‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja


DAILY COURIER – The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by former Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, challenging the candidacy of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in the February 25 presidential election.


In a judgment on Thursday, a five-member panel of the apex court, led by Justice John Okoro, found that the case was statute barred and that it has become an academic exercise.


They dismissed the appeal after the appellants’ lawyer, John Awa Kalu applied to withdraw it.


Justice Okoro held: “Upon the application for withdrawal by the appellant’s counsel and without any objection from the respondent’s counsel, the appeal is dismissed.”


The Supreme Court, by its decision, affirmed the two previous decisions by the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court, both in Abuja.


Nwajiuba had, in his suit before the Federal High Court, sought among others the voiding of Tinubu’s candidacy on the grounds that he and his part, the All Progressives Congress (APC) allegedly failed to disclose the source of the N100 million he paid for the nomination and expression of interest forms, relying on the provision of section 84(13) of the Electoral Act 2022.


In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1114/2022, Nwajiuba prayed the court, among others, to declare him as the presidential candidate of the APC on the grounds that he was the only aspirant who disclosed the source of the N100m he paid to toe the party for his nomination and expression of interest forms.


Listed as defendants in the suit are Tinubu, APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).


In a judgment on November 23, 2022 Justice Zainab Abubakar of the Federal High Court, Abuja upheld that preliminary objection filed by the defendants – Tinubu and APC – and held that Nwajiuba’s suit was statute barred by virtue of the provisions of section 285(9) of the 1999 Constitution.


Nwajiuba appealed the decision at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, and in its judgment on February 24, 2013, a three-member panel of the court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the judgment of the Federal High Court.


The Court of Appeal held that the trial court rightly held that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit as the suit was filed outside the statutorily mandated and allowed period of 14 days.


It noted that appeal is a process of rehearing a case, and the trial court, having been robbed of jurisdiction, the Court of Appeal lacks the jurisdiction to entertain it.


The court added: “The persuasion that this Court should overturn the Supreme Court as stated in Okechuckwu v INEC will not succeed this court being an intermediary court.


“That decision is binding on even the Supreme Court until set aside, more so when same was delivered by the current Chief Justice of Nigeria.


“The appeal is lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed,” the court said.


It awarded a cost of N3 million against Nwajiuba, requiring him to pay N1m to each of the three respondents – Tinubu, APC and INEC.