Nigeria court delays ruling on Buhari's school certificate

2015-03-25 16:30
Nigeria's APC presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari. (File, AP)

Nigeria's APC presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari. (File, AP)

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Abuja - A Nigerian court on Wednesday postponed judgment on a legal challenge disputing the eligibility of opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari to stand in this weekend's general election because he cannot produce his secondary school leaving certificate.

Buhari's All Progressives Congress claim the petition is part of a ruling party plot to disqualify its 72-year-old candidate days before Saturday's vote.

"The suit has been adjourned to the 22nd and 23rd of April, 2015," judge Ademola Adeniyi told the Federal High Court in the capital, Abuja.

The petition filed by a private citizen, Chukwunweike Okafor, and argued by Mike Ozekhome, one of Nigeria's most prominent lawyers with close ties to the ruling party, claimed that Buhari lacked the required academic credentials to stand for president.

It also argued that he lied under oath to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when he swore that the military was in possession of his academic papers.

Secondary school

Buhari, a former army general, led Nigeria as a military ruler for 20 months beginning in December 1983 and has stood for the presidency three times previously.

Buhari's lawyer, Akin Olujinmi, said he was "absolutely happy" with the court decision as it removed the air of uncertainty and "pressure" on the INEC with the election just three days away.

Ozekhome warned Buhari supporters against celebrating prematurely as the High Court could overturn Saturday's result if it finds Buhari lacked the requisite qualifications.

"In the event, for example, Buhari wins the election, all it simply means is that, when eventually we finish this case and the court found that he was not qualified... the court will simply dethrone him," Ozekhome told reporters.

According to Nigerian law, presidential candidates must have completed secondary school.

The whereabouts of Buhari's secondary school certificate was not raised during his three previous presidential campaigns in 2003, 2007 and 2011.

But the emergence of the question this year, with Buhari seen as having his best-ever shot at winning the polls, raised eyebrows in opposition camps.

President Goodluck Jonathan's People's Democratic Party (PDP) has controlled the presidency since military rule ended in 1999.

Read more on:    apc  |  muhammadu buhari  |  nigeria  |  west africa  |  nigeria elections 2015

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