The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Thursday, dismissed a suit seeking an order compelling Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting Bola Tinubu as the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s candidate for the 2023 presidential election.
The court also declined to grant the prayer, asking INEC to derecognise Atiku Abubakar as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s presidential candidate for the next year’s poll.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgement, held that the plaintiffs failed to support the suit with credible evidence, hence, the case lacked merit.
The Incorporated Trustees of Rights for All International (RAI) and the immediate-past Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, had filed the suit.
In the amended originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/942/2022, the plaintiffs had sued the APC, PDP, Messrs Tinubu and Atiku, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and INEC as 1st to 6th defendants respectively.
They had sought an order cancelling, setting aside and ruling the votes scored by Messrs Tinubu and Atiku at the special national conventions of the APC and PDP held on June 6 and June 7, and on May 28 and May 29 respectively and which produced them as the presidential candidates of the parties on grounds of illegality, voter inducement and corruption.
They also sought an order returning the 2nd plaintiff (Nwajiuba) as the duly elected/ nominated presidential candidate of the APC “being that by the operation of Section 90(3).
“Nwajiuba, is the only contestant out of the 10 contestants who polled votes at the 1st defendant’s convention and whose source of the N100m is verified and complied with the Electoral Act as contained in e-print out of the name in the bank statement of the over 1000 individual contributors in person,” they argued in their summons.
Alternatively, the plaintiffs sought an order directing the APC to nominate a fresh candidate for the 2023 presidential election in strict observance to the provisions of the Electoral Act and the party’s constitution and the country’s constitution by observing the federal character principles.
Besides, they sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC from accepting Messrs Tinubu and Atiku candidacy for the 2023 presidential poll, among others.
Delivering the judgement, Justice Ekwo held that the 1st plaintiff (RAI) lacked locus standi to institute the matter based on the provisions of Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020.
The judge said that RAI, which was supposed to be an association under Part F of CAMA, now delved into politically motivated litigation.
He said though it claimed to have rights in public interest litigation, Ekwo held that companies registered under CAMA should be bound by its provisions.
According to the judge, such litigant has no locus standi to institute a suit where the law does not authorise.
Besides, he held that RAI was not an aspirant in any election for which it was complaining about.
“The 1st plaintiff used his registration to undertake a political agenda.
“It is only in this country that an association registered for charitable purpose will venture into partisan politics with such audacious sense of impunity,” he said.
The judge said that politics and political activities must be left to those who are authorised by law to do so.
Mr Ekwo, who said that RAI had acted illegally, said that the court was bound to make appropriate consequential orders in the circumstances.
“I therefore make an order dissolving the 1st plaintiff (RAI) forthwith,” he directed.
He also ordered the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to take over the dissolved RAI and deal with it in accordance with the provisions of the law on dissolution of bodies registered pursuant to Part F of the CAMA 2020.
The judge also said that even though Nwajiuba participated in the process leading to the APC primary election, he did not contest in the primary poll.
He said Nwajiuba therefore lacked locus standi to challenge the APC primary election.
Besides, Mr Ekwo held that the suit cannot stand where the 1st plaintiff (RAI) had been adjudged to lack legal right to file the case.
“I make an order striking out this case for lack of locus standi of the plaintiffs,” he declared.
The judge also added that there was no credible evidence placed before the court in support of the matter.
“This case is hereby dismissed for lack of merit,” he ordered.