By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court Abuja on Monday dismissed a suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking the disqualification of Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi and that of All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu from contesting next year’s election.
The PDP had in the suit accused both Obi and Tinubu of acting in breach of the Electoral Act, alleging that both contestants failed to nominate their running mates in due time, choosing rather to temporarily hand over their Vice Presidential tickets to placeholders, a move it says contravenes the electoral law.
The Labour Party’s Obi, chose Dr Doyin Okupe as the placeholder for his Vice Presidential post, while Tinubu, submitted the name of Alhaji Kabiru Masari as his own placeholder, the PDP which has former vice-president Atiku Abubakar as its presidential candidate told the court.
The PDP in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1016/2022, contended that the Electoral Act, 2022, did not make provision for a “place holder” or temporary running mate.
It argued that the subsequent resignation, withdrawal or substitution of Okupe and Masari, by both the LP and the APC, were illegal and unconstitutional.
PDP maintained that Obi and Tinubu could only qualify to contest the 2023 presidential election with Okupe and Masari, as their respective running mates.
It further argued that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was bereft of the power to accept any withdrawal or substitution of both Okupe and Masari, without the LP and the APC conducting fresh primaries to substitute Obi and Tinubu.
PDP told the court that both Okupe and Masari are not products of any primary election and as such was not validly nominated by the LP and the APC.
The court in its ruling declined to invalidate the candidacy of the presidential flag-bearers of the the Labour Party and All Progressives Congress.
It held that a suit the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, lodged against the two presidential candidates, lacked merit and deserved to be dismissed.
Justice Okorowo held that the suit was not only incompetent but amounted to gross abuse of the judicial process.
The court held that it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain an incompetent suit and accordingly dismissed it.
“This suit qualifies as one which amounts to an abuse of court process”, Justice Okorowo held.