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Supreme Court Dismisses PDP’s Suit Challenging Alleged ‘Double Nomination’ Of Shettima

The Supreme Court, has affirmed the eligibility of the President-elect, Bola  Ahmed Tinubu, to contest the February 25 presidential election.

The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-member panel, on Friday,  dismissed  the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seeking the disqualification of Bola Tinubu, and his vice, from the February 25 presidential election over an alleged double nomination of Senator Kashim Shettima.

A five-member justices,  upheld the ruling of the lower courts, which held that the PDP failed to establish that it had locus standi to institute the case.

The PDP had, in the suit filed on July 28, 2022, challenged the validity of the Tinubu/Shettima ticket for the 2023 presidential election.

It argued that Shettima’s nomination as the 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), claiming that Shettima had double nominations.

 The Party  claimed that when Shettima was nominated as a vice presidential candidate, he had not resigned or withdrawn his nomination as candidate for the Borno Central Senatorial poll.

It argued  that Shettima being a nominated senatorial candidate on July 14, 2022 having emerged in the May primary of the APC, when he was again nominated the vice presidential candidate, was a clear breach of Section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2022,  on multiple nominations.

The Party sought an order disqualifying the APC, Tinubu and Shettima from contesting the February 25 presidential election and  an order nullifying their candidacy.

Justice Ekwo had dismissed the suit  in a ruling on January 13, and a further appeal was also dismissed on 24th March in a ruling of the appeal court by Justice James Abundaga, for lack of locus standi.

Having lost at the trial and appellate courts, the PDP  asked the Supreme Court to invoke its powers and assume jurisdiction over the matter to set aside the previous judgements made by the lower courts and re-examine their arguments.

At the apex Court on Monday, PDP’s  lawyer Joe Agim (SAN),  claimed  the APC had admitted Shettima’s double nomination at the appellate court, a claim the APC denied.

Agim, citing a case involving Uche Nwosu against ADP as precedent, argued that his respondents did not deserve to speak, let alone make any argument, over the alleged double nomination.

“There’s a punishment for double nomination. They ought not to be heard,” Mr Agim told the highest court on Monday. “It should never happen in this country.”

But the APC lawyer, Omosanya Popoola, rebuked his colleague saying the motion did not hold water as the Federal High Court has ruled that PDP had no locus standi to bring up the matter, a judgement that was later upheld by the Court of Appeal.

He further said the matter, being a pre-election matter, had exceeded the time in which it can be challenged, saying it was too late for the PDP to raise the matter at the Supreme Court after 180 days. 

“This matter has long expired, well over 200 days”,  Popoola argued.

But Agi argued that the number of days was not an issue based on Uche Nwosu’s precedent, in which he quoted the Supreme Court as previously saying “time does not run” when treating matters of double nomination.

However, in its judgment on Friday, the apex court upheld the concurrent decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court in Abuja, which earlier dismissed the case.

The court 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.

It therefore 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.

DIPLOMATIC DIARY

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One thought on “Supreme Court Dismisses PDP’s Suit Challenging Alleged ‘Double Nomination’ Of Shettima

  1. The danger of evil is that when committed often enough it gradually takes tte colour of truth. Electoral offense is offense against the law irrespective of who points it out.

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