The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the election tribunal to disregard the claim that President Muhammadu Buhari was not qualified to contest the 2019 elections.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Atiku Abubakar, its presidential candidate, had alleged, in a 43-page final address filed at the tribunal, that Buhari, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), could not produce his school certificates, and that they had proved in their petition that he does not possess the qualification to run for president.
But in its reply filed at the tribunal and dated August 16, INEC, being the first respondent said Buhari, second respondent, met the set requirements as provided in the electoral act and constitution, and that the PDP’s claim is a “great absurdity”.
“The necessity for the 1st Respondent to defend its action becomes more glaring having regard to the provisions of Section 31(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and Section 318 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), particularly sub paragraph (d) under the definition of School Certificate or its equivalence,” the reply read.
“By the above provisions, the duty of acceptance of the qualification of the 2nd Respondent to contest the election rests solely on the 1st Respondent, which duty was painstakingly exercised by the 1st Respondent. Yet the Petitioners want want to gag the 1st Respondent from pointing out obvious facts and consideration which were taken into consideration in making its decision.
“This is the definition of bias and partisanship for the Petitioners. A greater absurdity than this no one may find. We humbly submit that the 1st Respondent has not in any way compromised its position by the wording and contents of its Final Address.”
INEC submitted that the claim by the PDP is baseless, as the party failed to prove this allegation.
The PDP had also questioned a Cambridge University WASC certificate tendered by Buhari, arguing that “the purported evidence led by the 2nd respondent (Buhari) to prove that he attended a secondary school or a primary school or that he attended some courses is irrelevant because he did not rely on any of those purported qualifications in exhibit P1.”
But INEC said Cambridge is not a party interested in the matter before the tribunal and documents from them are in no way in violation of the evidence act.
INEC also said it has not betrayed its neutrality as an election umpire as alleged by the PDP.
Buhari and the APC, on Sunday, asked the tribunal to dismiss Atiku and PDP’s petition, on the grounds that Atiku is not a Nigerian.
Buhari was declared winner of the February presidential election, but Atiku rejected the result, filing a petition at the election tribunal.
The tribunal has been adjourned till August 21 when the parties are expected to present their closing arguments.