A Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, refused to grant a motion seeking an order compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting Bola Tinubu as the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) candidate for the 2023 presidential election.
The court also declined to grant the prayer, asking INEC from recognising Atiku Abubakar as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s presidential candidate for the next year’s poll.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling, rather ordered the plaintiffs; Incorporated Trustees of Rights for All International (RAI) and Northern Nigerian Youth Democrats (NNYD) to put all the defendants on notice.
Justice Ekwo, who refused to grant prayers one, two and three in the ex parte motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/942/2022 dated and filed June 22 by the plaintiffs’ counsel, Kingdom Okere, however, granted prayers four, five and six.
The judge further ordered the lawyer to effect service of the court papers on the defendants within seven days of the order and adjourned until July 14 for further mention.
It was gathered that RAI and NNYD, through their lawyer, had filed the motion seeking for six orders.
Listed as defendants in the application include the APC, PDP, Tinubu, Atiku, Nyesom Wike, Bukola Saraki, Anyim Pius Anyim, Bala Mohammed, Udom Emmanuel, Terella Diana, Dele Momodu, Ayo Fayose, Charles Ugwu and Chikwendu Kalu as 1st to 14th defendants respectively.
Others are Sam Ohuabunwa, Chukwuemeka Nwajuba, Tunde Bakare, Ahmad Yerima, Rochas Okorocha, Tein Jack-Rich, Ben Ayade, David Umahi, Ahmad Lawal, Yemi Osinbajo, Rotimi Amaechi, Yahaya Bello, Ogbonnaya Onu, Chief Ikeobasi Mokelu, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as 15th to 30th respectively.
Among the orders the court declined include “an order restraining, prohibiting and barring the 29th defendant (INEC) from accepting the nomination of the 3rd and 4th defendants (Tinubu and Atiku) as the presidential candidates of the 1st and 2nd defendants (APC and PDP) for the 2023 presidential election pending the hearing of the motion on notice or as may otherwise be directed by the court.
“An order directing all parties in this suit to maintain status quo which existed before the suit pending as may otherwise be directed by this court.
“An directing speedy hearing/fast-tracking of this suit and abridging the time within which the plaintiffs and defendants may file their respective defence/responses in this suit to five days from the date of granting this application.”
But the court granted an order of substituted service on Tinubu, Atiku, Wike, Saraki, Nwajuba, Bakare, Yarima, Okorocha, Jack-Rich, among others.
It also granted an order of substituted service on all the defendants through a publication of only the originating summons in a national daily.
Okere, who gave seven grounds why the orders should be granted, said the “suit is a public interest suit that seeks to promote constitutional democracy, rule of law, the Federal Character principle and principles of equity, justice and fairness in holding the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” among others.
In the originating summons, the lawyer wants the court to determine “whether having regard to the clear, unambiguous and express provisions, sprit and tenor of Articles 11 (A) (I), 12 (1) AND 13 (1) of the constitution of the APC, 2014 (as amended), the special national convention of the 1st defendant on the June 6 and June 7 was properly constituted as regards the composition of delegates who should attend and vote at the said convention.
“Whether having regard to the clear, unambiguous and express provisions, sprit and tenor of Section 33 (1) and (5) (C) of the constitution of the PDP, 2017, (as amended), the special national convention of the 2nd defendant on the May 28 and May 29 was properly constituted as regards the composition of delegates who should attend and vote at the said convention,” among others.