APM vs Tinubu: Again, PEPC adjourns case till June 9 to reference Supreme Court judgment
The Supreme Court had dismissed a similar appeal by PDP seeking the disqualification of Tinubu
By Solomon Onyilo
The Presidential Election Petition Court, (PEPC), on Friday adjourned the petition of the Allied People's Movement (APM) challenging the victory of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu to June 9 to enable parties reference a Supreme Court judgment on double nomination.
At resumed sitting on Friday, counsel for the petitioner, Yakubu Maikasuwa, SAN, informed the court that though the last adjournment was to enable parties obtain a copy of the Supreme Court judgment delivered on a similar matter as the petition but the parties were yet to access the Supreme court judgment.
The lawyer, therefore, prayed the court for an adjournment to Friday June 9 to enable parties access the judgment and take appropriate decision.
Kemi Pinhero, Lateef Fagbemi and Akin Olujimi, counsel to the 1st to 5th respondents in the petition , all Senior Advocates of Nigeria, did not oppose the application.
When the matter was called May 30, Tinubu’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, informed the court of a recent judgment by the Supreme Court, which according to him, appears to have resolved the same issue the APM has brought before the PEPEC.
“We are aware that the Supreme Court gave a decision on this same matter in the yet-to-be-reported judgment SC/CV/501/20223 and the parties involved were Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) versus the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and three others where the apex court resolved all the issues.
“We promise within the next two days that the Certified True Copies of the judgment of the Supreme Court will be made available.
“And we will also discuss with the petitioners whether in light of the decision of the Supreme Court, whether there will still be the need to continue with this petition,” Olanipekun submitted.
Responding, APM’s counsel, Shehu Abubakar, however, requested for a short time to enable the petitioners to avail themselves of the judgment so as to make informed decisions.
“Based on the submission of the learned silk, we shall be praying to adjourn the hearing of this petition to enable us apply to the Supreme Court for the copy of the judgment referred to, to enable us examine same and know the effect it has on this petition,” Abubakar.
The Supreme Court had dismissed the appeal by the PDP seeking the disqualification of Tinubu in the February 25 presidential election over alleged double nomination of his Vice-President, Senator Kashim Shettima.
The apex court, in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Adamu Jauro, held that the case of the PDP was incompetent and lacking in merit because it lacked the necessary legal authority to initiate the suit in the first place.
According to the apex court, Section 285(14)(c) of the constitution does not permit a political party to interfere in the internal affairs of another political party. It is, therefore, the position of the Supreme Court that the PDP, not being a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), cannot challenge how the APC produced its candidates for an election.
The apex court also pointed out that the case of Nwosu relied upon by the appellant was not applicable because Nwosu was nominated by two different political parties, while in the instant appeal, Shettima was nominated by just one political party, the APC.
The five-member panel led by Justice John Okoro, accordingly, upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court both in Abuja, which had dismissed the appellant’s case for lack of locus standi.
Besides, the apex court held that the case of the appellant has become statute barred having run beyond the 180 days permitted by law hence, it cannot delve into the merit of the case.
Specifically, the PDP had sought the disqualification of President-elect, Tinubu and the Vice-President-elect, Shettima, over alleged double nomination; an act which they say violates the electoral laws.
The appellant had anchored its appeal on the claims that the appellate court erred in law when it dismissed its appeal and affirmed the judgment of a trial court which held that the suit was incompetent and lacking in merit.
PDP had claimed that the APC breached the law when it nominated Shettima as senatorial candidate for Borno Central and as vice-presidential candidate.
But, the apex court held that PDP cannot challenge the nomination of Shettima as vice-presidential candidate because it lacked the necessary locus standi to do so, having not been an aspirant, a member of APC, nor shown any harm it suffered as a result of the nomination of Shettima as VP candidate.
According to the apex court, “No matter how manifestly bad the process of an election, it is only a person with locus standi that can file a suit against it.”
It said that no matter how pained the PDP may be, it can only remain mum and be an onlooker.
It described the PDP as a busybody and a meddlesome interloper because it did not disclose any nexus between it and the action of the APC.
The apex court, besides, affirmed the N2 million cost awarded against the appellant in favour of the respondents, which are the INEC, APC, Tinubu and Shettima.
Similarly the APM’s petition is anchored on the claims that Tinubu was not qualified to contest the February 25 presidential election on the grounds of alleged double nomination of his vice-presidential candidate.
The petitioners are also questioning the nullification of Tinubu’s candidacy on the grounds of the substitution of the initial “placeholder,” Kabir Masari, with Shettima.
APM had in its petition marked: CA/PEPC/04/2023, contended that the withdrawal of Mr. Ibrahim Masari who was initially nominated as the vice-presidential candidate of the APC invalidated Tinubu’s candidacy in view of Section 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution.
It is the view of the petitioners that Tinubu’s candidature had elapsed as at the time he nominated Shettima as replacement for Masari, who was nominated as place holder for the substantive vice-president nominee.
They submitted that as at the time Tinubu announced Shettima as his running-mate , “he was no longer in a position, constitutionally, to nominate a running-mate since he had ceased to be a presidential candidate of the 2nd respondent having regards to the provisions of section 142 of the 1999 Constitution”.
APM further submitted that Masari’s initial nomination activated the joint ticket principle enshrined in the constitution, stressing that his subsequent withdrawal invalidated the said joint ticket.
Amongst the reliefs they are seeking from the court include a declaration that Shettima was not qualified to contest as the vice-presidential candidate of the APC as at February 25 when the election was conducted by INEC having violated the provisions of Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
“An order nullifying and voiding all the votes scored by Tinubu in the presidential election in view of his non-qualification as a candidate of the APC”.