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Lawyers ask court to disqualify Atiku, Tinubu, Obi for not picking running mates before primaries

Three lawyers have filed a suit before the federal high court in Abuja, seeking the disqualification of Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, as presidential candidates.


The plaintiffs want the court to issue an order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising Tinubu, Abubakar and Obi as presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP), respectively, in the 2023 elections.

According to the motion filed on Wednesday, the plaintiffs said the presidential candidates breached laws guiding the process for election by contesting their parties’ tickets without running mates.

In the suit dated June 29, the plaintiffs — identified as Ataguba Aboje, Oghenovo Otemu and Ahmed Yusuf — said the decision of the presidential candidates to contest the primaries without running mates, goes contrary to the constitution.

INEC, the attorney-general of the federation (AGF), APC, PDP and LP are listed as first to fifth defendants, respectively.

In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1004/2022, the plaintiffs want the court to determine whether the constitutional qualification for the office of the president is equally applicable to the office of the vice-president.

According to the plaintiffs, sections 131 and 142 of the constitution, as well as section 84 of the Electoral Act, 2022, provides for a vice-presidential candidate to “participate in the party’s primary election contemporaneously/ together with the candidate for an election to the office of the President who nominated him to satisfy the constitutional and electoral law requirements for nomination”.

Section 131 of the constitution, which provides qualifications for election to the office of the president, states that the candidate must be “a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party”.

Meanwhile, section 142 of the constitution makes provisions on qualifications for a candidate to be nominated as vice-president.

“In any election to which the foregoing provisions of this Part of this Chapter relate, a candidate for an election to the office of President shall not be deemed to be validly nominated unless he nominates another candidate as his associate from the same political party for his running for the office of President, who is to occupy the office of Vice-President and that candidate shall be deemed to have been duly elected to the office of Vice-President if the candidate for an election to the office of President who nominated him as such associate is duly elected as President in accordance with the provisions aforesaid,” section 142 reads.

“The provisions of this Part of this Chapter relating to qualification for election, tenure of office, disqualification, declaration of assets and liabilities and oaths of President shall apply in relation to the office of Vice-President as if references to President were references to Vice-President.”

Meanwhile, section 84 of the electoral act provides that political parties seeking to nominate candidates for elections “shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions which shall be monitored” by INEC.

The plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that the office of the vice-president is an elective office subject to the same qualification as the office of the president.

The lawyers also want the court to declare that the presidential candidates, who did not have running mates when they participated in their party primaries, be declared as “invalidly nominated”.

They are, therefore, asking the court for an order restraining INEC from recognising the three presidential candidates on the grounds that they failed to comply with the provisions of sections 131 and 142 of the 1999 constitution, as well as sections 29, 32, 84 and 152 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

No date has been fixed yet for hearing.

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