Court dismisses suit against Tinubu, Atiku over primaries
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja per Honorable Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo on the 15th December, 2022 dismissed a suit filed by Hon. Emeka Nwajuba, (former Minister of State for Education), and a Non Governmental Organization,Rights for All International (RAI), against the All-Progressives Congress & Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/ 942/ 2022. Other parties sued are the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Attorney General of the Federation and the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The suit which was filed on the 17th of June, 2022 by the plaintiff’s lawyer,Okere Nnamdi, was amended pursuant to Order of court on the 31st of August, 2022. It prayed the Court for Thirty -two reliefs with the main reliefs as follows:
- A DECLARATION that having regard to the clear, unambiguous and express provisions, spirit and tenor of Articles 11(a) (i), 12 (1) and 13 (1) of the Constitution of the All Progressives Congress (2014) as Amended , the special convention of the 1st Defendant held on the 6th and 7th June,2022 was not properly constituted as regards the composition of delegates who should attend and vote at the said convention and did not confer the convention the powers to elect the 3rd Defendant as the Presidential Candidate of the 1st Defendant for the 2023 Presidential election.
- A DECLARATION that having regard to the clear, unambiguous and express provisions, spirit and tenor of Section 33(1) And (5) (C) of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party 2017 as Amended , the Special National convention of the 2nd Defendant held on the 28 and 29th of May, 2022 was not properly constituted as regards the composition of delegates who should attend and vote at the said convention and did not confer the convention the powers to elect the 4th Defendant as the Presidential candidate of the 2nd Defendant for the 2023 Presidential election.
- A DECLARATION that having regard to the clear, unambiguous and express provisions, spirit and tenor of Section 6(6) (A) (B) And (C) read alongside Section 15(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Amended, this Honorable Court has the inherent judicial powers to nullify, cancel and declare as illegal, null and void the votes scored by the 3rd and 4th Defendants at the special national convention of the 3rd and 4th Defendants at the special national convention of the 1st and 2nd Defendants held on the 6th and 7th of June 2022 and on the 28th and 29th of May,2022 respectively, and 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 voter inducement.
- A DECLARATION that all the votes cast in favor of the 3rd and 4th Defendants at the special convention of the 1st and 2nd Defendant held on the 6th and 7th of June, 2022 and on the 28th and 29th of May, 2022 respectively are illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever on the grounds of corruption, buying and selling of delegates votes and voter inducement.
- AN ORDER CANCELING, SETTING ASIDE AND NULLIFYING the votes scored by the 3rd and 4th Defendants at the special national convention of the 1st and 2nd Defendants held on the 6th and 7th of June,2022 and on the 28th and 29th of May, 2022 respectively and which produced the 3rd and 4th Defendants as the Presidential candidates of the 1st and 2nd Defendants on the grounds of illegality, voter inducement and corruption.
- 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, Honorable Chukwuemeka Nwajuba is the only candidate out of the 10 contestants who polled votes at the 1st Defendants’ convention and whose source of the N100m is verified and complied with the electoral Act as contained in the print out of the names in the bank statement of over 1000 individual contributions in person.
- 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; and the federal character principle enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
In defense of the suit, Babatunde Ogala SAN on behalf of All Progressives Congress 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 following grounds:
- That the Affidavit upon which the suit predicated is incompetent by operation of law as the Deponent had no knowledge of the facts deposed.
- That the Plaintiffs lacked the Locus standi to institute and maintain the suit against the 2nd Defendant.
- The Originating summons is incompetent not issued or sealed by the Registrar of the Federal High Court.
- The Plaintiffs lacked the cause of action to institute or maintain the suit against the 2nd Defendant.
- Proper parties were absent in the suit;
- And the suit constituted an abuse of Court Process.
On the 21st of October, 2022 when the matter came up for hearing, Mr. OGALA on behalf of the All-Progressives Congress adopted the Notice of Preliminary filed and prayed the Court to dismiss/strike out the suit for want of jurisdiction.
Counsel to the Plaintiff, Okere in reaction to the Notice of Preliminary Objection filed a Motion on Notice seeking to dismiss the Preliminary objection, adopted the same in urging the Court to dismiss the objections filed and proceed to determine the suit on its merit.
The trial judge while delivering his judgment on the 15th of December, 2022 ruled first on the Motion on Notice of the Plaintiff seeking to dismiss the Preliminary objection of the 1st Defendant that no Preliminary objection can be raised to a Preliminary objection, the Motion was an aberration in Law and dismiss same accordingly.
Secondly, on Preliminary objection filed on behalf of the 1st Defendant, the Court agreed with learned counsel to the 1st Defendant (APC) that the two Plaintiffs lacked the locus standi to institute and maintain the action against the 1st Defendant. The 1st Plaintiff being a Non-Governmental Organization while the 2nd Plaintiff (Hon. Emeka Nwajuba) lacked the locus standi to challenge the primaries of the 2nd and 4th Defendant and having joined both causes, the suit is fundamentally defective.
The court noted that while other grounds in the Preliminary objection of Mr. Ogala SAN were germane, there will be no need to consider the same as the issue of Locus already raised is a threshold issue which the Plaintiffs lack and the court must lack the Jurisdiction to proceed.
However, as a matter of judicial obligation on trial Courts, the Court considered the merits of the case. The Court adopted the first issue raised in the Preliminary Objection of Mr. Ogala SAN raised on behalf of the APC that the affidavit in support of the Originating summons was incompetent as the Deponent was barred by operation of Law, lacked knowledge of the facts of the Convention being a secretary in the office of the 1st Plaintiff.
It was the finding of the Court that it was an issue related to evidence and could only be taken on the merits. The Court agreed with the submissions of the learned silk that the Deponent who was informed of the facts of the case by counsel who instituted the action could only amount to hearsay as the counsel was never present in the Special Convention of the 1st Defendant nor was there any averment that he was an eye witness of the Special Convention and the entirety of the Affidavit which forms the premise of the case of the Plaintiff falls flat on its’ face as it is grossly incompetent and inadmissible in Law.
The Court on the issue of abuse of court Process raised by Mr. Ogala SAN, averted its’ mind to Section 823(1) and 825 (1) (b) of the Company and Allied Matters Act, 2020 to hold that the 1st Plaintiff had deviated from its’ objectives as a Non-Governmental Organization to seeking politically motivated litigations and thus made a consequential order dissolving the 1st Plaintiff effective immediately. The Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission to take over the activities of the 1st Plaintiff.
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