Monday, February 9, 2015 3:20 pm
Nnamdi Felix / Abuja
Legal proceedings commenced Monday before Justice Adeniyi Ademola of a federal high court in Abuja in suits challenging the eligibility of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari rtd., the Presidential candidate of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, to participate in the forthcoming presidential election which date has been shifted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from 14 February to 28 March, 2015.
The main suit which seeks for the disqualification of Buhari and filed by Barr Max Ozoaka had prominent senior advocates of Nigeria, including Chief Wole Olanipekun, Akin Olujinmi, Lateef Fagbemi, Emeka Ngige, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, James Ocholi, Funke Aboyede, Femi Falana, all lined up in defence of Buhari while another set of senior advocates of Nigeria, comprising of Ade Okeaya Ineh, Godwin Obla and Ken Njamanze, appeared for the plaintiff, Barr Ozoaka.
Buhari’s lead lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, indicated to the court that in view of the addendum published by the plaintiff in the Newspapers in compliance with the orders of the court on substituted service of the court’s processes, that time only started counting for the defence team last Friday and that they are within time to file their processes before the court.
Chief Olanipekun intimated the court that they are challenging the competence of the entire suit against Buhari as well as the court’s orders for substituted service which gave rise to the publications.
“We are here in protest. We only came to court for two reasons. Our client, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, have utmost respect for this court and we, as officers in the temple of Justice, have a duty to come here and offer assistance to this court. We are filing our processes at the court’s registry and we are challenging the legality of this court’s orders as well as the competence of the suit. The case is not even ripe for mention as it is” said Chief Olanipekun, Buhari’s lead counsel.
Barr Max Ozoaka is seeking for the disqualification of Buhari on the grounds of non compliance with the Constitutional requirements guiding candidates’ eligibility to contest for the Presidential election.
The controversies surrounding the alleged non inclusion of Buhari’s certificate in the forms submitted to the electoral body, INEC, had given rise to series of cases seeking his disqualification from the forthcoming Presidential election.
Ozoaka is seeking for the disqualification of the APC’s Presidential candidate on the ground that the party under on whose platform he claims to be running for the Presidency is not a registered political party in Nigeria.
A copy of the Buhari’s INEC Form FC001 shows that Buhari entered the name of his party as All Progressive Congress Party, APCP, instead of All Progressives Congress, APC.
Another ground under which Buhari’s disqualification is being sought is that his permanent voter card issued to him by INEC shows that Buhari’s occupation was listed as civil servant which, according to the plaintiff, is false as the retired General ceased to be a public officer since his retirement from service.
Ozoaka also wants Buhari disqualified allegedly, on the basis of lying under oath following claims made by Buhari in his INEC forms that his secondary school certificate is with the military authorities which claims had been denied by the Nigerian Army.
Another suit filed by one Mr. Chukwunweike Okafor, also seeking for Buhari’s disqualification was also heard today by the same judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who thereafter adjourned both cases to Monday, 23rd February, for hearing of applications for joinders filed by other interested parties seeking to be joined in both cases.