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TENSION IN NIGERIA EASES AS COURT ALLOWS BUHARI A CLEAR TO CONTEST

There was acute global tension, especially in Nigeria up till the early morning of today as people waited in baited breath to know if a local court would disqualify Nigeria’s opposition presidential candidate, Mohammadu Burahi from the presidential elections which comes up ion two days.

There was quite apprehension of a possible huge public backlash and upheaval should he be disqualified. The  main opposition party which Buhari belongs to had previously insisted that the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and his Peoples Democratic Party had surreptitiously gained a court order to disqualify Buhari from the coming presidential elections.

Justice Adeniyi Ademola of The Federal High Court, Abuja, Lagos,  this Wednesday morning doused the heightened tension by adjourning the eligibility suit seeking to stop Mr. Buhari till April, 2015 for hearing. This removes the obstacle on the APC candidate’s path, thereby giving him a clear to participate in the Saturday’s presidential election.

The hearing will now come up in April 22 and 23, about a month after the election.

The court however dismissed the applications filed by two persons seeking to be joined as defendants in the suit. One of the applicants is a pro-democracy activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa.

There had been apprehension across the country that the opposition candidate might be disqualified, with his party, the APC suggesting there were pressures on the court to bar Mr. Buhari.

Mr. Buhari had on Tuesday failed in his bid to stop the Court from examining the merit of the consolidated suit challenging his eligibility for the March 28 presidential election.

When the suit came up for hearing Tuesday, Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and counsel to one of the plaintiffs, Chukwunweike Okafor, asked the court to reject the applications by Mr. Adegboruwa and another person to be joined, saying the court does not need them as parties in the suit to determine the merit of the case.

One of the suits was instituted by Mr. Okafor challenging Mr. Buhari’s eligibility to contest the presidential election.

He claimed that the APC presidential candidate perjured by allegedly claiming to have attached his academic qualifications to the INEC form he filled even though he did not do so.

The APC and INEC were joined as defendants in the suit.

The party and its candidate protested with separate preliminary objections to the hearing of the suit, arguing that they were not served the court process as required by the principle of natural justice and the rule of the court.

Although, the court granted Mr. Okafor the order to serve the process through substituted means, the APC flag-bearer, through his counsel, Wole Olanipekun, brought an application to set the order aside, contending that as far as he was concerned, no suit exists before the court for determination.

The APC and INEC also argued that even if they assumed that the court papers were properly served on them, the matter before the court was that of perjury, which according to them, was a criminal offence.

They contended that a criminal case could not be commenced by way of originating summons.
In his ruling, Mr. Ademola said the court would hear both the objections and the substantive suit together.


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