The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has put paid to speculations that the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, Muhammadu Buhari, might be barred from participating in Saturday’s presidential election.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola Wednesday morning adjourned the eligibility suit seeking to stop Mr. Buhari till April 22 and 23 for hearing, meaning there is no more obstacle on the APC candidate’s path.
The hearing will come up about a month after the election.
The court however dismissed the applications filed by two persons seeking to be joined as defendants in the suit. One of the applicants is a pro-democracy activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa.
There had been apprehension across the country that the opposition candidate might be disqualified, with his party, the APC suggesting there were pressures on the court to bar Mr. Buhari.
Mr. Buhari had on Tuesday failed in his bid to stop the Court from examining the merit of the consolidated suit challenging his eligibility for the March 28 presidential election.
When the suit came up for hearing Tuesday, Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and counsel to one of the plaintiffs, Chukwunweike Okafor, asked the court to reject the applications by Mr. Adegboruwa and another person to be joined, saying the court does not need them as parties in the suit to determine the merit of the case.
On Wednesday, the court agreed with Mr. Ozekhome’s argument, ruling that the applicants had no business in the case.
One of the suits against Mr. Buhari was instituted by Mr. Okafor challenging Mr. Buhari’s eligibility to contest the presidential election.
He claimed that the APC presidential candidate perjured by allegedly claiming to have attached his academic qualifications to the INEC form he filled even though he did not do so.
The APC and INEC were joined as defendants in the suit.
The party and its candidate protested with separate preliminary objections to the hearing of the suit, arguing that they were not served the court processes as required by the principle of natural justice and the rule of the court.
Although, the court granted Mr. Okafor the order to serve the process through substituted means, the APC flag-bearer, through his counsel, Wole Olanipekun, brought an application to set the order aside, contending that as far as he was concerned, no suit exists before the court for determination.
The APC and INEC also argued that even if they assumed that the court papers were properly served on them, the matter before the court was that of perjury, which according to them, was a criminal offence.
They contended that a criminal case could not be commenced by way of originating summons.
In his ruling Tuesday, Mr. Ademola said the court would hear both the objections and the substantive suit together.