THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked an Abuja Federal High Court to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to disqualify the candidates of the Labour Party (LP) Peter Obi and the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu from the 2023 presidential election for replacing their running mates.
PDP, in the suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/1016/2022, argued that Obi and Tinubu are not eligible to participate in the election unless they do so with their previous running mates — Doyin Okupe and Kabiru Masari, respectively.
Defendants in the suit include INEC, LP, APC, Obi, Tinubu, Okupe and Masari.
Obi and Tinubu had nominated Okupe and Masari as placeholders to beat the INEC’s June 17 deadline, but following the one month grace period for substitution given by the electoral body, last week, the two presidential candidates nominated Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed and Kashim Shettima as substantial running mates, respectively.
However, the PDP asked the court to determine if, by the combined interpretation of Section 142(1) of the Constitution, Section 29(1), 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2022, and INEC’s timetable, Tinubu and Obi are bound by the nomination of Masari and Okupe, respectively, as their running mates.
The party also asked the court to determine if by the combined interpretation of Section 142(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Sections 29(1), 31, 33 of the Electoral Act 2022, INEC can validly accept any change or substitution of the Masari and Okupe as running mates of the APC and the LP.
The PDP is also seeking five reliefs, including a declaration that by the combined interpretation of Section 142(1) of the Constitution, Section 29(1), 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2022 and INEC’s timetable, both Tinubu and Obi must be bound by their submission.
The PDP equally the court to order that Tinubu and Obi’s should be disqualified from the election the moment they substituted the names of their running mates.
The opposition party is also asking the court to make a declaration that by the combined interpretation of Section 142(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Sections 29(1), 31, 33 of the Electoral Act 2022, INEC’s election timetable, Tinubu and Obi cannot validly contest the 2023 presidential election without Masari and Obi as their respective running mates.
According to the PDP, the term ‘placeholder’ is unknown to Nigerian law.
“The Electoral Act makes no provisions whatsoever for placeholder or temporary running mates. The acts of the APC, Tinubu, Labour Party and Obi in nominating and forwarding the names of Masari and Okupe defendants as running mates for the 2023 presidential elections is valid and subsisting,” the party argued.