The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has been asked to stop the All Progressives Congress (APC) from replacing Alhaji Kabiru Masari as the running mate to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the party in the 2023 presidential election.
Two chieftains of the party, who were delegates in the just concluded APC National Convention, Zakari Maigari and Zubainatu Mohammed, approached the court to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting a change of vice-presidential candidate from APC. The plaintiffs joined APC, INEC, Tinubu, and Masari as defendants.
The party’s chieftains who joined the APC, INEC, Tinubu, and Masari as defendants in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1059/2022 and dated July 4, 2022, are seeking the following reliefs;
Whether having regard to the combined effect of sections 142(1) and sections 29(1), 31, and 33 of the Electoral Act, it is legally permissible for the 4 Defendant, Masari, to withdraw as the vice-presidential candidate of the 1st Defendant, APC, and the running mate of the 3 Defendant, Bola Tinubu, so as to be substituted or replaced with another person by the 1st Defendant, APC as its candidate for the office of Vice President for purpose of the February 25, 2023, Presidential Election.
Whether in view of the joint ticket provision in section 142(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the withdrawal of the 4h Defendant, MASARI, as the candidate for the office of Vice President does not entail the automatic withdrawal of the 3″ Defendant, Tinubu, as the candidate for the office of President for purpose of the 2023 General Elections.
Whether having regard to the provisions of sections 29(1), 31, and 33 of the Electoral Act 2022, the 1″ Defendant, APC, is entitled to submit the name of any other person to replace the name of the 4 Defendant, MASARI, as the candidate for the office of Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, without holding a fresh primary election to produce a fresh presidential candidate.
Whether the 3 Defendant, Tinubu, having nominated the 4 Defendant, Masari, in compliance with section 142(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the 3 Defendant, Tinubu, can subsequently validly undertake or effect nomination of any other person to replace the Masari, whether upon withdrawal of the 4 Defendant, Masari or under any other circumstances, in view of the provisions of section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The defendant pointed out that Section 187 (1) of the Constitution creates the governorship candidate and deputy-governorship candidate joint ticket, just as section 142(1) establishes the joint ticket for the presidential candidate and vice-presidential candidate.
They also maintained that the same principles apply in both situations. They pointed out that in the case of the governorship candidate and deputy governorship candidate joint ticket, it was held in PDP v. DEGI EREMIENYO (2020) LPELR-49734(SC), pp. 8-16, that “the sum total is that the joint ticket of the 1st and 2nd respondents sponsored by the 3 respondent was vitiated by the disqualification of the 1st respondent. Both candidates disqualified are deemed not to be candidates for the governorship election conducted in Bayelsa State. “
It is believed that if this suit truly represents the law, then not only the APC will be affected. Labour Party which also has Dr. Doyin Okupe as a placeholder and other political parties with similar arrangements would be affected.