Wednesday, 31st May 2023

Appeal Court dismisses suit against APC, Tinubu, others

By Ameh Ochojila, Abuja
19 February 2023   |   3:55 am
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has dismissed an appeal filed against the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has dismissed an appeal filed against the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The court also affirmed the decision of the lower court, which had earlier dismissed the suit for lacking in merit.

In a judgment delivered on Friday, the court upheld the preliminary objections filed by the office of Babatunde Ogala (SAN) & Co on behalf of the APC on the ground that the suit at the lower court was not a pre-election matter since the appellant cannot be said to be a person covered by Section 285(14) a, b, and c of the 1999 Constitution being a Non-governmental Organisation (NGO).

It also held that the removal of the 2nd defendant’s name at the lower court meant that the judgment of the lower court was not appealed and the court consequently struck out the Notice of Appeal as incompetent.

On the merits of the case, the Court of Appeal held that the appeal was lacking in merit and that the appellant only sought to revive the dissolved NGO through the back door, and that the counsel to the appellant, who is also a trustee of the NGO should live with same in sober reflections.

The court further stated that the appellant was not clothed with locus as can be gleaned from Section 285(14) a, b, and c of the 1999 Constitution. It also held that the appellant is a busybody and a meddlesome interloper.
While dismissing the appeal, the appellate court awarded the sum of N100,000.00 against the appellant and in favor of the first to fourth respondents each.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, had on December 15, 2022, dismissed a suit filed by Emeka Nwajuba, (former Minister of State for Education) and Incorporated Trustees of Rights for all International against APC and Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/ 942/ 2022.

Other defendants include the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Attorney General of the Federation, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In a suit filed on June 17, 2022, and amended on August 31, 2022, the plaintiff asked the court to nullify, cancel and declare as illegal, null, and void, the votes scored by the 3rd and 4th defendants (Tinubu and Atiku) at the special National Convention of 1st and 2nd defendants (APC and PDP) held on the 6th and 7th of June 2022 and on the 28th and 29th of May, 2022 respectively, which produced the 3rd and 4th defendants as the 2023 presidential candidates of the 1st and 2nd defendants on the grounds of corruption, buying, and selling of delegates votes and voters’ inducement.

The plaintiffs also sought an order returning the 2nd plaintiff as the duly elected/ nominated presidential candidate of the 1st defendant being that by operation of Section 90(3), the 2nd plaintiff, Chukwuemeka Nwajuba was the only candidate out of the 10 contestants who polled votes at the 1st defendants’ convention and whose source of the N100m was verified and complied with by the Electoral Act as contained in the print out of the names in the bank statement of over 1000 individual contributions in person.

Other reliefs sought by the plaintiffs include an order of perpetual injunction restraining, barring, and prohibiting the 6th defendant from accepting the candidacy of the 3rd and 4th defendants from the 1st and 2nd defendants as their presidential candidates for the 2023 presidential elections on the grounds that their emergence offends the provisions of the Electoral Act and their party’s constitution in the composition of the national convention.

In his argument then, counsel to APC and Tinubu; the law office of Babatunde Ogala (SAN) & Co, on behalf of APC, filed a Memorandum of Conditional Appearance, a Notice of Preliminary Objection, and a Counter-Affidavit with written addresses.

The preliminary objection was premised on the grounds that the affidavit upon which the suit predicated was incompetent by operation of law as the deponent had no knowledge of the facts deposed, and that the plaintiffs lacked the power to institute and maintain the suit against the 2nd defendants.

Other grounds include that the originating summons was incompetent having not been issued or sealed by the registrar of the court and that the suit constituted an abuse of the court process.