The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has declined to issue an order of interim injunction to stop the scheduled swearing-in of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, as President-elect, on May 29.
The court found that it lacked the necessary authority to grant the prayer that was contained in an ex-parte application that was presented before it by three persons who called themselves as Concerned Nigerians in a judgement that was given by Justice James Omotosho on Friday.
In their lawsuit, FHC/ABJ/C5/657/2023, the plaintiffs, Praise Ilemona Isaiah, Pastor Paul Isaac Audu, and Dr. Anongu Moses, claimed that Tinubu, who was declared the victor of the presidential election that took place on February 25, had lied under oath in the Form EC9 he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to support his eligibility to run for office.
The plaintiffs told the court that the President-elect falsely declared that he was not a citizen of any other country, despite the fact that he was in possession of a Guinean Passport.
On the issue of educational qualification, the plaintiffs told the court that investigations revealed that the Tinubu that attended Chicago University in the United States of America, was a female.
Besides, they alleged that whereas the President-elect claimed that he was born in 1957, it was discovered that 1952 was his actual date of birth.
They argued that Tinubu’s action was in gross violation of Section 117 of the Criminal Code Act as well as Section 156 of the Penal Code Act.
As a result, the parties involved asked the court, among other things, to issue a warrant for Tinubu’s arrest, keep him in custody, and prevent him from taking the oath of office while the matters before the Presidential Election Petition Court are being resolved.
They further requested that Tinubu be prohibited from running for any elective office for the following ten years.
The plaintiffs testified before the court that they had cast ballots in the Tinubu-winning presidential election.
However, the court concluded in its decision that the lawsuit was “unconstitutional, frivolous, and vexatious,” adding that because the plaintiffs lacked locus standi (legal standing) to bring the action, the court lacked the authority to hear the case.
The court emphasized that only a candidate might contest the eligibility or nomination of a candidate in an election under section 285 (14) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
It further ruled that the Court of Appeal alone has jurisdiction to hear cases involving presidential election because the election has already been held.
While accusing the plaintiffs of wasting judicial time of the court by filing the suit which he described as an abuse of court process, Justice Omotosho held that the legal action was in bad faith as it was aimed to expose the judiciary to ridicule.
It was decided that the lawsuit, which aimed to halt the impending inauguration, had the potential to undermine the nation’s democracy.
Justice Omotosho declared that the court will not permit itself to be used as a tool to undermine the nation.
He threatened to report the attorneys who assisted the lawsuit’s plaintiffs to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for taking a course of action “capable of dragging the judiciary to the mud.”
As a result, Justice Omotosho dismissed the case and gave each respondent a cost award of N10 million in Tinubu’s favor, N5 million in the APC’s favor, and another N1 million to be paid personally by the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
The court held that the cost awarded against the plaintiffs would attract 10% interest per annum, pending its final liquidation.
Taking the punitive action, Justice Omotosho claimed, was necessary “in view of the avalanche of frivolous suits” that attorneys have brought.