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Court of Appeal dismisses suit challenging Buhari’s qualification

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Court of Appeal has dismissed a suit challenging the qualification of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 Presidential Election

The Court of Appeal has dismissed a suit challenging the qualification of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 Presidential Election filed by Kalu Kalu, Labaran Ismail, and Hassy El-Kuris on grounds that it was statute-barred.

Justice Mohammed Baba Idris, who delivered the unanimous verdict, agreed with the decision of the Federal High Court that the suit was filed outside the period allowed for a pre-election matter by law.

The three-man panel, in the brief but precise judgment, held that the court has no jurisdiction on the matter with the suit having been filed outside the period stipulated by law.

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Justice Idris subsequently dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit and substance and resolved it in favour of the defendants.

The appellant counsel, Ukpai Ukairo, in his reaction, indicated that the matter would be pursued to the Supreme Court.

He stated that his clients are not happy with the decision of the court and will react accordingly. He added that an appeal would be explored whenever he is instructed but there are always grounds to explore an appeal.

The counsel to President Buhari, Abdullahi Abubakar, said the victory was not for the president alone but for the whole nation.

The panel of Justices presided over by Justice Atinuke Akomolafe-Wilson, had on Monday, July 8, reserved judgment in the suit after listening to the argument canvassed by counsel to parties in the matter.
But as the 60-day time frame provided by the law for the hearing of the matter expired on July 12, the court on Thursday communicated to parties of its readiness to deliver the judgment.

The trio of 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.

Also during a previous sitting on the matter, counsel to the appellant, Ukairo, insisted that President Buhari was not educationally qualified to have stood for the presidential poll 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 appellants 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, asking the court to nullify Buhari’s participation in the February 23 presidential election because he was not educationally 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.


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