…As 20 APC aspirants reject indirect primaries for Kogi governorship poll***
Court of Appeal on Monday reserved judgment in the appeal filed against President Muhammadu Buhari’s academic qualification for the 2019 Presidential Election.
The three-member panel of the appellate court presided over by Justice Atinuke Akomolafe-Wilson, reserved judgment after listening to the argument canvassed by counsel to parties in the suit.
At the resumed sitting, counsel to the appellant, Mr Ukpai Ukairo, insisted that President Buhari was not educationally qualified to have stood for the presidential poll.
This he said on the grounds that the required certificates were not attached to his form CF001, submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for clearance to contest the presidential poll.
The Counsel denied the claim that the suit of the appellant was statute barred, adding that the case was instituted on November 5, 2018 within the 14 days allowed by law.
He said the cause of action started with the announcement and publication by INEC of successful candidates for the 2019 general election on October 25, 2018.
Ukairo therefore urged the Court of Appeal to allow the appeal and set aside the decision of the Federal High Court on grounds of miscarriage of justice.
He asked the court to nullify Buhari’s participation in the February 23 presidential election because he was not educational qualified for the poll at the time he did.
However, lawyers to the 1st and 2nd respondents urged the court to dismiss the appeal for being incompetent and lacking merit.
Buhari’s counsel, Mr Abdullahi Abubakar, specifically told the Appeal Court that the case of the appellant was statute barred having not been filed within the mandatory period stipulated by the law.
He urged the court to uphold the decision of the Federal High Court to the effect that the suit was not filed in line with the position of the law.
Counsel to the All Progressives Congress Mr Babatunde Ogala, argued on the line with Buhari and urged the court to dismiss the appeal, while counsel to INEC, Onyeri Anthony, said the commission is neutral and would abide by the decision of the Court.
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 which 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 lower 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 decison 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 and another 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.
Not satisfied, the appellants are now asking the Court of Appeal to grant their reliefs because they are not challenging the primary election of PAC as erroneously held by the lower court.
According to them, they are challenging the qualification of Buhari to stand for presidential election without demonstrating his educational certificates as required by law.
In another development, 20 governorship aspirants under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) have rejected the indirect primaries adopted by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
The aspirants said this in a protest letter addressed to the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole which was read by one of them, Mr. Muhammed Ali, at a news conference in Abuja on Monday.
Ali said they were at the APC National Secretariat to protest against the decision of the NWC on the adoption of indirect primaries for the selection of the party’s flag bearer for the Nov. 16 governorship poll.
He said that the decision taken by NWC was done without adequate consultation with critical stakeholders in the state.
“We categorically reject the indirect primary adopted by our party for Kogi election.
“We urge the national leadership of the party to set up an Independent Caretaker Management Committee without delay with the sole mandate of providing a level playing ground for a popular, direct primary involving all card-carry members in the state,” he said.
According to him, 20 aspirants have written against the outcome of the meeting of the National Working Committee of our great party adopting indirect primaries for selection of our candidate.
Ali recalled that the committee reportedly met on Friday, July 5 and adopted indirect primary election in picking the governorship candidate for the Nov. 16 governorship election in the State.
“At an emergency meeting of all the governorship aspirants in the State held on Sunday, July 7, 2019, we reviewed the decision of the National Working Committee of the party.
“We resolved that the adoption of indirect party primaries is inherent with serious negative consequences for the fortune of the party in the State.
“We regret to observe that such decision was taken without adequate consultation with critical stakeholders of the party in the state.
“In particular, the governorship aspirants on the platform of the party and other contending groups in the polarized structure of the party in the state,” he said.
According to Ali, the decision to adopt indirect primaries by the NWC is fraught with severe implications.
“First, contrary to the information given to the NWC, there is a suit pending in an Abuja court seeking to determine the authentic executive of the party in the state.
“We observed that as a party committed to the enthronement of popular democracy, the resort to an indirect primary in the state amounts to a muzzling of the wish of the generality of our party members.
“As loyal party men, we would not fold our arms and allow our party to suffer huge political loss,” he said.