Buhari’s ‘officer cadet’ qualification not known to law, Atiku, PDP insist

THE candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23, 2019 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his party have said that the “Officer Cadet” which President Muhammadu Buhari relied on as his qualification to contest the February 23 presidential poll is not known to the Nigerian law.

In a 43-page final address filed by their lead counsel, Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), Atiku and the PDP claimed to have established the fact that Buhari did not possess the requisite academic qualification for the position of the president of Nigeria.

In the final written address filed on August 14, 2019, the petitioners said even Buhari’s own witnesses under cross examination admitted to the fact that Buhari did not possess a school certificate, being the basic requirements for contesting for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We, therefore, submit that all the purported evidence led by the 2nd respondent (Buhari) to prove that he attended a secondary school or a primary school or that he attended some courses is irrelevant because he did not rely on any of those purported qualifications in exhibit P1, he relied on primary school certificate, WASC and Officer Cadet.

“Equally futile is his attempt to prove that he can speak and write in the English language. That is all irrelevant to his inability to produce his primary school certificate, secondary school certificate or WASC and his Officer Cadet qualification, whatever that means. Officer Cadet is not a qualification or certificate under the Constitution and Electoral Act; nor is it known to any law.

“There are 4 paths to educational qualification under Section 318(1) of the Constitution namely Section 318(1)(a) or Section 318(1)(b) or Section 318(1)(c) and Section 318(1)(d). Every candidate must choose which qualification he is relying on. He may choose a, b, c, or d. He may choose all. In Exhibit P1, the 2nd respondent chose only (a) and (c), listing the schools he attended and qualifications he obtained as “Primary School Certificate, WASC and Officer Cadet.” His CV was attached to show his working experience only.

“We, therefore, submit that to be qualified, the 2nd respondent must produce his Primary School Certificate or Secondary School Certificate (WASC) or ‘Officer Cadet’, since those were the qualifications he claimed in his Form CF001, Exhibit P1. We submit that a candidate must choose the qualification or qualifications he wishes to rely on at the time of swearing to and submitting Form CF001. The 2nd respondent duly exercised that choice and must swim or sink with his choice.”

On the “Cambridge University certificate” tendered by Buhari before the tribunal, the petitioners asked why “it was easier for Buhari to go all the way to Cambridge in the United Kingdom to obtain a bogus document that his own witnesses said was not a certificate, instead of just driving down the street in Abuja to the Army Headquarters or placing a phone call to the Secretary of the Military Board in Abuja to hurry over with his certificate or certificates.”

Still on the Cambridge University document, the petitioners submitted that, “A comparison of the purported Cambridge Assessment International Education Certifying Statement of the purported West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate and a certified true copy of the purported confidential result sheet of the University of Cambridge West African School Certificate of 1961 for the Provincial Secondary School, Katsina reveals many discrepancies in the supposed result.

“One listed 8 subjects that the candidate therein mentioned one ‘Mohamed Buhari’ allegedly sat for, the other 6 subjects, both documents are therefore unreliable as both cannot be correct. The contradiction must count against the 2nd respondent.”

Another “false claim” by Buhari, according to the petitioners, is that he attended Elementary School, Daura and Mai Aduwa between 1948 and 1952.

“Elementary School Daura is totally different from Mai Aduwa, their locations are totally different. He also claimed he entered Middle School, Katsina, in 1953.” But the petitioners submitted that by 1953, the Middle School system had been abolished in the northern region of Nigeria.

On the claim that his certificates were with the military, the petitioners submitted that Buhari “failed woefully” to prove the claim but “rather the petitioners’ evidence to the contrary was not contested nor challenged.”

It is also the case of the petitioners that they have successfully proved that the Nigerian Army had denied being in possession of Buhari’s alleged certificates.

“One of the strongest evidence on the issue was given by the second respondent’s own witness, RW1, General Paul Tafa (Rtd), who, under cross examination by the 1st respondent (INEC), told the court firmly and unequivocally that the Army did not collect the certificates of military officers and added, ‘there was no such thing.’

“We submit that there can be no better or stronger evidence of proving the giving of false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the election than the evidence of the 2nd respondent’s witness, elicited under cross examination by the 1st respondent, who conducted the election. The evidence of the RW1 was an admission against the interest of the 2nd respondent which completely knocks off the claim the 2nd respondent made against the military,” Atiku and the PDP said.

On the issue of rigging and non-compliance with the Electoral Act, the petitioners said with the plethora of evidence tendered and witnesses called, they had been able to show to the tribunal that Buhari’s election was invalid.

They added that analysis of results from 11 states showed how INEC, in connivance with Buhari and the APC, wrongly and unlawfully credited Buhari with votes not valid or lawful.

The petitioners said the documents tendered before the tribunal showed huge discrepancies between collated results as contained in the tendered Certified True Copies of forms EC8A and polling units.

They further alleged that a total of 2,906,384 votes were cancelled across the country, while 2,698,773 Nigerians were disenfranchised, adding that the two figures when added exceeded the 3,928,869 differential between the votes as stated in INEC’s Form EC8E.

The five-member panel of the tribunal, headed by Justice Mohammed Garba, commenced hearing of Atiku and PDP’s petition on July 14 and closed August 1, 2019.

While the petitioners called a total of 62 witnesses, including subpoenaed witnesses and tendered electoral and other documents to prove their case, Buhari called seven witnesses and tendered some documents.

INEC and the APC neither called any witnesses nor tendered any documents in the matter.

Meanwhile, the tribunal has fixed Wednesday, August 21, 2019, for all parties in the petition to adopt their final written addresses after which the judgment date will be fixed.

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