All is now set for the inauguration of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Monday as the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the suit 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.
Similarly, a Federal High Court in Abuja declined to issue an order of interim injunction to stop Tinubu’s inauguration, as the plaintiffs 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 an appeal marked SC/CV/501/2023, the PDP sought Tinubu’s disqualification on grounds of double nomination of his then running mate, Shettima.
The party claimed that Shettima was nominated twice, both for the Borno Central Senatorial seat and for the vice-presidential position.
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PDP argued 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 therefoTinibure 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.
“It is abundantly clear that the appellant in the totality of its position in the instant case is peeping and ‘poke nosing’ into the affairs of another party as a busy body and meddlesome interloper,” he said.
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.
Delivering the lead judgment on the suit, Justice Adamu Jauro upheld the concurrent decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court in Abuja, which earlier dismissed the case.
The court ruled that the plaintiff lacked the legal right to meddle in the affairs of the APC which nominated them as its candidates in the election and dismissed it.
Describing the appeal as an activity of “a nosy busybody and a meddlesome interloper, the court stressed that the law did not permit a political party to dabble in the domestic affairs of another party.
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 maintained 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.
The apex court also reprimanded the PDP for filing the appeal which it said was frivolous.
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.
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 25 election, Atiku Abubakar, said the dismissal of the appeal was not a setback in the party’s quest for justice in the election petition tribunal.
Atiku reiterated the resolve of his legal team to prove that the election of Tinubu and Shettima was fraudulent and a violation of the nation’s constitutional requirements.
In a statement he signed, Atiku said, “The Supreme Court’s dismissal of the case of the PDP is not a setback to my quest for justice. Our legal team is primed to robustly prove that the election of February 25 was fraudulent, did not comply with the constitutional requirements and the electoral guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission and that the announced winner was not even qualified to contest the poll.
“The battle for democracy and the enthronement of a new order to spur growth and development in Nigeria is one to which I have committed my all and for which I am not ready to walk away at this point when our nation is at crossroads. We know that sooner than later, our esteemed Justices will make the pronouncement that will serve as a befitting requiem for mandate bandits.
“I urge my supporters to exercise patience and conduct themselves peaceably as we diligently conduct our litigation at the Presidential Election Tribunal Court.”
Meanwhile, the PDP through its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba promised to issue a formal statement, noting that the party was yet to read the judgment. “We cannot make a comment now because we have not even read the judgment. When we do, we will make our position known,” Ologunagba said.