Court rules on lawsuit challenging Tinubu’s age, citizenship status
A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a lawsuit brought by three people who wanted to prevent the inauguration of President-elect Bola Tinubu and his vice, Kashim Shettima, due to age and citizenship misrepresentations in a document Tinubu submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
In a decision on Friday, Justice James Omotosho stated that the lawsuit filed by the three individuals—Praise Ilemona Isaiah, Pastor Paul Isaac Audu, and Anongu Moses—who claimed to be Concerned Citizens was frivolous and a misuse of the legal system.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit with the filing number FHC/ABJ/C5/657/2023 claimed that Tinubu, who was proclaimed the victor of the presidential election held on February 25, had lied under oath in the Form EC9 he gave to INEC to support his eligibility to run for office.
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They also testified before the court that Tinubu lied when he said he had no other citizenship despite having a passport from Guinea.
The trio further asserted that Tinubu’s actions were a flagrant breach of Sections 117 and 156 of the Penal Code Act because, despite the President-elect’s assertion that he was born in 1957, it was actually established that he was actually born in 1952.
To usurp Tinubu, they prayed to the court to ban Tinubu from vying for any elective position for the next 10 years.
Meanwhile, Justice Omotosho ruled that the plaintiffs lacked the locus standi to file the suit, adding that the court could not exercise jurisdiction to hear it because it relates to a presidential election.
He insisted that only a candidate could contest the eligibility or nomination of a candidate in an election under section 285 (14) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
According to him, only the Court of Appeal has the authority to hear disputes relating to the presidential election because the election has already been held.
Justice Omotosho ruled that the lawsuit was brought in bad faith with the intention of making the judiciary look foolish, accusing the plaintiffs of wasting the court’s time by bringing it and calling it an abuse of the legal system.
Additionally, he claimed that the lawsuit, which tried to halt the inauguration that is scheduled for a few days from now, might undermine democracy in the country.
A total of N10 million in Tinubu’s favour, N5 million in the APC’s favour, and an additional N1 million to be personally paid by the plaintiffs’ attorneys were then ordered as costs to each of the respondents by Omotosho.
He also threatened to report the solicitors who assisted the plaintiffs in filing their lawsuit to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for taking a course of conduct that was “capable of dragging the judiciary to the mud.”