Alleged Invalid Nomination: Lawyers Ask Court to Bar INEC from Recognising Atiku, Tinubu, Obi’s Presidential Candidacy
Alex Enumah in Abuja
Citing alleged invalid nomination, three Abuja-based lawyers have approached the Federal High Court for an order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting the nomination of Senator Bola Tinubu, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, as presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress ( APC), People’s Democratic Party ( PDP) and Labour Party (LP) respectively in the 2023 general elections.
The plaintiffs predicated their case on the grounds that the candidates breached the laws guiding the procedure for the election of candidates for the office of president when they contested for their respective party’s tickets without their running mates.
Tinubu, Atiku and Obi had picked their respective vice presidential candidates after emerging as candidates at their various party’s conventions held recently.
However, plaintiffs in the suit dated and filed June 29, are claiming that the actions of the presidential candidates violated both constitutional and electoral provisions, hence INEC should be restrained from recognising them as candidates in the 2023 presidential poll.
While Ataguba Aboje, Oghenovo Otemu and Ahmed Yusuf are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd plaintiffs; the INEC, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), APC, PDP and LP are 1st to 5th defendants respectively.
In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1004/2022, plaintiffs amongst others, contended 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.
The two issues raised for the court to determine are whether the constitutional qualification for the office of the President of Nigeria equally applicable to the office of the Vice President of Nigeria.
“When is the nomination of the candidate for an election to the office of the President of Nigeria completed?
The plaintiffs in the suit filed on their behalf by Ataguba Aboje argued in their written address in support of the originating summons that the validity of the nomination of a candidate for an election to the office of President is conditional on his nomination of the candidate to the office of Vice President.
According to the plaintiffs, going by Sections 131 and 142 of the Constitution and Section 84 of the Electoral Act, 2022, a vice presidential candidate “must participate in the party’s primary election contemporaneously/ together with the candidate for an election to the office of the President who nominated him to satisfy the constitutional and electoral law requirements for nomination”.
On the issue of when the nomination of a presidential candidate ends, the plaintiffs submitted that a candidate is deemed nominated at the conclusion of the primary election of the political party where he is declared winner after garnering the highest number of votes cast at the primary election and “not when its party communicates the result to the 1st defendant”
Amongst reliefs sought by the plaintiffs are 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.
Similarly, the lawyers seek 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.
And another declaration that their presidential candidates who did not participate together with their respective candidates for the office of Vice president in their primary elections are invalidly nominated.
They therefore, applied for an order restraining INEC from Recognizing 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.
No date have been fixed for the hearing of the suit.