The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Monday reserved judgment in the appeal filed against President Muhammadu Buhari’s academic qualification for the 2019 presidential election.
A three-member panel of the court, led by Atinuke Akomolafe-Wilson, after taking arguments from parties in respect of the appeals, said they would be informed when the judgments are ready.
During the court session on Monday, the counsel representing the appellant, Ukpai Ukairo, insisted Mr Buhari was not educationally qualified to have stood for the presidential poll.
He said the required certificates were not attached to his form CF001, submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for clearance to contest for the election.
Mr Ukairo opposed the claim that the suit of the appellant was ‘statute-barred’.
He added that the case was instituted on November 5, 2018, ”within the 14 days allowed by law”.
He said the course of action started with the announcement and publication by INEC of successful candidates for the 2019 general election on October 25, 2018.
Mr Ukairo, therefore, urged the court to allow the appeal and set aside the decision of the Federal High Court on the grounds of miscarriage of justice.
He asked the court to nullify Mr Buhari’s participation in the February 23 presidential election because he was not educational qualified for the poll at the time he did.
However, lawyers to the first and second respondents urged the court to dismiss the appeal for being incompetent and lacking merit.
Mr Buhari’s counsel, Abdullahi Abubakar, told the court that the case of the appellant was statute-barred having not been filed within the mandatory period stipulated by the law.
Mr Abubakar urged the court to uphold the decision of the Federal High Court to the effect that the suit was not filed in line with the position of the law.
Arguing in the same vein, the counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Babatunde Ogala, urged the court to dismiss the appeal. The counsel to INEC, Onyeri Anthony, said the commission is neutral and would abide by the decision of the court.
The plaintiffs, Kalu Kalu, Labaran Ismail and Hassy Kyari el-Kuris, had approached the appellate court to nullify and set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which declined to hear a suit they instituted to challenge the educational qualification of Mr Buhari before the conduct of 2019 general election.
The appellants are asking the court to reverse the judgment of Justice Ahmed Mohammed because the processes filed by Mr Buhari and used to strike out their suit were not competent.
The appellants faulted the judgment of the lower court, which ruled that the suit was statute-barred.
They also claimed that the Federal High Court erred in law and its decision because they did not challenge the primary election that produced Mr Buhari as the candidate of the APC.
They, therefore, urged the appeal court to assume jurisdiction over the suit and grant all the reliefs sought at the Federal High Court but which were refused.
Among the reliefs sought were a declaration that Mr 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 thus be disqualified”.
They also prayed for an order of the court directing INEC to remove Mr Buhari’s name as a candidate of APC and another order restraining Mr Buhari from parading himself as a candidate in the 2019 presidential election and also APC from recognizing Mr Buhari as a candidate.
The Federal High Court had on May 2 declined to grant the request of the appellants because the suit was not filed within the time allowed by law and therefore sustained the preliminary objection raised by Mr Buhari at the hearing.
But not satisfied, the appellants are now asking the Court of Appeal to grant their reliefs. They said hey are not challenging the primary election of APC as held by the lower court but the qualification of Mr Buhari to stand for the presidential election without demonstrating his educational certificates as required by law.
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