…As Interim report alleges Ex-Gov. Yari misappropriates over N250bn***
The Court of Appeal Abuja division on Monday ordered President Muhammadu Buhari to respond within five days to the appeal filed against his qualification for the 2019 presidential election.
The court also ordered the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to within five days, respond to all issues raised on the educational qualification of the president in the election.
Justice Datti Yayaya who issued the order, also directed that Buhari’s counsel, Mr Abdullahi Abubakar, to within the period file necessary processes in relation to the appeal.
The appeal was filed by Agu Kalu, Labaran Ismail and Hassy El-Kuris.
The decision of the appellate court was sequel to a motion on notice filed by counsel to the appellants, Mr Uchenna Ndubuisi, praying the Court of Appeal, in the motion to abridge within which Buhari, APC and INEC will join issues with the appellants on the certificate suit.
Abubakar and Mr Temitayo Lasaki counsel for APC had urged the appellate court in their response to the motion to give them five days to enable them file their respondents’ brief of argument along with other processes so as to set the stage for hearing of the substantive appeal.
Kalu, Ismail and El-Kuris had approached the appellate court to nullify and set aside the Judgment of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
The lower court had declined to hear their suit instituted to challenge the educational qualification of President Buhari before the conduct of the 2019 general election.
The appellants in their appeal are asking the appellate court to reverse the judgment of Justice Ahmed Mohammed on the grounds that the processes filed by Buhari and used to strike out their suit were not competent.
While faulting the Judgment of the High Court, which was predicated on the grounds that the suit was statute barred, the appellants claimed that the Federal High Court erred in law and in its decision.
This they said was because they did not challenge the primary election that produced Buhari as candidate of the APC.
They therefore urged the Court of Appeal to assume jurisdiction over the suit and grant all the reliefs sought at the Federal High Court but which were refused.
Among the reliefs was a declaration that Buhari submitted false information regarding his qualification and certificate to INEC for the purpose of contesting election into the office of the President of Nigeria and that he should be disqualified. They also prayed for an order of court directing INEC to remove Buhari’s name as a candidate of APC.
Also, an order restraining Buhari from parading himself as a candidate in the 2019 presidential election and also APC from recognizing Buhari as a candidate.
The Federal High Court had on May 2 declined to grant the request of the appellants on the grounds that the suit was not filed within the time allowed by law and therefore sustained the preliminary objection raised by Buhari at the hearing.
But not satisfied, the appellants are now asking the Court of Appeal to grant their reliefs because they are not challenging the primary election of APC as erroneously held by the lower court.
They said they are challenging the qualification of Buhari to stand for the presidential election without demonstrating his educational certificates as required by law. July 8 was fixed for hearing of the appeal.
In another development, a Transition Committee set up by Gov. Bello Matawalle of Zamfara has alleged that the immediate past governor of the state, Abdulaziz Yari actually had misappropriated the sum of N251, 951,849,482.50.
This was revealed to journalists on Monday by the Chairman of the Transition Committee and immediate past Deputy Governor of the state, Mallam Ibrahim Wakkala.
Wakkla said: “my committee while trying to ascertain the liabilities left behind by the immediate past administration of Hon. Abdulaziz Yari collected and went through the report submitted by a transition committee earlier set up by former Gov. Yari.
“We discovered from Yari’s committee that the sum of over N250 billion cannot be accounted for.
“This included liabilities from a total of 462 ongoing projects which stands at N151, 190,477,572.02 and unremitted National Housing Fund (NHF) and unpaid workers’ gratuity of N1, 431,645,305.99.
“Similarly, the state government is indebted to various examination bodies including NECO and WAEC and some higher institutions amounting to over N2. 8 billion,” he said.
He said that the outgone administration which released the sum of N2 billion for the payment of gratuity to retired workers only paid N400 million to retired Permanent Secretaries, while the remaining balance of N1. 6 billion had remained unaccounted.
Reacting to the allegations, the Special Adviser to the former governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Dosara, described them as “baseless and do not hold water”.
Dosara who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on phone from Saudi Arabia, said, “please wait for my return very soon, I will come and give you the correct version of what is on ground.”