Why S’Court dismisses PDP’s suit on Shettima double nomination….Clears coast for Tinubu inaugurationon May 29

The Supreme Court on Friday cleared the coast for inauguration of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu as President of Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29 when the court dismissed the suit challenging Kashim Shettima’s nomination as his Vice President.

In an unanimous judgment the apex court dismissed the appeal filed by the People Democratic Party, PDP, challenging the President -Elect Tinubu candidacy on the ground of an alleged double nomination of his running mate Alhaji Kashim Shettima.

The unanimous decision was on a pre election matter which if the decision had gone other way would have become an incumbrance for the swearing in ceremony.

The ceremony will now proceed not withstanding Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi petitions pending before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC.

Recall , PDP, had in an originating summon brought the action on double nomination before the Federal High Court Abuja after Asiwaju Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, on July 14, 2023 nominated Alhaji Kashim Shettima who was the candidate of the party for Borno Central Senatorial District as his running mate.

Delivering the lead judgment of the Supreme Court, Justice Adamu Jauro said that both Court of Appeal and the the Federal High Court were right in the concurrent decisions that dismissed the appeal and the suit, respectively.

He said that it was clear from the statute, especially the Electoral Act 2022 that People Democratic Party lacked the locus standi, the requisite right to interfer in the internal affairs of All Progressive Congress, APC. Therefore, had no locus standi to have instituted the legal action.

Justice Jauro said that only a member of the political party or an aspirant who participated in the party primary can challenge the action in court.
“As the plaintiff has no legal right to institute the action, no court can give that right,” he said.

He explained that section 285 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria which the appellant counsel relied upon, only allows political parties to challenge the activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC,.

Justice Jauro notes that both lower courts did not make pronouncement on the merit of the suit. The Supreme Court can not now exercise it’s jurisdiction on the merit because the time allowed for pre election matter hearing has elapsed.

This is appeal lack merit and is hereby dismissed and a cost of two million Naira awarded against the appellant in favour of the respondents, he held.

But in their contributions to the lead judgement, Justices Inyang Okoro, Amina Augie, Helen Ogunmwumiju and Justice Emmanuel Agim dived into the merit of the appeal as the four justices agreed that Shettima nomination as Vice President did not amount to double nomination.

According to Justice Inyang Okoro, “attitude of the appellant amounted to misleading the court, because Shettima withdrew his nomination for the senatorial seat and accepted his nomination for the Vice President.

On her part, Justice Amina Augie took time to explain and she distinguished Uche Nwosu of Imo state case of 2019 and Kashim Shettima case. She said while Nwosu accepted governorship nomination for Action Alliance, AA, and All Progressive Congress, APC, Shettima relinquished his nomination when he was nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate.

According to her: “Similar situation occurred in 1999 when President Olusegun Obasanjo nominated the then Governor -Elect of Adamawa State Atiku Abubakar as his Vice President,”

She said the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Bonny Haruna who replaced Atiku as the governor from his running mate position.

Justice Ogunmwumiju said neither the Electoral Act nor the Political party guideline forbid replacement of candidates during nomination.

While Justice Emmanuel Agim said that the APC merely gave Shettima option to choose between the senatorial and Vice President constituencies adding that it was clear that he did not plan to hold double nomination.