Court Clears Tinubu Ahead of Monday's Inauguration

As we prepare for the inauguration of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Monday, the Supreme Court on Friday threw out the suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party seeking the disqualification of the ticket that produced the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, and the vice-president-elect, Kashim Shettima, in the 2023 presidential election.

Also, a Federal High Court in Abuja declined to issue an order of interim injunction to stop Tinubu’s inauguration, as the complainants alleged that the President-elect lied on oath in the form he submitted to INEC.

Meanwhile, the apex court affirmed that Tinubu and Shettima were eligible to contest the presidential election held on February 25.

In a suit marked SC/CV/501/2023, the PDP sought Tinubu’s disqualification on grounds of the double nomination of his then running mate, Shettima.

The party argued that Shettima was nominated twice, both for the Borno Central Senatorial seat and for the vice-presidential position.

PDP claimed that Shettima’s dual nomination was in gross breach of the provisions of Sections 29(1), 33, 35 and 84(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022. The party, therefore prayed the court to nullify Tinubu and Shettima’s candidacy.

It also applied for an order to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission to remove their names from the list of nominated or sponsored candidates that were eligible to contest the presidential poll.

Opposing the position by the plaintiff, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) contended that the PDP ought to have remained an onlooker no matter its grievance in how the APC nominated its candidates.

He said,  â€œIt is abundantly clear that the appellant in the totality of its position in the instant case is peeping and ‘poke nosing’ in, into the affairs of another party as a busy body and meddlesome interloper,”

In a unanimous decision of a five-man panel, the court held that an appeal by the PDP challenging the validity of the Tinubu/Shettima ticket lacked merit.

In the judgment, Justice Adamu Jauro upheld the concurrent decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court in Abuja, which earlier dismissed the case.

Explaining the appeal as an activity of “a nosy busybody and a meddlesome interloper," the court emphasized that the law did not allow a political party to dabble in the domestic affairs of another.

The court agreed with the respondents that section 285 (14) (c ) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and section 149 of the Electoral Act, 2022, did not confer to them the legal right to question the candidature of Shettima on the grounds of double nomination.

The apex court held that section 84 of the Electoral Act only empowers an aspirant that participated in the primary election of a political party to challenge the nomination of a candidate by the party.

The court upheld that the PDP did not prove that its rights were threatened, adding that the party failed to establish the injury it suffered as a result of the nomination by the APC.

It held that evidence before it showed that Shettima duly withdrew as the candidate of the APC in the Borno senatorial election on July 6, 2022.

Justice Jauro said, “From the trial court down to this court, it has been a waste of precious judicial time.”

He admonished counsel to advise their clients “against filing this sort of suit in the future.”

It further awarded in favour of the respondents the sum of N2m damages against the PDP.

In a related development, the Federal High Court, Abuja has declined to issue an order of interim injunction to stop the swearing-in of the president-elect, Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, as President of Nigeria, on May 29.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/C5/657/2023, three plaintiffs – Praise Isaiah, Paul Audu and Anongu Moses – alleged that Tinubu lied on oath in the Form EC9 he submitted to INEC in support of his qualifications to contest the election.

They also told the court that findings revealed that “the Tinubu” who attended Chicago University in the United States of America, was a female.

Again, the plaintiffs who identified as “concerned citizens” alleged that it was discovered that the President-elect was born in 1957 against the year 1952 which he presented as his actual date of birth.

Among other prayers, they urged the court to order the arrest and detention of Tinubu.

They also asked the court to halt his inauguration as president pending the determination of cases against him at the Presidential Election Petitions Court.

Arguing that Tinubu’s action was in gross violation of Section 117 of the Criminal Code Act as well as Section 156 of the Penal Code Act, the litigants further prayed the court to forbid Tinubu from vying for any elective position for the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, the court in a ruling delivered by Justice James Omotoso held that it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the case and grant the prayers.

The court held that the suit was “unconstitutional, frivolous and vexatious.”

It said the plaintiffs lacked the legal right to institute the case while stressing that under section 285 (14) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), only an aspirant could challenge the qualification or nomination of a candidate in an election.

It maintained further that since the election had already been concluded, only the Court of Appeal has the jurisdiction to entertain cases arising from the presidential election.

He stated that the plaintiffs wasted the time of the court by filing the suit and described the action as an abuse of court process, aimed at exposing the judiciary to ridicule.

It held that the suit seeking to stop the inauguration scheduled to take place in a few days was capable of destabilising the democracy in the country adding that the court would not lend itself to be used as an instrument for such an outcome.

He threatened to refer counsels that facilitated the suit to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for instituting an action “capable of dragging the judiciary into the mud.”

The judge thereafter dismissed the suit and awarded a cost in favour of the respondents.


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