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Saturday, 27 May 2023 07:48

48 Hours to Inauguration

*Tinubu tours Presidential Villa 

*S’Court dismisses PDP’s suit seeking to stop president-elect, Shettima

*Age, perjury, citizenship suit also dismissed at high court 

*FG declares May 29 public holiday
*Buhari directs outgoing officials to declare assets

Preparatory to his resumption of office next Monday, President-elect Bola Tinubu was yesterday taken on a tour of the State House, the seat of the federal government, by outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari.
On the same day, legal hurdles before the inauguration of Tinubu and Vice President-elect, Kashim Shettima were cleared by both the Supreme Court and a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The federal government has also declared Monday May 29 work free for all workers in the country, to commemorate the inauguration of the nation’s 16th President.
Yesterday afternoon, Buhari and Tinubu walked into the Press Gallery of the State House after participating in the Jumat prayers at the State House Mosque, to begin the tour of the State House.
Followed by a large entourage of state officials and security personnel, Tinubu was guided on the tour by the State House Chief of Protocols (SCoP), Ambassador Lawal Kazaure.

At the Press Gallery, which is an adjoining office to the Council Chambers of the State House, the two leaders who stood for a couple of minutes, listening to their guide, Kazaure, however, did not speak to reporters who were itching to ask them probing questions.
Before the tour of the Villa, Tinubu joined Buhari for the Juma’at prayers at the State House Mosque, as part of nationwide special prayers marking the inauguration of the incoming administration.

Speaking after observing the prayers, Tinubu said he had come to join President Buhari to offer prayers to Almighty Allah to support him to carry out the task of governance successfully.
He said he would drink from the fountain of knowledge and wisdom of the Chief Imam of the State House Mosque, Sheikh Abdulwahid Abubakar Suleiman who reminded leaders of the burden of trust in leadership.
The formal handover ceremonies started Thursday with the investiture of the President-elect and the Vice president-elect with highest national honours and presentation of the handover documents to the incoming president.
The events will climax on Monday May 29 when the former Lagos governor takes the oath of office as the 16th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Legal Hurdles Cleared

Legal hurdles before the inauguration of Tinubu as President and Kashim Shettima as Vice President were cleared yesterday by both the Supreme Court and a Federal High Court in Abuja, in two separate judgements.
While the Supreme Court in a unanimous judgment dismissed the appeal by the People’s Democratic Party seeking Tinubu’s disqualification from the February 25 presidential election over alleged double nomination of Shettima, the Federal High Court in its own ruling dismissed the suit on alleged perjury by Tinubu.
PDP had approached the apex court to set aside the concurrent judgement of the Court of Appeal and Federal High Court, which dismissed its suit against Tinubu for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

PDP is claiming that the APC breached the law when it nominated Shettima as senatorial candidate for Borno Central and as Vice Presidential candidate.
In the suit filed on July 28, 2022, the plaintiff specifically challenged the validity of the Tinubu/Shettima ticket for the 2023 presidential election, arguing that Shettima’s nomination as the running mate was in breach of the provisions of Sections 29(1), 33, 35 and 84{1)}(2)} of the Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended).
But Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in his judgement on January 13, held that the PDP lacked the locus standi to have instituted the suit in the first place.

Dissatisfied, PDP approached the appellate court which in its own judgement affirmed the decision of Justice Ekwo, forcing the PDP to again approach the apex court.
Delivering judgement in the appeal yesterday, the apex court in a unanimous judgement delivered by Justice Adamu Jauro, held that the case of the PDP was incompetent and lacking in merit because it lacked the necessary legal authority to initiate the suit in the first place.
The five-member panel of Justices agreed with Tinubu’s lawyer, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, that “PDP acted as busy body and meddlesome interloper in the ways and manners it dabbled into APC’S affairs unjustly.”

While Fagbemi and the other respondents had argued that Section 285(14)(c) of the Constitution does not permit a political party to interfere in the internal affairs of another political party, the Supreme Court held that the PDP not being a member of the APC cannot challenge how the APC produced its candidates for an election.

While holding that the PDP lacked the necessary locus standi to file the suit, having not been an aspirant, a member of APC, the apex court said that the PDP did not reveal any harm it suffered as a result of the nomination of Shettima as VP candidate.
According to the apex court, “no matter how manifestly bad a process is, it is only a person with locus standi that can file a suit against it”, adding that, “no matter how pained the PDP may be, it must keep mum and remain an onlooker.”

The apex court also pointed out that the case of Nwosu relied upon by the appellant was not applicable because Nwosu was nominated by two different political parties while in the instant appeal, Shettima was nominated by just one political party, the APC.
Similarly, the apex court agreed with Fagbemi that the PDP failed to prove that Shettima knowingly presented himself for double nomination, when there was evidence that he withdrew his candidate from the Borno Central Senatorial race, after he was nominated by Tinubu as running mate.
It is the position of the apex court that Shettima could not have contested two different constituency elections, when in actual fact no primary election was conducted for the position of Vice President.

The apex court affirmed the N2 million cost awarded against the appellant in favour of the respondents, which are INEC, APC, Tinubu and shettima.
Meanwhile, barely four hours after the Supreme Court dismissed a suit challenging the qualification of Tinubu for the February 25 presidential election, a Federal High Court in Abuja has also dismissed another suit by three individuals seeking to stop the May 29 inauguration, on alleged perjury.
Justice James Omotosho, in a ruling dismissed the suit on the grounds that it is incompetent and lacking in merit.

The plaintiffs, Praise Ilemona Isaiah, Pastor Paul Isaac Audu and Anongu Moses, had approached the court for an order halting the inauguration of Tinubu as President of Nigeria, on the grounds that Tinubu supplied false information to INEC about his age and citizenship status.
But in his ruling, Justice Omotosho held that the plaintiffs lacked the locus standi to initiate the suit in the first place, adding that the court also lacked necessary jurisdiction to entertain the suit since it relates to a presidential election.

After holding that the case of the plaintiffs was frivolous and abuse of court process, the judge accordingly slammed a total cost of N17 million against the plaintiffs and their lawyers to serve as deterrent to others who may want to bring such frivolous, vexatious and time-wasting processes before the court.
While the three litigants are to jointly pay the President-elect a sum of N10 million and another N5 million to the APC, the lawyer who filed the suit, Daniel Elomah, was ordered to pay Tinubu and APC N1 million each.

Justice Omotoso also ordered that an interest of 10 percent be placed on the judgement debt per year until when finally liquidated.
At the proceedings yesterday, their counsel had pleaded profusely to pardon his clients and advised that the court should counsel them against filing frivolous suits in future.
Legal luminary, Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, who is Tinubu’s Counsel, had argued that the suit be dismissed on the ground that the three plaintiffs lacked locus standi to institute it.

The senior lawyer informed the Court that none of the plaintiffs participated in the primary election that produced the President-elect but chose to harass, intimidate and irritate Tinubu through a frivolous suit.
Fagbemi, further argued that the litigants engaged in gross abuse of court by their multiple cases against Tinubu and the APC in various courts without any reasonable cause of action.

Atiku: S’Court Decision Will Not Affect My Petition

The Presidential candidate of the PDP in the February 25 Presidential election, Atiku Abubakar yesterday said that the dismissal of the suit on double nomination against Shettima will in no way affect his petition in the Presidential Election Tribunal.
He said his legal team will robustly defend his petition, describing the Presidential Election as manifestly fraudulent.

Atiku maintained that the Presidential Election did not mèet the set guidelines for the election.
Atiku, who took to his twitter handle said, “The Supreme Court’s dismissal of the case of the @OfficialPDPNig is not a setback to my quest for justice.
“Our legal team is primed to robustly prove that the election of February 25 was fraudulent, did not comply with the constitutional requirements and the electoral guidelines…”

FG Declares May 29 Holiday

The federal government has declared next Monday work free for all workers in the country, to commemorate the inauguration of the nation’s 16th President.
The declaration was made yesterday by the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, in Abuja in a statement on behalf of the federal government.
The Minister, in the statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Dr. Shuaib Belgore, felicitated with all Nigerians on the momentous occasion, commending them for their faith in democracy as expressed in the nationwide election that produced the President and his Deputy that would be inaugurated, and other elected representatives across the states.
He enjoined them to continue to support and promote democracy through adherence to the rule of law and uphold all democratic institutions.

Buhari Directs Outgoing Officials to Declare Assets

President Buhari has directed all outgoing officials to declare their assets.
In a statement by Garba Shehu, presidential spokesperson, Buhari said his strict adherence to the constitutional requirement of assets declaration before and after taking office was aimed at strengthening best practices.
Speaking in Abuja after collecting his form from Isah Mohammed, chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Buhari said no one was excluded from the constitutional duty of assets declaration.

The president noted that asset declaration raises moral standards in public service and helps to build integrity and combat corruption.
Buhari said: “I signed, collected and acknowledged receiving my form. From here, I will ask my bank manager in Kaduna to show me what has gone in and out of my account.
“Nobody is excluded from declaring their assets. I expect everyone from the Vice-President downwards to follow the system.”


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