Tuesday , 2 March 2021
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President-Elect, Muhammadu Buhari

Court throws out lawsuits challenging Buhari’s eligibility

A Nigerian court Wednesday struck out two suits that disputed the eligibility of president-elect Muhammadu Buhari to stand for election, after the plaintiffs withdrew their cases.

The two separate suits had originally claimed that Buhari was ineligible because he failed to produce his secondary school leaving certificate.

Buhari, a former military head of state, 72, defeated President Goodluck Jonathan in the election held on March 28.

Judge Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja struck out the suits after lawyers acting for the plaintiffs, Chukwunweike Okafor and Max Ozoaka, told the court their clients had instructed them separately to withdraw the cases.

Mike Ozekhome, lawyer for Okafor, told the court the move was to allow Buhari’s incoming government to concentrate on the “enormous task” before it.

Buhari is scheduled to be sworn into office on May 29.

“The case is hereby struck out,” judge Ademola said.

In his petition, Okafor, a private citizen, had claimed that Buhari lacked the required academic credentials to stand for president.

He had also argued that Buhari had lied under oath to the electoral agency when he swore that the military was in possession of his academic papers.

According to Nigerian law, presidential candidates must have completed secondary school.

A lawyer in the second suit, Chike Amobi, told the court that his client, Ozoaka, was also dropping the case for a similar reason as given by Okafor.

The two separate lawsuits were filed to stop Buhari‎ from contesting the March presidential election but the cases could not be concluded before the polls were held.

The controversy over Buhari’s secondary school certificate did not arise during his previous, unsuccessful presidential campaigns in 2003, 2007 and 2011.

But the emergence of the question this year, with Buhari seen as having his best-ever shot at winning the polls, raised eyebrows in opposition camps.

Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party has controlled the presidency since military rule ended in the country in 1999.

Buhari’s recent poll victory marked the first time an opposition politician in Nigeria has defeated an incumbent president.





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