A Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawsuit on Friday that sought to disqualify Sen. Bola Tinubu,the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate and his vice Mr. Kassim Shettima, for the general elections in 2023.
Justice Inyang Ekwo dismissed the lawsuit in his ruling on the grounds that the PDP lacked locus standi to pursue it.
The lawsuit, according to Justice Ekwo, was a misuse of the legal system and was caught by the principle of issue estoppel.
PDP, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1734/2022, had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC, Tinubu and Shettima as 1st to 4th defendants respectively.
Sen. Tinubu’s eligibility to run for president in 2023 as an APC candidate was contested by the party in a lawsuit filed on July 28, 2022, on the grounds that Mr. Shettima’s nomination as his running mate violated the provisions of Sections 29(1), 33, 35, and 84(1)(2) of the Electoral Act, 2022. (as amended).
It claimed that Shettima’s candidacy to run for both the vice presidential and the Borno Central senatorial seats was illegal.
The PDP also asked for an order to invalidate Tinubu, Shettima, and the APC’s eligibility to run in the presidential election set for February 25.
Additionally, it requested an order ordering INEC to strike their names from its list of eligible candidates who had been nominated or sponsored.
They argued that the plaintiff (PDP) lacked the locus standi (legal right) to file the case, which invariably was challenging the political party’s decision and its nomination of candidates for the polls.
They further submitted that such act was an internal affairs of APC which they argued was non-justiciable.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo agreed with the defendants that the PDP had no locus standi to file the matter.
According to him,where there is no locus, the court has no jurisdiction.
He said the court found that the action was incompetent for lack of locus standi.
However, the defendants asked the court to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction in their preliminary objection, which was presented by Thomas Ojo and submitted by Lateef Fagbemi, SSN.
Ekwo held that that matter bordered on the internal affairs of the APC in which the PDP lacked locus to file the case.
On argument about non-disclosure of cause of action against the respondents, the judge said that there was a nexus between locus standi and a cause of action.
He, therefore, said that since the PDP had no locus standi, it also did not have any cause of action against the defendants.
Justice Ekwo also agreed with the defendants that the suit was an abuse of court process.
“It is express in the provision of Section 29 (5) of the Electoral Act, 2022 that the right of action on the matter for which the applicant/respondent (PDP) has filed this action is given to ‘any aspirant who participated in the primaries of his political party’,” he said.
The judge said that it had been established that the PDP was not an aspirant of the APC.
“Therefore, there is no iota of law which support this action. It is on this ground that I find that this case is an abuse of process and I so hold,” he said.
Justice Ekwo, consequently, dismissed the suit for constituting an abuse of court process.