Court dismisses two eligibility suits against Buhari

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Plaintiffs in two of the three pending suits challenging the eligibility of the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, to contest in the March 28, 2015, presidential election have withdrawn the suits.

Consequently, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who is presiding over the matters at the Federal High Court in Abuja, subsequently struck out the two cases after the plaintiffs had indicated their intention to withdraw the suits on Wednesday.

Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) who represented the plaintiff, Chukwunweike Okafor, in the suit FHC/ABJ/CS/01/15, told the judge on Wednesday that his client decided to withdraw his suit to enable the incoming Buhari-led government to focus on the task of governance.

Ozekhome said he suggested the idea of withdrawing the suit to his client on the telephone on Tuesday night since he (Okafor) could not be seen to be weeping more than the bereaved as the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, who lost to Buhari in the March 28 presidential poll, had conceded defeat.

He said, “We have filed a notice of discontinuance. I called the plaintiff last night and asked him to discontinue the matter. I don’t think he should weep more than the bereaved since the sitting President called to congratulate the General (Buhari) on his victory.

“In the interest of justice, we will allow the President-elect to do his job without interference.”

Counsel for other parties in the suit, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN) and Mr. Hassan Liman (SAN), representing Buhari and the Independent National Electoral Commission respectively, did not oppose the application for discontinuance.

Justice Ademola consequently struck out the case.

The same scenario played out when the second case, FHC/ABJ/CS/14/15, filed by Max Ozoaka was called.

Ozoaka’s lawyer, Dr. Chike Amobi, also said he had, on behalf of his client, filed a notice of discontinuance of the suit on the same grounds as that of Ozekhome.

The defendants’ lawyers did not also oppose the application and the judge also struck out the case.

The judge and the defence lawyers commended the plaintiffs’ counsel for their action which they said was in the spirit of best practices at the Bar.

With the Wednesday’s development, the remaining pending eligibility suit against Buhari is the one filed by Ayakeme Whiskey (FHC/ABJ/CS/68/15).

As of the time of filing this report, no date had been fixed for the hearing in the pending suit.

Earlier, before Wednesday, Justice Ademola had struck three of such cases on the grounds of lack of diligent prosecutions.

One of the cases was filed separately by Ayakeme Whiskey (FHC/ABJ/CS/68/15), which is a duplication of an earlier one filed by him. The two others suits, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/20/15 and FHC/ABJ/CS/3/2015, were filed by Friday Ojelaro.

Buhari, who contested on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, was on April 1 declared winner of the election, defeating the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party.

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