A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has been asked to stop the All Progressives Congress (APC) from replacing Alhaji Kabiru Masari, as the running mate to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the party in the 2023 presidential election.
DIPLOMATIC DIARY reports that Tinubu had few days to the deadline for the submission of his nomination form, announced Masari as an interim running mate
He had submitted Masari’s name to the Independent National Electoral Coomission (INEC) as an interim (placeholder) Vice Presidential candidate.
But two chieftains of the party, who were delegates in the just concluded APC National Convention, Zakari Maigari and Zubainatu Mohammed, approached the court to stop INEC from accepting change of vice presidential candidate from APC.
The plaintiffs joined the APC, INEC, Tinubu and Masari as defendants.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ CS/1059/2022 and dated July 4, 2022, the plaintiffs want the court to determine whether having regard to the combined effect of sections 142(1) and sections 29(1), 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act, it is legally permissible for the fourth defendant to withdraw as the vice presidential candidate of the first defendant and the running mate of the third defendant so as to be substituted or replaced with another person.
They also want the court to determine whether in view of the joint ticket provision in section 142(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the withdrawal of the fourth defendant as the candidate for the office of Vice President does not entail the automatic withdrawal of the third defendant as the candidate for the office of President for purpose of the 2023 general elections.
The plaintiffs in the suit sought the following reliefs: “Whether having regard to the combined effect of Sections 142(1), 29(1), 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act, it is legally permissible for the 4th defendant to withdraw as the vice-presidential candidate of the 1st defendant and the running mate of the 3 defendant so as to be substituted or replaced with another person by the 1st defendant as its candidate for the office of Vice President for purpose of the February 25, 2023 Presidential Election.
“Whether the 3rd defendant having nominated the 4th defendant in compliance with Section 142(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the 3rd defendant can subsequently validly undertake or effect nomination of any other person to replace the 3rd defendant whether upon withdrawal of the 4th defendant or under any other circumstances, in view of the provisions of Section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2022.”
The plaintiffs pointed out that Section 187 (1) of the Constitution creates the Governorship candidate and Deputy-Governorship candidate joint ticket, just as section 142(1) establishes the joint-ticket for the Presidential candidate and Vice-Presidential candidate.
They also cited several cases including those of PDP vs Degi Eremienyo, Tafida vs Bafarawa and others, Balewa vs Muazu wherein the courts held that a candidate and his running mate “must be seen as birds of same feathers that must ascend (fly) together and descend together. Each is a necessary compliment to the other. One cannot fall alone leaving the other standing. Nay, they must stand or fall together”.