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N1bn campaign fund saga: Court fixes June 27 to hear suit against Buhari, Atiku

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By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA – The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Tuesday, slated June 27 to commence hearing on a suit seeking to invalidate the election victory of President Muhammadu Buhari over allegation that he violated section 91(2) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended.

Atiku and Buhari

Justice Ahmed Mohammed had earlier ordered substituted service of the suit on President Buhari, through the All Progressives Congress, APC.

The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/191/2019, was lodged before the court by the candidate of the National Rescue Movement, NRM, in the February 23 presidential election, Usman Ibrahim Alhaji.

Specifically, the Plaintiff alleged that contrary to provisions of the Electoral Act, President Buhari, expended more than one billion naira during his campaign for re-election.

He asked the court to also invalidate the participation of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, alleging that he was equally in breach of clear provisions of the electoral law.

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Cited as defendants in the suit were Buhari, the APC, Atiku, PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Meanwhile, when the matter came up for mention on Tuesday, both Buhari and the APC sent a lawyer, Mr. Gbenga Benson, to enter appearance on their behalf.

However, there was no representation for Atiku, PDP and INEC, even though the court confirmed that they have been served with all the relevant processes.

Consequently, counsel to the Plaintiff, Mr. Ezekiel Ofou, relied on Order 8 Rule 1 of the Federal High Court Rules, and urged the court to okay the matter for hearing.

Following a no-objection stance by President Buhari’s lawyer, Justice Mohammed adjourned the suit for definite hearing.

The plaintiff is among other reliefs, seeking for, “A declaration that the 1st and 3rd Defendants (Buhari and Atiku), have brazenly and flagrantly violated the provisions of section 91(2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), having exceeded the maximum legally allowable N1billion election expenditure for presidential candidates, taking into cognizance, the excessive, profligate and continuous extravagant presidential campaign of the 1st and 3rd Defendants since their emergence as presidential candidates of their respective political parties.

“A declaration that the 1st defendant’s unauthorized use of state resources brand-named ‘TRADERMONI’, with which the 1st Defendant through his running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has employed to tacitly induce electorates in exchange for their votes, amount to fraud covered within section 124(1)(a) (b) (c) and section 130 of the Electoral Act.

“A declaration that branded items such as bags of fertilizers, bags of rice, distributed to electorates at campaign rallies by the 1st and 3rd Defendants, amount to inducement of electorates in exchange for their votes, amount to fraud covered within section 124(1)(a) (b) (c) and section 130 of the Electoral Act”.

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As well as “An order of this honourable court directing the 5th Defendant (INEC) to expunge the names of the 2nd and 4th Defendants (APC and PDP) from the presidential ballot papers so as to rescue Nigeria’s democracy from money bags, the influence of money, also to prevent the undue use of money, and to preserve the peoples’ sovereignty as enshrined in section 14(2) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)”.

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