cent per annum on it until the cost is finally liquidated.”

But in a statement by John Ainetor (Esq), Assistant Head of Festus Keyamo Chambers, Abuja Office, read, the former Minister, said: “Earlier today, a Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed the case filed by Festus Keyamo, SAN, CON, 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 reasons for the said decision because the law-enforcement agencies did not indicate their willingness to commence investigations, even if they were given more time. We want to establish a legal principle that the society cannot wait ad infinitum for law-enforcement agencies to do their statutory duties.

“The suit was designed to prompt the agencies to show their readiness to investigate. We are immediately filing an appeal against the said decision to the Court of Appeal as the struggle on this issue continues.”

Omotosho, in his order followed an oral application by counsel for Atiku, Benson Igbanoi, and that of the ICPC, Oluwakemi Odogun, asking for cost after the matter was dismissed, where Keyamo sought an order compelling the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), ICPC and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to probe and prosecute Abubakar.

The former Minister, who had based his action on the ground of claims by one of Abubakar’s aides, Michael Achimugu, that between 1999 and 2007 when he was vice president, he (Achimugu) conspired with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to rip off the country using what he termed “Special Purpose Vehicles,” filed the suit after the 72-hour ultimatum he gave the three investigating agencies elapsed.

He had alleged that Abubakar was in violation of Section 18(2) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, and Section 96(1) of the Penal Code, hence, unqualified to contest in Feb. 25 poll.

But Atiku (1st defendant), through his lawyer, filed a notice of preliminary objection, seeking for an order dismissing the suit for being incompetent, lack of locus standi, want of jurisdiction and for non-disclosure of reasonable cause against him.

The EFCC, ICPC and the CCB, in their separate preliminary objections, also challenged the competency of the suit and the jurisdiction of the court.

Delivering the ruling, Justice Omotosho held that he had two issues for determination and that was whether the suit was frivolous and whether the relief sought by Keyamo could be granted.

The judge, who said the jurisdiction of the court would be determined, also said that the locus standi of the applicant would also be looked into.

“Locus standi is the capacity of a party to institute an action. It interrogates what is the business of the plaintiff with the defendants

“The need for proper locus standi is to prevent busy body from instituting a suit and restraining them from wasting the time of the court,” he said.

He said though the court did not say that the ex-minister did not have a right to write statutory agencies to investigate Abubakar, but that he had not shown why he was affected by Abubakar’s action.

“A citizen of a country has a right to report crime and that cannot be an infraction on fundamental rights of any person.

“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 said.

Justice Omotosho held that Investigating authorities had the discretionary powers to investigate any case and to know if such case would warrant any prosecution or not, citing previous cases to back his decision.

“The law is that the court cannot compel investigating agencies to perform their discretionary powers,” he said.

The judge, who read Keyamo’s letter wherein he gave the investigating agencies 72-hour ultimatum to investigate Abubakar, said the Court of Appeal in one of its decisions, cautioned public officers against abuse of powers.

He said that it was unheard of that a citizen would give statutory agencies 72-hour to investigate and prosecute an alleged offence.

“And immediately after the 72 hours, an action was filed.

“The question is, is 72 hours sufficient for the investigation and conclusion of action of this nature. The answer is no,” he said.

Omotosho, who said that Keyamo did not even give a reasonable time for the statutory bodies to act before filing the suit, said: “This means that the action was filed in bad faith.”

He said the case was frivolous and an abuse of court process.

He said Keyamo acted as if he was “an errand boy.”

He said it was high time public officers knew that statutory agencies should not be used to settle political discord.

The judge, therefore, commended the EFCC, ICPC and the CCB for refusing to act in a way that would suggest that Keyamo was giving them directive.

“The plaintiff should know that such suit will not succeed,” he said.

Omotosho, who described the suit as frivolous, vexatious and abuse of court process, consequently dismissed the suit.

Shortly after the ruling, ICPC’s lawyer, Odogun, asked for a N30 million fine in favour of his client.

She argued that the ICPC had been diligent in defending the matter and that time and resources had been wasted.

Also, Abubakar’s lawyer, Mr Igbanoi, prayed the court for a N200 million fine against Keyamo, considering that his client was former vice president and presidential candidate in the last election.

But Keyamo’s counsel, O. C. Uju, disagreed with the two lawyers asking the court to dismiss their application for a cost.

The judge, however, awarded a N5 million fine each in favour of Abubakar and ICPC.

* Source:

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