Forgery: Court Orders Substituted Service of Suit Seeking to Bar Tinubu from Presidential Race

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Justice Obiora Egwuatu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has ordered substituted service of a suit seeking to bar the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, from the 2023 presidential election over allegations bordering on forgery.The order was issued in an exparte motion brought by the plaintiff/applicant to serve the suit on Tinubu, who is the 3rd defendant through substituted means.The Action Alliance (AA) party, had in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/954/2022, and filed on June 21, asked the court to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from including the name of the APC on the ballot of the 2023 presidential election.

The party equally asked the court for another order restraining the electoral umpire from accepting the name of Tinubu as candidate of the APC in the presidential election.

The plaintiff, in the Writ of Summon marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/954/2022, predicated its request on the claim that both the APC and Tinubu were not qualified to participate in the 2023 presidential election, following alleged forgery committed by Tinubu in 1999.

The suit filed on behalf of the plaintiff by its lawyer, Mr Upkai Ukairo, claimed that Tinubu forged his university of Chicago certificate he submitted in 1999, in aid of his qualification for the 1999 governorship election in Lagos State, which was won by Tinubu.

The suit, has the Independent National Electoral Commission, APC and Tinubu as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.

However, owing to difficulty in serving the suit on the 3rd defendant, the plaintiff on June 29, brought an exparte application praying the court for an order to serve Tinubu through substituted service.

Delivering ruling in the exparte application on July 6, Egwuatu granted the request of the Action Alliance by ordering the plaintiff to publish the writ of summons and other processes including the order of substituted service

The enrolled order of the court dated July 13 and signed by the Court’s Registrar, Amina Audu read in part: “Upon reading the eleven (11) paragraphed Affidavit of Urgency deposed to by Kalu Agu, after hearing Mary Warribo, Counsel for the Plaintiff, arguing the application and urging the Court to grant the prayer sought.

“It is hereby ordered that, the Originating Processes, Writ of Summons, and all other Processes filed in this Suit including this Order, be served on the 3rd Defendant by publishing same , a newspaper circulating throughout Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and Nigeria.

“Such Service, when effected and Proof of Service filed in Court shall be deemed good and proper service. Accordingly, this matter is adjourned to July 25, 2022 for report of service.”

The Action Alliance, in a 16-paragraph statement on oath deposed to by Agu, submitted that,“the 3rd defendant is a person, who is not qualified for election to the office of President of Nigeria on the grounds of alleged forgery.

According to the deponent, the 3rd defendant had provided false information and attached forged documents in his form CF 001, he submitted to INEC in 1999 in aid of his qualification for the governorship poll.

The deponent stated that the claim of Tinubu that he possessed Bsc degrees in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Chicago and Chicago State University in 1976 and 1979 respectively were false, adding: “The 3rd defendant knew he did not possess all the educational qualifications he listed in the said INEC form,” he added.

The deponent further claimed that the matter of false information by Tinubu was once reported to the Inspector General of Police and the Lagos State House of Assembly, wherein the latter set up a committee, which in its report at page 2 said, “The Governor of Lagos State stated his evidence by admitting full responsibility for some of the needless errors being pinpointed in recent publications and which formed the basis of the allegations against him.”

Plaintiff contends that arising from the above, the 3rd defendant was not qualified for election into the office of President of Nigeria, and prayed the court to declare that 3rd defendant’s claim that, he attended Government College, Ibadan and University of Chicago on his INEC Form CF 001 in 1999, which he presented to INEC is false.

He also urged the court to further declare that the alleged false information on Tinubu’s INEC Form CF 001 about his BSc degree in Economics from the University of Chicago “is a forged certificate”.

Plaintiff said in view of Section 137(1)(j) of the 1999 Constitution, the court should declare that the 3rd defendant, “having in 1999 presented a forged certificate to INEC….is not qualified to contest for the office of president.

“A declaration that by virtue of Sections 224, 23 and 24 of the 1999 Constitution and the Constitution of the APC, the office of the President of Nigeria is to be occupied by a man of integrity and impeccable character.”

While plaintiff prayed the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC from publishing the name of Tinubu as candidate of the APC in the 2023 presidential election, the AA, prayed for another order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC from listing the APC as a political party in the ballot for the 2023 presidential poll

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