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Ozekhome Says Buhari Not Qualified To Contest

To match Interview NIGERIA-BUHARI/

Foremost Nigerian Constitutional lawyer and Human Rights advocate, Chief Mike Ozekhome, (SAN) Friday said the APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, is not constitutionally qualified to contest the 2015 presidential elections.

The lawyer who was a special guest on the popular AIT breakfast talk show, Kakaaki monitored in Abuja stated that by not proving evidence of his secondary school certificate as required by law, the ex military ruker has breached section 1 (31) of the constitution, which stipulates that ” the candidate must have not below school certificate level, or its equivalent, and its equivalent means GCE, WASC, NECO etc, those are its equivalents”.

Chief Ozehkome explained that the need to provide evidence of secondary school certification has become manifest due to the recent modification of the electoral laws.

“I know that Nigerians would be curious why is this matter just coming up for the first time? Afterall this man has contested the last three Presidential elections. Well I wish to state that I have done by God’s grace, a lot of election petition matters and I know that up till 2011, INEC form simply provides that candidates should state their qualifications . In other words just say that….. I have O’Level, I have B.sc, I have BL etc, then you go and sit down”.

“But right now, the rule has changed. Form CF001, says, apart from filling your qualifications, you must attach them, you must attach photo-copies of your qualifications, to attach means to bind, means to glue-to, as we are looking at your form that you have filled, I have to see your NYSC certificate, all your qualifications /certificates must be attached to your form.

“To me it’s a very critical serious and critical matter, because election are not for all-comers. Certain minimal requirement, have to be achieved. If you look at the electoral act, you will discover that, Section 157 of the electoral act actually gives INEC, powers to make laws, to make regulations, to make guidelines, to issue handbooks that would govern election matters.”

Mr Ozekhome further noted that if you do not attach your credentials, you have not satisfied the minimum requirements, it is therefore not proper to refer INEC to go on a wide-goose chase, go and look elsewhere for my qualifications. It is like, as an applicant, you want a job, you come before your interviewers, your interviewers say, we have looked at the form you filled for this job, we have seen your certificates, you say, the last place I worked, they have photocopy of my certificates, go and ask them. That is wrong, the military board we are talking about, will also be in possession of the document of the respected general.

He said that, before any fellow can just jump in and say I want to contest election, for example at the National Constitutional Conference last year, we recommended independent candidature which has not yet in any way met with constitutional reform approval, so it means therefore, for instance that I, no matter how popular I think I am, in my Edo North, Afemai area, if I want to contest any election, I cannot simply jump in and say, I am a candidate, I want to contest election, so, I must be under a political platform, whether APC, PDP, Labour Party, SDP.

“The important fact is that I must contest under a political party, so, it is so important because, INEC the independent umpire, has to give guidelines as to who can contest election and who cannot contest election. And it is also in a position to receive documentation, such that are filled by candidates so as to cross-check whether this forms have been duly or well-filled”.

So, the reason it is so important is that, we are talking about democracy, goverment of the people, by the people as defined by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Declaration of 1763 as government of the people, for the people and by the people. It is therefore apt that the people themselves must know those who govern them, know something about those who govern them and not for a example, let me use very strong words, 419ers, challatants, otokotos, criminals or people that do not have the basic minimum qualifications.

Ozekhome maintains that Section 153 of the electoral act..which is a product of the constitution, gives INEC powers to make rules and guidelines for election purpose. INEC is saying you have filled your form, you have inserted that you have a WASC but for me to be sure, you need to attach it. I am sure INEC came up with this direct based on their experience in the past, they may have discovered that some politicians   do not have want they state in their CF001, so they changed the law to ask them to attach copies.

I want you to know that we are talking about the rule of law, and democracy here. Are you telling me that those other 500 plus candidates have told inec that they should go and ask their former employees for their documents?

If the court were not closed, I am sure some Nigerians under section 31, subsection 6 and 7 would have gone to court.

“No, it is not enough, let me tell you, because of the power given to INEC to make guidelines, it issued form CF001 which must be filled by candidates aspiring for any position. Right now we are going to have the National Assembly, the Presidential election and the gubernatorial election, governship, maybe about 30-states in Nigeria, Presidential, about 10-15 Presidential candidates, senatorial (109), House of Representatives, (360 candidates), we are looking at a situation of between 500 and 550 candidates, now, each of them obtained the form CF001 which requires them to fill the form and provide particulars of their qualifications”.


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