The Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) calling for the disqualification of Bola Tinubu as a candidate in the last presidential election.
The suit, which alleged the improper nomination of Kashim Shettima as Mr. Tinubu’s running mate for the February 2023 presidential election, implicitly sought to stop the president-elect from being sworn in as president on May 29.
A five-man panel chaired by Inyang Okoro unanimously dismissed the case on Friday.
Adamu Jauro, a member of the bench that delivered the lead judgement, said the PDP had no legal right to file a suit on an internal APC affair.
“It must be taken into account that no political party can contest the appointment of another political party.
“A political party has no right to challenge the activities of INEC for nominating the candidate of another political party.
“No court has jurisdiction to entertain such a suit by another party,” the court said.
The court said the PDP had failed to show any prejudice it suffered due to the alleged double nomination of Mr. Shettima.
Agreeing with the earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal that dismissed the case, Mr. Jauro said, “I agree with the Court of Appeal that the PDP has no right to file this case.
“The appellant failed to point out where the lower court decided the main issues on its merits.
“It is clear that the case is time-barred. Therefore, this court has no jurisdiction to delve into the merits of the case.”
The judge added: “He is incompetent and obviously ill will fail. It has been a waste of precious judicial time and energy.
“Lawyers should do a better job of advising their clients to refrain from frivolous matters.
“The appeal is incomplete, and it is rejected.”
The court awarded costs of N2 million against the PDP and in favor of the respondents
The judgment came three days before Mr. Tinubu was named president of Nigeria.
Outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday conferred Nigeria’s highest national honour, the GCFR, on Mr. Tinubu in preparation for the inauguration of the president-elect on May 29. The second highest national honour, GCON, was conferred on Vice President-elect Kashim Shettima.
The PDP case was ahead of the February 2023 presidential election. The case is separate from the election petition the party filed at the presidential election tribunal after the February election to challenge Mr. Tinubu’s victory.
The party filed the Tinubu/Shettima candidacy case at the Federal High Court in Abuja on July 28, 2022.
Shettima was a senatorial candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Borno Central Senatorial District when he was named the party’s vice presidential candidate last year.
The PDP said he had not yet withdrawn his senatorial candidacy at the time his party nominated him as its vice-presidential candidate.
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The opposition party argued that double nominations of a person for election to different constituencies in an election cycle violated section 29 of the Electoral Act 2022, which is set out in sections 33, 35 and 84.
The breach, according to the plaintiff, invalidated the APC presidential ticket. The PDP, therefore, sought an order to disqualify the APC and its candidates – Messrs. Tinubu and Shettima – from participating in the 2023 presidential election.
But delivering judgment on January 13, Justice Inyang Ekwo dismissed the case, saying the PDP had no legal right to investigate what it described as an internal affair of the APC.
Mr. Ekwo added that the case was caught by the principle of estoppel, saying that the issue of Mr. Shettima’s nomination as Mr. Tinubu’s running mate was decided by another court of competent jurisdiction.
The judge opined that the case was an abuse of the judicial process, and therefore deserved to be dismissed.
Aggrieved by the judgment, the PDP appealed to the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
But the appeal court dismissed the appeal in its ruling on March 25, a month after Mr. Tinubu and his party declared victory in the presidential election they won.
A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Federal Court.
In the lead judgment delivered by James Abunduga, the appellate court described the PDP as a troublemaker for meddling in the affairs of the APC.
The PDP also approached the Supreme Court.
A five-man panel of the court presided over by Inyang Okoro heard the appeal on Monday and fixed it for trial today (Friday).
During the hearing, the PDP, through its counsel, the Advocate General of Nigeria, Joe Agi, asked the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal on the matter and grant its client’s prayer.
Tinubu and the APC lawyer, Babatunde Ogala, SAN, called for the case to be struck out, saying it was without merit.
In addition, the defendants said that the case was time-barred because the deadline for hearing and deciding this pre-election case had passed.
On its part, INEC, through its lawyer, Adebiyi Adetosoye, said it supported the request by Mr. Tinubu and the APC to quash the appeal.
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