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Thursday, 25 June 2020

BREAKING: Court dismisses suit seeking Omo-Agege’ sack

BREAKING: Court dismisses suit seeking Omo-Agege’ sack

A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit that sought to sack Ovie Omo-Agege as the Deputy Senate President and Senator representing Delta Central senatorial district.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed, in a judgment on Thursday, held that the suit filed by the Incorporated Trustees of  Empowerment for Unemployed Youth Initiative (EUYI), was an abuse of court process and meant “to annoy, embarrass and irritate the first defendant (Omo-Agege).”

Justice Mohammed held that the issue raised in the suit revolved around Omo-Agege’s alleged conviction for offence of forgery, which had been resolved in a judgment given on January 29, 2020 by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to the effect that he was not convicted as alleged.

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The group had, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/510/2020 alleged that Omo-Agege was convicted in 1995 by  the Hearing Department, State Bar Court sitting in Los Angeles,California in the United States of America (USA).

The plaintiff alleged that Omo-Agege was sentenced to jail and suspended from law practice for two years for felony involving moral turpitude, forgery of cheques amounting to $890 with which he intended to defraud the Bank of America, Ahined Mehone and Elpert Defrietas in violation of California Penal Code Section 470.

The group alleged that it was in an attempt to conceal the fact of his alleged conviction that Omo-Agege dropped his former first name, Augustine.

At the hearing of the case on June 16, this year, lawyer to Omo-Agege, Alex Izinyon (SAN) faulted the plaintiff’s arguments and queried the competence of the suit, in a notice of preliminary objection.

Izinyon argued that Omo-Agege’s purported convicted was set aside, on appeal by an appellate court in California in the USA, which cleared Omo-Agege of any wrongdoing in December 1996.

He said: “Acquittal means legal certification that the accused is not guilty of the offence.”

Izinyon, who contended that the suit was an abuse of court process,and intended to embarrass his client, said the issue raised in the suit had been determined by Justice Othman Musa ofthe High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Bwari, who in a judgment on January 29, 2020 in a suit marked: FCT/HC/BW/CR/69/2020, held among others that Omo-Agege had been cleared.

He argued that the Federal High Court  cannot be asked, as the plaintiff sought to do with the case, to review the decision of the High Court of the FCT.

Lawyer to the Clerk of the Senate and the All Progressives Congress (APC),  Chikosolu Ojukwu and lawyer to the IndependentNational Electoral Commission (INEC), Taminu Inuwa (SAN), argued in similar manner.

In his judgment on Thursday, Justice Mohammed held that, since the issue of whether Omo-Agege is an ex-convict and unqualified to hold a public office had been decided by a court of equal jurisdiction, his court could no longer hear such a case.

He held that even though the plaintiff claimed not to be aware of January 29, 2020 judgment of the High Court of the FCT, it ought to have seen it when Omo-Agege exhibited a copy in the objection he filed to the suit.

The judge held that, by the judgment of Justice Musa in the suit by a group, Patriotic Youth Association of Nigeria (PYAN), “it is clear that the first defendant  was not convicted as alleged.”

Justice Mohammed held that the decision of the High Court of the FCT is a judgment in realm which binds the entire world, including those who were not a party to the suit, until such a judgment is set aside on appeal.

While holding that the suit was an abuse of court process, Justice Mohammed said the case was an attempt to re-litigate the same issue already decided by the High Court of FCT.

The judge noted that the suit was filed after the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) gave its judgment on January 29 this year.

He proceeded to dismiss the suit and awarded a cost of N300,000 in favour of each of the four defendants, to be jointly paid by the plaintiff and their lawyers.

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