Supreme Court dismisses PDP’s suit, upholds Tinubu’s eligibility for presidency

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In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the eligibility of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the President-elect, to run in the presidential election held on February 25. The court’s unanimous decision, delivered by a five-member panel, stated that the PDP’s appeal lacked merit, affirming Tinubu’s eligibility for the presidency. This ruling confirms that Tinubu meets the necessary legal requirements to contest the presidential election.The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had filed an appeal marked SC/CV/501/2023, seeking the disqualification of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu based on the argument that the Vice President-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima, allowed himself to be nominated for more than one constituency in the upcoming 2023 general elections. The PDP claimed that this violated the electoral rules and should result in Tinubu’s disqualification.

It told the court that Shettima was nominated twice, both for the Borno Central Senatorial seat and for the Vice Presidential position.

PDP argued that Shettima’s dual nomination, 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.

Consequently, aside from praying 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.

Meanwhile, the apex court, in its lead judgement that was delivered by Justice Adamu Jauro, held that PDP lacked the locus standi (legal right) to interfere in affairs of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, which nominated both Tinubu and Shettima for the presidential election.

The apex court upheld the concurrent decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court in Abuja, which earlier dismissed PDP’s case.

It agreed with the respondents that section 285 (14) (c ) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and section 149 of the Electoral Act, 2022, did not confer the locus standi (legal right) to challenge the candidature of Shettima on the ground of double nomination.

The apex court held that section 84 of the Electoral Act only empowered an aspirant that participated in the primary election of a political party, to challenge the nomination of a candidate by the party.

It held that the PDP failed to establish the injury it suffered as a result of the nomination by the APC, stressing that the law does not permit a political party to dabble in domestic affair of another political party.

The Supreme Court said the PDP was unable to prove that its civil rights and obligations were in danger of being infringed upon.

It described the appeal as the action of “a nosy busy-body and a meddlesome interloper that is peeping into the affairs of its neighbour.”

More so, the apex court berated the PDP for filing the appeal which it said was frivolous and capable of exposing the judiciary to public ridicule.

The apex court held that evidence before it showed that Shettima duly withdrew as the candidate of the APC in the Borno senatorial election, on July 6, 2022.

“In whichever angle this appeal is veiwed, it is frivolous and bound to fail.

“From the trial court, down to this court, it has been a waste of precious judicial time.

“The instant appeal was unnecessary and counsel should do better to advice their client against filing this sort of suit in future,” Justice Jauro added.While dismissing the appeal, the Supreme Court okayed N2million damages that was awarded against the PDP, in favour of the respondents.

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