Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Hope Democratic Party (HDP) has faulted the May 29 inauguration of President Bola Tinubu, on the grounds that a suit over the rightful occupant of the seat of power remains pending at the Supreme Court.
Specifically, the HDP is claiming that by the doctrine of ‘Lis Pendens’, it is not yet the turn of Tinubu to occupy the Office of President of Nigeria.
Besides, the appellants insisted that the doctrine of Lis Pendens has rendered the 2023 presidential election, as well as its outcome, illegal and an exercise in futility.
HDP and its presidential candidate in the 2019 presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, are asking the apex court to sack Tinubu for unlawfully presenting himself for inauguration as president when he is aware of a pending appeal against the conduct of the 2023 presidential election at the apex court.
The appeal marked SC/667/2023, is between Chief Ambrose Owuru, HDP and former President Muhammad Buhari, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Tinubu had on May 18, sought and got permission of the apex court to be joined as an interested party in Owuru’s suit seeking an order of court declaring him as the adjudged and constitutional winner of the 2019 election.
Owuru had contested the 2019 presidential election won by then President Muhammadu Buhari but claimed to be the adjudged winner of the poll as against the INEC’s declaration of Buhari.
In a press statement issued to journalists in Abuja, the National Coordinator of the HDP, Alhaji Anwal Ibrahim, said Tinubu ought not to have been sworn in as president having joined the pending suit on the subject of alleged mandate usurpation by Buhari.
“There is no doubt that the present act of self help and claim to occupy the office of the president by any of the parties in this action is an act of self help and violates the law and the doctrine of Lis Pendens which is to the effect that nothing should be done by parties to change or affect the subject matter before the court so as not to prejudice the existing adjudged acquired constitutional rights /mandate of Chief Owuru as the adjudged constitutional winner of the 2019 presidential election.
“It is on record that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in recognition of the doctrine of Lis Pendens and the existing suits on the issue of usurpation of mandate between Owuru and Buhari, joined the ongoing proceedings then in courts on May 18, 2023 before his purported inauguration over the 2023 presidential electoral debacle and for which is by law bound to await the outcome of the proceedings on the already existing issue of usurpation of constitutional mandate and entitlement to serve out same by Owuru.
“The implication of this by law is that the 2023 presidential election and its outcome which Tinubu was aware before joining the suit is subsumed and dependent on the outcome of the existing legal proceedings on the subject of the already adjudged and yet to be served constitutional mandate of Owuru to serve out the term of office of the president of Nigeria as required by law,” the statement read in part.
Meanwhile, the appellants accused the present All Progressives Congress (APC)-led central government of acts of usurpation and deployment of state machinery and apparatus to perpetuate themselves in power and in disregard to the courts, rule of law and the constitution.
“We are of the firm belief that this act of self-help and subversion of the cause of justice including the doctrine of Lis Pendens must be put to check and a complete stop as it presently leaves open a conflicting and contending claims to the office of the president of Nigeria between the Owuru’s unserved 2019 constitutional mandate and Tinubu’s recent 2023 election and which by the doctrine of Lis Pendens, the first in time takes precedence in the eyes of the law just as all other claims are subsumed to the existing rights pending before the court for adjudication and pronouncement,” Ibrahim said.
He disclosed that besides the appeal, other pending motions on notice duly served on the respondents seek to restrain them and particularly President Tinubu from further operating the federation account “pending the determination and resolution of the constitutional questions of usurpation of the already existing and adjudged, acquired constitutional mandate to serve a term of office by Owuru before any subsequent claimant that may be put forward by any later claimant in the mode of Ahmed Bola Tinubu in this regard which by the doctrine of Lis Pendens is not permitted by law as any such claim or acts of claim is voided by law”.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja had on January 30, 2023, dismissed the suit for lacking in merit.
Dissatisfied, he had approached the Court of Appeal, which in its own judgment delivered on May 25, affirmed the decision of the trial court, prompting his pending case at the apex court.