Enugu Guber Poll: I’m Confident of Tribunal Victory – Edeoga
By Eddy Ochigbo & Orkula Shaagee, Abuja
The Labour Party (LP) governorship candidate in the March 18 election in Enugu State, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, has expressed confidence and trust in the judiciary to deliver justice to him by declaring him winner of the gubernatorial contest in the state.
Edeoga, who is challenging the declaration of Peter Mba of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the election, spoke when he paid a courtesy visit to DAILY ASSET’s head office, Abuja, yesterday.He praised the resilience of the people of Enugu State in giving him the push to seek justice over the result of the election, noting that voters in the state demonstrated a strong desire for a genuine political change in this year’s elections.
He further noted that given the declaration made by INEC which indignated the people of the state, some observers were amazed by the vibrancy and cheerfulness with which he has carried on, especially as the unexpected declaration of Mba led to sudden deaths in the state and in some cases triggered mental ill health in some others. According to him, this is “because they couldn’t come to terms with the declaration when they know that I won the election. This is evidential.”
He noted that “In Enugu State now, we have 14 members of the House of Assembly out of 24, leaving the PDP with only 10. Labour Party has two senators, leaving the PDP with one. LP has seven members of the House of Reps, leaving PDP with only one. It was an easy road to victory for me and the party. We have 17 LGAs in the state.
In the result of 16 LGAs that came in, LP was leading with eleven thousand votes. The result of only one LGA which is the LGA where the PDP candidate comes from was deliberately kept back, where sixteen thousand voters were accredited and they returned thirty thousand votes in other to beat the clear lead of LP.”
He observed that “There was no reason for the result from that LGA to come late or last because it is one of the closest to the INEC Headquarters. The results from the farthest and biggest LGAs had come in, that of Nkanu East was deliberately kept back, now we know, for the necessary adjustments to be made after all other results had come in, in connivance with the resident electoral commissioner who provided them with extra sheets to accommodate the alterations that ensued.”
According to him, “When this thirty thousand results came into the collation centre, all the opposition political parties protested, that it was an anomaly. And then Abuja intervened and the collation was suspended. I understand that the relevant persons:
the REC and some INEC National officers were asked to come to Abuja. People asked me to go to Abuja and I said no because the matter is clear. The law says in matters of over-voting, you cancel. So I said Abuja would do the right thing, they will apply the law and announce the proper result. But lo and behold rather than cancel what Abuja did was to scrap off sixteen thousand votes from the over-voting and now said that PDP had won by about three thousand votes. They gave LP one hundred and fifty-seven thousand and gave PDP one hundred and sixty thousand. Up till now, no one has told us the basis of that decision.
“The only issue for me was my disappointment from my naivety because I had assumed that Nigeria could work because I had thought that there are patriots in Abuja and that Abuja would apply the law. When it failed I was disappointed. Abuja had no right to allocate favours. They have no powers at all. They acted outside the law in making those allocations. We now sent a petition to Abuja.
“There are places where twenty-one thousand votes were cancelled, incident forms entered. Twenty-one thousand votes for LP against three thousand and they were my strongholds. Do you want to take into consideration these cancellations? We filed a petition in the tribunal. We are challenging INEC’s declaration on that election. The basis of our challenge are three. One, that the candidate of the PDP was not qualified to contest the election, abnitio, having submitted a forged NYSC document.
“We have uploaded the evidence to that effect. Number two, we asked the tribunal to help rectify the calculation errors because in Udenu LGA which is the LGA of the current governor what the PDP and INEC did was to re-allocate my favours.
“In a polling unit where it was clearly recoded and acknowledged and certified that LP won, for instance 80 for LP and 14 for PDP, at the point of collation, the officers deliberately moved the victory to the PDP and moved the loss to LP. And it happened consistently in Udenu to the point that we need proper calculation and to return three thousand votes. And these are in documents, certified by INEC.
“We said they are calculation errors, so please calculate properly. And the third arm is that we said they acted in variance with the Electoral Law. In the area of over-vote, you cancel. We gave example, especially with Nkanu East, the home LGA of the PDP candidate where there was clear over vote. So we are saying please apply the law on over vote.
“So we are in the tribunal, the PDP has replied. Anytime from now, the battle will begin. We are optimistic that before the matter will travel the gamut from Tribunal, Appeal to Supreme Court, the truth will prevail and justice will be done. We hope that justice will be done in our case because the injustices are glaring.”
While further espousing hope and confidence in the judiciary, Edeoga said “Our hope is in the judiciary. Even when the judiciary errs, people will know because the judiciary acts on precedents and facts, evidences, so we assume that they are going to follow the tradition. For instance, the precedence with regards to the submission of forged documents are very clear.
“The Supreme Court’s position on that is very clear. So we expect that for instance if the issuing office is called, in this case, the NYSC is called and asked did you issue this certificate? Once the NYSC said we didn’t issue it, the law expects nothing else than disqualification. We don’t expect the tribunals or the Supreme Court to depart from these precedents.
“We said it is calculation error. We didn’t allege any crime, so there is no reason why a judge who had come to effect justice would refuse to correct a calculation error when the miscalculations are obvious. The areas of our expectations do not leave much to idiosyncrasies, they follow strictly on matters that are factual and evidential.”
Again, Tribunal Steps Down Obi’s Petition
For the third time, the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, was forced to step down hearing in the petition filed by Mr Peter Gregory Obi and the Labour Party, LP, against the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The petition was stepped down by the court following a poor schedule of documents being sought to be tendered to establish the allegations of malpractices during the February 25 presidential election.
At yesterday’s proceedings, the court discovered that the documents were not properly scheduled as ordered by the Court.
In the drama that ensued at the point of rendering the documents from the 23 local government areas of Benue, a lot of discrepancies were uncovered.
All efforts to reconcile the anomaly and reschedule the documents were unsuccessful as the errors were beyond immediate solution.
To save the situation, counsel to Obi and the Labour Party, Chief Emeka Okpoko SAN, sought to use documents not filed to conduct the proceedings, but the move was rejected on the ground of illegality.
In the end, the court stepped down hearing of the petition and ordered the legal team to go and re-file the schedule of documents in line with the provisions of the pre-hearing report.
The hearing of Obi’s petition had run into stormy waters three times, prompting the shift in the hearing of the petition.
At the time of this report, Peter Obi and the Vice Presidential candidate, Datti Baba Ahmed, were in the court as their lawyers were running helter-skelter to the Registry of the Court to file a new schedule of documents.
Meanwhile, the five Justices led by Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani hearing the petition have retired to their chambers to await when the legal team will put its house in order.
In Maiden Meeting, Crush Oil Thieves Now, Tinubu Orders Service Chiefs
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
President Bola Tinubu, yesterday met with the Service Chiefs and heads of security and intelligence agencies and told them that he would change the security architecture of the country to blend with his philosophy to address the insecurity challenges across the federation.
The President also said as far as he is concerned, ‘Nigeria should not go on her knees as a result of security challenges while other countries are working, moving forward and recording tremendous achievements.’
Tinubu stated this in his maiden official meeting with Security and intelligence heads led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor at the Presidential Villa, Abuja as the the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major Gen.Babagana Monguno (retd), who briefed State House correspondents after the meeting that lasted two hours, said the President has directed heads of security agencies to come out with their blue prints.
He ordered the security agencies to crush anyone involved in oil theft, stressing that his administration will not tolerate such menace.
“He is going to embark on a lot of reforms in terms of our security architecture, he is going to take a closer look at our misfortunes in the maritime domain, focusing particularly on the issues of oil theft, that as far as he is concerned, he is not going to tolerate oil theft wherever the problem is coming from it must be crushed as soon as possible,” he stated.
He has already mandated the security agencies to come up with a blueprint as far as he knows and as far as he concerned, he doesn’t have the luxury of time; and whatever changes will be made have to be done as soon as possible.
“The President also has decided that whatever ventures the armed forces are going to be engaged in, they must carry along those operatives in the theatre. They must be well fed, well kitted, motivated and given all that they require.
He said it was an appraisal meeting for the President to get briefing on the activities of the different security formations and for him to tell them his own philosophy and what he expects from the security heads.
“The President and Commander in Chief of the armed forces has just concluded a meeting of the general security appraisal committee consisting of the Chief of Staff, Service Chiefs, Inspector General of Police, and heads of the intelligence agencies.
“This is the very first meeting he’s had with the heads of the security agencies. The meeting lasted for two hours.
“Having been briefed by the participants of the meeting, Mr. President, addressed prevailing issues confronting the nation in terms of insecurity and also mentioned his own philosophy towards dealing with national security issues.
“First and foremost, he appreciated the armed forces and intelligence agencies and the wider paramilitary agencies for the work they have been doing in the past couple of years. Their sacrifice, their loyalty, and he also paid tribute to those who died in defending this country, from the great big menace of terrorism, insurgency banditry, oil theft, sea robbery, piracy, etc.
“The President has made it very clear that he’s determined to build on whatever gains that have been made and to reverse misfortunes and turn the tide in our favour.
“As far as he’s concerned, this country should not be on its knees struggling while other countries are working and achieving greater heights,” he said.
President Tinubu said in moving the country forward he needs the security agencies to redouble their efforts, stressing that his own philosophy is one of contemporary security measures dealing with the requirements of the time.
“He has made it very clear that he will not accept a situation in which our fortunes keep declining. And his own trajectory is that national security has to be coordinated, there has to be whatever…whether it is a basket system, but there must be a clearing house.
“All agencies must work to achieve one single purpose. Working at cross purposes and colliding with each other is not something that he will condone. He has made it very, very clear that all the security agencies must comply with the demands of coordination, with the demands of frequent consultations and also timely reports which must be acted on.
“President has said clearly that he will do whatever is within his powers to enable the operational elements but the intelligence agencies must also make their work easy for them by providing the type of intelligence that they require to carry out the assignment,” the NSA said.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has mandated his security chiefs to draw up a fresh blueprint that would guide security operations in the country.
Tinubu, who met with the security chiefs in the country for the first time since assuming office, yesterday, said he had a personal philosophy about how security issues should be handled for effective results.
Obi, LP Challenge Election Results in Rivers, Benue, Niger, 15 Other States
The Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the February 25 presidential election, Mr Peter Gregory Obi and his party confirmed to the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) yesterday in Abuja that they would challenge the election results in 18 states only.
They held that they would not dissipate energies in the states where they won convincingly and without any dispute.
However, at the end of proceedings, Obi and his party tendered certified electoral documents obtained from the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC in only six states.
The documents, mainly, Forms EC8A, election results from polling units were admitted as exhibits to be used to establish their alleged riggings and other malpractices during the election.
Presiding Justice of the Court, Haruna Simon Tsammani admitted the documents as exhibits after they were tendered by Chief Emeka Okpoko SAN who represented Obi and the Labour Party.
Meanwhile, INEC, represented by Kemi Pinhero SAN, issued the documents and certified them as genuine but dramatically announced its decision to object to the admission of the documents.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his Vice, Kashim Shetima, who are 2nd and 3rd respondents and represented by Adebayo Adelodun SAN in the petition challenging their declaration as winners of the election, also hinted to oppose the admissibility of the electoral documents.
Similarly, the All Progressives Congress, APC, represented by Chief Afolabi Fashanu, SAN, argued that it would raise objections against the documents.
Breakdown of the tendered and admitted documents showed that Forms EC8A were tendered in 15 Local Government Areas of Rivers State, 23 in Benue, 18 in Cross River, 23 in Niger State, 20 in Osun and 16 in Ekiti Local Government Areas.
A further hearing in the petition has been shifted to June today by the Court at the instance of the two petitioners.
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