A SUIT to nullify the candidacy of President Muhammadu Buhari based on alleged shortcomings in his academic qualifications has been struck out by the Court of Appeal as the case was filed after the time allowed by law.
The court’s Abuja division upheld, on Friday, a similar ruling earlier delivered by the Federal High Court, which had noted that the matter was “brought outside the specified period of time”.
The appellants were Kalu Kalu, Labaran Ismail and Hassy Kyari el-Kuris.
“We have decided to settle on the preliminary objection. To determine the issue, we have to pay serious attention to when the cause of action arose,” Mohammed Idris, who read the judgment, observed.
“I have no doubt in my mind that the cause of action arose on October 18 when the documents said to be false that is the Curriculum Vitae and affidavit were submitted to INEC in form CF001.”
He held that the action was instituted after the stipulated period of 14 days legally permitted for pre-election matters, and therefore statute-barred.
The counsel for the appellants, Ukpai Ukairo, had however submitted that the cause of action commenced with the announcement and publication by the electoral commission of successful candidates for the general election on October 25, 2018.
And since the case was instituted on November 5, 2018, he argued, it was well within the time permitted by the constitution.
The three-member panel that presided over the matter was headed by Justice Atinuke Akomolafe-Wilson. It had, on Monday, reserved judgment for today after listening to the arguments from the counsel.
Allegations contesting Buhari’s qualifications and eligibility for a presidential election were also levelled in the build-up to the 2015 general election.
In April 2015, two cases filed to challenge the then-president-elect were withdrawn by the plaintiffs and then struck out by the Federal High Court. Representing one of the plaintiffs, Mike Ozekhome had told the court the reason for the withdrawal was to give the incoming administration time to focus on the “enormous task” of governance.
Another suit instituted by Nnamdi Nwokocha-Ahaiwe, an Abuja-based lawyer, which claimed that Buhari did not partake in the 1962 Cambridge West African School Certificate examination as claimed, was also suddenly withdrawn in June 2016.
To bring the enduring controversy to end, the West African Examination Council had, in November at the Presidential Villa, presented Buhari with an “attestation certificate and confirmation of school cert result”.