Buhari has five days to respond to alleged certificate fraud suit

…Adjourns till July 8 for hearing

The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division on Monday gave President Muhammadu Buhari five days within which to respond to the appeal filed against his qualification for the 2019 presidential election, which he (Buhari) won on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

APC, which nominated Buhari for the presidential poll and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which accepted Buhari’s nomination was also given five days to also respond to all issues raised on the educational qualification of the president for the election.

Justice Datti Yayaya who issued the order also directed that Buhari’s counsel, Abdullahi Abubakar, must within the period file necessary processes in relation to the appeal filed against Buhari’s qualification by three appellants namely Agu Kalu, Labaran Ismail, and Hassy El-Kuris.

The decision of the appellate court followed a motion on notice filed by counsel to the appellants, Uchenna Ndubuisi, who prayed the Court of Appeal to abridge the time within which Buhari, APC, and INEC will join issues with the appellants on the certificate suit.

Abubakar and counsel to the APC, Temitayo Lasaki had urged the appellate court, in their response to the motion to give them five days to enable them to file their respondents’ brief of argument along with other processes so as to set the stage for the hearing of the substantive appeal.

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Kalu, Ismail, and El-Kuris had approached the appellate court to nullify and set aside the Judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja which declined to hear their suit challenging the educational qualification of President Buhari before the conduct of the 2019 general election.

The appellants, in their appeal, are asking the appellate court to reverse the judgment of Justice Ahmed Mohammed on the grounds that the processes filed by Buhari, which was used to strike out their suit were not competent.

While faulting the Judgment of the High Court, which was predicated on the grounds that the suit was statute barred, the appellants claimed that the trial Court erred in law in its decision because they did not challenge the primary election that produced Buhari as the candidate of the APC.

They, therefore, urged the Court of Appeal to assume jurisdiction over the suit and grant all the reliefs sought at the Federal High Court but which were refused.

Among the reliefs were a declaration that Buhari submitted false information regarding his qualification and certificate to INEC for the purpose of contesting election into the office of the President of Nigeria and that he should be disqualified.

They also prayed for an order of the court directing INEC to remove Buhari’s name as a candidate of APC and another order restraining Buhari from parading himself as a candidate in the 2019 presidential election and also APC from recognizing Buhari as a candidate.

The Federal High Court had on May 2, 2019, declined to grant the request of the appellants on the grounds that the suit was not filed within the time allowed by law and therefore sustained the preliminary objection raised by Buhari at the hearing.

Not satisfied, the appellants are now asking the Court of Appeal to grant their reliefs because they are not challenging the primary election of APC as erroneously held by the lower court but the qualification of Buhari to stand for the presidential election without demonstrating his educational certificates as required by law.

The court is adjourned to July 8 for the hearing of the appeal.