Buhari’s ex-minister, Nwajiuba, takes Tinubu to court over certificates

•Asks court to sack APC, PDP presidential candidates •Judge fixes hearing for October 6

THE Federal High Court, Abuja, has fixed October 6 to hear a suit seeking to disqualify the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, for allegedly acting in breach of the Electoral Act. 

The suit marked FHC/ABJ/ CS/942/2022, which the immediate past Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, filed alongside a non-governmental organisation, the Incorporated Trustees of Rights for All International, is equally praying the court to disqualify the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, over the same allegation. Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the service of all court processes as well as hearing notices on all the defendant in the matter. 

While Nwajiuba and the non-governmental organisation, the Incorporated Trustees of Rights for All International, are the plaintiffs in the suit, the APC, the PDP, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are joined as defendants along with Tinubu and Atiku. Nwajiuba, who is a chieftain of the APC (the first defendant) and one of its presidential aspirants, had secured leave of the court to sue both his party’s presidential candidate, Tinubu and that of the PDP (the second defendant), Atiku. 

The plaintiffs urged the court to declare that the third defendant (Tinubu), “who had previously sworn to an affidavit in the INEC nomination form declaring that he lost his primary and secondary school documents and benefitted therefrom, cannot in a later affidavit deny and abandon same facts deposed to in the previous affidavit and thus falsely contradicting his academic qualifications.” 

The plaintiffs attached to the suit, copies of affidavits Tinubu deposed to while he was the governorship candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Lagos State. 

“The entire circumstances surrounding the two depositions of the third defendant point to the fact that they are false and misleading and cannot be relied upon. The possession of a higher degree does not substitute the minimum requirement of law, where the minimum academic requirement is manifestly absent by an avowed fact. 

“The possession of a higher educational qualification such as first degree or Master’s degree is predicated on  the minimum educational qualification as provided in the constitution,” the plaintiffs averred. 

Among other things, the plaintiffs prayed the court to determine: “Whether the APC is exempted from compliance with Section 90(3) of the Electoral Act 2022, having presented the third defendant (Tinubu) as its presidential candidate to the sixth defendant (INEC) and the sixth defendant accepted and published same, being the name of a person whose source of N100 million fee for the nomination form and expression of interest form was not verified. 

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“Whether the constitutional provision prescribing the academic qualification of candidates and prescribing minimum qualification of school certificate or its equivalent has been complied with by the third defendant who, on oath, has admitted that he does not possess such minimum qualification prescribed in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.” 

He also alleged that the primary election that produced Tinubu as the 2023 presidential candidate of the APC was marred by corruption and massive vote buying, insisting that the majority of the delegates were bought over with dollars. 

To strengthen his allegation, the former minister, who polled only one vote at the primary election that held on June 8, included in his proof of evidence, a video recording showing the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, decrying that delegates at the APC primary sold their votes. 

The plaintiffs equally urged the court to also disqualify Atiku, who was cited as the fourth defendant in the suit, for also engaging in vote buying. 

They want the court to determine: “Whether the conduct of the third and fourth defendants (Tinubu and Atiku) and their agents who, by way of corrupt inducement of delegates with US dollars, which being a foreign currency and non-legal tender in Nigeria under the CBN Act, and the possession which requires declaration under the EFCC Act, used the dollars for inducement of votes in favour of the third and fourth defendants have rendered the votes of such delegates cast in favour of the third and fourth defendants at the first and second defendant’s special conventions illegal, void and invalid and of no effect whatsoever; and thus inhibiting the third and fourth defendants from benefiting from the proceeds of their own gross illegalities.” 


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