Abuja – In a significant turn of events, a Federal High Court in Abuja has rejected a lawsuit aimed at preventing the swearing-in of Bola Tinubu, the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), as Nigeria’s president.
Following the presidential poll held on February 25, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Tinubu the winner with a total of 8,794,726 votes.
The suit, identified as FHC/ABJ/CS/657/2023, was filed by plaintiffs Praise Isaiah, Paul Audu, and Anongu Moses. They alleged that Tinubu had committed perjury in his form EC9 by falsely denying his citizenship of another country. Moreover, they claimed that the president-elect had provided incorrect information regarding his age. The plaintiffs argued that Tinubu’s actions violated Section 117 of the Criminal Code Act and Section 156 of the Penal Code Act.
Consequently, the plaintiffs requested the court to order Tinubu’s arrest, detention, and prevention from being sworn in until the cases before the presidential election petition court were resolved. Additionally, they sought a 10-year ban on Tinubu’s participation in any elective position.
However, in a ruling on Friday, Justice James Omotosho, the presiding judge, deemed the suit “unconstitutional, frivolous, and vexatious.” He determined that the plaintiffs lacked the locus standi, or legal right, to institute the action, thereby depriving the court of its jurisdiction to entertain the suit. Justice Omotosho declared the suit an abuse of the court process and a waste of judicial time, highlighting that it was filed in bad faith with the intention of ridiculing the judiciary.
The judge made it explicitly clear that the presidential election petition court was the sole body with jurisdiction to hear such matters. He cautioned that he would report the plaintiffs’ lawyer to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for initiating an action that could tarnish the reputation of the judiciary.
Consequently, Justice Omotosho dismissed the suit and awarded a cost of N10 million in favor of Tinubu and N5 million in favor of the APC, to be paid by the plaintiffs. Furthermore, the plaintiffs’ counsel was ordered to pay N1 million to each of the respondents in the suit, including the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, the APC, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
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