PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – ABUSE OF COURT/JUDICIAL PROCESS(ES) – What constitutes abuse of Court process


“…Seen from another angle of abuse of Court’s process, which the trial Court (in HOY/7/97) seemed also to agree on; the material fact is the guilty mind of the same plaintiff in instituting suits HOY/7/97 and HOY/6/98 against the same defendants and equity acts in personam. The improper use of judicial process in the multiple suits to irritate, annoy and harass the defendants, his opponents, is itself an abuse of judicial process; SARAKI v. KOTOYE (1992) 9 NWLR pt. 264) 156; ONUOHA v. NBN LTD (1999) 13 NWLR (pt. 636) 621 at 624. The finding in suit HOY/ 7/97 that the suit was frivolous and vexatious tantamount to its being annoying, irksome, irritating, tormenting and upsetting. In either suit: HOY/7/97 or HOY/6/98, for the plaintiff to be aware of the fact that pa Ajayi, in his life time, had partitioned his land and had inter vivos allotted the disputed Igbo-Ede Land to Akinsanya and yet conceived and instituted suit HOY/7/97 was clearly mala fide. And yet for the same plaintiff in suit HOY/6/98, after his misadventure in suit HOY/7/97, to proceed subsequently against the same defendants on the facts (but wearing a different face); there can be no better case of mala fide gimmickry and mischief to abuse the due process of the Court. Abuse of judicial process comes in various forms. It involves circumstances and situations of infinite variety and condition but the common feature is improper use of the judicial process by a party in litigation to interfere with the due administration of justice: R. BENKAY LTD v. CARDBURY NIG. LTD (2012) 3 SC (pt. 3) 169 (SC); AGWASIM v. OJICHIE (2004) 10 NWLR (pt. 882) 613 (SC) at 624 – 625. Multiplicity of actions on the same subject matter by the plaintiff against the same opponent, as in this case, is also an abuse of judicial process: OKOROMADU v. OKOROMADU (1977) 3 SC 121.” Per EJEMBI EKO, JSC inADEGBANKE v. OJELABI & ORS (2021-LCER-40456-SC) (Pp 47 – 49 Paras E – B)

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