From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has adjourned proceedings in the suit seeking the disqualification of President Muhummadu Buhari in the February 16 presidential election till February 7.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed fixed the date following a request by the plaintiffs’ counsel for time to respond to the second defendant’s counter-affidavit served on him yesterday evening.
The plaintiffs, Kalu Agu, Labaran Ismail and Hassy El-Kuris, in the suit, are alleging that Buhari lied in his Form CF 001 submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), regarding his educational qualification and certificates.
In the suit filed November 5, 2018, they are seeking an order of the court disqualifying Buhari from presenting himself and/or contesting for President in the 2019 general election.
Defendants in the suit filed on behalf of the plaintiff by Okpai Ukiro, are Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and INEC as first, second and third defendants, respectively.
When the matter was called yesterday, plaintiffs’ counsel, Godwin Haruna, who held brief for Ukpai Ukiro, informed the court that the matter was adjourned at the last sitting to January 21 for hearing of all pending applications but was further adjourned to January 31, since the court did not sit.
He, however, said he would be asking the court for a short adjournment to enable him respond to the second defendant’s notice of preliminary objections, which he said was filed on January 31 and served on him around 4.30pm yesterday.
Haruna, who recalled that the processes were served on the APC since November 21 and they responded only yesterday, asked the court for a cost of N100,000 against the APC for foisting the adjournment on the court.
He said the defendant had been in court since but never bothered to file its response.
While counsel to Buhari, Abdullahi Abubakar, did not object to the request for adjournment, counsel to APC, Tayo Lasaki, who said he was not opposed to the adjournment, however, said he was opposing the request for cost against him.
Lasaki said since the second defendant was challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter, it does not matter when the issue is raised.
Mohammed, subsequently, adjourned till February 7 for hearing of all pending applications.
in granting the adjournment, agreed with the second defendant that the issue of jurisdiction could be raised at anytime and refused the request for cost. He, subsequently, adjourned till February 7 for hearing of all pending applications.
Mohammed also ordered that hearing notices be served on INEC.
Issues raised for determination before the court in the suit marked: FHC/CS/ABJ/1310/2018, include, “whether having regards to the information in the affidavit contained in the first defendant’s INEC form, CF 001 regarding his educational qualification/certificate, the first defendant has submitted false information to the third defendant.”
They also prayed the court for an order directing INEC to reject or remove Buhari’s name as the presidential candidate of the APC submitted to INEC for the 2019 general election.
“An order of the court restraining the president from parading himself as the presidential candidate of the APC for the 2019 general elections. An order of the court restraining the APC from parading Buhari as its presidential candidate in the 2019 general election.”
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