A judge of the federal high court in Abuja on Thursday, June 30, 2016 has struck out a suit filed by an Abuja-based lawyer challenging the eligibility of President Muhammadu Buhari over the president’s inability to present a WAEC certificate to prove he sat for the secondary school leaving examination.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola delivered his ruling making reference to “section 50(2) of the federal high court civil procedure rules the matter is hereby struck out” following a motion for discontinuance filed by Nnamdi Nwokocha- Ahaaiwe, the applicant in the case.
On June 16, 2016 Ademola had adjourned the case indefinitely following a notice of appeal filed by President Buhari challenging a previous ruling of the court dismissing the president’s preliminary objection.
Mr. Nnamdi Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe who filed the case against the president in an federal high court in Abuja, has filed a notice to discontinue the suit seeking the disqualification of President Buhari for a lack of a WAEC certificate.
Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe is challenging Buhari’s eligibility to contest for the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because he did not sit for the Cambridge West African School Certificate (WASC) in 1961 as he claimed in his form submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The notice of discontinuance dated June 27 and obtained by ThisDay, read: “Take note that the plaintiff in this originating summons, Nnamdi Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe, hereby discontinues this action.” The newspaper also reveals that following the withdrawal of the suit from court, the trial judge, Justice Ademola Adeniyi will today sit and accordingly strike out the case.
Though Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe did not give any reason for withdrawing the suit against President Buhari, investigation reveals that his and his family are being threatened on a “daily bases” over the case.
In a news interview in may, Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe had alleged that there were some subtle threats on him to withdraw the case from court. “Of course, I am concerned and my family and friends are too; I am not naïve and some subtle threats have already been made,” the lawyer told a newspaper.
“For now it is small comfort that if anything happens to me, even if disguised as an accident or anything, Nigerians will know exactly who is responsible.”
Nigerian Presidency Threatens Lawyer
In a swift reaction to the press interview, the Nigerian presidency issued an open threat to Mr. Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe. Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu took issues with the lawyer’s press interview warning Nwokocha to stop his “unfair and professionally inappropriate abuse of free speech”.
In an interview with journalists in Abuja on Sunday, June 19, 2016, Mr. Shehu said that the president’s lawyers would use the “instrumentality of the law in dealing with [Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe’] unethical actions”. He said that by granting the interview to a national newspaper, the lawyer had “hijacked” the power of the judge by declaring Mr. President guilty “in the pages of newspapers”.
The presidency’s outburst was, in fact, interesting because going on record in the media and declaring officials of previous governments guilty of corruption and most times, crimes they have even been charged for is the mainstay of the Buhari government.
“Newspaper pages are not alternative courts where a lawyer can declare anybody guilty of anything when the court has not formally given a definitive judgment on an issue before it,” Shehu said.
“The two-page interview published on Saturday, June 11 breaches lawyers’ ethical code and we hope that the court and the Nigerian Bar Association will take notice of this.”
He also said that what Nwokocha had done was “trial by media”.
“Free speech is not synonymous with recklessness and wanton abuse of the rights other parties to a case in court,” the presidential spokesman said.
‘Buhari Show Your WAEC Certificate’
Outrage greeted the news that Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has hired 13 senior lawyers to defend him in a suit at a federal high court in Abuja challenging his eligibility for the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria over his failure to present his WAEC certificate.
The president’s legal team is made up of 13 senior advocates of Nigeria, SAN, and is led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN). The other lawyers on Buhari’s defence team are Mr. Lateef O. Fagbemi (SAN), Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), Oluwarotimi O. Akeredolu (SAN), Kola Awodein (SAN), Prof. Taiwo Osipitan (SAN), Charles Edosomwan (SAN), Emeka Ngige (SAN), Femi Atoyebi (SAN), Femi Falana (SAN), Funke Aboyade (SAN), H.O. Afolabi (SAN), Muiz Banire (SAN). Ten other lawyers are on the team.
Nigerians took to social media to express their disappointment and anger that their president would fail to present a basic education certificate for secondary school. Buhari had sworn an oath while filing his form at the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in 2014 that his original school certificates were with the military board.
The Nigerian Army had issued a statement denying being in possession of the retired general’s certificates in the heat of the 2015 elections.
The court case has been adjourned indefinitely, following an appeal filed by President Buhari against a preliminary ruling by the federal judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola.
Everyone Knows The Truth – Lawyer
Mr. Nnamdi Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe told ThisDay in May, 2016 that there is a conspiracy of silence over the matter of Buhari’s qualification for the office of president. He alleged threats to his life and those of his family members.
Here is what he said:
“Of course, I am concerned and my family and friends are too; I am not naïve and some subtle threats have already been made. For now it is small comfort that if anything happens to me, even if disguised as an accident or anything, Nigerians will know exactly who is responsible.
“In any case, it was Professor Wole Soyinka, I think, who once said in one of his books that ‘The Man Dies in Him Who Keeps Quiet in The Face of Tyranny’ or something of the sort. Speaking of which, I am amazed at the conspiracy of silence by Nigerians.
“It is astounding is it not, that in the light of this very apparent rape of our constitution, laws, indeed the very essence of our democracy, all of our civil society advocates and activists have gone deaf and dumb in the face of tyranny.
“All those voluble persons (and I don’t want to name them; they know themselves and Nigerians know them too), who pretend they are activists or keepers of the moral conscience of the nation astonishingly can’t see or appreciate what is happening.
“This country really misses Chief Gani Fawehinmi; he was the only fearless, credible, true and genuine conscience of the nation, not the pretenders we have today; all the others only make noise when it suits them and their interests but look the other way once they are compromised.
“None of us today, can tie Gani’s shoe-laces.”