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Buhari ’eminently qualified’ for presidential election ― S’Court rules

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THE Supreme Court has on Friday said President Muhammadu Buhari is ‘eminently qualified’ to contest for the 2019 Presidential Elections.

The court had earlier set Friday, to give reasons why the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s appeal challenging the outcome of the 2019 Presidential Election was dismissed.

However, all legal practitioners representing the PDP and Atiku Abubakar were absent at the court to hear reasons why their appeal was dismissed.

At the opening of the session, a counsel from the APC, Alex Izinyon, had informed the court on the absence of the appellants, stating that there was a need for court rules to be obeyed. He said the PDP neither appeared in court nor sent their junior lawyers.

Yet, the court said it would proceed with its reasons, despite the absence.

Justice John Okoro who read the submissions of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) said the failure of the appellants to produce credible witnesses to substantiate its claims that Buhari had no qualification to contest the election, made the case fatal.

Recall that Atiku and the PDP had petitioned the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on the outcome of the Presidential election, stating that Buhari had no educational qualification to contest the election. 

The Tribunal had dismissed the petition on September 11 on the grounds that there was no proof by the petitioners to substantiate its allegations.

According to a report by Premium Times, Okoro noted that Section 131 (d) of the constitution only requires that a candidate vying for the position of president should be “educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent”.

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Reading through section 318 of the constitution to further explain the meaning of “school certificate or its equivalent’ as: “Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent, or Grade II Teacher’s Certificate, the City and Guilds Certificate; education up to Secondary School Certificate level; Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent and -service in the public or private sector in the Federation in any capacity acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for a minimum of ten years”.

“A person is not expected to have all the qualifications. Possession of one of the certificates will suffice,” he said.

“The court was right to hold that the second respondent was eminently qualified to contest the election. The admission by the appellant’s witnesses that Buhari rose to the head of the military and served as military president was compelling enough to help the lower court reach its verdict,” Okoro said.

Okoro noted that the Apex Court and the Appeal Court had decided on the issue of the educational qualification of a candidate and that the current decision was made in line with previous decisions.

He said the PDP also failed to obtain a subpoena for the presentation of the secretary of the military board at the tribunal.

“The fact remains that the petitioners failed to call former the former director army public relations, Brigadier General Olajide Olaleye, to testify.

“What the petitioners did was tendering the documents on the bar, with no one to authenticate it,” Okoro said.

Regarding the failure of  Buhari to attach his certificate to the form CF001, Okoro said: “Neither the constitution nor the electoral act requires that a candidate must attach his certificate to the form CF001 before he can participate in an election.”

Another reason according to Okoro was that appellants failed to produce authentic voters register to validate its allegation of issues of over voting during the election in certain parts of the country.

Also, he noted that the unanimous decision of the court delivered on the 30th of October was also in agreement with the ruling of the lower court which upheld and affirmed the election of Buhari.

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