Godwin Tsa, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, insisted at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that there is no law mandating him to produce his certificates to prove his eligibility to contest.
But in a counter submission, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who are petitioners, fired back accusing the of furnishing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with falsehood to secure clearance to participate.
In addition, the petitioners in their final addresses insisted that Buhari, as candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) lied on oath in his form CF001 presented to INEC before standing for the presidential election.
President Buhari equally made his position known to the tribunal while adopting his final brief of argument in opposition to the petition challenging his reelection.
Meanwhile, the Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-man panel has reserved its judgment after listening to the final addresses of the petitioners and the respondents.
Justice Garba said the date for judgment would be communicated to the parties through their lawyers.
“Judgment in this petition is hereby reserved and will be delivered on the date to be sent to counsel for the parties,” Justice Garba said.
While adopting his final address, president Buhari argued extensively that he was only required to be educated under the 1999 constitution.
Buhari, who advanced his argument through his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanikpekun (SAN), therefore, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition challenging his election and his educational qualifications, with substantial cost on the grounds that it lacked merit and substance.
“The law is well settled and the case law is crystalised on the point that the second Respondent (Buhari) cannot go beyond provisions of sections 131 and 131(8) of the 1999 Constitution.
“The case-law is replete with decisions of this Court on the subject. We cannot amend the constitution.
“We need to make it very clear at this point that the Constitution and laws of the land do not expect any Certificate to be tendered or attached.”
The president further relied on a recent judgement the Court of Appeal delivered in a certificate scandal case that involved the governorship candidate of the PDP in Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, to contend that non-attachment of his certificates, was not a valid ground to challenge his participation in the February 23 presidential election.
Meantime, the APC and INEC had through their lawyers, Prince Lateef Fagbami (SAN) and Yunus Usman, (SAN) also asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition with cost.
APC submitted that it would be bad to create a public impression that President Buhari lacked basic educational qualifications.
“Those who set the standard for secondary education where called. They came and gave the verdict that what the second Respondent has was equivalent to secondary school certificate. The witness said so. And there was no follow up on that. They did not say that the certificate was fake or forged. The position is that we take him to be a secondary school leaver,” Fagbemi argued.
But in the final address presented on his behalf by his lead counsel, Dr Levy Uzuokwu SAN, Atiku drew the attention of the Tribunal to a portion of his INEC form where he claimed to have three different certificates comprising primary school leaving certificate, WAEC certificate and officers cadet certificate.
The petitioners said it was shocking and surprising that no provisional certificate, certified true copy of the certifcates, photocopy of certifcates and infact no electronic version of any of the certifcates was presented by Buhari throughout the hearing of the petition to dispute the claim of the petitioners.