The Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja has dismissed the petition filed by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) challenging President Bola Tinubu’s election.
The head of the five-member panel, Haruna Tsammani, who delivered the judgement of the court, said the petition, anchored on the ground of alleged double nomination of Mr Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima, as a vice-presidential candidate and Borno Central senator, lacked merit.
The case is one of the three cases that the court, which began proceedings at 9.31 a.m. on Wednesday, will be deciding on today.
The other pending petitions were the ones filed by the leading opposition candidates – Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who came second in the results declared by INEC, and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi, who took the third position.
Mr Tsammani, who earlier ruled on the preliminary motions filed by the respondents to the petition, noted that it was clear the APM’s petition was anchored on the non-qualification of Vice-President Shettima.
He explained that APM’s case centred on the allegation that while Mr Shettima was still the APC’s Borno Central senatorial candidate, he was nominated by the party, and did accept the nomination as the vice-presidential candidate of the party.
He ruled that the issue of double nomination raised by the APM was a pre-election matter that ought to have been ventilated at the Federal High Court.
He also said the issue of nomination of a candidate by a political party was an internal affair of the party.
He added that the issue of qualification of a candidate of a political party was not an all-comers’ affair.
He added that the internal affairs of a party, such as the nomination of a candidate, was not the business of another political party.
Mr Tsammani said the Nigerian constitution, having established the qualifying and disqualifying factors for candidates running for an election, no court could create other qualifying or disqualifying factors. He said the Supreme Court has followed this principle in all cases.
He went on to set out the constitutional requirements for qualification to run for the presidency:
– The person must be a citizen of Nigeria by birth.
– The person must be 40 years old or above.
– The person must be a member of a political party.
– The person must be sponsored or nominated by that political party.
– The person must be educated to the level of a secondary school certificate or its equivalent.
The court said it has no power to create additional grounds to disqualify any candidate standing for an election.
Mr Tsammani noted that the issue of double nomination of Mr Shettima has been resolved by the Supreme Court.
He rejected the argument of the APM that it had the right to relitigate the issue at the presidential election petition court because it was not joined as a party to the case decided by the Supreme Court.
The panel chairman explained further that it was clear that the APM was not a party to the case, but that it was also clear that the same issue raised in the instant petition was the same as the one the Supreme Court resolved in the earlier case.
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He also rejected the APM’s argument that the issue was not resolved in the lead judgement of the Supreme Court, explaining that a supporting judgement in which the matter was resolved was binding.
Mr Tsammani added that it was clear from the oral and documentary evidence that the APM had not established the allegation of double nomination against Mr Shettima.
He said there was nothing in the Nigerian constitution that stops a presidential candidate from replacing his running mate within 90 days, and there is also nothing that invalidates the nomination of the substitute within the stipulated period.
He resolved the sole issue of double nomination of Mr Shettima against the petitioner. He said it means the petition lacks merit.
Mr Tsammani noted that after the pre-hearing session, the APM opened and closed its case with one witness on 21 June 2023.
He said none of the respondents called any witness, but only tendered some documents from the bar.