ABUJA– The Supreme Court, yesterday, paved the way for the swearing-in of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, on Monday, May 29.
The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-member panel, dismissed as lacking in merit, an appeal the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, filed to query Tinubu’s eligibility to contest the presidential election that held on February 25.
It held that the appeal, marked: SC/CV/501/2023, was brought before it in bad faith, stressing that the PDP, whose candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, came second in the presidential contest, was bereft of the locus standi (legal right) to challenge a nomination that was made by another political party.
PDP had in its appeal, prayed the court to void Tinubu’s candidacy, alleging that the Vice President-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima, had prior to the 2023 general elections, allowed himself to be nominated for more than one constituency.
It told the court that Shettima was nominated twice, both for the Borno Central Senatorial seat and for the Vice Presidential position.
PDP maintained that Shettima’s dual nomination, was in gross violation of provisions of Sections 29(1), 33, 35 and 84(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022, as amended.
Consequently, aside from urging the court to invalidate Tinubu and Shettima’s candidature, the Appellant, further applied for an order to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to expunge their names from the list of nominated or sponsored candidates that were eligible to contest the presidential poll.However,
the apex court, in its lead judgement that was delivered on Friday by Justice Adamu Jauro, accused the PDP of attempting to interfere in the internal affairs of the APC which nominated both Tinubu and Shettima for the presidential poll. It upheld the
concurrent decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court in Abuja, which earlier dismissed case for being frivolous and over PDP’s failure to disclose a reasonable cause of action against Tinubu and Shettima. The apex court.
agreed with the respondents that section 285 (14) (c ) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as section 149 of the Electoral Act, 2022, did not confer the Appellant with the right to challenge the Tinubu’s candidacy on the ground of Shettima’s alleged double nomination by the APC. The apex court held that section 84 of the Electoral Act only empowered an aspirant that participated in the primary election of a political party, to challenge the nomination of a candidate by the party.
It held that the PDP failed to establish the injury it suffered as a result of the nomination by the APC, adding that
the law did not permit a political party to dabble into domestic affair of another political party.
More so, the apex court held that PDP was unable to prove that its civil rights and obligations were in danger of being infringed upon.
It held that the lower courts were right when they declined to hear PDP’s case on its merit, since they lacked the requisite jurisdiction to do so.
The apex court further descended on the PDP, describing
the appeal as the action of “a nosy busy-body and a meddlesome interloper that is peeping into the affairs of its neighbour.”
Justice Jauro equally noted that the 180 days that was statutorily prescribed for the determination of such pre-election matter, had since elapsed, thus, rendering the action as statute barred.
In his contribution, head of the apex court panel, Justice Inyang Okoro, described the case PDP brought against Tinubu as “one of the most frivolous appeals that this court has been inundated with in recent time.”
He insisted that the appeal was aimed at bringing the judiciary to public ridicule, accusing the PDP and its members of using the social media to set a booby trap for the court.Likewise, another member of the panel, Justice Amina Augie, said it was wrong for the PDP to liken its appeal against Tinubu to Imo state 2019 governorship election dispute that involved the candidate of the APC, Uche Nwosu.
Justice Augie held that whereas Nwosu was confirmed to have participated in primary elections that were conducted by both the APC and the Action Alliance, AA, with his Form CF 001 submitted to INEC, it was not the same case in the appeal against Tinubu and Shettima.
More over, she noted that PDP’s candidate in the presidential election, Atiku, was already a governor-elect in 1999, when he was subsequently nominated to become a Vice Presidential candidate.
“So, the question is, what has changed since then?,” Justice Augie queried. The apex court held that evidence before it showed that Shettima withdrew as the candidate of the APC in the Borno senatorial election,
on July 6, 2022, and was replaced by the party on July 14, 2022, after INEC was duly notified about the development, in writing.
It held that Shettima was no longer a candidate of the APC for the Borno Central Senatorial District, as at the time he was nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate.
“Multiple nominations with the electoral act does not occur simply because he accepted a second nomination, the fact that the acceptance was immediately relinquished so as to pave way for another person to replace him as senatorial candidate cannot be overlooked or disregarded,” another member of the panel, Justice Emmanuel Agim added.
“In whichever angle this appeal is veiwed, it is frivolous and bound to fail.
“From the trial court, down to this court, it has been a waste of precious judicial time.
“The instant appeal was unnecessary and counsel should do better to advice their client against filing this sort of suit in future,” the apex court added.
Dismissing the appeal, the Supreme Court ordered the PDP to pay N2million damages to the respondents- INEC, Tinubu, APC and Shettima.
*Court declines to stop Tinubu’s inauguration as President*