27th January, 2023
A Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, on Friday, dismissed a suit filed by a group seeking the disqualification of Sen. Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), from the 2023 general elections.
Justice Binta Nyako, in a judgment, held that the plaintiff, the Incorporated Trustees of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International, lacked the locus standing (legal right) to institute the case.
“The issue of locus standing of the applicant is a threshold issue because anything conducted without locus will be a nullity and it will be set aside,” she said.
Justice Nyako held that the plaintiff, having not been a political party nor a member of APC, had no legal right to file the action.
The judge, who also described the suit as “an abuse of court process,” condemned the plaintiff for filing multiple suits with similar reliefs.
She said that Justice Inyang Ekwo of an FHC had, on Dec. 15, 2022, delivered a judgment in a similar suit during which it was dismissed.
Nyako observed that the earlier suit before Ekwo and the instant suit had the same reliefs though the names of the parties were slightly different.
“Consequently, the case is hereby dismissed for being an abuse of court process,” she declared.
The group had sued the INEC chairman, the APC, and Mr. Tinubu as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.
The group, in an originating motion on notice, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1960/22, sought an order of mandamus directing INEC to exercise its statutory power in accordance with Section 84(13) of the Electoral Act 2022 to immediately expunge Tinubu’s name from its final list of presidential candidates contesting the 2023 poll.
The group alluded its ground to the failure of the APC to comply with the mandatory provisions of Section 91(3) of the Electoral Act 2022 which stipulates that a political party shall not receive any contribution of cash or kind exceeding N50 million without showing the source of the contribution to INEC, among others.
But Tinubu, through his counsel, Karma Fagbemi, told Justice Nyako that the plaintiff was a meddlesome interloper who was neither a political party nor a candidate in the poll.
He said the plaintiff lacked locus standi to institute the case, which invariably challenged the political party’s decision and its internal affairs.
Tinubu, in a preliminary objection filed by his lead counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, prayed the court to dismiss the suit for being incompetent.
Giving a 14-ground argument, the lawyer said the subject matter of the suit was a challenge of his client’s eligibility in contesting for the 2023 presidential election on the ground that the APC failed and/or neglected to identify the source of the N100 million which he paid for his expression of interest and nomination form.
He described the suit as non-justiciable.
APC lawyer, Ibrahim Audu, also spoke in the same vein.