THE Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the suit by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking the disqualification of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kashim Shettima from the 2023 presidential election over alleged double nomination of Shettima.
A five-man panel of justices of the court led by Justice Inyang Okoro unanimously held that the PDP’s suit praying for the disqualification of Tinubu and Shettima was grossly lacking in merit and dismissed it.
Justice Adamu Jauro, who delivered the lead judgment, slammed a fine of N2 million on PDP for intruding into the internal affairs of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the conduct of its primary elections and nomination of its candidates.
“It should be noted that no political party can challenge the nomination of another political party. A political party lacks the right to challenge the activities of INEC on account of the nomination of another political party’s candidate. No court has the jurisdiction to entertain such a suit by another party,” the court held.
The court said PDP failed to show any harm it suffered because of Mr Shettima’s alleged double nomination.
Justice Jauro agreed with Tinubu’s lawyer, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, that PDP acted as a ‘busybody and meddlesome interloper’ in the ways and manners it dabbled into APC’s affairs unjustly.
According to the court, apart from the fact that PDP lacked requisite jurisdiction to institute the suit, the party also failed to provide scintilla of evidence that Shettima engaged in double nomination. The court added that PDP’s claim on the alleged double nomination of Shettima was unfortunate and a clear deliberate mischief to mislead the court and the country.
Further agreeing with Tinubu’s counsel that no matter the pains of PDP on how APC conducted its primary election and nominated its candidates, PDP must remain as 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,” Justice Jauro said stating further that the action of PDP was painful because it used the social media to set a booby trap for the Supreme Court to blackmail it.
Agreeing with the Court of Appeal’s earlier judgement dismissing the suit, Justice Jauro held: “I am in complete agreement with the Appeal Court that the PDP lacks the right to file this suit. The appellant was unable to point to where the lower court determined the substantive issues on its merit. It is clear that the suit is statute-barred. Hence this court has no power to delve into the merit of the suit.”
The suit by the PDP challenging the Tinubu/Shettima candidature was filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja on July 28, 2022.
The PDP filed the suit following the nomination of Shettima as vice presidential candidate to Tinubu at a time he (Shettima) was already the senatorial candidate of the APC for Borno Central Senatorial District.
According to the PDP, Shettima was at the time yet to withdraw his senatorial candidature and argued that that such double nominations of a person for elections to different constituencies in an election cycle breached the provisions of sections 29(1), 33, 35 and 84(1) (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022, and therefore prayed the court to invalidate the candidacy of Tinubu and Shettima from participating in the 2023 presidential election.
In its judgement on January 13, 2023, the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo dismissed the case on the grounds that PDP lacked the legal right to enquire into what he described as an internal affair of the APC. He added that the suit was caught by the principle of estoppel, saying the issue of Shettima’s nomination as Tinubu’s running mate was earlier decided by another court of competent jurisdiction.
Justice Ekwo held that the suit was an abuse of the court process and, as such, deserved to be dismissed.
Displeased with the judgement, PDP appealed to the Court of Appeal in Abuja, and the appellate court dismissed the suit in its verdict on March 25, 2023, when a three-member panel of justices affirmed the Federal High Court’s decision.
In the lead judgement delivered by James Abunduga, the appellate court described the PDP as a meddlesome interloper for dabbling into the affairs of the APC.
The PDP further appealed to the Supreme Court, where a five-man panel of justices of the apex court led by Inyang Okoro heard the appeal on Monday and fixed Friday (today) for judgement.