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.seeks their disqualification as presidential candidates

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, ABUJA

It is more trouble for the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu, as a fresh suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja, is seeking his disqualification over his alleged involvement in vote-buying.

The court was equally asked to disqualify the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, over the same allegation.

Remarkably, it was the immediate past Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who is a chieftain of the APC and one of the aspirants that paid a whopping N100million to obtain its presidential form, that instituted the action against both Tinubu and Atiku.

He filed the Originating Summons before the court, alongside a
group under the aegis of Incorporated Trustees of Rights for All International.

Cited as defendants in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/942/22, are; the APC, the PDP, Tinubu, Atiku, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Nwajiuba, who was the first Minister in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari that resigned from office to further his political ambition, was conspicuously absent on the day the APC held its presidential primary election in Abuja.

Even though his name was mentioned severally as he was called to mount the podium to address the delegates like other aspirants did, he was nowhere to be seen.

However, the former Minister, in his suit before the court, alleged that there was massive inducement of voters by the eventual winner of the primary contest, Tinubu, who he said bought majority of the delegates with dollars.

To strengthen his allegation, the ex-Minister who polled only one vote at the primary election that held on June 8, included in his proof of evidence, a video recording showing the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, decrying that delegates at the APC primary, sold their votes.

The Plaintiffs alleged that it was the same scenario that also played out when the opposition PDP held its own presidential primary election.

Consequently, they are praying the court to cancel al the votes that were garnered by both Tinubu and Atiku, or in the alternative, to declare Nwajiuba as the authentic presidential candidate of the APC for the 2023 election.

Among 25 issues the Plaintiffs posed for the determination of the court, included, whether the composition of the delegates, contravened Article 11(A) 12(1) and 13(1) of the constitution of the APC, as well as Section 33(1) and (5) (c) of the constitution of the party.

The plaintiffs, further want the court to determine whether having regards to the clear, unambiguous and express provisions and tenor of Sections 6(6) (A) (B) and (C) read alongside Section 15(5) of the 1999 Constitution, the court has the inherent judicial powers to nullify, cancel and declare as illegal the Presidential primaries of the APC and the PDP.

More so, Nwajiuba, asked the court to determine if all the votes cast in favour of Tinubu and Atiku at the special national convention of the APC and PDP, are illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever on the grounds of corruption and selling of delegate votes and voter inducement.

As well as to determine if having regards to the express provisions of paragraphs 1 and 8 of the 5th schedule of the 1999 Constitution, the corrupt conducts of the “third defendant (Tinubu) and the 4th defendant (Atiku) in buying votes and corruptly inducing delegates with dollars and naira in various sums to secure their votes at the special national convention… disqualifies them from further seeking, contesting and holding the office of the President.

Upon determination of the legal questions, the plaintiffs, sought 25 principal reliefs, including order that the composition of delegates at the APC and the PDP was not properly constituted.

The prayed for; “ a declaration that the conduct of the 3rd (Tinubu) and 4th (Atiku) defendants who by way of corrupt inducements of delegates with US dollars which being a foreign currency and non-legal tender in Nigeria under the CBN Act… used the dollars for the inducement of votes in favour of the 3rd (Tinubu) and 4th (Atiku) defendants has rendered the votes they scored at the special convention of the 1st defendant (APC) and the 2nd defendant (PDP) illegal, void and invalid and of no effect whatsoever and thus inhibiting (Tinubu and Atiku) from benefiting from the proceeds of their gross illegalities.”

As well as an order, restraining INEC from recognising both Tinubu and Atiku as valid candidates for the 2023 presidential election.

Meantime, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.

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