• Slams N2m cost against opposition party
From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the eligibility of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to contest the presidential election that held on February 25 for being frivolous and lacking merit.
In dismissing the appeal, the apex court in a unanimous judgment described the PDP as a busybody and interloper who dabbled into the domestic affairs of the APC.
Justice Adamu Jauro who delivered the lead judgment consequently held that the PDP lacked the requisite locus standi to have initiated the action.
Beyond that, Justice Jauro equally held that the PDP failed to provide any scintilla of evidence that Shettima engaged in double nomination.
The PDP in its appeal, marked SC/CV/501/2023, sought to disqualify Tinubu and the Vice President-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima.
Despite the clearing of legal impediment at the apex court, the Federal High Court, Abuja Division is currently entertaining another suit brought before it, seeking to stall the said inauguration fixed for May 29, 2023. Not leaving anything to chance, the legal team of the President elect led by Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) split itself in two to enable it provide representation at the apex court and the Federal High Court.
PDP contended that the manner the APC and Tinubu nominated Shettima as a vice presidential candidate for the election was in gross breach of the provisions of Sections 29(1), 33, 35 and 84(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022, as amended. It told the court that there was evidence to establish that Shettima was nominated twice, both for the vice presidential position and Borno Central senatorial seat, an action the PDP maintained was in contravention of the law.
Beyond asking the court to nullify Tinubu and Shettima’s candidacy, the appellant equally 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 Supreme Court in its judgment on Friday affirmed the decision of both the Court of Appeal and the trial courts in dismissing the case for lack of locus standi.
Justice Adamu Jauro in his lead judgment held that the PDP lacked the legal right to file a suit on an internal affair of APC. Agreeing with the Court of Appeal’s earlier judgement dismissing the suit, Mr Jauro said, “I am in complete agreement with the Appeal Court that the PDP lacks the right to file this suit. The appellant was unable to point to where the lower court determined the substantive issues on its merit. It is clear that the suit is statute-barred. Hence this court has no power to delve into the merit of the merit of the suit.”
The judge added: “It is frivolous and bound to fail fraught with manifest malady. It has been a waste of precious time and judicial energy.
Counsel should do better to advise their clients to desist from suit frivolous matters.
“The appeal is grossly lacking in merit and it is hereby dismissed.”
The court awarded the cost of N2 million against PDP and in favour of the respondents.
The judgement came three days ahead of the inauguration of Tinubu as Nigeria’s president.
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