Dr Tunji Abayomi, a constitutional lawyer, on Wednesday in Abuja said that retired Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Party (APC) presidential candidate, had fulfilled the constitutional requirements to contest for the office of President.
Abayomi, who stated this in an interview with Newsmen said the logic of Section 131(d) of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution focused not on certificates but on educational level.
Recall that the Nigerian Army had on Tuesday said that it was not in possession of Buhari’s original copies of West African School Certificate (WASC) or statement of result.
“All that the constitution plainly requires in section 131(d) is a show that he has been educated up to the school certificate level or its equivalent, not any particular certificate.
“A certificate where available may well prove the education level of the citizen desirous of becoming president, but without it, he can still meet the educational qualification by other modes of proof.
“Buhari’s written profile, with or without the presentation of any certificates, supported by his deposition, puts it beyond doubt that he has been educated beyond School Certificate Level or its equivalent,’’ he said.
Abayomi further argued that it was constitutionally “trivial and definitely unwarranted’’ for anybody to insist that Buhari must produce his certificates.
He contended that the argument by some lawyers that Buhari must produce his School Certificate was based on ignorance of the provisions of the 1999 constitution.
“The 1999 constitution as amended is superior to the provisions of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended.
“In my considered view and having regard to the unambiguous words of the constitution, it did not even say that to qualify for election to the office of president you have to go to school,’’ he said.
Section 131 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution says that a person shall be qualified for election to the office of the President:
If (a) he/she is a citizen of Nigeria by birth; (b) he has attained the age of forty years; (c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party;
(d) and must have also been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.
Abayomi said that it was, therefore, left for INEC to send its officials to the institutions that Buhari indicated in his affidavit that he attended to verify the said certificates.