On Friday, the Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking to disqualify the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, and the vice-president-elect, Kashim Shettima, from the 2023 presidential election.
The apex court affirmed the eligibility of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates for the presidential race held on February 25.
PDP’s Lawsuit Against Shettima
The PDP had appealed the decision in case number SC/CV/501/2023, claiming that Tinubu should be disqualified due to Shettima’s dual nomination for both the Borno Central Senatorial seat and the Vice Presidential position. According to the PDP, this double nomination violated several sections of the Electoral Act of 2022, as amended, including Sections 29(1), 33, 35, and 84(1) and (2).
The PDP requested the court to invalidate Tinubu and Shettima’s candidacies and also asked for an order compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove their names from the list of nominated or sponsored candidates eligible to participate in the presidential election.
Opposing the plaintiff’s argument, Lateef Fagbemi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), contended that the PDP should have remained a bystander regardless of its grievances regarding how the APC nominated its candidates.
“It is abundantly clear that the Appellant in the totality of its position in the instant case, is peeping and poke-nosing into the affairs of another party as a busybody and meddlesome interloper,” he said.
Supreme Court’s Verdict
In a unanimous decision made by a panel of five judges, the court declared that the appeal brought by the PDP to challenge the validity of the Tinubu/Shettima ticket had no merit.
Justice Adamu Jauro delivered the lead judgment, upholding the previous rulings of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court in Abuja, which had both dismissed the case.
The court stated that the plaintiff did not have the legal right to interfere in the internal affairs of the APC, which had nominated Tinubu and Shettima as its candidates for the election, and thus dismissed the appeal.
The court described the appeal as an intrusive and interfering action by a meddlesome outsider, emphasizing that the law does not allow a political party to meddle in the internal affairs of another party.
The court agreed with the respondents’ argument that section 285 (14) (c) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and section 149 of the Electoral Act of 2022 did not give them the legal right to question Shettima’s candidature based on double nomination.
The apex court held that section 84 of the Electoral Act only granted the right to challenge a party’s nomination to an aspirant who had participated in the party’s primary election.
Furthermore, the court maintained that the PDP failed to prove that its rights were threatened and could not establish the harm it suffered as a result of the APC’s nomination.
Moreover, the apex court criticized the PDP for filing a frivolous appeal.
The court affirmed that the evidence presented indicated that Shettima had properly withdrawn as the APC candidate in the Borno senatorial election on July 6, 2022.
Justice Jaurosaid, “From the trial court, down to this court, it has been a waste of precious judicial time.”
He admonished counsel to advise their clients “against filing this sort of suit in future.”
It further awarded in favour of the respondents, the sum of N2 Million damages against the PDP.