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Sunday, September 17, 2023

Presidential Tribunal: Times Tinubu Candidature was challenged in Courts and their Outcomes

By Ridhwan Adetutu Abdullahi

News of the petitions challenging the declaration of Bola Tinubu, the then presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as president-elect, after the February 25 presidential poll gained prominence across both the traditional and new media few weeks after the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared him the winner of the presidential election.

Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), as well as Atiku Abubakar, his People Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, filed separate suits, challenging the election outcome.

Obi and Abubakar, in their respective cases, pray the court to either declare them “Presidents-Elect” or void the entire election.

Since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, election outcomes have on many occasions, been contested in court by aggrieved parties.

Tinubu, the INEC-declared winner of the election, and who had since been sworn-in as the substantive president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of the election, is not new to such legal contestations.

A review of Tinubu’s political journey shows he had, on several occasions, had to defend his political wins in courts.

While we await the verdicts of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) on the 2023 presidential election later today, WikkiTimes has done a run-down of such instances when the 2023 presidential election winner has had to substantiate his political victories through judicial pronouncements.


In 1999, the late Gani Fawehinmi approached a Lagos Federal High Court to seek an order, compelling security operatives to institute a criminal case against Tinubu, who had just been sworn-in as governor at the time.

In the suit, Fawehinmi had accused Tinubu of lying under oath as regards his academic qualifications.

Tinubu had, on the other hand, made claims of loss of his certificates in his filings with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 1999 before the election. (He repeated same in 2003 when he was to seek re-election).

However, on May 12, Nigeria’s apex court, the Supreme Court in Abuja ruled that Tinubu could not be prosecuted by the police for the allegation of certificate forgery. The court also added that Fawehinmi had no legal right to compel the Inspector General of Police to investigate Tinubu.


In October 24 2012, Adegbola Dominic, a PDP stalwart, wrote an open letter to the Inspector General of Police on the same subject. In June of the same year, Adegbola approached a Lagos Federal High Court to compel the IGP to prosecute Tinubu on the allegation of certificate forgery.

Adegbola premised his suit on the need to re-open Gani Fawehinmi’s earlier suit in 1999 which also partially bothered around certificate forgery and lying under oath.

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The court would later dismiss the case on the ground that Adegbola failed to satisfy the mandatory requirements of the law. Justice Saliu Saidu, the presiding judge, held that there was the need to comply with the stipulated rules of the court. He also held that the matter was grossly out of time and that the prayer sought could not be granted.

Adegbola had averred that the claim of Tinubu that he attended the University of Chicago in the US between 1972 and 1976 and obtained a B.Sc degree in Economics from the same University was misleading.


Tinubu’s candidacy has attracted many objections from different quarters, from individuals and groups alike. Such initial objection was instituted at a Federal Hight Court in Abuja by the immediate past Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, alongside Incorporated Trustees of Rights for All International, a non-governmental organization.

In case marked FHC/ABJ/CS/942/2022, Nwajiuba sought Tinubu’s disqualifications on the ground that his candidacy breached the Electoral Act.

“Whether the All Progressives Congress is exempted from compliance with section 90(3) of the Electoral Act 2022, having presented the 3rd defendant (Tinubu) as its presidential candidate to the 6th defendant (INEC) and the 6th defendant accepted and published same, being the name of a person whose source of N100m contribution fee for the nomination form and expression of interest form was not verified.

“Whether the constitutional provision prescribing the academic qualification of candidates and prescribing minimum qualification of school certificate or its equivalent has been complied with by the 3rd defendant who on oath, have admitted that he does not possess such minimum qualification prescribed in the 1999 constitution of Nigeria,” Nwajiuba had prayed the court

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However, on February 24, 2022, the court of appeal seating in Abuja dismissed the case on the bases that the court lack jurisdiction to entertain the case. The court judged that it “rightly held that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit as the suit was filed outside the statutorily mandated and allowed period of 14 days.”


On Friday November 4, 2022, Justice Obiora Egwuatu of the Federal High Court, Abuja gave a go-ahead order to Action Alliance to open a case of certificate forgery against the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu.

AA had on June 21, approached the court for an order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from including the name of the APC in the ballot of the 2023 presidential election.

Amongst others, the plaintiff predicated their claims on the bases that Tinubu forged his University of Chicago certificate he submitted in 1999 in aid of his qualification for the 1999 governorship election in Lagos State.

This particular case has lingered for long. It was initiated in 1999 by the late legal beagle, Gani Fawehinmi in suit challenging Tinubu’s eligibility as the governor of Lagos State. In 2013 however, one Dr. Adegbola Dominic approached Lagos High Court to compel the Inspector General to re-open the case.

However, the legal battle was laid to rest in December, 2022 in a judgment by an Abuja Federal Hight Court.

Justice Obiora Egwuatu dismissed on the bases that the suit has “constituted an abuse of court process, and become academic and grossly incompetent, hence, the court lack the requisite jurisdiction to entertain it, and dismissed the same.”


On July 28, 2022, upon the emergence of the Tinubu and Shettima as the candidate of the ruling party the All Progressive Congress, The Peoples Democratic Party through one Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Karina Tunyan approached an Abuja Federal High Court to pray for an order to disqualify the ticket of the APC.

The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1734/2022 was predicated on the alleged double nomination of the vice president-elect, Kashim Shettima.

PDP relied on the provision of section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022, that “the nomination of the 4th defendant (Shettima) is void for allowing himself to be nominated in more than one constituency.”

PDP joined in the suit the Independent Nigeria Electoral Commision (INEC), the APC and the duo of Tinubu and Shettima.

However, the suit was dismissed in January by the Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The suit was determined on the ground that the PDP lacked the locus standi to institute the suit.

“It is express in the provision of Section 29 (5) of the Electoral Act, 2022 that the right of action on the matter for which the applicant/respondent (PDP) has filed this action is given to ‘any aspirant who participated in the primaries of his political party.

“Therefore, there is no iota of law which supports this action. It is on this ground that I find that this case is an abuse of process and I so hold,” the Judge ruled.


The aftermath of Tinubu’s infamous religious monolithic ticket elicited outrage from keyholders, particularly the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) as well as political interest groups and individuals. One of such individual was one Osigwe Momoh, an Abuja-based lawyer.

In July 2022, Momoh approached an Abuja Federal High Court to seek an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting the candidacy of the APC’s ticket.

Tinubu had picked Kashim Shettima, a Muslim former governor of Borno State, when he himself identifies as Muslim as the running-mate.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1188/2022, Momoh argued that the ticket violated the provision of a Section of law.

“By virtue of Sections 14 (1) & (3), 15 and 224(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the defendants are bound by the principles of Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and having the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the same religion is unconstitutional and null and void,” Momoh had prayed.

However, on Wednesday, January 18, the suit was dismissed by Justice Ahmed Ramat Muhammed of the appellate court.

Muhammed based the judgment on the ground that the petitioner lack the legal right to prosecute the case as he had not been the member of APC subsequently dismissed it in its entirety.


The reviews of the petitions filed by the two main opposition challenging Tinubu declaration as the winner of the election reveal that sizeable number of the grounds for the petitions have in the past been challenged in courts.

Although, in most of the cases, the grounds for judgments had had to do with technicalities of the prosecutions, and often didn’t give decisive verdicts on contentious issues that have brought about the case.

However, how these court pronouncements will have a fashion the five-man panel’s pronouncement on current presidential petitions against Tinubu at the presidential election tribunal remains a thing to watch out for today.


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