*Says litigants will remain in court
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA—Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, General Muhammadu Buhari (Ret), yesterday, insisted that his academic certificates were submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which were duly acknowledged by the Legal Department of the commission, wondering why people were still making issues of it.
Speaking in Abuja, when the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM, formally adopted him as its presidential candidate for the February poll, Buhari said: “Well I am not surprised. This is Nigeria. If people are serious about this issue, they ought to have listened to the Legal Adviser of INEC.
“This is the first time, INEC by law has got those documents and they said they have got them. So, anybody who has any different view should go to court. I think they have gone to court. So, let them remain there.”
An Abuja lawyer, Mr. Chike Okafor, had on Monday, in a suit before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, sought to disqualify Buhari from contesting the February 14 presidential election on account of false information given by the candidate in the affidavit he submitted to INEC, in support of his nomination form.
Meanwhile, an Abuja Chief Magistrate’s Court, yesterday, was asked to okay the prosecution of General Buhari over allegations that he gave false evidence to a public officer.
The plaintiffs in the case are four activists- Shield Jones Ufot, Jimmy David, Ogueri Enwerem and Tochukwu Okorie. In the suit brought pursuant to sections 143 (d) and 152 of the Criminal Procedure Code, they alleged that Buhari relied on a bogus certificate to depose to an affidavit before a competent court, contrary to Section 158 of the Penal Code Law.
PDM adopts Buhari
Meanwhile, PDM National Chairman, Alhaji Bashiru Ibrahim, who spoke at his adoption in Abuja, said that the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party, considered Buhari’s candidature favourably in a bid to save the country.
He said: “We are here today to present to you the resolution of the National Executive Committee of Peoples Democratic Movement in support of your candidature for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The NEC of our party, at its meeting of January 22, 2015 noted that the party has no Presidential candidate for the Presidential election of February 14.
“It considered and accepted the need to support a candidate in order to save Nigeria from imminent collapse and give it a new lease of life. It also noted that the party has registered close to six million members, both manually and online and resolved to deploy this voting strength for the best interests of Nigeria at this critical time,” he added.
Time for change to save Nigeria
Responding, Buhari said: “What you have said summarises the problems of this country. You have looked carefully and found out that this year, 2015, which ever way politicians and the elite look at it, is another time or watershed in our political system. If we get it wrong this time, and allow the PDP to go again for the next four years, this country is going to be in trouble. Right now, with the unfortunate event of crumbling oil price, the economy is really in a mess. Coupled with insecurity, it is only a country like Nigeria that can survive and get out of this situation we are in.
“A lot of countries will just disappear either from the map or from the political equation of nation states. But Nigerians are so resilient to the extent that there are international personalities who could not understand Nigeria and why Nigeria still exists. There was a former UN Secretary General who said that if he retires, he will go to Nigeria because, according to him, what was happening to Nigeria, no other country can go through it and survive.
“The sixteen years of PDP have been hell. Remember that we use to have Nigeria Airways, Nigeria Railways, Nigeria Shipping Line. Try and find out how much we spent on power in the last 16 years from the vast resources we accumulated over that period because the price of oil went up to 142 dollars per barrel.
“What did we do with that money? We said that we paid debts with billions of naira. If that were put into infrastructure like power, roads, railways, farming etc, the amount of job it will create would be enormous. Today some of our youths have become danger to the society because of lack of jobs. I hope the elite will properly document these 16 years as presenting the worst leadership this country has ever witnessed.
“We welcome you very sincerely for identifying with us and deciding to come and march along with us to make sure that we improve our lot as a people and as a nation state”, Buhari said.
Certificate Saga: Court asked to okay Buhari for prosecution
Meanwhile, the activists, who identified themselves as tax payers and eligible voters in Nigeria, told the court that they were also social crusaders committed to ensuring obedience to the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with a duty to report crime and ensure prosecution of offenders.
Buhari faces 14 years jail term if convicted on the basis of the allegation.
In the suit they filed through their lawyer, Mr. Ugochukwu Ezekiel, the complainants averred: “That pursuant to Section 30 of the Electoral Act, 2010, the INEC issued a Notice setting a date for the 2015 general elections and called for submission of names of candidates for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the various political parties.
“That the APC and General Muhammadu Buhari (Ret) on the 18th day of December, 2014, filled and submitted INEC form C.F 001 to the Independent National Electoral Commission (a public office) wherein the said General Muhammadu Buhari (Ret) gave his qualification to contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as West African School Certificate (WASC), which he claimed to have obtained in 1961.
“The said form CF 001 and INEC publication of names of Presidential candidates and qualifications as published in Vanguard Newspaper of Thursday, January 15, 2015 are attached as Exhibit 1.
“That General Muhammadu Buhari with intent to mislead a public officer as to compliance with the provisions of Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2010, deposed to various affidavits in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja wherein he stated that he attended Katsina Provincial Secondary School, Katsina State and obtained a West African School Certificate and the certificates he claimed to have obtained are with the Nigerian Army.
“The two affidavits deposed to by General Muhammadu Buhari on the 17th of December, 2014 and 24th of November, 2014 are hereby attached as Exhibits 2 and 3.
“That the Nigerian Army in whose custody General Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressive Congress (APC) claim the certificates are, issued a statement published in the Thisday Newspaper of Wednesday January 21, 2015 on pages 1 and 6 and Daily Trust Newspaper of Thursday, January 22, 2015, and denied being in possession of the school certificates.
“The publications are attached as Exhibits 4 and 5. That General Muhammadu Buhari never sat for the West African Examination Council examination in 1961 as he claimed.
“That in the entire records of the school and West African Examination Council, there appeared no name of the said Muhammadu Buhari.
“That the only name close to that of Mr. Buhari in the school list of 1961 as published by the Principal of Government College (Pilot), Katsina, Katsina State is Mohamed Buhari. The said publication is attached.
“That the actions of the accused constitute offences of giving false evidence to a public officer contrary to Section 157 of the Penal Code Law and punishable under Section 158 of the Penal Code Law.
“That the Complainants are now compelled to bring a Direct Criminal Complaint against the accused person. That the society is crying for justice and only an intervention by the Court can answer the cry.
“That it will be in the best interest of justice to bring the accused person to answer to this Complaint and “That this Court has the power to direct that the accused person be brought to answer to the Complaint. That this Complaint is made in good faith.”
Earlier in a statement issued through their lawyer yesterday, the plaintiffs said they had already petitioned the Inspector-General of Police to promptly investigate the APC flag-bearer, pointing out that an investigation they personally conducted revealed that Buhari never sat for the West African Examination Council examination in 1961 as he claimed…
“In bringing the present criminal complaint against General Buhari, we are guided by truth and utmost regard to the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which we swore as lawyers to uphold in all circumstances and against all manner of persons even under pain of death.
“We cannot sit and allow a man who told brazen lies on oath just to get clearance to run for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ride on the back of all Nigerians simply by displaying a façade of anti–corruption credentials. The basic question is — what moral justification will such a man have to tackle the menace of corruption in our society if he eventually wins, since his entire aspiration was built on a heap of corruption.?”