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Buhari’s Certificate Suit: Judge under fire over ruling

A Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ad­emola Adeniyi, is under fire
from chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for
endorsing a suit challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s eligibility to
contest the 2015 presidential election.

Justice Adeniyi had last Thursday dismissed a preliminary objection filed
by President Buhari against a suit by an Abuja based lawyer, Mr. Nnamdi
Nwokocha Ahaiiwe, challenging his (Buhari’s) eligibility to contest the
presidential election on the ground that he does not have a school
certificate, the basic educational qualification set out by the
Constitution for a candidate seeking to run for the office of President.

Ahaiiwe had joined the APC as well as the Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC) as defendants in the suit which was filed in February
2015.

Ruling on the case, Justice Adeniyi, grandson of the first indigenous
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Adetokunbo Ademola, dismissed all
applications by the defendant as lacking in merit, maintaining that the
suit filed by Ahaiiwe was as competent as the service on Buhari and APC.

A top APC chieftain, who spoke to The AUTHORITY in confidence, described
the judge’s ruling as “a calculated attempt to embarrass President Buhari
and the APC”. He noted that: “We in APC find the ruling more embarrassing,
considering that it came three days to our first anniversary in office,”
adding that, “we strongly suspect that the said judge is working for the
opposition (Peoples Democratic Party, PDP).”

Another APC chieftain blamed the President’s team of lawyers for “treating
the matter with levity, having won the elections,” warning that such a
suit was capable of throwing up unpleasant surprises for his party.

He said: “We are not lawyers and are therefore not in a position to know
what is going on in the courts. I heard that our team of lawyers abandoned
the matter, having not been paid by those who felt that the election had
been won and lost. If we had a proactive Attorney-General of the
Federation, he ought to have followed up and avoided this em­barrassment.
It is even more embarrassing if the courts establish that President
Buhari, who has been fighting corruption, has no school certificate.”

He continued: “This was the same way they assured us of victory in the
governorship elections in Rivers, Delta and Akwa Ibom States. We all know
that PDP end­ed up shocking us by snatching those prized states from us at
the Supreme Court.

“The ruling by the Honourable Justice Adeniyi is too cold for comfort.
Don’t forget that he is from the same state with the Vice President Yemi
Osinbajo. The sooner we deal with the matter, the better for us because
the con­sequences will be too dire for us as we don’t know the interests
at play here,” the party chieftain warned.

Justice Ademola adjourned the case till June 16, 2016 for hearing of the
substantive originating summons to determine whether the President’s
educational qual­ification meets the minimum standards required by the
1999 Constitution (as amended).

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