A suit filed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) against Bola Tinubu and Peter Obi, the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party (LP), respectively, was dismissed by a Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday.
In his decision, Justice Donatus Okorowo stated that the suit was unconstitutional and thus a “abuse of court process.”
Okorowo, who stated that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, also stated that the suit failed to disclose any plausible cause of action against the respondents.
“When a court determines that a suit is an abuse of the court process, the court has the authority to dismiss it,” he explained.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the PDP sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC, Tinubu, Kabiru Masari, LP, Obi, and Doyin Okupe as the first to eighth respondents in a suit titled FHC/ABJ/CS/1016/2022.
The PDP had asked the court to order INEC to stop Tinubu and Obi from replacing their running mates with Senators Kashim Shettima and Datti Baba-Ahmed.
The PDP is also asking the court to declare Tinubu and Obi ineligible unless they run alongside their previous running mates, Masari and Okupe.
The PDP sought an order preventing INEC from replacing Tinubu and Obi’s running mates in the originating summons with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1016/2022.
It was reported that Tinubu had nominated Masari as a surrogate running mate or placeholder in order to beat the June 17 INEC deadline.
Obi had also nominated his campaign manager, Okupe, as an interim running mate. However, INEC gave a grace period of about one month to substitute their names.
After weeks of consultations, Tinubu and Obi nominated Shettima and Baba-Ahmed respectively while Masari and Okupe resigned.
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 submission 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, the first defendant (INEC) can validly accept any change or substitution of the 4th (Masari) and 7th (Okupe) defendants as running mates of the 3rd (APC) and 6th (Labour Party) defendants.”
The PDP sought five reliefs, including a declaration that, based on the combined interpretation of Section 142(1) of the constitution, Sections 29(1), 31, and 33 of the Electoral Act 2022, and INEC’s timetable, Tinubu and Obi must be bound by their submission.
The party asked the court to rule that Tinubu and Obi were disqualified the moment they substituted the names of their running mates.
“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, the 1st defendant’s (INEC’s) election timetable, The third (Tinubu) and sixth (Obi) respondents cannot run for President in 2023 without the fourth (Masari) and seventh (Obi) respondents as their running mates.”
The PDP also claimed that the term “placeholder” does not exist in Nigerian law.
“There are no provisions in the Electoral Act for placeholder or temporary running mates.” The actions of the second (APC), third (Tinubu), fifth (Labour Party), and sixth (Obi) defendants in nominating and forwarding the names of the fourth (Masari) and seventh (Okupe) defendants as running mates for the 2023 Presidential elections are valid and continuing,” the party added.