$15 Million: Patience Jonathan’s suit illegal, says SERAP

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A human rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has described the suit filed against it by wife of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, as grossly incompetent and urged a Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss it.

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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.

SERAP, however, said it had filed a preliminary objection, seeking the dismissal of the suit on the grounds that the UNDYOE, which filed the suit, was not a registered organisation recognised by law.

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SERAP also faulted the mode in which the suit was commenced, saying the plaintiffs misled themselves by approaching the court through an originating summons.

SERAP further noted that the plaintiffs’ lawyer failed to affix his stamp and seal on the processes as required by the rule of court, saying the failure had rendered the suit incompetent.

Counsel for SERAP, Babatunde Ogala, 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.

Ogala said, “Since the process of court has not been used bona fide and properly it is unnecessary to consider whether or not there is a genuine case on the merits.

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“An abuse of court process is not the species of sins called an irregularity. It is a much more fundamental vice which is deserving of the punishment of dismissal.
“The suit as constituted discloses no reasonable cause of action against SERAP and as such cannot be maintained.

“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.”

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In their suit, UNDYOE and Patience are seeking an order of interim injunction restraining SERAP from using any judicial process to coerce the AGF to prosecute Patience for “owning legitimate private property.”

The plaintiffs also urged the court to restrain SERAP from “taking any further steps in further vilification, condemnation and conviction of the former First Lady, Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan, in all public media.”

They further sought an order “directing SERAP to stay all actions and to desist forthwith from proceeding against Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan, with any process whatsoever, pending the hearing and determination of the originating summons.”

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