THE Supreme Court has dismissed a suit querying the authenticity of President Muhammadu Buhari’s academic claims and his qualification to contest the last presidential election.
It was an appeal against the July 12 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja.
The apex court on Monday, through its five-man panel, averred that it lacked the jurisdiction to hear the appeal on the grounds that it was statute barred.
The panel, led by Justice Mary Odili, directed the appellant’s lawyer, Ukpai Ukairo, to take a decision on what to do with his case.
On sensing the court’s disposition, Ukairo applied to withdraw the appeal, and the court dismissed it.
Earlier, the court frowned at the decision by a lawyer from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abdullahi Abubakar, to announce appearance for President Buari.
Justice Odili said: “The court notes the inappropriate appearance of Mr. Abdullahi Abubakar, a state counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice, representing the first respondent (Muhammadu Buhari) in his personal capacity.
“This practice must be discouraged. The appeal, haven been withdrawn, is hereby dismissed.”
Another member of the panel, Muhammad Dattijo, noted that Abubakar’s conduct was inappropriate for a public servant.
He cited the example of former United States President Bill Clinton, who he said did not involve public lawyers in handling his numerous private cases while in the office.
“Clinton, in his numerous private litigations, never used government organs, but rather personally sponsored all his private cases.”
Kalu, Ismail and El-Kuris, by their appeal, were praying the Supreme Court to, among others, set aside an earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which upheld the decision of the Federal High Court, Abuja, that the suit, being on a pre-election matter, was statute barred, having not been filed within the 14 days allowed by the Constitution.
They, on November 5, last year, filed the suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, and challenged the authenticity of President Buhari’s educational qualification, as contained in the Form CF001 he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the conduct of the last presidential election.
The trio claimed to have learnt about the information in the Form CF001, allegedly submitted by President Buhari, when INEC published the list of successful candidates in this year’s general election October 25, last year.
They argued that their cause of action arose on the date of the publication.
The trio, among others, prayed the court for a declaration that President Buhari submitted false information on his educational qualification and certificate to the INEC to contest election into the Office of the President of Nigeria and that he should be disqualified.
They also prayed for an order of court directing INEC to remove President Buhari’s name as a candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and an order restraining him from parading himself as a candidate in this year’s presidential election and restrain the APC from recognising him as its candidate.
In a judgment on May 2, Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja, dismissed the suit for being statute barred.
Justice Mohammed held that the suit was not filed within the 14 days period allowed for the filing of pre-election matters under Section 285 of the Constitution.
The judge also held that the cause of action arose on September 28, last year, when the APC held its primary election to select its candidate for the 2019 presidential election.
On appeal to the Court of Appeal, Abuja, a three-man panel of the court, in a judgment delivered on July 12, upheld the verdict of the Federal High Court that the suit was statute barred and dismissed it.
The Court of Appeal also held that the cause of action arose on October 18, last year, the date President Buhari submitted his Form CF001 to INEC.
Source: The Nation