Constitutional lawyer and human rights advocate, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has said the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, General Muhammadu Buhari, is not qualified to contest the February 14 presidential election, according to reports.
He made this statement in reaction to Buhari’s recent refusal to present a certificate on Friday, January 17, 2015 on Africa Independent Television’s Kakaaki programme.
The legal practitioner further maintained that Buhari had failed to abide by the dictates of the electoral law in filling the nomination form which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
He said, “I know that Nigerians would be curious why is this matter just coming up for the first time and that after all this man has contested the last three presidential elections.“Well I wish to state that I have done, by God’s grace, a lot of election petition matters and I know that up till 2011, INEC form simply provides that candidates should state their qualifications.
“In other words, just say that I have O’Level, I have B.Sc. I have BL, etc.
“Then, you go and sit down.
“But right now, the rule has changed.
“Form CF001, says apart from filling your qualifications, you must attach them.
“You must attach photocopies of your qualifications.
“And, to attach means to bind.
“It means to glue to.
“As we are looking at your form that you have filled, I have to see your NYSC certificate, all your qualifications/certificates must be attached to your form.
“So, if you do not attach them, you have not satisfied the minimum requirements.
“It is therefore not proper to refer INEC to go on a wild goose chase, go and look elsewhere for my qualifications.”
“It is like as an applicant, you want a job, you come before your interviewers, your interviewers say we have looked at the form you filled for this job, we have seen your certificates.“And you say, the last place I worked, they have photocopy of my certificates, go and ask them.
“That is wrong.
“The Military Board we are talking about will also be in possession of the document of the respected general.
“But before he submitted the document to the Military Board, it is taken that he had possession of his own documents.
“All he needs to do is to attach the photocopy of his document to his form.
“And, if there is any question to be asked, you can refer to the places where you went to school.
“Mind you, not the Military Board.”
He added, “Now, if you do not have any of these qualifications, what you will do is to apply to WAEC or NECO and say my certificates are lost, burnt or stolen by armed robbers, I will want you to issue me a letter certifying that I have this qualification.“That was what happened in the case of the Vice President, Muhammadu Sambo, because I have been following this case very seriously, because it is very crucial to our democratic norms and values.
“I am interested in how we can expand the space, deepen and widen the aptitude of democracy.”
“An affidavit will not help in this matter.“An affidavit sworn to at the court under Section 131 is simply to say that I strongly believe that these documents are submitted and these forms are properly completed and are in accordance with my best intention to the best of my knowledge.
“An affidavit is not the cure or physical substitute nor a replacement for the physical availability of the document nor does it take the place of the INEC form CF001 08.
“We must also note that under Section 31 sub-section 1, INEC cannot disqualify any candidate, but they have a duty to say, excuse me sir, we have seen your form, we don’t want impunity here, we want a level play ground.
“We have not got your document attached and you are wrong to refer us to another organisation.
“It is not our duty to begin to fish for your document.
“You are supposed to give it to us.
“Please give us this document.”
Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) is a lawyer and human rights activist, holding the rank of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He is known for his work as a constitutional lawyer.
Opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author