President Goodluck Jonathan’s Campaign Organisation, accused Professor Attahiru Jega’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of conniving with General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress, APC, to subvert Nigeria’s Constitution.
Jonathan’s Director of Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, at a press briefing, quoted copiously from the Constitution and the Electoral Act to support his claim that, whereas the law expressly states that a candidate must present and attach his or her personal documents to INEC’s form, Buhari never did this in 2011 and has just ignored that provision of the law again while submitting his form for next month’s election. On both scores, he said, INEC looked the other way.
According to Fani-Kayode, this is a flagrant abuse of the law and an encouragement on the part of INEC to shield Buhari and put him above the law.
However, in a swift reaction, the Buhari Campaign Organisation’s Director of Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said Jonathan should address the nation on the issue of Baga killings and not waste the time of Nigerians on a spurious certificate issue.
Shehu did not address the aspect of the subversion of the law in his statement.
‘INEC IS SHIELDING BUHARI FROM THE LAW’
Fani-Kayode’s statement, titled, ‘CERTIFICATE SAGA, WHY IS INEC INVOLVED IN A COVER-UP FOR BUHARI’, reads:
“It has been brought to our attention that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, either by error of omission or commission, may be engaged in acts that do not in every material particular support the advancement of democracy, the rule of law and the strict adherence to the letters and the spirit of electoral laws in Nigeria.
“His inability to present even the minimum requirement of just a leaving school certificate questions his moral and other credentials for pursuing the position of the President of Nigeria. The current emerging shocking disclosures bring to the fore how and what qualifications were used to recruit him into the military without a minimum school leaving certificate, where he rose to the rank of a general and even became the Head of State through a military coup that truncated a democratically elected government in 1983.
“Academic qualification is a threshold issue that cannot be waived for any citizen, no matter how highly placed and irrespective of whichever region such individual comes from except as provided by the Constitution. Thus the question must be asked: Is Buhari or any other citizen qualified to contest election into the Office of the President without meeting the minimum constitutional requirement?
A perusal of the Nigerian Constitution at Section 131 unequivocally states: ‘A person shall be qualified for election to the Office of President if: (a) He is a citizen of Nigeria by birth (b) He has attained the age of forty years(c) He is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and (d) He has been educated up to at least School certificate level or its equivalent. It is to be noted that section 131 (d) is a specific directional order for all candidates to show proof of education up to a minimum standard not below school certificate or its equivalent’.
“But from what INEC has published, Buhari has not submitted any personal particular of minimum school leaving certificate for the 2015 election and shockingly, from INEC documents displayed in all constituencies, he also did not submit anything in 2011 and never referred the umpire then to the Secretary of the Military Board as well as previous elections he contested as evidenced in all available INEC records until this current discovery.
“If the Constitution did not require proof, it would not specify a minimum. To strengthen this claim, the extant Electoral Act directs that such proof must be sworn to by each candidate at a Court under section 31 (2) to (5), viz (2), ‘The list of information submitted by each candidate shall be accompanied by an affidavit sworn to by the candidate at the Federal High Court, High Court of a state or the FCT, indicating that he has fulfilled all the constitutional requirements for election into that office (3) The Commission shall within 7 days of the receipt of the personal particular of the candidate,(emphasis here is personal particular and not INEC form given to fill nor court document like affidavit) and publish same in the constituency where the candidate intends to contest (4) A person may apply to the Commission for a copy of nomination form affidavit and any other document submitted by a candidate at an election and the Commission shall, upon payment of a prescribed fee, issue the person with a certified copy of the documents within 14 days (5) Any person who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false may file a suit at the federal high court, High Court of a state or FCT against such person seeking a declaration that the information contained in the affidavit is false (6) If the court determines that any of the information contained in the affidavit of any document submitted by that candidate is false, the court shall issue an order disqualifying the candidate from contesting the election.’
“First, in the INEC Form CF 001 for 2015 filled by General Buhari at Section C of the form, the instruction on the form clearly states, ‘Attach evidence of all educational qualifications’ – THIS WAS NOT DONE.
“Yet an affidavit was sworn otherwise. Curiously, he did not refer INEC to this Board in 2011 in his records available for anyone who cares to see how Buhari has, in breach of the Constitution of 1999, contested elections without meeting the mandatory constitutional requirement and has been treated preferentially.
“THE QUESTION TO ASK INEC: IS BUHARI ABOVE THE LAW OF THE LAND OR SHOULD WE SUSPEND OR AMEND THE LAW TO ACCOMMODATE HIM.
“It is common knowledge that Military Board like any others do not keep or retain original copies of personal particulars of individuals such as birth certificates, passports, and academic credentials of any personnel, especially retired personnel after over three decades. It must be stated that INEC erred in law by publishing the name of a candidate without receiving the personal particulars of the candidate within 7 days of receiving his nomination forms as indicated in Section 31(3).
“This is indeed a tragedy illustrating what Nigeria has become, that an individual is so powerful that the law has to be ignored to accommodate him. Certainly, INEC printed nomination forms or High Court affidavits are in no way or by any stretch of definitions, the same as personal particulars such as school leaving certificate.
The Nigerian Constitution has now been finally rubbished and no longer respected.
“The whole essence of the provision of the law, as quoted above, for citizens to apply for certified copies of such personal particulars is now defeated. How could citizens obtain from INEC a certified true copy as required by law when INEC has been referred to the Secretary of Military Board? That the candidate, General Buhari, from records available, has perpetuated this disdain for due democratic process, in a serial form since the beginning of this democratic dispensation, shows that our democracy is in trouble because it is now the rule of men and not the rule of law. This shameful development when added to the weight of his record of civil rights abuses, while in office, show he is an incorrigible anti-democratic character.
“That INEC, saddled with a statutory duty to promote good knowledge and practices of democracy (Section 1(2) of the extant Electoral Act) published as a candidate in all its offices the affidavit of a candidate whose personal particulars it did not receive within the prescribed time frame by law is most unfortunate to say the least.
Our conclusion: BUHARI, FROM THE ABOVE, IS NOT QUALIFIED TO CONTEST THE 2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION”.
ADDRESS THE NATION ON BAGA – BUHARI
In a statement, yesterday, by the Director, Media and Publicity of APC Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mallam Garba Shehu, rather than PDP wasting its energy on alleged certificate saga of Buhari, Jonathan should address the nation on the massacre in Baga town which “the Amnesty International has described as the single most deadly incident since the unfortunate insurgency started in the country”.
Shehu, who noted that the PDP had dwelt so much on the issue of academic certificate of its candidate, Buhari, stressed that there were more pressing issues for the government controlled by the party to address.
He said, “This government should not go on being insensitive. They have to account to Nigerians.The issue of certificate of General Buhari is a non-issue as everyone knows that Buhari is a product of Daura Primary School, Katsina Provisional Secondary School (now Government College, Katsina) and the Nigerian Military Training College. This is in addition to several other courses he attended at home and abroad.”
According to the statement, while the PDP government has failed in its duty and responsibilities to the citizens and the nation, it has intensified effort to pull wool over the eyes of Nigerians.
He continued, ” A leading member of the party, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, a few days ago, informed Nigerians that in politics, you must tell lies. Nigerians should take their cue from there.
“Unfortunately, PDP has become a political party that is so fixated with keeping an incompetent government in power and is lustfully engaged in pursuing a non-issue about an individual’s academic qualifications.”