Presidential Election Litigations: All three courts in Abuja defer ruling in suits challenging Tinubu’s May 29 inauguration till Friday

All three courts, including the Supreme Court and two other Federal High Courts sitting in Abuja, have differed judgement in the cases challenging the inauguration of president-elect, Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on May 29, this year.


While the Supreme Court which had, last Monday fixed Wednesday, May 24 to rule on the suit brought by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the double nomination and perjury by Kashim Shettima as vice presidential candidate of the APC, deferred ruling till Friday, May 26, the others filed separately at the Federal High Courts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by some residents of Abuja were adjourned also till Friday.


The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT), it would be recalled, fixed Tuesday, May 30 as date for commencement of full trial in the petitions filed by the PDP, the Labour Party (LP) and Allied Peoples Movement (APM), all challenging the declaration of Tinubu by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as winner of the February 25 election.


Also, May 29 has been fixed as inauguration of the President-elect, Tinubu as termination of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari after eight years in office, since 2015.


It would also be recalled that a five-member panel of Justices led by Justice John Okoro, on Monday, fixed Wednesday to deliver judgement in the PDP versus Tinubu/Shettima perjury and double nomination suit.


The Court of Appeal in Abuja had dismissed the appeal filed by the PDP seeking the disqualification of Tinubu and Shettima as the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the APC in the February 25 election.


The PDP had by their appeal marked: CA/ABJ/CV/108/2023 urged the appellate court to reverse the January 13 judgment by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja which dismissed its suit on the grounds that the PDP lacked locus standi to have instituted the suit.


In the unanimous judgment on Friday, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal, held, in the lead judgment that the PDP failed to establish its locus standi.


Justice James Abundaga, who agreed with the submissions of lawyers to the respondents, including Thomas Ojo of Lateef Fagbemi and Co, described the PDP as a busy body, who dabbled into issues that are internal affairs of the APC.


Justice Abundaga held that the trial court was right to have held that the PDP failed to establish its locus standi.


“The appellant, having failed to disclose its locus standi, this appeal fails and it is hereby dismissed,” he said and proceeded to affirm the judgment of the Federal High Court.


Justice Abundaga awarded N5 million cost against the appellant’s lawyer, J. O. Olotu.


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).


They claimed that 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.


However, at the scheduled date for hearing in the suit, the matter was deferred till Friday.


Similarly, another suit challenging the legality of the declaration of Tinubu as president-elect by INEC brought by some residents of Abuja in the FCT on the grounds that the winner of the February 25


Election 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, was also moved to Friday.


The suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/578/222 and dated April 28, 2023 was filed by five persons who are all residents of Abuja, the capital city, listed as; Anyaegbunam Ubaka Okoye, David Aondover Adzer, Jefrey Oheobeh Ucheh, Osang Paul, Chibuike Nwachukwu, as plaintiffs.


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


In the originating Summons, cited by Oracle Today, the residents 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.


In the same vein, another suit 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 court fixed Friday, May 26, 2023, 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.


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.


On the Supreme Court suit deferred till Friday, opinions have continued to highlight the dilemma faced by the court in opting to rule on a matter which could determine the shape of the country’s political future, in general, and that of the ongoing PEPT in Abuja.


“There’s been precedence set by the Supreme Court in a similar case like this with Uche Nwosu of Imo State. The Supreme Court ruled against Nwosu and disqualified him. That precedent is what many legal experts are looking at to see if the Justices will rule against Shettima and the APC this Friday.


“I have spoken to a few brilliant lawyers and their positions are that Shettima has no hope of dodging this case, with all the facts of the case on ground. A couple more lawyers I asked for a balanced opinion are undecided. They feel it can go either way, since the confidence in the Supreme Court in giving the right and expected legal judgments in the political space has been waning for a couple of years now.


“If the Supreme Court rules on Friday that Shettima violated the Electoral Law, it would mean outright disqualification of him and Bola Ahmed Tinubu, since it’s a joint ticket.


If that happens on Friday, it would mean a couple of things might happen, depending on the further judgement given. It might mean that the person whom INEC declared as the second position holder in the Presidential Election would be declared the President-Elect. That would be Atiku Abubakar. If that is the case, then Atiku will likely be sworn in as the President.


“However, if the Supreme Court disqualifies both Tinubu and Shettima without making any pronouncement on who should be sworn in, there would likely be an extension for a number of days, of the Buhari presidency. Buhari might continue for not more than six months and if he doesn’t wish to continue in office beyond May 29th, perhaps Vice-President Osinbajo might hold forth for a few more months if he too wishes, until another election holds. These are my own layman’s opinions on what might be the scenario and not cast in stone under any legal framework. So, the reader should take this part about an extension of the Buhari/Osinbajo tenure as hypothetical on my part.


“There is another scenario too. If Atiku is declared as the winner and sworn in, the case at the Presidential Election Tribunal asking for the judicial interpretation of the constitution as it concerns the 25% in the FCT will definitely come up.


“Now, here’s what I think of that section of the constitution. I believe that for a winner to be declared in any Presidential Election, that person has to win 25% in the FCT. I think it’s a no-brainer. Forget what the APC lawyers are trying to argue. My own understanding tells me that the ‘AND’ in that section of the constitution is not in any way ambiguous but a conjunctive requirement.


“So, if Atiku is declared the winner if the judgment on Friday dismisses BAT and Shettima, it is rather likely that he will still step down when the Tribunal gives a judgment on that 25% in the FCT matter. If that happens, Atiku and Obi will slug it out in a run-off election, going by the Electoral law, because BAT and Shettima would have been disqualified from running in that run-off,” the analyst argued.



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One Comment

  1. One of the best political analysis of the situation at hand. Makes an interesting read. We know that none of these variables will happen but would have been a fascinating play out if it did.

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