A Federal High Court in Abuja has rejected a lawsuit brought by three individuals attempting to prevent the inauguration of President-elect Bola Tinubu and his vice-president, Kashim Shettima.
News About Nigeria reports that the plaintiffs alleged that Tinubu had falsified his age and citizenship status in the documents he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
However, Justice James Omotosho dismissed the case, stating that it was baseless and an abuse of the legal process.
The lawsuit, identified as FHC/ABJ/C5/657/2023, claimed that Tinubu had provided false information in Form EC9, which he submitted to INEC as part of his qualification for the presidential election.
The plaintiffs argued that Tinubu had lied under oath about not being a citizen of any other country, despite possessing a Guinean passport.
They also alleged that Tinubu’s stated birth year of 1957 was inaccurate and that his actual birth year was 1952.
They contended that Tinubu’s actions violated Section 117 of the Criminal Code Act and Section 156 of the Penal Code Act.
The plaintiffs sought to prevent Tinubu from running for any elective position for the next decade.
However, Justice Omotosho ruled that the plaintiffs did not have the legal standing (locus standi) to bring the case. He explained that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter as it pertained to a presidential election.
According to Section 285 (14) of the amended 1999 Constitution, only an aspirant can challenge a candidate’s qualification or nomination in an election.
Since the election had already taken place, the Court of Appeal was the appropriate venue for such cases.
Justice Omotosho criticized the plaintiffs for wasting the court’s time and described the lawsuit as an abuse of the legal process.
He believed that the lawsuit had been filed in bad faith and aimed to ridicule the judiciary.
Moreover, he emphasized that the lawsuit, which aimed to halt the upcoming inauguration, had the potential to destabilize the country’s democracy.
In response, Justice Omotosho awarded a total of N16 million in costs.
This included N10 million in favor of Tinubu, N5 million in favor of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and an additional N1 million to be personally paid by the plaintiffs’ counsel.
He also warned that the lawyers involved in filing the lawsuit could be referred to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for their actions, which he deemed detrimental to the reputation of the judiciary.