A Federal High Court sitting in Kano has struck out a suit seeking the sack of Dr. Babatunde Fowler as the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
The suit, instituted by a legal practitioner, Stanley Okwara, was thrown out by the court on the ground that the lawyer has no locus standi to institute it.
Okwara had dragged Fowler before the court praying among others an order restraining him from further functioning as FIRS Chief Executive Officer.
He predicated his action on the claim that the tenure of office of the defendant had expired since August 20, 2019 and has not been renewed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The plaintiff also prayed the court to declare that the tenure of Fowler expired since August and that he should be made to refund all monies and allowances received after then to the national treasury.
Okwara further demanded that the defendant be ordered to swear to an affidavit to confirm refund of public funds unlawfully collected from August till date.
However Fowler through his counsel, Paul Erokoro (SAN), raised preliminary objection to the suit on the ground that the plaintiff has no locus standi to file the case.
Among others, Fowler contended that the suit did not disclose any cause of action and that the plaintiff did not also disclose any injury or damages he personally lost.
Justice Lewis Allagoa in his ruling on the objection upheld the submission of of the defendant counsel.
The judge agreed that the plaintiff did not show how the disputed issue affected him more than any other Nigerian.
Justice Allagoa faulted the plaintiff suit due to the failure to show pre-action notice as required by law.
The Judge therefore held that the suit is incompetent, frivolous, lacking in merit and substance and struck it out.
The arguments of counsel to the plaintiff, Johnmary Jideobi, was rejected and thrown out.
The Court had last week ordered Fowler to appear before it to show cause why he should not be sacked for overstaying his tenure, which expired on August 18, 2019.
In the originating summon obtained by PRNigeria with Suit No FHC/KN/CS/141/2019, the FIRS boss was dragged to court over his continued stay in office after the expiration of tenure.
The plaintiff in the suit filed on September 18, 2019 also joined the Attorney General of the Federation as the second defendant.
The two defendants were given 30 days to explain why Fowler, who was appointed on August 20, 2015, has not ceased to hold office as the Chairman of FIRS after August 20, 2019 in accordance with the “decision of the Supreme Court…and having regard to the combined provisions of Sections 3(2) (a), Section 4(a) and Section 11 (a)” of the agency.
The plaintiffs also sought to know whether the continuous stay of Fowler in the office “is not illegal in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in Ogbuinyinya & Ors. vs. Obi Okudo & Ors. (1979) All N.L.R. 105 and having regard to the combined provisions of Sections of the FIRS [Establishment] Act, 2007”.
In the same vein, Okwara sought other reliefs including: “A declaration that the 1st Defendant has ceased to hold office as the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service after the 20th of August, 2019”; and that his continuous stay in the office is illegal.”
He further sought “an order barring the 1st Defendant from further holding himself out as, laying claim to or exercising the powers and functions of, the Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service unless he is re-appointed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“An order directing the 1st Defendant to return forthwith to the Treasury Single Account of the Federation all the salaries, emoluments and such other kindred monetary benefits he has been drawing on the purse of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and file an affidavit of compliance within 14 days after the delivery of judgment in this suit.”
The Plaintiff also asked that Fowler be caused to obey any other decision that the Court may deem fit to make in the entire circumstances of the case.