Politics

Nigerian President’s Educational Qualification Challenged At Election Tribunal

By Suleiman Adamu

Nigeria’s main opposition candidate in the February 23 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, has in a petition filed at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal alleged that incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, who was declared winner of the ill fated poll, does not possess the minimum educational qualification to run for the office of president.

The presidential candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP) and former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar, also claims in the petition to have defeated President Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) with 1,615,302 votes, going by data from INEC’s server.

These were among the five grounds of the petition filed on Monday by Atiku and his party to challenge the victory of President Buhari. The petition which was filed is seeking to rely on fifty sets of documents.

The petitioner stated that contrary to INEC’s declaration on February 27, 2019, that Buhari won the election with 15,191,847 votes as against Atiku’s 11,262,978 votes, “data in the 1st respondent’s (INEC’s) server…the true, actual and correct results from state to state computation, excluding Rivers State, showed that Atiku polled a total of 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari who scored 16,741,430 votes”.

The following were listed as the five grounds of the petition:

“The 2nd respondent (Buhari) was not duly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast at the election.

“The election of the 2nd respondent is invalid by reason of corrupt practices.

“The election of the 2nd Respondent is invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

“The 2nd respondent was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the said election.

“The 2nd respondent submitted to the 1st Respondent an affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election.”

Arguing on Buhari’s lack of minimum educational qualification, “the petitioners state that by Section 31 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), every political party shall not later than 60 days before the date appointed for a general election submit to the Commission in the prescribed form the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections.

“Further, by Section 31(2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), the list or information submitted by each candidate shall be accompanied by an affidavit sworn to by the candidate at the Federal High Court, High Court of a State or Federal Capital Territory indicating that he has fulfilled all the constitutional requirements for election into that office.

“The 2nd respondent filled and submitted Form CF001 to the 1st Respondent, which was declared before the Commissioner for Oaths at the Registry of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on the 8th day of October, 2018. The said Form CF001 is accompanied by an ACKNOWLEDGEMENT indicating that the 1st Respondent received same.

“The petitioners aver that the said Form CF001 filled by the 2nd Respondent and submitted to the 1st Respondent for the Office of President was also accompanied by the Curriculum Vitae of the 2nd Respondent as well as GENERAL FORM OF AFFIDAVIT duly sworn to by the 2nd respondent at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, along with copies of his Membership Card of the 3rd Respondent and Voter Card.

“The information submitted to the 1st respondent (INEC) by the 2nd respondent (Buhari) is false and of a fundamental nature in aid of his education qualification, notwithstanding that he had declared in the said sworn affidavit as follows: ‘I hereby declare that all the answers, facts and particulars I have given in this Form, are true and correct and I have to the best of my knowledge, fulfilled all the requirements for qualifications for the office I am seeking to be elected’.

“The educational institutions that Buhari claimed to have attended and the certificates presented by him namely, Elementary School Daura and Mai Aduaa between 1948 and 1952, Middle School Katsina between 1953 and 1956 and Katsina Provincial College (now Government College, Katsina) between 1956 to 1961 and mentioned by the 2nd respondent in his curriculum vitae attached to Form CF 001, were not in existence as of those mentioned dates.

“The 2nd respondent in Form CF 001 filled and submitted by him to the 1st Respondent at Paragraph C, Column 2, Page 3, under SECONDARY, wrote “WASC,” thereby falsely claiming that qualification whereas there was no qualification known as WASC as of 1961.

“The petitioners contend that the 2nd Respondent was, at the material time, not qualified to contest election for the exalted office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The petitioners further aver that all votes purportedly cast for the 2nd and 3rd Respondents on 23rd February, 2019 during the Presidential Election and as subsequently declared by the 1st Respondent on February 27, 2019 are wasted votes in that the 2nd Respondent was not qualified to contest the said election in the first place or at all.”

The legal team which comprises of 21 Senior Advocates of Nigeria and 18 other lawyers and led by Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), sought the following five main prayers:

“That the tribunal should determine that Buhari was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast in the said election and therefore his declaration and return by INEC as the President of Nigeria is unlawful, undue, null, void and of no effect.

“That Atiku having been duly and validly elected ought to be returned as President of Nigeria, having polled the highest number of lawful votes cast at the election to the office of the President of Nigeria held on February 23, 2019 and having satisfied the constitutional requirements for the said election.

“An order directing the 1st respondent (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to the 1st petitioner (Atiku) as the duly elected President of Nigeria.

“A ruling that Buhari was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the said election

“A ruling that Buhari submitted to the Commission affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election”.

However, their alternative prayer is “that the election to the office of the President of Nigeria held on February 23, 2019 be nullified and a fresh election ordered.”

The petitioners are relying on 50 sets of documents which they, in the petition, gave INEC the notice to produce the original copies of those in its custody.

The fifty documents the petitioners are relying on, which they want the Court to mandate INEC to produce include, “INEC Nomination Form CF001 of the 2nd respondent (Buhari); all INEC result sheets; (Form EC8 Series), EC8A, EC8B, EC8C, EC8D and EC8E – Certificate of Return; PDP Party Membership Cards; INEC Voter Cards; all witnesses’ party membership cards; and all Witnesses’ Voter Cards”.

“the circulars/corrigenda/manuals issued by INEC for the conduct of the Presidential Election held on 23/2/2019; Polling Unit materials checklist; summary of total registered voters on units’ basis; summary of PVCs collected on units’ basis; Voter Registers and letters of complaints over irregularities and malpractices during the election addressed to the INEC/Police/other relevant agencies/institutions.

“Security reports relating to the election video/audio recordings/DVD/CD relating to the Election; Election Observers’ or Observers’ Reports; Newspaper/Television/ Radio reports and news; appointment letters and tags of PDP agents; expert reports and analysis; and photographs and GSM and other phone outputs”, are among others.

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