The presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Muhammadu Buhari, has scaled the last hurdle against his bid to contest in Saturday’s presidential elections as a Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned the eligibility suit seeking to bar him from participating in polls.
The presiding judge, Adeniyi Ademola, on Wednesday morning adjourned the case till April 22 and 23.
Prior to the adjournment, speculations had been rife across the country that the APC candidate might be barred from participating in the elections and the opposition party had accused the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, on scheming to get a disqualification verdict for Buhari in order to achieve President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid.
The APC had also warned of the dire consequences that could be incurred by disqualifying Buhari from contesting.
A number of law suits seeking the disqualification of the APC candidate had been instituted by different individuals and groups, based on the controversy surrounding Buhari’s certificate and whether or not his application to contest was tendered appropriately.
This had necessitated a consolidation of the law suits into a single case by the presiding judge who further stated that an adjournment was necessary because several matters had now been brought together for consideration.
The court however dismissed the applications filed by a pro-democracy activist, Ebun Olu Adegboruwa, and one other person who sought to be joined as defendants in the suit.
One of the suits against Buhari, instituted by Chike Okafor, challenged the APC candidate’s eligibility to contest the presidential election on the grounds that he had committed perjury when he claimed to have attached his academic qualifications to the INEC form he filled when he allegedly never did.
The plaintiff contended that the APC candidate had submitted an incomplete INEC FORM CF 001 to the electoral body was incomplete because he allegedly failed to accompany the form with all relevant academic credentials.
He therefore prayed the court to restrain INEC from permitting Buhari to participate in the presidential election on February 14 or any other date INEC may fix.
The APC and its candidate however protested with separate preliminary objections to the hearing of the suit, arguing that they were not served the court processes as required by the principle of natural justice and the rule of the court.
The APC flag-bearer, through his counsel, Wole Olanipekun, tendered an application to set aside the court order which authorized the plaintiff to serve the defendant through substituted means, contending that as far as he was concerned, no suit exists before the court for determination.
Arguing also that even if the court papers had been properly served the APC submitted that the matter before the court was that of perjury, a criminal offence, which could not be commenced by way of originating summons.
The presiding judge however ruled that the court would hear the objections and the substantive suit together on April 22 and 23.