2023: Tinubu, Shettima pray court to dismiss PDP’s suit

Sen. Bola Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s presidential candidate and his vice, Kashim Shettima, have asked a Federal High Court, Abuja to dismiss the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s suit against them for being incompetent.
Tinubu and Shettima told Justice Inyang Ekwo in two motions on notice: FHC/ABJ/CS/1734/22 and filed separately by their lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN.
The motions prayed the court for an order striking out and/or dismissing the suit for want of jurisdiction.
The PDP, in its originating summons, had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC, Tinubu and Shettima as 1st to 4th defendant respectively.
In the suit dated and filed July 28 by Karina Tunyan, SAN, the PDP prayed for an order disqualifying the APC, Tinubu and Shettima from contesting the presidential election scheduled to hold on the Feb. 25 or thereabout.
The party urged the court to declare that by virtue of Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022, “the nomination of the 4th defendant (Shettima) is void for allowing himself to be nominated in more than one constituency.
“A declaration that by virtue of the provisions of Section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2022, a political party shall not be allowed to produce and submit a fresh candidate to replace a withdrawn candidate for an election without a primary election conducted to elect that candidate,” among others.
But in a 19-ground brought forward by Tinubu and Shettima in their motions filed Nov. 8, they said the PDP lacked the locus standi to institute the action, describing their emergence as “an internal affairs of the party which is non-justiciable.”
They also described the PDP’s suit as “an abuse of court process,” having been decided by a sister court in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1016/2022 on Sept. 22 by Justice Donatus Okorowo.
They argued that the subject matter and principal reliefs sought in the earlier suit are the same as the subject matter and reliefs contained in the present suit.
“The plaintiff and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants in this suit were parties to the said suit earlier filed on June 30.
“The plaintiff /respondent (PDP)’s suit as presently constituted amounts to litigating in piece meal, and forum shopping or judge shopping;

“The plaintiff respondent’s suit constitutes a gross abuse of court process, having filed an earlier action before Honourable Justice D. U. Okorowo, on the same subject matter, seeking same or similar reliefs against the defendants;

“By the multiplicity of actions, the plaintiff’s instant suit before the Federal High Court is incompetent;

“The said complaint of the plaintiff in the suit has been dismissed for want of locus standi in a decision delivered on the 22nd day of September, 2022 in suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/1016/2022 before the Federal High Court, Abuja judicial division, coram, Honourable Justice D. U. Okorowo;

“The said complaint has been pronounced upon by a court of competent and co-ordinate jurisdiction;

“The plaintiff’s claim, as presently constituted, is caught by the ‘doctrine of Issue Estoppel,’ thereby robbing the Honourable Court of requisite jurisdiction to entertain same;

“This honourable court cannot sit on an appeal over a decision delivered by Honourable Justice D. U. Okorowo,” the duo said.

Besides, they said the PDP “failed, neglected and/or refused to appeal the decision” of Justice Okorowo delivered on Sept. 22.
Tinubu and Shettima, therefore, argued that the suit, as presently constituted, disclosed no reasonable cause of action against them, hence the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain it.
When the matter was called for mention on Wednesday, counsel to the PDP, A. M. Kotoye, SAN, told the court that all the defendants had been served with the originating summons though INEC and APC were not represented in court.
Thomas Ojo, who appeared for Tinubu and Shettima, informed the court that his clients had already prepared their counter affidavits and motions on notice which would be served on the parties.
Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter until Dec. 5 for hearing and ordered that hearing notices be issued to INEC and APC.

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