Tension mounts over possible disqualification of the presidential candidate of Nigeria’s major opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC) by the courts for lacking requisite academic qualification to contest rescheduled March 28, 2015 presidential election.
The APC candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator has failed to publicly show his academic qualification, even after being accused of not having the minimum qualification to contest the election.
Already, the APC has warned against any orchestrated, last-minute disqualification of its presidential candidate in order to pave the way for an easy victory for President Goodluck Jonathan or even another postponement of the elections.
The Street Reporters recalls that about ten suits seeking the disqualification of Buhari on grounds of lack of requisite educational qualification are presently being heard at the Federal High Court Abuja.
According to findings, the suits were instituted by different persons at different courts, but were later consolidated.
Progress on the suits have been stalled due to arguments over whether Buhari and the APC can be served through the media.
The court, which is presided by Justice Ademola Adeniyi, will on Wednesday decide on the issue of service.
The APC, in a statement by its spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the suspected a foul play.
The statement reads in part: “If it is true, as it is being widely speculated across the country, that the Jonathan Administration has procured a judgement to disqualify the APC Presidential Candidate on Wednesday, when the
Federal High Court in Abuja is expected to rule on the issue, then it portends a great danger for our country,” the party said.
“Anyone who will disqualify a presidential candidate on the eve of an election can only have one and only one purpose for that: to trigger chaos and pandemonium across the country. Perhaps this is the reason for the deployment of troops across the country to crack down on possible protests and create confusion.
“Then, those who orchestrated the disqualification will simply use what they expect to be angry reactions nationwide as an excuse to postpone the elections again, thus triggering a constitutional crisis, the end of which no one can predict.
“This is why we are hoping that good reason will prevail and nothing will be done, deliberately, to plunge Nigeria into crisis by the same people who have always been quick to say their political ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian,” APC said
The APC and its Presidential flag-bearer on Tuesday failed to stop the Federal High Court in Abuja from examining the merit of the consolidated suit challenging the eligibility of Buhari for the March 28 presidential election.
Justice Ademola had also reserved ruling till Wednesday on 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.
When the suit came up for hearing, Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria,
and counsel to one of the plaintiffs, Mr. Chukwunweike Okafor, asked the court to
reject the applications because it does not need them as parties in the suit to determine the merit of the case.
One of the suits was instituted by Okafor challenging Buhari’s eligibility to contest the
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 process as required by the principle of natural justice and the rule of the court.
Although, the court granted 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, therefore, contended that a criminal case could not be commenced by way of
In his ruling, Justice Ademola said the court would hear both the objections and the substantive suit together.