By Akanimo Sampson
Some bizarre political developments that will ultimately help to shape the politics of Nigeria have started to play into the open.
While some stakeholders sympathetic to President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) have continued to pile pressure on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to back down from contesting the allegedly flawed presidential poll in court, a refreshingly new twist is playing out for the two political antagonists.
A Federal High Court in Abuja will from March 26, start to entertain some robust arguments whether or not to abort the presidential dream of the two fighting presidential titans.
The presidential candidate of the National Rescue Movement (NRM), Usman Ibrahim-Alhaji, who seemed to have tactically ambushed the presidential money bags, is in court to puncture the political tyres of Buhari and Atiku, and terminate their journey to Aso Rock, Nigeria’s Presidential Villa.
He is claiming that the duo exceeded the spending limit approved for the presidential race. Ibrahim-Alhaji is accordingly praying the court to invoke Section 91(2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 to nullify the participation of Buhari and Atiku in the February 23 presidential election for allegedly violating the Electoral Act 2010.
Through his counsel, Ezekiel Ofou, the NRM stalwart is praying the court to set aside the participation of Buhari and Atiku on the grounds that they spent over N1.00 billion each as campaign expenses.
He is alleging that by spending over N1.00 billion each, Buhari and Atiku violated the electoral law and are liable to be removed as contestants in the election.
Ofou has already informed the court that he found it extremely difficult to serve the court papers on Buhari and Atiku, who are the main defendants in the suit because of the retinue of security operatives around them.
Accordingly, he moved an ex parte motion on Tuesday in which he prayed the court for an order of substituted service on the two major defendants, basing his demand for the ex parte motion on Order 6 Rule 5 of the Federal High Court Practice Direction, which allows him to serve Buhari and Atiku through the legal departments of their respective parties.
The trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed in a short ruling, granted the application for substituted service. This implies that Buhari and Atiku are to be served through the legal departments of their political parties.
The other defendants in the matter are APC, PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Meanwhile, the matter comes up on March 26 for mention.