Supporters of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice-President Kashim Shettima heaved a sigh of relief this morning, Wednesday, 6 September. The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) trashed the petition filed by their opponent, the Allied Peoples Movement (APM).
APM application in court ab initio was that Vice-President Shettima was not qualified to contest the 25 February presidential election as Mr Tinubu’s running mate as his nomination violated Section 35 of Electoral Act 2022, and other constitutional provisions.
The party prayed the court to void the votes polled by the APC in the election and declare the candidate with the next highest score as the winner of the election.
Justice Haruna Tsammani, Chairman of the five-man panel of justices who read the judgment said it is clear that the claim of qualification or non-qualification is a pre-election matter.
He said the issue of disqualification raised by the APM in its petition ought to have been ventilated at the Federal High Court.
He said the PEPC does not have jurisdiction to hear it.
He said the issue ought to have been raised at the Federal High Court within 180 days from 27 July 2022 when Mr Shettima became the APC’s vice-presidential candidate.
The window for the litigation on such issue lapsed in January 2023, concurring with the position of the respondents.
“The issue of qualification of a candidate of a political party is not an all comers’ affair”, Tsammani said.
Justice Tsammani Mr Tsammani said it was clear that APM only has the right to file the complaint raised in its petition when the nomination of a candidate by another party affects it.
In the instant case, the petition is incompetent and ought to be struck out for lacking in merit, the judge said.
Mr Tsammani said the APM opened and closed its case with one witness on 21 June 2023.
He said none of the respondents called any witness, but only tendered some documents from the bar.
Justice Tsammani said “the constitutional requirements for qualification to run for the presidency are clear enough. They are that a person must be a citizen of Nigeria by birth, must be over 40 years, must be a member of a political party, sponsored by a party and must have attained an educational level, equivalent to school certificate.
The Ngerian constitution having established the qualifying and disqualifying factors, Tsammani said no court can create other qualifying or disqualifying factors.”