The dust raised by the inability of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhahri, to produce his academic credentials seems not to be going away anytime soon as an Abuja Federal High Court on Monday, February 2, 2015 scheduled Monday, February 9, 2015 for the hearing of a suit demanding the disqualification of General Buhari from participating in the Saturday, February 14, 2015 presidential election, ordering that the former Head of State be served the court documents in readiness for the hearing.
The suit, FHC/ABJ/CS/14/2015 filed by way of summons by Max Ozoaka, an Abuja-based lawyer against General Buhari and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was heard by Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who gave the ruling
Justice Ademola granted the applicant’s plea for an abridged time in which the defendants could enter appearance in the matter. He also granted Ozoaka’s exparte order for the defendats to be served their notices via other means, including three national newspapers.
Counsel to Mr. Ozoaka in the substantive suit, Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN), is seeking among other things:
-“A declaration that by the combined provisions of Sections 31(1)(2) and (3) of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended and INEC Form CF 001, the 1st defendant is mandatorily obliged by the law to comply strictly with the provisions laid down under the Electoral Act as amended and INEC Form CF 001 as it relates to attaching evidence of the 1st defendants birth certificate and evidence of his educational qualifications as required under INEC Form CF 001;
-A declaration that by the combined reading of Sections 31(1)(2) (3) and 31 (8) of the Electoral Act, the 1st and 2nd defendants are mandatorily obliged by law to comply strictly with the provisions laid down under the Electoral Act vis-a-vis the filing and submission of INEC Form CF 001, by the 1st defendant attaching evidence of educational qualifications as required under the said INEC Form CF 001 and that non compliance with this condition inherent amounts to an offence under Section 31(8) of the Electoral Act;
-A declaration that the curriculum vitae and voters registration card attached by the 1st defendant in his INEC Form CF 001 and submitted to the 2nd defendant as a presidential candidate in 2015 general election is not in conformity with the form prescribed by the Electoral Act/INEC Form CF 001 and is manifestly in contravention of the said Act/INEC Form CF 001 and therefore null and void;
-An other declaring as invalid the INEC Form CF 001 as filled by the 1st defendant as being inchoate and manifestly in contravention of the provisions of the Electoral Act/INEC Form 001 as the 1st defendant did not comply with a condition inherent/precedent in the INEC Form CF 001 submitted to the 2nd defendant, by failing and/or refusing to attach evidence of his birth certificate and educational qualifications which are conditions inherent/precedent as prescribed in the form;
-A declaration that the 1st defendant is not eligible to participate in the 2015 Presidential election for failure to comply with the terms for submission of list of candidate and affidavit of personal particulars of persons seeking election to the office of the president;
-A declaration that the sworn affidavit by the 1st defendant stating that his original certificates are presently with the Secretary Military Board cannot replace and/or satisfy the provision under INEC Form CF 001 requiring him to attach evidence of his educational qualification as such requirement is a condition inherent and a condition precedent to his eligibility to contest/participate in the 2015 presidential election;
-An order disqualifying the 1st defendant from contesting and/or participating in the presidential election fixed for the 14th February, 2015 or any other date that the 2nd defendant may fix; and
-An order restraining the 2nd defendant from permitting the 1st defendant from participating in the presidential election fixed for 14th February, 2015 or any other date that the 2nd defendant may fix.
Mr. Ozoaka also raised eight questions for the court’s determination. Among the questions are:
-Having regards to the clear, unequivocal and sacrosanct provisions of Section 31(1), (2), (3) and (5) of the Electoral Act, Cap 15 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010 and INEC Form CF 001 which stipulates the conditions to be complied with in the submission of list of candidates and their affidavits to INEC, whether the 1st defendant herein has complied with the said law and INEC Form CF 001, when he failed to attach evidence of his educational qualifications to the INEC Form CF 001 submitted to the 2nd defendant for the purpose of the 2015 presidential election.
-Whether the curriculum vitae of the 1st defendant as attached by the 1st defendant alongside the affidavit sworn by the 1st defendant and attached in the INEC Form CF 001 to the 2nd defendant suffices and/or replaces evidence of the 1st defendant’s educational qualifications as required by INEC Form CF 001 and is in accordance with the prescribed form as stipulated by Sections 31 (1) of the Electoral Act, Cap 15 LFN, 2010.