2023: Court Dismisses Suit Seeking Disqualification Of Tinubu, Shettima

2023: Court Dismisses Suit Seeking Disqualification Of Tinubu, Shettima

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The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has dismissed the suit filed by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seeking the disqualification of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and his running mate, Kassim Shettima, for the 2023 general elections.

PDP had in its originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1734/2022, sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC, Tinubu and Shettima as 1st to 4th defendants respectively.

In the suit filed on July 28, 2022, the party challenged the validity of Sen. Tinubu to contest for the 2023 presidential election as APC candidate on the ground that Mr Shettima’s nomination as his running mate was in breach of the provisions of Sections 29(1), 33, 35 and 84{1)}(2)} of the Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended).

It argued that Shettima’s nomination to contest the position of vice president and Borno Central Senatorial seat contravened the law.

The PDP, which sought an order disqualifying the APC, Tinubu and Shettima from contesting the presidential election scheduled for Feb. 25, also sought an order nullifying their candidacy.

It further sought an order compelling INEC to remove their names from its list of nominated or sponsored candidates eligible to contest the poll.

But the defendants, in their preliminary objection filed by Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, urged the court to dismiss the suit for want of jurisdiction.

They argued that the plaintiff (PDP) lacked the locus standi (legal right) to file the case, which invariably was challenging the political party’s decision and its nomination of candidates for the polls.

They further submitted that such act was an internal affair of the APC, which they argued was non-justiciable.

In his judgment on Friday, Justice Inyang Ekwo, agreed with the defendants that the PDP had no locus standi to file the matter, adding that the case was caught by the principle of issue estoppel.

Ekwo, who described the suit as an abuse of the court process, said the court found that the action was incompetent for lack of locus standi.

On the argument about non-disclosure of cause of action against the respondents, the judge said that there was a nexus between locus standi and a cause of action.

“It is expressed in the provision of Section 29 (5) of the Electoral Act, 2022, that the right of action on the matter for which the applicant/respondent (PDP) has filed this action is given to ‘any aspirant, who participated in the primaries of his political party’.

“Therefore, there is no iota of law which support this action. It is on this ground that I find that this case is an abuse of process and I so hold,” he said.

Justice Ekwo, consequently, dismissed the suit for constituting an abuse of court process.

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