Alleged Certificate Forgery: Court Grants Order Of Substituted Service On Tinubu

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The Federal High Court Abuja has fixed September 7, 2022, for the hearing of a suit seeking the disqualification of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), from contesting the 2023 presidential election for allegedly presenting forged certificates, Nigerian Tribune reports.

The vacation judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed also granted an ex-parte order for substituted service on Tinubu who had evaded personal service of Court processes.

The plaintiffs are praying the court for an order disqualifying Tinubu from contesting or participating in the forthcoming 2023 presidential election as a candidate of the APC based on the information he supplied to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the presidential candidate of the party.

The plaintiffs are four chieftains of the party.  They are Memuna Suleiman and Jigo Mohammed Garba both delegates at the party’s national convention in Abuja, Ofodu Anthony, and Ibiang Miko Ibiang. They jointly instituted the action against the electoral body, the 1st defendant, along with the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, National Assembly and Attorney General of Federation (AGF), and Minister of Justice as the 2nd, to 5th defendants respectively.

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Plaintiffs’ counsel, Goddy Uche (SAN), leading Francis Jimba and others, on Thursday, told the vacation judge that the substituted service was necessary because all attempts to serve the 3rd defendant have proved abortive as he cannot be reached.

In a brief ruling Justice Mohammed ordered that the Court process be served on the National Secretariat of APC and that such service shall be deemed as having been properly served on Tinubu, the APC Presidential candidate.

In the suit, the plaintiffs had posed the following questions for determination: Whether having regard to the provision of sections 1 (3); 4(1)and 2; 14(1),(2)(a), and (c)and 42(1)(a)and (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999 (as amended), the provision of section 29(5)of the Electoral Act,2022 as enacted by the 4th Defendant which modified the provision section 31(5) of the Electoral Act,2010(as amended) is not ultra vires the 4th Defendant and therefore unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatever.

“Whether having regard to the decision of the Supreme Court in the case Modibbo Vs Usman (2020) 3 NWLR(PT.1712)470 and the provision of section 137(1)(j) the 3rd Defendant has not presented a forged certificate to NEC and thereby disqualified from participating in the forthcoming 2023 Presidential General Election.

They also prayed that upon the favourable determination of the above questions, the court should declare that, the provision of section 29(5) of the Electoral Act,2022 is ultra vires the 4th Defendant and unconstitutional, null, void, and of no effect whatsoever.

“An order of the Court striking out/striking down the provision of section 29(5) of the Electoral Act 2022 from the Electoral Act and the body of extant laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria same being ultra vires the 4th and 5th Defendants, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.

“A declaration that the 3rd Defendant has presented a forged certificate to the INEC for the purpose of seeking to be elected into the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, among other reliefs.

In a 33 paragraphs affidavit in support of the suit deposed to by Ibiang Miko Ibiang, the plaintiffs averred that Tinubu swore to an affidavit in 1999 in which he claimed to have attended St. Paul Aroloya Children Home School, Ibadan -1958-64 and Government College, Ibadan -1965-68 and presented same to INEC.

“That the deposition had turned out to be false and that in order to conceal the falsity of the information he submitted to INEC, he had omitted to provide any information whatsoever relating to his primary and secondary schools in his INEC form for the 2023 election.”