Buhari Does Not Need to Present Certificates for Election…Says Tribunal
… Dismisses Atiku ‘s Petition.
The Presidential Elections Petition Tribunal has held that President Muhammadu Buhari is not required by law to attach photocopy of certificates before he could stand for election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC.
The tribunal held that all Buhari required to do is to be educated up to secondary school level.
Delivering judgment in the petition filed by the Presidential candidate of the People Democratic Party Still Abubakar against the declaration of Buhari as winner of the February 23 Presidential poll. Chairman of the tribunal Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba said that Buhari having been educated up to secondary school is not only qualified for the election but eminently eligible to have participated
Justice Garba in the unanimous decision of the 5-man panel therefore dismissed the joint allegations of Atiku and PDP that Buhari was not eligible for the poll and ought not to have been returned winner of the election.
Specifically, the tribunal held that Buhari does not need to show prove or attached copy to his INEC form 001.
The tribunal chairman held that the provision of the law was for the president to be educated up to secondary school level or its equivalent or worked in the public or private service for at least 10 years without blemishes.
The tribunal said evidence abound that West African School Certificate (WASC) was in existence in 1961 when Buhari claimed to have sat for the examination.
Tribunal also resolved that there is overwhelming evidence on the existence of provincial secondary school in Katsina in 1961 before it later transformed into government college.
Quoting a press statement released in 2014 by brigadier general Olaleye Olaniyi, the then secretary of Army Board on Buhari’s certificate issue, the tribunal held that Atiku failed to call the army spokesman to testify in the petition.
Justice Garba held that from the totality of the statement of the former army spokesman, there was a presumption that Buhari has certificates because the army itself produced a recommendation of the former principal of the Katsina provincial secondary school that the president stood for six subjects in WAEC and expressed optimism Buhari would perform well if enlisted into the army in 1962.
The tribunal therefore agreed that the inability of Buhari to attach photocopies of his credentials to the INEC form CF 001 should not be misconstrued as not having certificate because the petitioners failed to prove that he did not have the certificate.
On the issue of alleged lying on oath the tribunal disagree with the petitioners on the grounds that Buhari did not swear to an affidavit to specifically make claim of depositing his certificates with the army board as envisaged by the relevant laws on election.
Specifically, the tribunal held that the fact that Buhari made claim of submitting his credentials to the army at the point of his enlistment in 1962 cannot by law translate into lying on oath as alleged by the petitioners.
The tribunal which delved extensively on the merit and otherwise of Atiku’s petition rejected the claim that Buhari was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast in the February 23 presidential election.
The tribunal held that the petitioners ought to use polling booth by polling booth to give correct and authentic final election results, adding that it was not enough for Atiku and PDP to have tendered election results from the bar only but it is incumbent on them to call witnesses to establish their allegations, adding that the 62 witnesses called by the petitioners did not disprove forms EC8A, EC8B, EC8C and EC8D.
Justice Garba said that when words of statute are not ambiguous they must be given their ordinary meaning, adding that in the instant case Atiku and PDP did not establish how the use of INEC election manual and guidelines substantially affected the collation of election results as evidence adduced by petitioners’ witnesses have no bearing on the petition itself.
The tribunal held that the evidence that election results were altered, depleted and manipulated against the PDP’s candidate was caught by section 37 of the Evidence Act as they are manifestly unreliable hearsay that cannot in any way be classified as expert opinions
In the resolution of server issue the tribunal said that the petitioners were to establish the existence of a server and that results were transmitted into it through the use of smart card reader.
The tribunal also held that the petitioners could not adduced concrete evidence that the results of the election were electronically collated and transmitted as alleged by the petitioners, adding that the evidence of the petitioners expert witness contradicted the petition itself because the witness admitted obtaining his information from a whistle blower site, whose identity he could not ascertain.
One the issue of over voting, massive rigging, harrassment and intimidation, arbitrary arrest, the tribunal held that failure to join the security personnel alleged to have committed the crime as respondents to defend themselves was fatal to the petition
Justice Garba in the unanimous decision held that any decision to look into the allegations will run counter to section 36 of the 1999 constitution on fare hearing.
In the final analysis the tribunal chairman held that the petition was without merit, liable for dismissal and was consequently dismissed in its entirety without cost against the petitioners.