Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has ordered President Muhammadu Buhari to within 5 days respond to the appeal challenging his educational qualification for the 2019 presidential election.
Also ordered to respond within the same time frame is his political platform, the All Progressives Congress (APC), which nominated him for the presidential poll as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which accepted his nomination.
The order was issued on Monday by Justice Datti Yayaya who equally directed that Buhari’s counsel, Abdullahi Abubakar, to file all necessary court papers with regard to the appeal filed against Buhari’s qualification by three appellants namely Agu Kalu, Labaran Ismail, and Hassy El-Kuris within a period of 5 days.
The decision of the court followed a motion on notice filed by counsel to the appellants, Uchenna Ndubuisi, who prayed the Court of Appeal in the motion to abridge within which Buhari, APC and INEC will join issues with the appellants on the certificate suit.
Abubakar and counsel to APC, Temitayo Lasaki, had urged the appellate court in their response to the motion to give them five days to enable them file their respondents’ brief of argument along with other processes so as to set the stage for hearing of the substantive appeal.
Kalu, Ismail and El-Kuris had approached the appellate court to nullify and set aside the judgment of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court which declined to hear their suit instituted to challenge the educational qualification of President Buhari before the conduct of 2019 general election.
The appellants in their appeal are asking 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 High Court, which was predicated on the grounds that the suit was statute barred, the appellants claimed that 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 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 recognising Buhari as a candidate.
The Federal High Court had on May 2, 2019, declined to grant the request of the appellants on the grounds that the suit was not filed within the time allowed by law and therefore sustained the preliminary objection raised by Buhari at the hearing.
But not satisfied, the appellants are now asking the Court of Appeal to grant their reliefs because they are not challenging the primary election of APC as erroneously held by the lower court but the qualification of Buhari to stand for the presidential election without presenting his educational certificates as required by law.
Hearing in the appeal is adjourned to July 8.