Court dismisses PDP’s suit seeking to void Tinubu/Shettima ticket

January 14, 2023
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A Federal High Court, Abuja has dismissed a suit by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking the disqualification of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Kassim Shettima as the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in next month’s election.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment on Friday, dismissed the suit on the grounds that the PDP lacked locus standi to have instituted the suit.

Justice Ekwo found that the suit was caught by the principle of issue estoppel, similar having been decided by the court, and held that amounted to an abuse of the process of the court.

The judgment was on the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1734/2022, with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC, Tinubu and Shettima listed as defendants.

Justice Ekwo held that where a plaintiff lacked the locus standi to institute an action, the court has no jurisdiction to entertain such an action.

The judge added that the subject matter of the suit bordered on the internal affairs of the APC in respect of which the PDP lacked locus standi to file the case to challenge.

He agreed with the defendants that the suit disclosed no cause of action against them, it touches on the internal affairs of the APC and therefore non-justiciable.

Justice Ekwo held that since the PDP was without the reuisite locus standi to initiate the action, it also could not establish any cause of action against the defendants.

The judge equally agreed with the defendants that the suit was an abuse of court process.

He said: “It is express, 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.”

The judge added that since it was established that the PDP was not an aspirant of the APC, “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.”

Justice Ekwo proceeded to dismiss the suit for constituting an abuse of the process of the court.

The PDP had, in the suit filed on July 28, 2022, challenged the validity of the Tinubu/Shettima ticket for the 2023 presidential election, arguing that Shettima’s nomination as the 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).

Claiming the Shettima had double nominations, the PDP argued that Shettima’s nomination as a vice-presidential candidate as well as the candidate for the 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 February 25 equally po rayed the court for an order nullifying their candidacy.

It further prayed the court for an order compelling INEC to remove their names from its list of nominated or sponsored candidates eligible to contest the election.

The defendants, in a preliminary objection filed by their lawyers, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Thomas Ojo, urged the court to dismiss the suit for want of jurisdiction.

They contended that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to institute the case, which invariably challenged APC’s decision and its nomination of candidates for the election, which were within the confines of the party’s internal affairs and thus, non-justiciable.

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