By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
Two chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Zakari Maigari and Zubainatu Mohammed, on Wednesday, approached the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, praying it to bar the party from replacing Alhaji Kabiru Masari as the running mate to Ahmed Bola Tinubu in the forthcoming presidential election.
The Plaintiffs, who identified themselves as delegates that voted in the recently conducted presidential primary election of the party, equally prayed the court to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from accepting any other person as Masari’s replacement, pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
Cited as 1st to 4th Defendants in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ CS/1059/2022, are the APC, INEC, Tinubu and Masari.
Specifically, the litigants, asked the court to among other things, determine, 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 Masari to withdraw as the Vice-Presidential candidate of APC and the running mate of Tinubu so as to be substituted or replaced with another person by APC as its candidate for the office of Vice President for purpose of the February 25, 2023 Presidential Election.
They also want the court to determine 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 Masari as the candidate for the office of Vice President does not entail the automatic withdrawal of Tinubu as APC 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 1st 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
As well as, whether the 3rd Defendant, Tinubu, having nominated the 4th Defendant, Masari, in compliance with section 142(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the 3rd Defendant can subsequently validly undertake or effect nomination of any other person to replace Masari and whether upon withdrawal of the 4th Defendant or under any other circumstance, in view of the provisions of section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The plaintiffs argued that Section 187 (1) of the Constitution created the Governorship candidate and Deputy-Governorship candidate joint ticket, just as section 142(1) established the joint-ticket for the Presidential candidate and Vice-Presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for hearing of the matter.
It will be recalled the both APC and the Labour Party had in a bid to beat deadline, submitted tentative names to INEC as “place holders” for their Vice Presidential candidates, with the intention of submitting them afterwards.