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Court Dismisses PDP’s Suit Seeking Tinubu, Shettima’s Disqualification

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A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, dismissed a suit by the Peoples Democratic Party seeking the disqualification of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu and his running mate, Kassim Shettima, for the 2023 elections.

In the suit filed on July 28, 2022, the party contested the validity of Tinubu to contest the 2023 presidential election as the APC candidate on the grounds that Shettima’s nomination as his 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.

It argued that Shettima’s nomination to contest the position of vice president and Borno Central senatorial seat breached the law.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, who delivered the judgment in the suit, dismissed it on the ground that the PDP lacked locus standi to institute the suit.

Describing the suit as an abuse of court process, the justice held that the case was caught by the principle of issue estoppel.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the PDP, in its originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1734/2022, had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission, APC, Tinubu and Shettima as first to fourth defendants respectively.

The PDP sought an order disqualifying the APC, Tinubu and Shettima from contesting the presidential election scheduled for February 25.

It also sought an order nullifying their candidacy as well as an order compelling INEC to remove their names from its list of nominated or sponsored candidates eligible to contest the poll.

But the defendants, argued that the PDP lacked the locus standi to file the suit, which was challenging the political party’s decision and its nomination of candidates for the polls. They also contended that the party’s (APC) decision was an internal one

Ruling, Justice Ekwo said the court found the action incompetent for lack of locus standi and that the matter bordered on the internal affairs of the APC, in which the PDP had no legal right to file the case.

He agreed with the defendants that the suit was an abuse of court process and that the PDP had no locus standi to file the matter. And where there is no locus, according to the Justice, the court has no jurisdiction.

On the non-disclosure of cause of action against the respondents, the judge said that there was a nexus between locus standi and a cause of action stating that since the PDP had no locus standi, it also did not have any cause of action against the defendants.

“It is express in the provision of Section 29 (5) of the Electoral Act, 2022 that the right of action on the matter for which the applicant/respondent (PDP) has filed this action is given to ‘any aspirant who participated in the primaries of his political party’,” he said.

“Therefore, there is no iota of law which supports this action. It is on this ground that I find that this case is an abuse of process and I so hold,” he said.

Justice Ekwo, consequently, dismissed the suit for constituting an abuse of court process asserting that it had been established that the PDP was not an aspirant of the APC.

The preliminary objection was filed by Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and argued by Thomas Ojo.

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