President Muhammad Buhari of Nigeria, has reportedly employed the services of 13 Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and 10 other counsels to appeal the ruling of Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja on May 26th 2016, dismissing his preliminary objection to a suit filed by an Abuja-based legal practitioner, Nnamdi Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe against him, challenging the authenticity of his WAEC result.
Buhari’s legal team is made up of legal heavy weights; Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN). Mr. Lateef O. Fagbemi (SAN), Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), Oluwarotimi O. Akeredolu (SAN), Kola Awodein (SAN), Prof. Taiwo Osipitan (SAN), Charles Edosomwan (SAN), Emeka Ngige (SAN), Femi Atoyebi (SAN), Femi Falana (SAN), Funke Aboyade (SAN), H.O. Afolabi (SAN), Muiz Banire (SAN), as well as 10 other distinguished counsel.
These men are challenging a court order requesting Buhari to enter into defence in a case challenging his eligibility to contest the last election on account of being academically unqualified.
The question here is? Why is it taking President Buhari 13 SANs and 10 other obviously very erudite legal luminaries, to argue against presenting a “mere” certificate?
A social commentator, appraising the decision of President Buhari to hire 13 of the finest and arguably most expensive Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs to defend him from presenting his WAEC Certificate, has this to say, “The legal fees of these SANs would have paid for immunization of all Children in Daura and would also have paid for skilled labour at birth for all pregnant women in Daura for 5 years! Why can’t he just present the certificate and rest this matter once and for all or is the President of Nigeria truly hiding something?” he queried.
For the records, Thisday Newspaper reported the story filed by Davidson Iriekpen, that President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed the ruling of Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja who on May 26, 2016, dismissed his preliminary objection in a suit filed by an Abuja-based legal practitioner, Mr. Nnamdi Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe.
Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe had alleged that Buhari was unqualified to aspire to the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because he did not sit for the Cambridge West African School Certificate WASC) in 1961 as he claimed.
When the suit came up on May 26, Buhari in his preliminary objection challenged the mode of service of the originating summons on him, insisting that he ought to have been served at an address in Kaduna instead of by substituted means at the national secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja.
However, Justice Ademola, in his ruling, had held that it was incompetent and upheld the service of the originating court processes on Buhari.
The judge held that the service of the court’s processes on the president through the secretariat of the APC was proper.
The court was satisfied that if it was served on a senior officer of the APC at the national headquarters, it would be brought to Buhari’s attention.
Dissatisfied with this ruling, Buhari through his legal team filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Judicial Division on seven grounds of appeal.
The president’s legal team, which endorsed the notice of appeal, is led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN).
When contacted on the phone, the plaintiff, Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe said the president has the constitutional right of appeal and was within his rights to exercise it particularly since he had not yet submitted a defence to the substantive action and had filed nothing in defence of the merits of the case.
Meanwhile, the Principal Registrar of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Mrs. Jane Egbo, has issued a summons to the parties to appear before her on Monday, June 13, 2016 to settle the records of the president’s appeal.
Also, a check at the Registry of the Federal High Court, Abuja confirmed that the plaintiff has filed an application to amend his originating summons to include prayers for the nullification of the election of Buhari, as he was not qualified ab- initio to contest the election having contravened the Electoral Act and committed perjury in claiming to have had a WASC when he never even sat for the examination.
The plaintiff also wants to add prayers for the court to order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Buhari and issue a fresh one to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who came second in the 2015 presidential election.
The plaintiff’s motion on notice for amendment of his originating summons has been served on all the defendants and will come up for hearing on Thursday, June 16, 2016.
Watchers of the President Buhari Certificate saga will recall that an Abuja-based lawyer Ezekiel Ugochukwu, had also filed a lawsuit, as far back as January 2015, at the magistrate court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, accusing Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), of lying about his secondary school certificate.
Sahara Reporters had reported that the lawsuit, which according to Ugochukwu, had been filed on behalf of four plaintiffs, named as his clients viz: Shield Jones Ufot, Jimmy David, Ogueri Enwerem and Tochukwu Okorie, had sought to notify the court that his clients are asserting that Mr. Buhari, a retired army general, gave “false evidence to a public officer contrary to Section 157 of the Penal Code and punishable under Section 158 of the Penal Code Law.”
Described as “Nigerian citizens, activists and social crusaders committed to ensuring obedience” to Nigerian laws, the plaintiffs claimed that the APC presidential candidate had on December 18, 2014 misled the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when he claimed to have obtained a secondary school certificate in 1961.
The lawsuit further stated that Mr. Buhari’s alleged false claims were intended “to mislead a public officer as to compliance with the provisions of Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2010,” relating to academic qualifications for the presidency. According to the plaintiffs, Mr. Buhari lied when he claimed in affidavits that his “West African School Certificate and the certificates he claimed to have obtained are with the Nigerian Army.”
According to the lawsuit, “the Nigerian Army in whose custody General Mohammadu Buhari and the All Progressive Congress (APC) claim the certificates are, issued a statement published in the Thisday Newspaper of Wednesday January 21, 2015 at pages 1 and 6 and Daily Trust Newspaper of Thursday, January 22, 2015, and denied being in possession of the school certificates.”
They added that Mr. Buhari “never sat for the West African Examination Council examination in 1961 as he claimed,” insisting that his name does not appear “in the entire records of [Government College, Katsina] and West African Examination Council.”
The lawsuit, which reportedly had been filed on January 27, 2015, had then urged the court to intervene in order to bring Mr. Buhari to answer to the plaintiffs’ complaint.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer also petitioned the then Inspector-General of Police Suleiman Abba to immediately commence a criminal investigation of Mr. Buhari on allegations of perjury and giving false evidence to a public officer. Writing on behalf of some of the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit against the APC candidate, the lawyer called on Mr. Abba to investigate Mr. Buhari and the APC for “clear falsification of facts and lying under oath to a public officer.” He urged the police chief to “cause the result of your investigation to be made available to the public.”