…Says ‘you only wasted our time’
‘…It’s abuse of court processes’
…Judgement not a setback to my quest for justice – Atiku
The Supreme Court has slammed N2 million charges on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and consequently given a judicial seal of approval for the inauguration of the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the Vice President-elect, Kashim Shettima.
The apex court, in its ruling on Friday in a suit instituted by the PDP seeking their disqualification from the 2023 presidential election, held that the PDP’s suit praying the disqualification of Tinubu and Shetima on grounds of alleged double nomination by Shetima was grossly lacking in merit and consequently dismissed it.
Justice Adamu Jauro, who delivered the lead judgement, consequently slammed a fine of N2 million on the PDP for poke-nosing into the internal affairs of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the conduct of its primary elections and nomination of its candidates.
Justice agreed with Tinubu’s lawyer, Prince Fagbemi, that the PDP acted as a busy-body and meddlesome interloper in the ways and manners it unjustly dabbled into APC’s affairs.
The apex court further held that apart from the fact that the PDP lacked the requisite jurisdiction to institute the suit, the party also failed to provide a scintilla of evidence that Shettima engaged in double nomination.
The claim of PDP on the alleged double nomination of the vice- president-elect was described as “most unfortunate and a clear deliberate mischief” to mislead the court and the country.
The Supreme Court also agreed with the lawyer, Prince Fagbemi, that no matter the pains of the PDP on how APC conducted its primaries and nominated its candidates, the PDP must remain an onlooker.
“It is abundantly clear that the appellant (PDP) in the totality of its position in the instant case is peeping and poke-nosing into the affairs of another party as a busy-body and meddlesome interloper,” he held.
The court also held that the action of the PDP was painful “because it used social media to set a booby trap for the Supreme Court to blackmail it; this is most unfortunate, unwarranted, and uncalled for.”
On age falsification, others
In a related development, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit filed by three individuals seeking to stop the inauguration of the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his deputy, Kashim Shettima, over age falsification and citizenship status in the document Tinubu submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Justice James Omotosho, in a ruling, held that the suit by the trio of Praise Ilemona Isaiah, Pastor Paul Isaac Audu and Anongu Moses, who identified themselves as Concerned Citizens, was frivolous and an abuse of the court process.
In the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/C5/657/2023, the plaintiffs alleged that Tinubu, who was declared the winner of the presidential election held on February 25, lied on oath in the Form EC9 he submitted to INEC in aid of his qualifications to contest the election.
They also told the court that Tinubu falsely declared that he was not a citizen of any other country despite that he was in possession of a Guinean passport.
The trio further alleged that whereas the president-elect claimed that he was born in 1957, it was discovered that 1952 was his actual date of birth, arguing that Tinubu’s action was in gross violation of Section 117 of the Criminal Code Act as well as Section 156 of the Penal Code Act.
To usurp Tinubu, they prayed to the court to ban Tinubu from vying for any elective position for the next 10 years.
Meanwhile, Justice Omotosho ruled that the plaintiffs lacked the locus standi to file the suit, adding that the court could not exercise jurisdiction to hear it because it relates to a presidential election.
He held that under Section 285 (14) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, only an aspirant could challenge the qualification or nomination of a candidate in an election.
He held further that since the election has already been conducted, only the Court of Appeal had the jurisdiction to entertain cases arising from the presidential election.
While accusing the plaintiffs of wasting judicial time of the court by filing the suit which he described as “an abuse of court process,” Justice Omotosho held that the legal action was in bad faith as it was aimed to expose the judiciary to ridicule.
He also held that the suit, which sought to stop the inauguration that is a few days away, was capable of destabilising the democracy in the country.
Omotosho then awarded a cost of N10 million in Tinubu’s favour, N5 million in favour of the APC and another N1 million to be personally paid by counsel for the plaintiffs to each of the respondents.
He further threatened to refer the lawyers that helped the plaintiffs to file the suit to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for instituting an action “capable of dragging the judiciary to the mud.”
In his reaction to the judgement, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 25 election, Atiku Abubakar, has said the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the case was not a setback to his quest for justice.
Atiku tweeted that his legal team was primed to robustly prove that the election of February 25 was fraudulent.
He said: “The Supreme Court’s dismissal of the case of the @OfficialPDPNig is not a setback to my quest for justice.
“Our legal team is primed to robustly prove that the election of February 25 was fraudulent, did not comply with the constitutional requirements and the electoral guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission, @inecnigeria, and that the announced winner was not even qualified to contest the poll.
“The battle for democracy and the enthronement of a new order to spur growth and development in Nigeria is one to which I have committed my all and for which I am not ready to walk away at this point when our nation is at crossroads. We know that sooner than later, our esteemed Justices will make the pronouncement that will serve as a befitting requiem for mandate bandits.
“I urge my supporters to exercise patience and conduct themselves peaceably as we diligently conduct our litigation at the Presidential Election Tribunal Court. –AA.”