A Federal High Court in Abuja has emphatically dismissed a suit brought forward by three individuals seeking to halt the inauguration of President-elect Bola Tinubu and his vice, Kashim Shettima.
The suit alleged age falsification and citizenship discrepancies in the documents submitted by Tinubu to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Justice James Omotosho delivered the ruling in the lawsuit with reference FHC/ABJ/C5/657/2023 categorizing it as frivolous and an abuse of the court process.
The plaintiffs, Praise Ilemona Isaiah, Pastor Paul Isaac Audu, and Anongu Moses, who identified themselves as Concerned Citizens, claimed that Tinubu had lied on oath in Form EC9, which he submitted to INEC as part of his qualifications to contest the presidential election.
The plaintiffs contended that Tinubu falsely declared his citizenship status, stating that he was not a citizen of any other country while possessing a Guinean passport.
They also alleged that Tinubu had misrepresented his date of birth, asserting that he was born in 1952 instead of the stated 1957.
They argued that these actions constituted a gross violation of Section 117 of the Criminal Code Act and Section 156 of the Penal Code Act.
However, Justice Omotosho ruled that the plaintiffs lacked the necessary legal standing to file the suit.
He further explained that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case since it pertained to a presidential election, which had already been conducted.
Only the Court of Appeal, he stated, possessed the jurisdiction to entertain cases arising from the presidential election.
The judge strongly rebuked the plaintiffs for what he deemed a wasteful and malicious use of the court’s time, describing the suit as an abuse of the court process and an attempt to tarnish the reputation of the judiciary.
Highlighting the potential to destabilize the country’s democracy, especially with the inauguration just days away, Justice Omotosho awarded costs of N10 million to Tinubu, N5 million to the All Progressives Congress (APC), and an additional N1 million each to be personally paid by the plaintiffs’ counsel.
In a stern warning, the judge threatened to refer the lawyers involved in filing the suit to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for initiating an action “capable of dragging the judiciary to the mud.”
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi of the Labour Party, and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) have challenged the victory of President-elect Tinubu, Shettima, and the APC in the last presidential election at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja.
On May 23, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal directed the consolidation of the cases filed against Tinubu.
The substantive proceedings for this case are scheduled to commence on May 30, 2023.