A Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ademola Adeniyi, is under fire from chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for endorsing a suit challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s eligibility to contest the 2015 presidential election.
Justice Adeniyi had last Thursday dismissed a preliminary objection filed by President Buhari against a suit by an Abuja based lawyer, Mr. Nnamdi Nwokocha Ahaiiwe, challenging his (Buhari’s) eligibility to contest the presidential election on the ground that he does not have a school certificate, the basic educational qualification set out by the Constitution for a candidate seeking to run for the office of President.
Ahaiiwe had joined the APC as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as defendants in the suit which was filed in February 2015.
Ruling on the case, Justice Adeniyi, grandson of the first indigenous Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Adetokunbo Ademola, dismissed all applications by the defendant as lacking in merit, maintaining that the suit filed by Ahaiiwe was as competent as the service on Buhari and APC.
A top APC chieftain, who spoke to The AUTHORITY in confidence, described the judge’s ruling as “a calculated attempt to embarrass President Buhari and the APC”. He noted that: “We in APC find the ruling more embarrassing, considering that it came three days to our first anniversary in office,” adding that, “we strongly suspect that the said judge is working for the opposition (Peoples Democratic Party, PDP).”
Another APC chieftain blamed the President’s team of lawyers for “treating the matter with levity, having won the elections,” warning that such a suit was capable of throwing up unpleasant surprises for his party.
He said: “We are not lawyers and are therefore not in a position to know what is going on in the courts. I heard that our team of lawyers abandoned the matter, having not been paid by those who felt that the election had been won and lost. If we had a proactive Attorney-General of the Federation, he ought to have followed up and avoided this embarrassment. It is even more embarrassing if the courts establish that President Buhari, who has been fighting corruption, has no school certificate.”
He continued: “This was the same way they assured us of victory in the governorship elections in Rivers, Delta and Akwa Ibom States. We all know that PDP ended up shocking us by snatching those prized states from us at the Supreme Court.
“The ruling by the Honourable Justice Adeniyi is too cold for comfort. Don’t forget that he is from the same state with the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The sooner we deal with the matter, the better for us because the consequences will be too dire for us as we don’t know the interests at play here,” the party chieftain warned.
Justice Ademola adjourned the case till June 16, 2016 for hearing of the substantive originating summons to determine whether the President’s educational qualification meets the minimum standards required by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).