Plaintiffs seek disqualification of Buhari over false form to INEC

A Federal High Court, Abuja on Thursday, adjourned till February 7, 2019, to hear the suit seeking the disqualification of President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 16 presidential election.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed fixed the date following a request by the plaintiffs’ counsel for time to respond to the second defendant’s counter affidavit served on him Wednesday evening.

Kalu Agu, Labaran Ismail and Hassy El-Kuris, the plaintiffs in the suit, are alleging that the President Buhari lied in his Form CF 001 submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), regarding his educational qualification and certificates.

They therefore want the court to make “A declaration that the President Buhari submitted false information regarding his educational qualification to INEC for the purpose of contesting elections into the office of President of Nigeria in the 2019 general elections.

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“A declare that the President, having submitted false information regarding his educational qualification/certificate is disqualified from contesting elections into the office of president in the 2019 elections.”

They also prayed the court for an order directing INEC to reject or remove Buhari’s name as the presidential candidate of the APC submitted to INEC for the 2019 general elections. And to prevail on APC not to present him for the election.

Issues the plaintiffs raised for determination in the suit marked: FHC/CS/ABJ/1310/2018, include, “whether having regards to the information in the affidavit contained in the first defendant’s INEC form, CF 001 regarding his educational qualification/certificate, the first defendant has submitted false information to the third defendant.

“Whether from the facts and exhibits contained in the affidavit in support of the Originating Summons mad having regards to Section 31(5)(6) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended the first defendant is disqualified from running for the office of president in the 2019 general elections.

“Whether the first defendant, having submitted false information to the third defendant, the second defendant can validly present the first defendant as its candidate for the office of president for the 2019 general elections”.

The suit was filed November 5, 2018.

They are therefore seeking an order of the court to disqualifying the Buhari from presenting himself and or contesting for President in the 2019 general elections.

The suit has President Buhari, All Progressives Congress (APC) and INEC as first, second and third defendants respectively.

When the matter was called yestetday, plaintiffs’ counsel, Godwin Haruna, who held brief for Ukpai Ukiro, informed the court that the matter was adjourned at the last sitting to January 21 for hearing of all pending applications but was further adjourned to today January 31, since the court did not sit.

He however said, he would be asking the court for a short adjournment to enable him respond to the second defendant’s notice of preliminary objections which he said was filed on January 31 and served on him around 4.30pm on Wednesday.

Haruna said processes were served on the APC since November 21 and they just responded only in Wednesday, asked the Court for a cost of N100,000 against the APC for foisting the adjournment on the court.

He said the defendant have been in Court since but never bothered to file its response.
While counsel to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abdullahi Abubakar, did not object to the request for adjournment, counsel to APC, Tayo Lasaki, who said he is not opposed to the adjournment however said he is opposing the request for cost against him.

Lasaki said since the second defendant is challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the matter, it does not matter when the issue is raised.

He also argued that the request for adjournment was made by the plaintiffs and not him, adding that though the second defendant is appearing in the matter for the first time, they are however prepared to go on with the matter if the plaintiffs are ready.

In a short ruling, Justice Mohammed, in granting the adjournment, agreed with the second defendant that the issue of jurisdiction can be raised at anytime and refused the request for cost.

He subsequently adjourned till February 7 for hearing of all pending applications.
Mohammed also ordered that hearing notices be served on the third defendant, INEC.

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