ABUJA– In a groundbreaking verdict, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has upheld the eligibility of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the President-elect, to participate in the presidential election held on February 25. The apex court, comprised of a five-member panel, issued a unanimous decision on Friday, declaring that the appeal filed by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the legality of Tinubu’s candidacy lacked merit. The PDP’s appeal, marked as SC/CV/501/2023, sought Tinubu’s disqualification based on the contention that Senator Kashim Shettima, the Vice President-elect, had been nominated for multiple constituencies ahead of the 2023 general elections.
According to the PDP’s argument, Shettima’s dual nomination for both the Borno Central Senatorial seat and the Vice Presidential position violated the provisions of Sections 29(1), 33, 35, 84(1), and (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022, as amended. Consequently, in addition to seeking the nullification of Tinubu and Shettima’s candidacies, the appellant requested an order compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove their names from the list of eligible presidential candidates.
However, the Supreme Court, in a lead judgment delivered by Justice Adamu Jauro, held that the PDP lacked the legal right (locus standi) to interfere in the affairs of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which nominated both Tinubu and Shettima. The apex court upheld the concurrent decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court in Abuja, which had previously dismissed the PDP’s case. It concurred with the respondents’ argument that Section 285 (14) (c) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and Section 149 of the Electoral Act, 2022, did not confer locus standi to challenge Shettima’s candidature based on double nomination.
The Supreme Court emphasized that Section 84 of the Electoral Act only empowered a candidate who participated in a political party’s primary election to challenge the party’s nomination of a candidate. It further held that the PDP failed to establish the harm it suffered as a result of the APC’s nomination, emphasizing that the law does not permit a political party to interfere in the internal affairs of another political party.
The Supreme Court stated that the PDP’s appeal was the action of a nosy busybody and meddlesome interloper, peering into the affairs of its neighbor. Moreover, the court criticized the PDP for filing a frivolous appeal that could potentially bring the judiciary into disrepute. The apex court concluded that the evidence presented demonstrated that Shettima duly withdrew as the APC’s candidate in the Borno senatorial election on July 6, 2022.
“In whichever angle this appeal is viewed, 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 advise their client against filing this sort of suit in the future,” Justice Jauro remarked. In addition to dismissing the appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the N2 million damages awarded against the PDP in favor of the respondents.[logo-slider]