A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday dismissed a suit instituted by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) seeking to disqualify All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Tinubu and Labour Party’s Peter Obi over alleged unlawful substitution of their running mates.
Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court held that the PDP suit lacked merit and was aimed at irritating opponents in the 2023 presidential election.
Justice Okorowo specifically held that the suit filed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Gordy Uche, on behalf of PDP was incompetent and unjusticiable as it disclosed no reasonable cause of action.
The judge said that PDP failed woefully to disclose any injury it suffered in the substitution of running mates carried out by APC and Labour Party.
The running mates whose substitution were challenged by PDP are Kabiru Masari and Doyin Okupe for APC and Labour Party, respectively.
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In the suit, PDP claimed that the Electoral Act 2022 did not make provision for a “place holder” or temporary running mate and that time for resignation, withdrawal or substitution of presidential candidates or conduct of fresh primaries to replace them is not applicable to Masari and Okupe.
PDP also contended that Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate, and Peter Obi, Labour Party’s presidential candidate, can only qualify to contest the 2023 presidential election with Masari and Okupe, as their respective running mates.
The plaintiff further claimed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lacked power to accept any withdrawal or substitution of Masari and Okupe without APC and Labour Party conducting fresh primaries to substitute Tinubu and Peter Obi.
PDP averred that Masari and Okupe are not products of any primary election and as such were not validly nominated by APC and Labour Party.
PDP also stated that INEC cannot validly make any other election time table for the change and substitution of Masari and Okupe as running mates to Tinubu and Peter Obi and that the candidacy of Tinubu and Obi are tied to Masari and Okupe and cannot be severed, altered or changed any day later than June 17, 2022.
The judge held that the issue of nomination and substitution are internal affairs of political parties and that courts have no jurisdiction to dabble into them.
Defendants in the suit with No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1016/2022 are INEC, APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Kabiru Masari, Labour Party, Peter Obi and Doyin Okupe and 1st to 7th defendants, respectively.