A Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed the hearing of a suit seeking to disqualify the Presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress, (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for allegedly acting in breach of the Electoral Act on October 6.
The suit with Ref. No FHC/ABJ/CS/942/2022, was filed by the immediate past Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, alongside Incorporated Trustees of Rights for All International, a non-governmental organization.
The plaintiffs in the suit filed through their lawyer, Nnamdi Okere, were also asking the court for an order to disqualify the candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) Atiku Abubakar, over the same allegation.
Other defendants in the suit are the APC, PDP, Attorney-General of the Federation and the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Justice Inyang Ekwo Friday ordered service of all the relevant court processes as well as hearing notices on all the defendants in the matter.
Nwajiuba, a chieftain of the APC and one of its presidential aspirants, had secured leave of the court to sue both his party’s presidential flag-bearer, Tinubu, and that of the PDP, Atiku.
Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the primary election that produced Tinubu as the 2023 presidential candidate of the APC, was marred by corruption and massive vote buying, insisting that majority of the delegates were bought over with dollars.
To strengthen his allegation, the ex-Minister who polled only one vote at the primary election that held on June 8, included in his proof of evidence, a video recording showing the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, decrying that delegates at the APC primary sold their votes.
They also queried Tinubu’s source of income and his educational qualifications.
The plaintiffs asked the court to declare that the 3rd defendant (Tinubu), “who had previously sworn an affidavit in the INEC nomination form declaring that he lost his primary and secondary school documents and benefitted therefrom, cannot in a later affidavit deny and abandon same facts deposed in the previous affidavit and thus falsely contradicting his academic qualifications.”
The plaintiffs attached to the suit, copies of affidavits Tinubu deposed to while he was the governorship candidate of the Alliance for Democracy in Lagos state.
“That the entire circumstances surrounding the two depositions of the 3rd defendant points to the fact that they are false and misleading and cannot be relied upon.
“That the possession of a higher degree does not substitute the minimum requirement of law, where the minimum academic requirement is manifestly absent by an avowed fact.
“That the possession of a higher educational qualification such as first degree or masters degree are predicated on the minimum educational qualification as provided in the constitution”, the plaintiffs said.
Among other things, the plaintiffs, prayed the court to determine; “Whether the All Progressives Congress is exempted from compliance with section 90(3) of the Electoral Act 2022, having presented the 3rd defendant (Tinubu) as its presidential candidate to the 6th defendant (INEC) and the 6th defendant accepted and published same, being the name of a person whose source of N100m contribution fee for the nomination form and expression of interest form was not verified.
“Whether the constitutional provision prescribing the academic qualification of candidates and prescribing minimum qualification of school certificate or its equivalent has been complied with by the 3rd defendant who on oath, have admitted that he does not possess such minimum qualification prescribed in the 1999 constitution of Nigeria”.
The plaintiffs equally urged the court to also disqualify Atiku who was cited as the 4th Defendant in the suit, for also engaging in vote buying.
They want the court to determine; “Whether the conduct of the 3rd and 4th defendants (Tinubu and Atiku) and their agents who by way of corrupt inducement of delegates with US Dollars, which being a foreign currency and non-legal tender in Nigeria under the CBN Act, and the possession which requires declaration under the EFCC Act, used the Dollars for inducement of votes in favour of the 3rd and 4th defendants have rendered the votes of such delegates cast in favour of the 3rd and 4th defendants at the 1st and 2nd defendant’s special conventions illegal, void and invalid and of no effect whatsoever; and thus inhibiting the 3rd and 4th defendants from benefiting from the proceeds of their own gross illegalities.” The Punch