President Bola Tinubu has urged the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja to dismiss a petition challenging his candidature in the 25 February election on the basis of alleged double nomination of Vice President Kashim Shettima as his running mate for the poll.
Mr Tinubu won the 25 February presidential election on the platform of the APC, but his election is being challenged in court.
The alleged double nomination of Mr Shettima, first for the Senate, and later as vice-presidential candidate in the same election cycle, forms one of the grounds upon which Mr Tinubu’s victory is being challenged.
One of the three pending petitions – the one filed by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) – urged the court to nullify Mr Tinubu’s election due to the “flawed process” of nominating Mr Shettima as the president’s running mate.
Mr Tinubu, while submitting his presidential nomination form to INEC in June 2022, chose Ibrahim Masari, a politician from former President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state of Katsina, as a “placeholder” for the substantive vice-presidential candidate who would later be Mr Shettima.
The party, whose presidential candidate, Chichi Ojei, scored 25,961 votes, argued that Mr Tinubu was not properly sponsored by the APC due to his fielding of Mr Shettima as his vice-presidential candidate for the election.
The APM asked the court to declare Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who came second in the election, as the winner, instead of Mr Tinubu.
At the resumed hearing of the petition on Tuesday, Mr Tinubu and Shettima’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, drew the court’s attention to the Supreme Court’s decision last Friday, dismissing a suit filed by the PDP to challenge Mr Tinubu’s candidature on the same grounds of Mr Shettima’s alleged double nomination.
Mr Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said he was duty-bound to “assist the court in all circumstances and to bring to the court’s attention decisions of the courts from other divisions which relate to any matter pending before your Lordships.
“In this particular petition that has just been called which the sole issue is the nomination of the 4th respondent (Mr Shettima) which we represent, we are aware that your noble brothers of the Supreme Court on Friday May 26, gave a decision on this matter,” Mr Olanipekun said.
Promising to provide the court with copies of the Supreme Court decision on the matter, Mr Olanipekun suggested that there was no basis of going into full trial of the suit when a similar issue had been determined by the Supreme Court.
Responding to the issue, APM’s lawyer, Shehu Abubakar, sought an adjournment to enable him study the Supreme Court verdict with a view to understanding its “effect” on the pending case.
Other lawyers to respondents in the case – INEC, APC – represented by Abubakar Mahmoud, a SAN, and Lateef Fagbemi, a SAN, agreed with Mr Olanipekun’s submissions.
Last Friday, the Supreme Court dismissed the PDP’s suit challenging Mr Shettima’s alleged double nomination.
The PDP had argued that Mr Shettima was already the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Borno Central Senatorial District at the time of his nomination as the party’s vice-presidential candidate last year.
The PDP said Mr Shettima had yet to withdraw his senatorial candidature as of the time Mr Tinubu chose him as his vice-presidential flagbearer.
The court adjourned the APM petition until 2 June for further hearing.
The court said the adjournment is to enable Mr Olanipekun to furnish the court with copies of the Supreme Court judgement dismissing the suit challenging Mr Shettima’s nomination.
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