The Supreme Court of Nigeria has affirmed the eligibility of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the President-elect, to contest the presidential election that held on February 25. In a unanimous decision by a five-member panel, the apex court held that an appeal filed by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lacked merit.
PDP had sought Tinubu’s disqualification on the premise that the Vice President-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima, allowed himself to be nominated for more than one constituency ahead of the 2023 general elections. The party argued that Shettima’s dual nomination was in gross breach of the provisions of Sections 29(1), 33, 35, and 84(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022, as amended.
Aside from praying the court to nullify Tinubu and Shettima’s candidacy, the PDP equally applied for an order to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to expunge their names from the list of nominated or sponsored candidates that were eligible to contest the presidential poll.
However, the apex court upheld the concurrent decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court in Abuja, which earlier dismissed PDP’s case. It 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 the 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 neighbor.”
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 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 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 do better to advise their client against filing this sort of suit in the future,” Justice Jauro added.
While dismissing the appeal, the Supreme Court approved N2million damages that were awarded against the PDP in favor of the respondents. This decision by the Supreme Court has put to rest any doubts about the eligibility of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to contest the presidential election that held on February 25.
In conclusion, the judiciary’s decision to uphold the legality of Tinubu’s candidacy has further strengthened the nation’s democracy. It is hoped that political parties will continue to play by the rules and avoid attempting to meddle in the affairs of their opponents. The judiciary must be commended for its impartiality and its commitment to upholding the rule of law.