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Why Federal High Court Struck Out Suit Over Buhari’s Certificate

The reasons why the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, struck out the suit querying the educational qualification of President Muhammadu Buhari have been revealed. Mr. Nnamdi Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe, had approached Justice Ademola Adeniyi challenging the academic qualification documents as filled in his presidential nomination form No. President APC/001/2015.
The court revealed that it threw out the case following a request by Mr. Nnamdi Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe for a ‘notice of discontinuance’. At the resumed sitting on the matter, Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe declared his intention to withdraw the suit, though he failed to adduce any reason behind the decision.
Vanguard reports that the trial court had earlier okayed indefinite adjournment of the case owing to an appeal President Buhari lodged before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal on June 15. Meantime, in view of the application by the plaintiff, Justice Adeniyi, in a bench ruling, placed reliance on Order 50(2) of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules and terminated further hearing on the matter.
Cited as defendants in the suit which was initiated before the 2015 presidential election, were the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the All Progressives Congress, APC. Specifically, the plaintiff who is a legal practitioner had in his amended concurrent originating summons, sought “a declaration that the averment/statement by the 3rd defendant, General Muhammad Buhari (Rtd), GCFR, in his affidavit sworn to on November 24, 2014 at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, that all his academic qualification documents as filled in his Presidential Nomination Form No. President APC/001/2015 are currently with the Secretary, Military Board as at the time of deposing to the affidavit, is false. 
“A declaration that neither the Nigeria Army nor any of its organs is in possession of the Primary Six School Certificate or the West African School Certificate of the 3rd defendant, General Muhammadu Buhari, Rtd, GCFR. 
“A declaration that the false averments/statements by the 3rd defendant in his affidavit in support of personal particulars (INEC Form C.F. 001) that he has fulfilled all requirements for qualification to the office of president and also in his affidavit sworn to on November 24, 2014 at the High Court of the FCT Abuja, to the effect that all his academic qualification documents as filled in his presidential nomination form No. President APC/001/2015, are currently with the Secretary, Military Board, disqualifies him from standing election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, pursuant to the provisions of section 31(5) & (6) of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended. 
“A declaration that the 3rd defendant did not provide any proof or evidence in his INEC Nomination Form for office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [Form E.C. 4B (i)], its accompanying documents and affidavit in support, submitted by him to the 1st defendant (INEC) that he is qualified to contest for election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in line with the qualification criteria set out in section 131(d) of the 199 constitution, as amended.
“As well as, a declaration that the 3rd defendant was not qualified to stand for and contest the election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the 2015 general election for making false statement to INEC in breach of the provisions of section 31(6) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and failure to attach proof to his nomination form that he has attained educational qualifications to qualify to contest election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as set out in section 131(d) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”. 
More so, the plaintiff prayed for an order invalidating the candidature of President Buhari in respect of the 2015 general elections, as well as an order directing INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to him.
He equally wanted “an order directing INEC to issue a new Certificate of Return to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, being the candidate who came second in the 205 Presidential Elections”.
Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe contended that there was no organ, institution, agency, department or authority known as and called the “Military Board” existing in Nigeria as at November 24, 2014, when President Buhari deposed an affidavit before the Abuja High Court. President Buhari has earlier engaged a consortium of lawyers, comprising of 13 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANS, to defend him both at the high court and the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal. The legal team of the President was headed by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN. Buhari had gone before the appellate court to challenge a ruling Justice Adeniyi delivered on May 26, 2016, wherein he held that the suit was properly served on the defendant by the plaintiff. 
The appellant argued that the trial Judge erred in law when he held that “the 3rd defendant was served the plaintiff’s originating summons as required by law and the rules of court”.
Buhari argued that the plaintiff ought to have served him the process at his address at No 4A & B Sultan Lane, Off Sultan Road, Kaduna, instead of serving the originating summons and other processes on him via substituted means at the National Headquarters of the APC at No. 40 Blantyre Street, Off Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Wuse II, Abuja.
“The failure of the learned trial Judge to set aside the order for substituted service has occasioned grave injustice to the appellant. The refusal and or failure to set aside the order is perverse”, Buhari contended.

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