Abuja lawyer asks court to disqualify Buhari over certificate

An Abuja-based lawyer, Chukwunweike Okafor, has approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking a special hearing to determine the eligibility or otherwise of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress [APC], Muhammadu Buhari, over his academic qualifications.

Mr. Okafor, a senior partner at Emerald Attorneys & Solicitors, appealed to the Chief Judge of the court to set up a panel that should urgently begin hearing on the case.

The case, according to the claimant, is brought based on Section 131 of the Constitution, which prescribes a minimum qualification for nomination to participate in Presidential Elections and Section 31 of the Electoral Act that stipulates that all presidential candidates must depose to affidavits indicating their compliance with constitutional requirements to be president.

He claimed that Mr. Buhari failed to prove that he has the minimum educational qualification to run for president in next month’s election.

He added that “General Buhari’s affidavit that he possesses the West African School Leaving Certificate (WASC) are false, as not only did he not attach it to his nomination form, as compulsorily required, but his claim that the Certificates are in the custody of the Military has been denied by the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Olajide Laleye”.

Mr. Okafor therefore requested the court to disqualify Mr. Buhari, a retired Major General and former military head of state, from contesting the 2015 presidential election.

“This is provided by Section 31(5) of the Electoral Act that allows a person that has reasonable grounds to believe that false information has been given by a candidate in his Affidavit or document submitted to INEC, in support of his nomination Form, to approach the Court for the candidate to be disqualified,” he said.

He said the suit had been ready since January 6, but could not be filed due to the nationwide strike by judicial workers.

The lawyer emphasised the need to commence hearing on the case “as a result of the nature and urgency of this matter which borders on the qualification or non-qualification of Mr. Buhari.

“My Lord, we have reviewed all the documents published by the Independent National Electoral Commission and inclusive of the said documents is the affidavit deposed by General Muhammadu Buhari which clearly shows that the nomination of General Muhammadu Buhari by the All Progressives Congress does not meet the minimum requirement enshrined in Section 31 (d) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We have formed a strong case to be made for the qualification or non-qualification of General Muhammadu Buhari to contest as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the 2015 elections.”

Mr. Buhari had deposed to an affidavit saying his academic records and credentials were with the military.

But the military authorities later addressed a press conference saying although they have some of the records of the APC candidate on file, they do not have copies of his certificates, including his West African Certificate Exams results.

Responding, Mr. Buhari expressed surprise that the military could claim not to have his results, and insisted that he indeed completed high school and passed at Division Two level.

PREMIUM TIMES later published copies of Mr. Buhari’s WASC results as well as a master list containing the results of some of his classmates.

Despite that publication, the PDP has however continued to attack Mr. Buhari, claiming the result published by this newspaper was not genuine.

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