Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal filed against President Muhammadu Buhari’s academic qualification for the 2019 presi- dential election for lacking in merit.
The three-member panel led by Justice Atinuke Akomolafe-Wilson upheld the judgment of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, which had on May 2 declined to grant the request of the appellants, Kalu Kalu Agu, Labaran Ismail and Hassy Jyari El-Kunis.
The trio had insisted that President Buhari was not educationally qualified to have contested the presidential polls on the grounds that the required certificates were not attached to his form CF001, submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for clearance to contest the presidential elections.
They asked the court to nullify Buhari’s participation in the February 23 presidential election because he was not educational qualified for the poll at the time he did.
However, the three-man panel of the court in a unanimous judgment affirmed the earlier verdict of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which had dismissed the suit on the grounds that it was statute-barred and, therefore, robbed the court of jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
Delivering the judgment of the Court of Appeal on Friday, Justice Mohammed Idris held that the matter had become statute-barred, having not been filed within the 14 days the cause of action arose as stipulated under Section 285(9) of the Nigerian Constitution.
He held that the cause of action arose on October 18, 2018, when Buhari submitted his Form CF001, curriculum vitae and a supporting affidavit to INEC after he emerged as the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate in the party’s earlier primary election.
The appellate court noted that the appellants challenging the earlier judgment of the Federal High Court only filed their suit before the said lower court on November 5, 2018, which was outside the 14 days period from October 18, 2018.
The appellants had asked the appellate court to reverse the judgment of Justice Ahmed Mohammed on the grounds that the processes filed by Buhari and used to strike out their suit were not competent.
While faulting the judgment of the lower court, the appellants claimed the Federal High Court erred in law and in its decision because they did not challenge the primary election that produced Buhari as the candidate of the APC.
They, therefore, urged the Court of Appeal to assume jurisdiction over the suit and grant all the reliefs sought at the Federal High Court but which were refused.
Among the reliefs were a declaration that Buhari submitted false information regarding his qualification and certificate to INEC for the purpose of contesting election into the office of the President of Nigeria and that he should be disqualified.
They also prayed for an order of court directing INEC to remove Buhari’s name as a candidate of APC and another order restraining Buhari from parading himself as a candidate in the 2019 presidential election and also APC from recognizing Buhari as a candidate.