AN Abuja Federal High Court has dismissed a suit seeking an interim injunction to stop President-elect Bola Tinubu from being inaugurated as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29.
In a ruling delivered by presiding judge James Omotosho on Friday, May 26, the court concluded that it lacked the necessary jurisdiction to grant the request made in an ex-parte application that three persons who described themselves as Concerned Nigerians brought before it.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/ 657/2023, the plaintiffs — Anongu Moses, Praise Isaiah and Paul Audu – who described themselves as Concerned Nigerians claimed that Tinubu lied under oath on his Form EC9 when he claimed he wasn’t a citizen of another nation.
Additionally, they claimed that the President-elect misrepresented his age under oath.
The plaintiffs informed the court that despite having a passport from Guinea, the President-elect claimed he was a citizen of no other nation.
Concerning educational qualifications, the plaintiffs informed the court that further research had shown that ‘Bola Tinubu’ was a female who had studied at Chicago University in the United States of America.
Additionally, they said that although the President-elect claimed to have been born in 1957, it was determined that he was actually born in 1952.
They claimed that Tinubu’s conduct violated Section 117 of the Criminal Code Act and Section 156 of the Penal Code Act in flagrant ways.
In order to prevent Tinubu from taking office while cases before the Presidential Election Petition Court are being decided, the petitioners, among other things, petitioned the court to order his incarceration.
In addition, they asked the court to prohibit Tinubu from running for any elective office for the following 10 years.
The plaintiffs testified before the court that they had cast ballots in the February 25 presidential election.
In its ruling, the court stated that the lawsuit was “unconstitutional, frivolous, and vexatious”, adding that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the case because the plaintiffs lacked locus standi (legal standing) to bring it.
The court emphasised that only a candidate can contest the eligibility or nomination of a candidate in an election under Section 285 (14) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
It further ruled that only the Court of Appeal has jurisdiction to hear cases involving the presidential election because the election has already been held.
Omotosho further held that by launching the lawsuit, which he described as an abuse of the legal system, the plaintiffs wasted the court’s time.
The judge ruled that the lawsuit was filed in bad faith because it was intended to make the judiciary an object of mockery.
Omotosho warned that the lawyers who assisted the plaintiffs in the lawsuit will be reported to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee and stated that the court would not allow itself to be used as a tool to destabilise the nation.
He thereafter dismissed the case and awarded a total of N15 million against the plaintiffs – N10 and N5 million in favour of Tinubu and the APC respectively.
The court also fined the plaintiffs’ lawyers N1 million.
The court decided that the cost awarded against the plaintiffs will accrue 10 per cent interest annually until its final liquidation.
In another development, the Supreme Court, on Friday, May 26, dismissed a suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the disqualification of President-elect Bola Tinubu and Vice President-elect Kashim Shettima over alleged double nomination.
In a ruling which paved the way for Tinubu and Shettima’s inauguration on May 29, the Supreme Court held that the PDP lacked the locus standi to file the lawsuit.
Adamu Jauro, the Supreme Court Justice who delivered the judgment, noted that the PDP acted as an intrusive interloper and a busybody by filing the suit.
The court further described the PDP’s action as misleading and “sad”.
The apex court awarded a sum of N2 million against the PDP and dismissed the suit for lacking merit.
Similarly, on March 30, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed by a former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, seeking the disqualification of the presidential candidates of the APC, Tinubu and the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, from the just concluded presidential election.
The court dismissed the appeal when the former minister withdrew it after learning that it had been submitted outside the legal deadline and was; therefore, statute barred.
The Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal in Abuja had dismissed the matter on the grounds that the case lacked merit.
Nwajiuba and a non-governmental organisation, Rights for Everyone International, had petitioned the Supreme Court to annul the procedures that resulted in Tinubu and Abubakar emerging as the candidates for their respective political parties.
Also, the Court Of Appeal on May 25 slammed a N40 million fine on an ex-presidential candidate, Ambrose Owuru, for filing a suit to stop Tinubu’s inauguration.
The three-member panel of the court led by Jamil Tukur determined that by initiating a frivolous, vexatious, and annoying lawsuit to irritate the respondents, Owuru had engaged in a blatant abuse of the legal system.
Owuru, the presidential candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the 2019 elections, filed a suit in April challenging the outcome of the 2019 elections. He claimed he won the poll.
He requested that the court declare the President’s seat vacant and order that he be sworn in as the legitimate winner.
However, in its judgment on May 25, the appellate court decided that the appellant’s complaints about the 2019 presidential election were unusual and unwarranted, given that they had been taken to the highest court and were rejected for lack of substance.
The court ruled that Owuru’s attempt to revive the case that was dismissed in 2019 was made to bring lower courts into conflict with the supremacy of the apex court.
The court ordered that the defendants in the case — President Muhammadu Buhari, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Tinubu — should receive N10 million each from Owuru as compensation.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Tinubu and Shettima will be sworn in as President and Vice President on May 29 for a tenure of four years.
Tinubu was declared the winner of the presidential poll held on February 25.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared him the winner with 8,794,726 votes.