High Court Dismisses Suit By Work And Chop Ventures, Gives Reasons, Punishment
A Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja Judicial Division, has dismissed a suit, brought before it by the Proprietor of Work and Chop Multi Ventures Nigeria Limited, Aba, Abia state, Mr Chibueze Ezike, stating that he and his counsel grossly abused the process of the court, by filing a new suit, when there is an existing one on the same subject matter.
The Court presided over by His Lordship, Hon Justice Obiora Atuegwu Egwuatu, also reprimanded Ezike’s lawyer Onyeka Okonta, whom he said agreed to obey order of the court by transferring an earlier suit they filed against one Mr Chinedu Ezeagu, of Ezeagu and sons Resources to Umuahia division of the High Court, but failed.
The Honorable Justice stated that both Ezike and Oknota his counsel, instead of obeying the court order, turned around, prepared and filed a fresh suit without vacating the existing one.
The judge said that the action of the Plaintiff and his Counsel amounts to gross abuse of court process, adding, “it is wanting in bona fide, frivolous, vexatious or oppressive, as well as interfering in judicial process of due administration of justice”.
Dismissing the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/229/22, between Work and Chop Multi ventures Nigeria Ltd, boss, (Plaintiff), and Ezeagu, of P.S. Ezeagu & Sons Resources, (Ist Respondent), all in Ariaria International Market Aba, Abia state, Justice Atuegwu Egwuatu affirmed that with the un-vacated suit on the same subject matter, Ezike”s suit amounts to abuse of court processes.
Ezike instituted matter against One Ezeagu, joining the Registrar of Patents and Designs, Abuja, as 2nd Respondent, on alleged breach of his patents Rights by the duo.
The Court heard that he instituted the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/229/22, while an earlier suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1482/2021, which the Court ordered should be transferred to the Umuahia division of the High court was existing.
”Rather than proceeding to the Umuahia Division of the Court for prosecution, the plaintiff and his Counsel connived and filed another suit in the same Court in Abuja, 12 days after the order of transfer was made”, he said, and explained that the parties causes of action in the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1482/2021 were exactly the same with the suit they filed, and this amounts to abuse of court process.
Justice Atuegwu Egwuatu gave instances of abuse of court process as “multiplicity of actions on the same subject matter against the same opponent on the same issue, litigating or re-litigating over the same issue, taking out a process where there is no law supporting it or where the action is premised on frivolity or recklessness.
He cited supreme court judgement which he said “held that the common feature of abuse of court process is improper use of judicial process by a party in litigation”.
“Like I said earlier, in the instant suit, the same cause of action, reliefs claimed, and the parties are the same in the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1482/2021. This suit in the circumstances is to say the least, a gross abuse of the process of court and an insult to the integrity of this court, for the plaintiff to have instituted this suit barely 12 days of making the order of transfer.
“The earlier suit (No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1482/2021) was not discontinued before the institution of this present suit. It was an attempt to circumvent the order of this court in the most brazing manner” the Judge stated.
He said that he had “read the facts deposed by the plaintiff in the affidavit filed, found that reasons adduced therein was not founded in law, as there are no grounds /reasons to obviate the gross abuse displayed by the plaintiff in filing the suit”.
“The present suit was instituted with the intention of interfering, frustrating the due, efficient and effective administration of justice”, and as such, . “Court, being the architect of its integrity and dignity must be ready and willing to protect all of its process from being abused by litigants.
Turning to the Plaintiff’s counsel, Barr. Okonta, the judge strongly reprimanded him stating that “A legal practitioner, called to the Nigerian bar ought to be the repository of good character, truthfulness, candor, trust and above all honesty.
“The attitude of the plaintiffs’ counsel in this instant case is one which ought to be deprecated in the strongest of terms, and I do deprecate same, it is unbecoming of a legal practitioner”, he stated.
“Counsel was not even apologetic for his conduct, but was rather justifying his action of bringing the suit to Abuja on the ground of insecurity in the South East. The Umuahia judicial division of the court still sits with counsels appearing before the court. If counsel feel so strongly about the so called insecurity in the South East, he could have raised same before consenting for the first suit to be transferred to the Umuahia division of this court or at least he could have in the circumstances, discontinued the first suit before filing the instant suit” the judge reprimanded.
In his ruling, he said that “once a Court is satisfied that an action before it amounts to an abuse of judicial process, it has the legally bounded duty to invoke its coercive power to sanction the party which is in abuse of its process with the dismissal of the action which constitute the abuse.
“On the whole, I find that this instant suit is a gross abuse of Court process, and it is accordingly dismissed”, he ordered.