Anxiety as 3 courts rule today on suits to stop Tinubu’s May 29 inauguration as President

Anxiety has set in ahead of the May 29 inauguration of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as three courts, including the Supreme Court, have differed judgment in the lawsuits challenging his swearing-in to this Friday.


The Supreme Court had last Wednesday s fixed Friday May 26 to rule on the appeal by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the double nomination and perjury by Kashim Shettima as vice presidential candidate of the APC.


Similar date has equally been fixed by the Abuja divvision of the Federal High Court on two separate suits seeking the stopage of the inauguration.


The two separate suits are the ones filed by residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and the one filed by a group of concerned Nigerians.


In the appeal before the Supreme Court, the PDP had, in an originating summons 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).


However, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal had in a verdict it delivered on January 13, dismissed the case on the ground that PDP lacked the right to file the suit to challenge Tinubu’s candidacy.


Justice Ekwo held that the suit was caught by the principle of estoppel, stressing that the issue surrounding Shettima’s nomination was earlier decided by another court of competent jurisdiction.


He, therefore, held that the suit was an abuse of court process and as such deserved to be dismissed.


The judgment was later affirmed by the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which also dismissed the case. The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of Justices, said it found no reason to dislodge the verdict of the trial court.


In its lead judgement that was delivered by Justice James Abunduga, the appellate court described the PDP as a meddlesome interloper for dabbling into the affairs of the APC.


Dissatisfied, the party approached the apex court in appeal, marked: SC/CV/501/2023, maintaining 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.


A five-member panel of the apex court, led by Justice Inyang Okoro, fixed the matter for judgement, after all the parties adopted their final briefs of argument.


While the PDP, through its lawyer, Mr. Joe Agi, SAN, urged the court to uphold its case by setting aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal on the matter, counsel for Tinubu and the APC, Mr. Babatunde Ogala, SAN, sought the dismissal of the suit on the premise that it was bereft of any merit.


Besides, the respondents contended that the matter had become status barred in view of the expiration of the period allowed for the hearing and determination of such pre-election case.


On its part, INEC, through its lawyer, Mr. Adebiyi Adetosoye, said it was in support of Tinubu and APC’s demand for the appeal to be dismissed with substantial cost.


Coincidentally, the two suits pending before suits pending before the Federal High Court on same subject matter have equally been fixed for ruling on Friday May 26.


In a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/578/222 and dated April 28, 2023, five persons who are all residents of FCT, Abuja, have prayed the court to stop Tinubu’s inauguration on the the grounds that he did not poll 25 per cent of total cast in the territory and as such is constitutionally not ineligible to be sworn-in as the country’s president.


The plaintiffs who filed the action on behalf of themselves and registered voters in the FCT are Anyaegbunam Ubaka Okoye, David Aondover Adzer, Jefrey Oheobeh Ucheh, Osang Paul and Chibuike Nwachukwu.


Also listed as defendants are the Attorney-General of the Federation (and Minister of Justice, Mr Abukabar Malami) and the Chief Justice of Nigeria (Justice Olukayode Ariwoola).


They are asking the court to stop the planned May 29 inauguration of a new government of President-elect, Bola Tinubu pending the determination of the constitutional 25 per cent of votes cast requirement as it relates to the FCT status.


The plaintiffs further asked the court to make the resolve the matter of 25 per cent vote status of the FCT and for the declaration of their fundamental human rights in seeking an interpretation.


The second suit is filed by a group of concerned Nigerians came up for hearing at the Federal High Court in Abuja but was also deferred till Friday, May 26.


The concerned Nigerians had in a motion ex-parte filed last week alongside the suit marked FHC/ABJ/C5/567/2023 alleged that Tinubu, who was declared President-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), lied on oath about his possession of a Guinean Passport. Tinubu was also accused of lying about his educational qualifications and uttering forged educational credentials.


The concerned Nigerians who filed the suit are Praise Ilemona Isaiah, Pastor Paul Isaac Audu and Dr Anongu Moses.


The defendants are the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, APC, Attorney-General of the Federation, Director-General of the Department of State Service, Inspector General of Police, and INEC.


The concerned Nigerians are seeking an order of the court to nullify Tinubu’s candidacy in the February 25 presidential election.


They are also seeking an order restraining President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from swearing-in Tinubu.


to rule on allegations of perjury filed against President-elect, Tinubu, by concerned Nigerians to determine whether the APC flag bearer should be sworn-in as President or not.


At the Federal High Court, Justice Omotosho granted an order of substituted service on Tinubu after listening to the motion for interim injunction to stop Tinubu from being sworn-in as President of Federal Republic of Nigeria.


At the hearing, the court requested that plaintiffs’ counsel address the court on locus standi of the plaintiffs and jurisdiction – which the plaintiffs’ counsel did.


The court eventually adjourned the matter to Friday for hearing and ordered that Hearing Notices and all Processes be served on the defendants with immediate effect.


(Daily SUn)


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