Thursday, June 13, 2024

Court throws out certificate forgery suit against Tinubu

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday dismissed a certificate forgery suit filed by the Action Alliance (AA) against Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Justice Obiora Egwuatu, in a judgement, held that the suit instituted by AA was statute-barred, having not been commenced within the mandatory 14 days provided for under the 1999 Constitution (as amended by the Fourth Alteration Act).

Justice Egwuatu said the suit had become academic and grossly incompetent; hence, the court lacked the requisite jurisdiction to entertain it or grant the reliefs sought by the plaintiff.

The judge, who said the plaintiff lacked locus standi to file the suit, also held that it acted like a busybody, having interfered in the internal affairs of another party.

He consequently dismissed the suit for constituting an abuse of the court process.

In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/954/2022, the AA sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC and Mr Tinubu as first to third defendants, respectively.

In a writ of summons dated and filed on June 21 by its lawyer, U.O. Ukairo, AA sought a court declaration that the claim of the third defendant (Mr Tinubu) that he attended Government College, Ibadan, and the University of Chicago on his INEC FORM CF 001 in 1999, which he presented to the first defendant (INEC) was false.

It also sought a declaration that the false information on the APC presidential candidate’s “INEC FORM CF 001 wherein he claims to have been awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics by the University of Chicago is a forged certificate.”

It further sought a declaration that in view of section 137(1)(j) of the 1999 Constitution, Mr Tinubu, having in 1999 presented a forged certificate to INEC in INEC FORM CF 001, which he submitted as a candidate in the 1999 general elections for the post of the governor of Lagos State was not qualified to contest the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The party, which urged the court to declare that the submission of Mr Tinubu’s name to the electoral umpire by the APC (second defendant) as its 2023 presidential candidate is null and void and of no effect, prayed for an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC from publishing his name as a candidate in the general elections.

AA also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC from listing APC as a political party in the ballot for the conduct of the 2023 presidential election by INEC.

But in a preliminary objection dated November 1 and filed on November 2 by the APC and Mr Tinubu’s legal team led by Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, they argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

They urged the court to strike out the suit in its entirety, arguing that the originating process was fundamentally and incurably defective.

Besides, the defendants said the suit disclosed no reasonable cause of action against them, especially the third defendant (Mr Tinubu), among other arguments.




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