Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been dragged before the Supreme Court over accusations of unlawfully inaugurating himself as president, despite an ongoing legal challenge against the conduct of the 2023 presidential election.
Chief Albert Ambrose Owuru, a presidential candidate in the 2019 general election, has invoked the doctrine of Lis Pendens, urging the Apex Court to nullify Tinubu’s inauguration as the victor of the 2023 presidential poll.
Chief Owuru, a constitutional lawyer, contends that the entire presidential election that led to Tinubu’s victory was a futile and illegitimate exercise due to his unresolved legal action against Tinubu and others at the Supreme Court.
The pending Supreme Court case (No. SC/667/2023) lists Chief A.A. Owuru and the Hope Democratic Party as Appellants, with former President Muhammadu Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), INEC, and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Respondents.
Owuru argues that Tinubu’s proclamation by INEC challenges the authority of the Supreme Court and established law, citing lis pendens.
He asserts that Tinubu, being a party in the ongoing suit before the Apex Court, should not have presented himself for inauguration in connection with any presidential poll.
Owuru, who contested the 2019 presidential election under the Hope Democratic Party (HDP), previously claimed victory against the declaration of former President Buhari by INEC.
His suit seeking a court order to declare him the rightful winner of the 2019 election is still pending before the Supreme Court.
Tinubu voluntarily joined as an interested party on May 18 this year after initially opposing the move.
In a recent motion served on Tinubu through the Chambers of Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, Owuru is also seeking an order from the Supreme Court to restrain the respondents, particularly Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, from further accessing the Federation Account until the constitutional questions surrounding the 2023 election are resolved.
In a statement issued in Abuja alongside the civil group Hope Africa Foundation, Owuru argues that Tinubu’s awareness of the suit and voluntary participation as an interested party, despite legal disputes, constitute a breach of the doctrine of lis pendens, potentially rendering his inauguration invalid and subject to dismissal.
The statement signed by Anwal Ibrahim, the National Coordinator of the Africa Hope Foundation, read in part, “We want to place on record that Tinubu’s claim to the office of President is affected by reason of his being Lis Pendens.
“This is so because having joined the pending suit on the subject of mandate usurpation by Buhari, nothing ought to have been done until the final resolutions of disputed issues.
“There is no doubt that the present act of self-help and claim to occupy the office of the president by any of the parties in this action is an act of self-help and violates the law and the doctrine of Lis Pendens, which is to the effect that nothing should be done by parties to change or affect the subject matter before the court so as not to prejudice the existing adjudged acquired constitutional rights and mandate of Chief Owuru as the adjudged constitutional winner of the 2019 presidential election.
“It is on record that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in recognition of the doctrine of Lis Pendens and the existing suits on the issue of usurpation of mandate between Owuru and Buhari, joined the ongoing proceedings then in Court of Appeal on the 18th of May 2023 before his purported inauguration over the 2023 presidential electoral debacle.
” He is bound to await the outcome of the proceedings in the already existing issue of usurpation of constitutional mandate and entitlement to serve out the same by Owuru.
“The implication of this, by law is that the 2023 presidential election and its outcome which Tinubu was aware of before joining the suit, is subsumed and dependent on the outcome of the existing legal proceedings on the subject of the already adjudged and yet to be served constitutional mandate of Owuru to serve out the term of office of the President of Nigeria as required by law.
“Our laws in this regard concerning the doctrine of Lis pendens has been well affirmed by the Supreme Court in the case of Peter Obi vs Ngige (Supra) as parties are to maintain and strictly observe the fact of the existence of pending suits and efficacy and potency of undermining the court’s jurisdiction and engaging in act of self-help and a brazen usurpation of candidate, parties mandate, subject matter in the pending case.
“There is no doubt that this act of the present All Progressives Congress (APC) led central government in practical terms are clear acts actof usurpation.
“As law-abiding citizens, we urge that Nigerians exercise patience in the due and early resolution of these outstanding issues to know who truly is the authentic Nigerian President.
Owuru, who asserted his claim as the constitutionally recognized winner of the 2019 presidential election, has voiced his objection to the inauguration of Tinubu or any other successor to Buhari. He argues that he, being the constitutionally declared victor of the 2019 election, has not completed his four-year tenure as mandated by law.
Among his grievances, Owuru contended at the time that Buhari was encroaching upon his term in office since 2019, citing the Supreme Court’s pending determination of his petition filed in 2019 challenging the alleged declaration of Buhari as the election winner.
His initial lawsuit faced dismissal by Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on January 30, 2023, leading him to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja, through a judgment delivered by Justice Jamil Tukur on May 25, rejected Owuru’s plea to halt the May 29 inauguration of Tinubu. Justice Tukur asserted that Owuru had engaged in a flagrant abuse of court processes by submitting a frivolous, vexatious, and irritating lawsuit designed to provoke the respondents.