Again, NGO Sues Buhari over Educational Qualifications

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Muhammadu Buhar

Akinwale Akintunde

A non-governmental organisation (NGO), Incorporated Trustees of the Civil Society Observatory for Constitutional and Legal Compliance (The Observatory), has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari before the Federal High Court in Abuja, accusing him of making false statements in his affidavit in support of personal particulars submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Also joined in the suit as co-defendants, are INEC and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In an originating summons filed on December 6, 2018, the NGO accused President Buhari of making false statements in his affidavit deposed to at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on October 8, 2018 and submitted to INEC on October 18, 2018 to the effect that his certificates were with the military. A perusal of the court processes obtained by THISDAY yesterday indicated that the observatory had applied to INEC on October 29, 2018 for the affidavits in support of personal particulars of six of the candidates contesting for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the 2019 general elections, with all of them displaying the academic qualifications, except President Buhari.

“Apart from the president, others whose affidavits were sought and obtained by the plaintiffs are Professor Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), John Wilson Gbor of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) and Mr. Donald Duke of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

“Also exhibited to the summons was the receipt for N12, 000 paid to INEC for the Certified True Copies (CTCs) of the said affidavits in support of personal particulars.

The plaintiffs who attached the affidavits in support of personal particulars of all the six candidates as exhibits to their originating summons, alleged that whereas the other five candidates all attached copies of their various educational qualification documents as required by law, the president did not attach a single one.

According to the NGO, President Buhari is the only one among all candidates, who did not to show proof of qualification.

In its affidavit, the plaintiff specifically drew the attention of the court to their Exhibit CSO 4 which is the affidavit in support of personal particulars of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), John Wilson Terwase Gbor, whom it said is a retired Major-General of the Nigerian Army like the president, having retired from the Nigeria Army in 2004.

It contended that unlike President Buhari, Major-General Gbor attached all his educational qualifications documents in his affidavit in support of personal particulars submitted to INEC, including a Ph.D. certificate from Indiana University in USA, Master of Arts certificate from Indiana University, USA, Master of Science in Education certificate from Indiana University, USA, Bachelor of Arts (History) from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate General Certificate of Education (GCE) he sat for at Government College, Keffi; West African Examinations Council Secondary School Certificate; Certificate of Primary Education (FSLC) of Benue State, Nigeria, among other documents.

According to the Observatory, the president instead of adducing proof that he has the requisite constitutional educational qualifications, attached an affidavit deposed to by him four years ago on November 24, 2014 wherein he averred that “All my academic qualifications documents as filled in my presidential form, President APC/001/2015 are currently with the Secretary, Military Board as of the time of this affidavit.

The plaintiffs then argued that this was a false claim on two grounds.

According to the group, there is no institution, organ, body, department or authority of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria called the “Military Board” as at the time of deposing to the affidavit in 2014 and as at October 2018 when the president submitted the affidavit to INEC.

The group also argued that there is equally no person or officer of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria known as and called the “Secretary to the Military Board”.

The plaintiffs further argued that if the court examines the affidavit deposed to by the president in November 2014, which he used as proof of his educational qualifications, it would find that the averment by the president is entirely worthless and without merit.

This according to it, is because there is nothing like “Presidential Form, President APC/001/2015” known to INEC and relevant to the affidavit in support of personal particulars.

The plaintiff pointed out that in his affidavit in support of personal particulars, the president claimed to have obtained his Primary School Certificate in 1952 while in his Curriculum Vitae attached to his said affidavit, the president claimed to have attended Elementary School, Daura and Mai Aduwa between 1948-1952 a period of four years.

It then asked the court to take judicial notice of the fact that elementary or primary school takes a minimum of six years before FSLC can be awarded and that it means the president either never attended or never completed six years of elementary/primary education which accounts for why he has no FSLC and thus unable to meet the requirements of Section 131 (d) of the 1999 Constitution.