Home Politics 2023: Court to hear suit challenging Tinubu, Atiku candidacy Thursday

2023: Court to hear suit challenging Tinubu, Atiku candidacy Thursday

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Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja has fixed Thursday for hearing in a suit seeking to nullify the elections of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively.

The former Minister of State for Education, Barrister Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who resigned from the cabinet last 28th April to advance his presidential aspiration in the APC, filed a suit jointly with the Incorporated Trustees of Rights for All International, a non-governmental organisation, citing a breach of the Electoral Act 2022 in the presidential primaries of both political parties.

Other defendants in the matter are the APC, PDP, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In the suit filed through their lawyer, Mr Okere Nnamdi, the plaintiffs alleged that the primary that produced Tinubu as the APC’s 2023 presidential candidate was tainted by corruption and widespread vote buying, adding that the majority of the delegates were bought over with United States Dollars.

Tinubu overwhelmingly won the APC primary on 8th June with over 60 percent of the votes in a field of 14 aspirants, including Nwajiuba. 1The former governor of Lagos State scored 1,271 votes as against 316 by his closest rival, former Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi. Nwajiuba had only one vote.

In the proof of evidence attached to the suit, Nwajiuba attached a video clip showing where Amaechi complained that delegates at the APC primary sold their votes.

The plaintiffs also queried Tinubu’s source of income and his educational qualifications.

They urged the court to declare that Tinubu, “who had previously sworn an affidavit in the INEC nomination form declaring that he lost his primary and secondary school documents and benefitted therefrom, cannot in a latter affidavit deny and abandon same facts deposed in the previous affidavit and thus falsely contradicting his academic qualifications”.

Copies of the affidavits Tinubu signed while running for Governor of Lagos State on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy were supplied by the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs: “That the entire circumstances surrounding the two depositions of the third defendant (Tinubu) point to the fact that they are false and misleading and cannot be relied upon.

“That the possession of a higher degree does not substitute the minimum requirement of law, where the minimum academic requirement is manifestly absent by an avowed fact.

“That the possession of a higher education qualification such as a first degree or Master’s degree is predicated on the minimum educational qualification as provided in the Constitution”.

Among other things, the plaintiffs prayed the court to determine “whether the APC is exempted from compliance with section 90(3) of the Electoral Act 2022, having presented the third defendant as its presidential candidate to the sixth defendant (INEC), and the sixth defendant accepted and published same, being the name of a person whose source of N100 million contribution fee for the nomination form and expression of interest form was not verified”.

The plaintiffs also want the court to determine “whether the constitutional provision prescribing the academic qualification of candidates and prescribing minimum qualification of school certificate or its equivalent has been complied with by the third defendant who, on oath, has admitted  that he does not possess such minimum qualification prescribed in the  1999 Constitution of Nigeria”.

For Atiku, the plaintiffs alleged that he engaged in vote buying.

They want the court to determine “whether the conduct of the third and fourth defendants (Tinubu and Atiku) and their agents, who by way of corrupt inducement of delegates with US Dollars, which being a foreign currency and non-legal tender in Nigeria under the CBN Act, and the possession which requires declaration under the EFCC Act, used the Dollars for inducement of votes in favour of the third and fourth defendants, have rendered the votes of such delegates cast in favour of the third and fourth defendants at the first and second defendant’s special conventions illegal, void and invalid and of no effect whatsoever; and thus inhibiting the third and fourth defendants from benefiting from the proceeds of their own gross illegalities”.

Justice Ekwo ordered service of all the relevant court processes as well as hearing notices on all the defendants in the matter.

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