From Godwin Tsa, Abuja.
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has dismissed a suit seeking disqualification of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Bola Ahmed Tinubu over the nomination of Muslim-muslim candidacy for the 2023 presidential election.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed in his judgment dismissed the suit which was filed by an Abuja based legal practitioner, Mr Osigwe Momoh on the ground that he lacked the of locus standi to institute the case.
Justice Mohammed held that the lawyer having not being a member of APC and having not participated in the process that produced Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shetima cannot query them on the nominations.
The legal practitioner had in the suit prayed the Court for an order nullifying the candidature of APC and Tinubu from participating in the presidential election on the ground that the nomination of Muslim-muslim candidacy is unconstitutional and against the spirit and letters of sections 14, 15 and 224 of the 1999 Constitution.
Specifically, the lawyer, who claimed to be an apostle of the rule of law and social justice argued that Muslim-muslim candidacy run counter to the spirit of national cohesion, integration and unity.
He asked the court for an order of perpetual injunction to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from publishing the name of APC and its presidential candidate for the purpose of the 2023 election
In his affidavit in support of the suit, the plaintiff claimed “I am a legal practitioner, an apostle of the rule of law, an adherent of constitutionalism, social justice crusader and defender of rights of all citizens, to live in unity and peace.
“The 1st defendant (APC) is a major political party and the ruling party at the national level and is expected at all times to adhere to the constitutional principles governing the country.
“The 2nd defendant (Tinubu) is the Presidential Candidate of the 1st defendant having being nominated by the political party and 3rd defendant (INEC) is the statutory body vested with powers to conduct elections for the federation in this Nigeria.
“I know as a fact that upon the conclusion of the primaries of the 1st defendant, the 2nd defendant had been nominated as its Presidential Candidate for the Presidential election in 2023.
“I know as a fact that the 2nd defendant is a staunch adherent and practitioner of the Islamic religion.
“Upon its emergence as a Candidate of the 1st defendant, the 2nd defendant has now nominated Sen. Kashim Shettima as its running mate and Vice-Presidential Candidate for the said election.
“The said Kashim Shettima himself is also a staunch adherent of the Islamic faith.
“I know as a fact that the 1st and 2nd efendant have a duty in nominating a joint ticket for the Presidential and Vice-presidential candidate, they owe a constitutional duty, to uphold the principles of social justice, equity, national cohesion and unity of Nigeria.
“I know as a fact that the nomination of muslims as Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidate, in a country with diverse religious inclinations, runs counter to the spirit of national cohesion, integration and unity.
“The 1st defendant is estopped by law to take actions capable of undermining social justice, equity and unity and as such not qualified to present candidate of the same faith as Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate of the party.
“The defendants are under constitutional duty to ensure that the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any persons or group of persons take control of the government of Nigeria or any part thereof except in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
“The nomination of Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidate of the 1st Defendant being persons of the same religious faith, is exclusionary, divisive and capable of polarizing the country along religious lines and it runs counter to the sacrosanct principles of social justice.
“This suit is a public interest Litigation aimed at protecting the sanctity of the constitution being the supreme law of the land (suprema lex), to protect the public interest of seeing that constitutional supremacy as is enforced, adhered to and rendered not impotent or made mockery of.
‘This Honourable Court is empowered to ensure that constitutional provisions are upheld at all times and it would be just and equitable to grant this application in the interest of peace and national cohesion.”
“That I Osigwe Ahmed Momoh deposed to this affidavit in good faith consciously believing the facts stated herein to be true and in accordance with the Oaths Act of Nigeria”
However in his judgment, Justice Mohammed disagreed with the plaintiff on legal right to institute the case and subsequently dismissed it in its entirety.
Justice Mohammed while upholding the preliminary objection of APC and Tinubu however did not award any cost against the plaintiff.