ABUJA—The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, fixed March 19 to commence hearing on seven separate suits seeking to disqualify the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), from contesting the forthcoming general elections.
All the seven cases have been assigned to Justice Ademola Adeniyi who presided over two of the suits yesterday.
Meantime, both Buhari and the APC, who are defendants in the matter alongside the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday, maintained that they would not accept the service of the court processes which they said were not validly served on them.
They challenged the propriety of orders of Justice Adeniyi which had permitted the plaintiffs to serve the originating summons on them through substituted means.
Justice Adeniyi had on February 2, directed that the court processes be served on the defendants by publishing same in three national dailies.
The court also granted an order of abridgment of time within which the defendants must respond to the suits.
However, both Buhari and his party, contended that there was no urgency in the matter to warrant the court to hear the suits in a hurry.
Thus, in separate preliminary objections filed by counsel to Buhari, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, and that of the APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, they asked the court to set-aside all the orders it has made in the matter so far.
They further contended that the subject matter of the suit bothers on pre-election issues which they said is not time bound, adding that it can be determined even after the March 28 presidential election.
Nevertheless, Chief Mike Ozehkome, SAN, who represented the plaintiffs yesterday, urged the court to expedite hearing on the matter so as to determine Buhari’s fate before the presidential election.
His submission infuriated Buhari’s lawyer, Olanipekun, SAN, who argued that the suit challenging the certificate his client submitted to the INEC, has nothing to do with the election itself.
“My lord what he is saying is that this case must end before this election. It is a wrong impression. This case has nothing to do with the conduct of the election. What if the presidential election was held on February 14?”, Olanipekun queried.
Likewise, INEC through its lawyer Mr. Hassan Liman, SAN, yesterday, said it would file a preliminary objection to challenge both the competence of the suits which were filed by the two plaintiffs, Mr. Chukwunweike Okafor and Mr. Max Ozoaka, as well as the jurisdiction of the court to entertain them.