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Court orders alternative service in Buhari’s disqualification suit

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Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday ordered alternative service of processes in a suit filed by an Abuja-based lawyer, Chike Okafor, seeking disqualification of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari, over controversy trailing his certificate.

The plaintiff, Okafor, had on Tuesday alleged that Buhari and other defendants, had been evading service of the processes in the suit, and urged the court to grant alternative means of service. Trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, after entertaining the submission, ordered that Buhari and his party should be served by publication in a national newspaper.

The matter was subsequently adjourned to February 9, 2015 for report of service. In an originating summon, the plaintiff (Okafor) is asking the court to disqualify Buhari from contesting the 2015 presidential elections.

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According to the suit numbered FHC/ABJ/ CS/01/2015, the plaintiff listed Buhari, APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the three respondents, respectively. The media, in the past weeks, had been awash with controversy over Buhari’s certificate, with his school eventually releasing the result after the Nigeria army denied custody of same as earlier claimed by Buhari, who was at a point the military head of state in Nigeria.

However, the fresh suit is principally hinged on Section 131 of the constitution, which prescribes a minimum qualification for nomination to participate in presidential elections and Section 31 of the Electoral Act that stipulates all presidential candidates to depose an affidavit in proof of compliance with constitutional requirement to be president of Nigeria.

The plaintiff is specifically contending that Buhari failed to prove that he has the minimum educational qualification to run for president, and that the APC candidate’s West African School Certificate (WASC) was false. He said Buhari not only did he not attach his purported certificates to his nomination form as compulsorily required, but his claim that the certificates were in the custody of the military had been denied by the director of army public relations, Brigadier General Olajide Laleye.

The plaintiff formulated one question for the court’s determination, which is “Whether the information given by Buhari in the prescribed forms and sub- mitted to INEC for the 2015 presidential election does not contain falsehood?” If yes, Okafor equally asked whether Buhari should not, therefore, be disqualified from the said election.