Foremost human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Femi Falana said he was not, in any way, surprised by the the Supreme Court judgement, which paved the way for the swearing-in of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, on Monday, May 29.
Falana stated this in an exclusive interview with Vanguard on Saturday.
Recall that the apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-member panel, dismissed as lacking in merit, an appeal the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, filed to query Tinubu’s eligibility to contest the presidential election that held on February 25.
It held that the appeal, marked: SC/CV/501/2023, was brought before it in bad faith, stressing that the PDP, whose candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, came second in the presidential contest, was bereft of the locus standi (legal right) to challenge a nomination that was made by another political party.
PDP had in its appeal, prayed the court to void Tinubu’s candidacy, alleging that the Vice President-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima, had prior to the 2023 general elections, allowed himself to be nominated for more than one constituency.
It told the court that Shettima was nominated twice, both for the Borno Central Senatorial seat and for the Vice Presidential position.
But, speaking on the development, Falana noted that he was not surprised because he knew the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal, respectively dismissed the action.
The legal luminary said the Supreme Court merely upheld the concurrent judgement of the two law courts.
Falana said, “Under the current electoral regime, all those who have been cleared by the INEC and given their Certificate of Return shall be sworn in on the 29th of May. That’s is the law.
“The petition against many of them would be be determined with the period of 180 days, if there are appeals arising from the judgement of the Tribunal or the Court of Appeal, they shall be determine within 60 days,” he added.
Falana, however, said he expected his colleagues not to have confused the public, because apart from the President-elect, all the governors elected on the platform of the Labour Party and the PDP are going to be sworn in on the 29th of May.
“All the legislators elected on the platform of the PDP, Labour Party, APC and all of them will be inaugurated on the 29th of May. So, frankly speaking I don’t know what all the hullabaloo is all about,” he added.
The SAN noted that, as a court under the Electoral Act 2022, the Federal High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have repeatedly maintained that only members of the political party can challenge the conduct of primary in thier party.
“And strangers or outsiders lack the locus standi to challenge the the conduct of primary. If people want to ask for an amendment of the law, that could be the next stage,” Falana said.
When asked his expectation from the incoming government, Falana simply said the responsibility lies on the media to check the manifesto of Tinubu – one by one – and find out whether he is going to implement them.