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Published On: Fri, Feb 1st, 2019

Presidential poll: Court hears suit seeking Buhari’s disqualification Feb. 7

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By Vivian Okejeme Abuja

The Federal High Court Abuja, will on February 7, 2019, hear the suit seeking the disqualification of President Mohummadu 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.
The plaintiffs, Kalu Agu, Labaran Ismail and Hassy El-Kuris, 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.
Plaintiffs are praying the court for an order, to disqualify Buhari from presenting himself and or contesting for President in the 2019 general elections.
The suit which was filed on behalf of the plaintiff Ukpai Ukiro, and dated, November 5, 2019, has President Buhari, All Progressives Congress (APC) and INEC as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.
Issues raised for determination before the court 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”.
Upon the determination of the above questions, the plaintiffs therefore are seeking the following reliefs from the Court, “A declaration that the first defendant 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.
“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”.
When the matter was called yesterday, counsel to the plaintiffs 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 yesterday.
He drew attention of the court to the fact that the processes were served on the APC since November 21 and they just responded only yesterday.
He, therefore, asked the Court for a cost of N100k against the APC for foisting the adjournment on the court, adding that the defendant have been in Court since but never bothered to file its response.
Responding, counsel to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abdullahi Abubakar, did not object to the request for adjournment.
Also, counsel to APC, Tayo Lasaki, said he is not opposing to the adjournment, however, said he is opposing the request for cost against him.
He submitted that, 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.
Lasaki, 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.
Justice Mohammed, in a short ruling, in granted the request for adjournment, but refused the request for cost.
The Judge aligned with the argument of the second defendant, that the issue of jurisdiction can be raised at any time.
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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