Lawyers sue INEC, AGF, others; seek Atiku, Tinubu, Obi disqualification

Road to 2023: Lawyers sue INEC, AGF, others; seek Atiku, Tinubu, Obi disqualification

From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

Three legal practitioners in Abuja have asked the Federal High Court to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting the nomination of Senator Bola Tinubu, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, as presidential candidates in the 2023 general elections.

The lawyers predicated their request on the grounds that Tinubu, Atiku and Obi were unlawfully nominated by their respective political parties.

In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1004/2022, the plaintiffs, Ataguba Aboje, Oghenovo Otemu and Ahmed Yusuf also listed the Attorney General of the Federation ( AGF), All Progressives Congress ( APC), People’s Democratic Party ( PDP) and Labour Party (LP) as 1st to 5th defendants respectively.

They are contending that APC, PDP and LP contravened provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act, 2022, in the conduct of the primary elections that produced their presidential candidates.

Amongst others, they are contending that the three parties flouted the law by their failure to nominate their vice presidential candidates before the conduct of their primary elections as required by law.

Amongst issues they want the court to determine are whether by the provisions of Sections 131, 141 and 142 of the 1999 Constitution, the office of the Vice President of Nigeria is an elective office subject to the same qualification for the office of the President of Nigeria.

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They also asked the court to determine whether by the provisions of Sections 131, 141 and 142 of the Constitution and Sections 29, 32, 84 and 152 of the Electoral Act, 2022, a candidate for an election to the office of the Vice President in Nigeria must be sponsored by a political party and whether in view of the same provisions a candidate for an election to the office of the President can be deemed to be validly nominated and declared winner of a primary election without first nominating associate from the same political party for the office of Vice President and both of them participating in the primary.

Plaintiffs further want the court to determine whether, in view of the same provisions of the laws, INEC can accept from a political party nomination of a candidate for election to the office of the President who participated alone in the primary election without nominating another candidate as an associate from the same political party to occupy the office of the Vice President.

Upon determination of the issues, the lawyers want the court to make a declaration that the office of the Vice President is an elective office subject to the same qualification as the office of the President and another declaration that a candidate for an election to the office of the Vice President must be sponsored by a political party in accordance with Section 84 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

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Similarly, the lawyers sought a declaration that APC, PDP and LP candidates for the office of the Vice President must participate together with their respective candidates for the election to the office of the President in their primary elections before they can be deemed validly elected.

Plaintiffs further sought another declaration that their presidential candidates who did not participate together with their respective associates for the office of Vice President in their primary elections are invalidly nominated.

They applied for an order restraining INEC from recognising presidential candidates of APC, PDP and LP for failing to comply with the mandatory provisions of Sections 131 and 142 of the 1999 Constitution as well as Sections 29, 32, 84 and 152 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

In their 27- paragraph affidavit in support of the originating summons and deposed to by Ataguba Aboje, plaintiffs claimed that as lawyers, they have a duty to ensure that no person or group shall govern or take control of the Government of Nigeria except in accordance with the democratic provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

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They averred that the 1999 Constitution makes it mandatory for a presidential candidate to be sponsored by a political party and that such candidates shall not be deemed validly nominated unless the candidate nominates another person from the same political as his running mate.

Plaintiffs asserted that APC, PDP and LP conducted their presidential primaries during which Tinubu, Atiku and Obi were declared winners without a concurrent and contemporaneous declaration of candidates for the office of the Vice President.

They further averred that several days after the conclusion of their respective primaries, APC, PDP and LP submitted to INEC names of Alhaji Kabir Masari, Senator Ifeanyi Ókowa and Dr Doyin Okupe as their respective vice presidential candidates and as such nomination of their presidential candidates is not in compliance with the 1999 Constitution.

Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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