Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja Thursday, adjourned till February 7, 2019, for hearing on the suit seeking the disqualification of President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 16 presidential election.
Justice Mohammed fixed the date following a request by the plaintiffs’ counsel for time to respond to the second defendant’s counter affidavit served on him yesterday evening.
The plaintiffs, Kalu Agu, Labaran Ismail and Hassy El-Kuris, in the suit, alleged that President Buhari lied in his Form CF 001 submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), regarding his educational qualification and certificates.
In the suit filed November 5, 2018, they asked for an order of the court to disqualify Buhari from presenting himself and or contesting the presidential in the coming general election.
The suit, which was filed on behalf of the plaintiff by Okpai Ukiro, has President Buhari, All Progressives Congress (APC) and INEC as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants, respectively.
When the matter was called yesterday, plaintiffs’ counsel, Godwin Haruna, who held brief for Ukpai Ukiro, informed the court that the matter was adjourned at the last sitting to January 21 for hearing of all pending applications but was further adjourned to yesterday, January 31, since the court did not sit. He however, said he would be asking the court for a short adjournment to enable him respond to the second defendant’s notice of preliminary objections, which he said was filed on January 31 and served him around 4.30 p.m yesterday.
Haruna, who recalled that the processes were served on the APC since November 21 and only responded yesterday, and asked the Court for a cost of N100,000 against the APC for foisting the adjournment on the court.
He said the defendant has been in court since but never bothered to file its response.
While counsel to the President, Abdullahi Abubakar, did not object to the request for adjournment, counsel to APC, Tayo Lasaki, who said he is not opposed to the adjournment however, said he is opposing the request for cost against him.
Lasaki said since the second defendant is challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter, it does not matter when the issue is raised.
He also argued that the request for adjournment was made by the plaintiffs and not him, adding that though the second defendant is appearing in the matter for the first time, they are however prepared to go on with the matter if the plaintiffs are ready.
In a short ruling, Justice Mohammed, in granting the adjournment, agreed with the second defendant that the issue of jurisdiction can be raised at any time and refused the request for cost.
He subsequently adjourned till February 7 for hearing of all pending applications.
Mohammed also ordered that hearing notices be served on the third defendant, INEC.