Atiku or Peter Obi: Who Will Take Over from Buhari on May 29 if Supreme Court Sacks Tinubu? Lawyer Speaks
- A lawsuit filed against the election victory of the president-elect, Bola Tinubu and his vice, Kashim Shettima, poses a great threat to their inauguration
- The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is seeking the disqualification of Tinubu and Shettima over the latter's alleged double nomination
- A Nigerian lawyer Barrister Oluwole Olukunle Moses spoke on who will take over from President Buhari if the Supreme Court which is set to rule on the case sacks Tinubu
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Friday, May 26, holds immense importance in Nigeria's political chronicles, as the Supreme Court has designated this day to pronounce its verdict on a lawsuit that aims to challenge the eligibility of Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima as the presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the All Progressives Congress (APC) party, respectively.
On July 28, 2022, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) filed a lawsuit asserting that the selection of Kashim Shettima as Bola Tinubu's running mate violated the provisions outlined in sections 29(1), 33, 35, and 84(1)(2) of the Electoral Act 2022.
The opposition party contended that Shettima's simultaneous nomination for the positions of Vice-President and Borno Central Senatorial District seat constituted a violation of the law.
The PDP not only sought an order disqualifying the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, and Kashim Shettima from participating in the presidential election but also requested an order to invalidate their candidacies.
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Supreme Court fixes Friday for ruling on suit seeking to stop Tinubu’s swearing-in
After losing at the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal, the PDP proceeded to the Supreme Court, which on Monday, May 22, fixed Friday, May 26, for the judgement.
The suit, by implication, also seeks to stop Tinubu from taking the oath of office on May 29th.
PDP vs Tinubu/Shettima: Lawyer speaks on the development
Reacting, a Nigerian lawyer explained what might eventually play out in the polity if Tinubu is not sworn in as expected on May 29.
In a chat with Legit.ng on Thursday, May 25, Barrister Oluwole Olukunle Moses likened the situation to what played out in the challenge against the election victory of Duoye Diri as the winner of the 2019 Bayelsa state gubernatorial election, which occurred on November 16th, 2019.
Speaking on the development, the legal luminary stated thus:
"This question seems like an inquisition into a déjà vu event one like the illusion of what happened in Bayelsa state. You will recall the Supreme Court's decision in the case filed by the PDP and its governorship candidate, Douye Diri against Messrs Lyon and Degi-Eremienyo, and INEC, seeking the disqualification of the APC deputy governorship candidate wherein it was ordered, upon the nullification of the APC's deputy governor candidacy, that INEC should immediately declare the party with the highest number of lawful votes and geographical spread the winner of the election.
"Without much pontification and unnecessary prevarication on the issue of who takes over from Buhari on 29th May, 2023, in the circumstance that the PDP's appeal succeeds this coming Friday, the 26th May 2023, the Supreme Court has already resolved the issue in the Diri Duoye's case that the candidates of the party with the highest number of lawful votes will, taking inference from that previous Supreme court's decision, be declared as the winner of the presidential election and inaugurated as the President."
Atiku might take over from Buhari, Lawyer says
Speaking further, Barrister Moses said the PDP flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar could be declared the winner of the 2023 presidential election.
According to the lawyer, the Supreme Court could declare Atiku the winner and inaugurate him as the president of Nigeria accordingly since he secured a number of votes close to that of the APC's own.
He noted that if Atiku is sworn in, Peter Obi of the Labour Party won't be able to challenge the vote amassed by the PDP.
Barrister Moses opined thus:
"I, therefore, find it not difficult to say that the PDP presidential candidates could be declared the winner and inaugurated as president accordingly since the PDP's number of votes is next to that of the APC.
"However, this will imply that the Labour Party will not be able to challenge the lawfulness or otherwise of the number of votes amassed by the PDP. This is because the number of days within which to challenge such as provided under the law would have expired and this will therefore bring the dream of the Labour Party candidates of challenging the election of the PDP's candidates to an abrupt end automatically."
Can Supreme Court sack Tinubu because of Shettima's alleged double nomination? Lawyer gives insight
Also commenting on the development, Festus Ogun, a constitutional lawyer, shared his experience litigating similar matters.
"I litigated not less than 4 matters on this point, last year. Our courts were in unison in holding that another political party lacks the locus to question the nomination of a rival political party’s candidate. This is the law as we know it," Ogun tweeted.
Atiku says he is not worried about Tinubu’s swearing-in on May 29
In another report, the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku, on Tuesday, May 23, said he is unperturbed by Tinubu’s imminent swearing-in as Nigeria’s president on May 29.
He spoke through his lead counsel, Chris Uche (SAN), shortly after the presidential election petition court (PEPC) sitting at the court of appeal, Abuja.
The presidential PDP candidate said he is sure he is going to ‘reclaim his mandate’ in court sooner or later.