A presidential candidate has asked a court to void the participation of President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar in the February 23 presidential election, for allegedly flouting the electoral law on electioneering campaign spending.
Usman Ibrahim of the National Rescue Movement said each of the two frontrunners spent in excess of the one billion naira ceiling placed on campaign spending by the Electoral Act.
Mr Buhari, who ran on the ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), won the election while Mr Abubakar came second. The PDP candidate has rejected the result and vowed to challenge it in court.
But Mr Ibrahim in the suit FHC/ABJ/CS/191/2019 filed through his lawyer, Ezekiel Ofuo, wants the participation of the two in the election nullified for their alleged infractions.
Mr Buhari is the first defendant in the suit, the APC is the second. Mr Abubakar is the third, the PDP is the fourth while the Independent National Electoral Commission is the fifth.
Specifically, the plaintiff is praying the court to set aside the participation of Mr Buhari and Mr Abubakar on the ground that they spent more than N1 billion each as campaign expenses.
The plaintiff claimed that by spending more than one billion Naira each, Mr Buhari and Mr Abubakar have violated the electoral law and are liable to be removed as contestants in the election.
During the court session on Tuesday, Mr Ofou told the court that he was constrained to serve the court papers on the duo.
After the plaintiff moved his ex-parte motion, brought pursuant to Order 6 Rule 5 of the Federal High Court civil procedure rules 2009, the presiding judge, Ahmed Mohammed, granted it as prayed.
Mr Mohammed adjourned to March 26 for further mentioning of the case.
Meanwhile in the suit, the plaintiff wants , “A declaration that the first defendant unauthorized use of state resources brand-named ‘TRADERMONI’ with which the 1st Defendant through his running mate, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has employed to tacitly induce electorate in exchange for their votes amount to fraud covered within section 124 (1)(a);(b);(c); and Section 130 of the Electoral Act.
“A declaration that branded items such as bags of fertilizers, bags of rice, being distributed to electorates at campaign rallies by the first and third defendants amount to inducement of electorates in exchange for votes and a fraud covered within section 124 (1)(a);(b);(c); and Section 130 of the Electoral Act.
“A declaration that the actions of the 1st and 3rd Defendants in all the circumstances and the silence of the 5th Defendant thereto, amount to discrimination, bias, bigotry and a denial of a level playing field against the Plaintiff and portrays Nigeria to the world as a country, where politics is only for the rich, high and mighty and not for young enterprising and growing political parties.”
Consequently, the plaintiff is praying for an order of court directing the fifth defendant to expunge the names of the second and fourth defendants from the presidential ballot papers so as to “rescue Nigeria democracy from money bags, the influence of money, also, to prevent the undue use of money, and to preserve the people’s sovereignty as enshrined in Section 14(2) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended).”