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In what could be termed an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court yesterday sent a strong signal to lawyers that it would no longer tolerate abuse of court processes when it awarded an N8million punitive fine against Dr. Dickson Osuala, counsel to the governorship candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) in Delta State, Chief Great Ogboru.
Osuala had on behalf of his client, applied for a review of the court’s judgment which upheld the election of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the state governorship election.
Osuala premised his application on Section 285 (7) of the 1999 Constitution which he claimed was fraudulently inserted into the constitution by the National Assembly.
He argued further that since due process was not followed by the National Assembly in enacting section 285 (7) into law, it was wrong for the apex court to have relied on it to dismiss his client case last year.
Although the court drew his attention to the fact that it was not the business of the court to amend the constitution but that of the National Assembly and also advised him to go to the National Assembly or the Federal High Court to challenge the section, Osual a rejected the advice.
He said nobody should be allowed to benefit from a defective law.But the court asked him to approach the National Assembly for redress if he had problem with a section of the constitution.
In a ruling, the court descended on Osuala and advised him not to come to the apex court with any application in respect of the case.
Justice Walter Onoghene who presided over the suit, blamed Osuala for not advising his client rightly and embarking on a clear case of gross abuse of the court process.
He told Osuala to advise his client to take his case to heaven if he was not satisfied with the court’s ruling. The N8million slammed on Osuala was for the said abuse and a deterrent to others who might attempt similar move in future.
The justices further noted that Ogboru, through his counsel, wanted to resurrect a dead and buried horse, and warned that this would be the last time such case be brought before the court.
Ogboru had twice applied for a review of the judgment but twice the Supreme Court had turned down his requests. Yesterday’s attempt was indeed the third by Ogboru to get the judgment reviewed.
To benefit from the N8million cost awarded against Osuala are: Uduaghan, the PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) who are to get N2million each.
Seven justices of the court unanimously ruled that the case instituted by Osuala on behalf of Ogboru amounted to an affront on the nation’s judiciary as well as an abuse of the court process.
“The said N8million is awarded as cost against the person of Dr. Dickson Osuala and is to be paid from his pocket to the respondents,” the apex court said in a landmark ruling.