Court clears way for Obasanjo's inauguration

An appeal court on Tuesday unanimously rejected an attempt by a rival of President Olusegun Obasanjo to block the Nigerian leader from being sworn into office for a second term on Thursday.

    Buhari filed the suit last week
    and has another one pending,
    also against Obasanjo

    Former president General Muhammadu Buhari, Obasanjo's main rival in last month's presidential vote, filed the suit last week to block Obasanjo from assuming the presidency for a second term.


    The court now has to rule on another suit seeking to overturn Obasanjo’s victory and declare him ineligible for office.


    "I do not see how the swearing in can interfere in the strength of the case. The court will still be able to fairly and effectively adjudicate on the merit of the petition," presiding judge Umar Abdullahi said in a unanimous verdict.


    Buhari, presidential candidate of the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP) lost the 19 April election, Nigeria's first since it returned to civilian rule in 1999, by a margin of two votes to one, according to official results.


    But the 62-year-old former general claims that Obasanjo was ineligible and that his reelection was rigged and illegal.


    Both Nigerian and foreign monitors criticised the election, reporting that it was marred by widespread ballot-rigging, but most key members of the international community have recognised Obasanjo's victory.


    Many individuals and groups have appealed to Buhari and ANPP to drop their legal and political challenge to Obasanjo for the sake of Nigeria's stability.    


    There are fears the country will
    descend into election strife again

    On Monday the police blocked an attempt by the ANPP and other opposition parties to hold rallies in protest at the results of the election in Kano, Nigeria's largest northern city.


    Also on Monday, Nigeria's opposition said police had refused permission for protest rallies ahead of the president's inauguration, but a key party vowed to press on with mass demonstrations.


    Police have threatened to crack down on any mass protests over the presidential election, only the second since the military relinquished its grip on Africa's most populous country four years ago.


    "The police have not given us a permit in any of the states where we planned the rallies," Balarabe Musa told AFP, chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties.


    Musa said the opposition had planned seven rallies between Monday and Wednesday, including one in Kano  .


    Kano state police spokesman Baba Mohammed said his force had sealed the venue to prevent a possible outbreak of violence but denied that the coalition had applied for a permit for a rally.


    Former military ruler Buhari, a Muslim from the north, took 32 percent of the vote against 62 percent for Obasanjo, a born-again Christian from the southwest.


    "One thing is certain, we are going to embark on a mass protest. We are going to demonstrate between now and 29 May, said ANPP spokesman Ibrahim Modibo. "As from 29 May, we are not going to recognise this government."


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