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JUDICIARY

Kaduna Gov Election Tribunal Concludes Sitting, Reserves Judgment

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The Kaduna State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has adjourned sitting on Monday after counsel adopted their final written addresses and replies to points of law.

Justice Ibrahim M. Bako, Chairman of the three-member Tribunal, said that a date would be reserved for judgement and all parties will be notified through their counsel.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its Governorship candidate, Alhaji Isah Ashiru had petitioned the March  9 poll in which  Gov. Nasiru El-Rufai was returned as duly elected by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).The Petitioners in their final written address on Monday, asked the  Tribunal to cancel a total 515, 951 votes which it contended were unlawfully added to the total votes cast during the March 9 poll.The petitioners had called 135 witnesses out of the 685 they assembled to prove massive rigging,  ballot stuffing and other irregularities during the poll as contained in their petition.

The petitioners alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had added 391,741 votes to Nasiru El-Rufai of APC and a total of 124, 210 unlawful votes to the PDP through wrong or double entry on the result sheets.The PDP and its candidate also contended that declaring El-Rufai winner by INEC was illegal as he did not score majority of lawful votes.The PDP through its legal team led Emmanuel C. Ukala (SAN), said  deducting  391,741 votes from 1,045,427 scored by El-Rufai and 124,210 from Ashiru’s 814, 168 votes will give victory to PDP and Ashiru, its candidate in the poll.The counsel further argued that after the deduction of the alleged unlawful votes, Ashiru will be left with 689,958 lawful votes, while El-Rufai will have 653,686 votes.In his submission, Ukala  argued that all parties to the petition are bound to argue their cases on the basis of whether or not the petitioners had assembled credible evidence to sustain their petition, as formulated by the tribunal.According to him, “only the 2nd respondent premised his argument on the issues formulated by this honorable tribunal. The 1st  and 3rd respondents went on their own forays.“It is therefore our submission that the argument of the 1st and 3rd respondents should go to ‘no issue’, having not addressed the issue which was binding to all parties, “ Ukala argued.The petitioners counsel further said that based on the issues formulated by the tribunal, the issue has been narrowed down to the credibility of evidence.“Based on this simplification of the issue, it is our humble submission that when the evidence led by both sides are placed on the imaginary scales of justice, what is obvious is that the weight of evidence of the petitioners will overwhelmingly weigh in favor of the petitioners as against the respondents, “ he said.“First, the petitioners called 135 witnesses. All respondents put together, 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents,  called a total of five witnesses.“What is obvious is that there were so many areas covered by the petitioners that were not addressed by the respondents.“ Ukala further pointed out that the quality of the petitioners’ evidence was more qualitative than that of the respondents with polling unit agents who actually saw what happened on the election day and testified.However, in its final written address and reply to points raised by the petitioners, Counsel to APC, Ibrahim Bawa (SAN) said: “our final written address before the tribunal is that the petitioners have not been able to establish their claim before the court.“There are certain allegations that were made which were criminal.“The petitioners also complain that certain votes were illegally recorded for  the 2nd and 3rd respondents, but unfortunately no evidence were made to prove those points.“So, we urge the Tribunal to dismiss the petition as  the petitioners have failed to live up to the standard expected of them in proving their petition.”Similarly,  Abdulhakeem  Mustapha, counsel to El-Rufai, the 2nd respondent in the petition, asked the tribunal “to invoke its majestic powers to dismiss the petition as lacking in merit and to confirm that the 2nd respondent, Malam Nasiru El Rufai as duly elected as governor of Kaduna State on the March 9 election. “Mustapha in an interview with newsmen also said: “we have been able to tell the court that all the witnesses called by the petitioners failed woefully to prove the ingredient of the fact relied upon in their petition.“The onus is on the petitioners to come with credible evidence and all the testimonies of the witnesses produced by the petitioners were demolished under cross examination.“ There is nothing that the court will see to be persuaded to give judgment in their favor, we have been able to show with the witnesses we called that the election was conducted in conformity with the provision of the electoral Act.“We are very satisfied with the proceedings and we are very sure that justice will be done and sure that Malam Nasiru  El-Rufai was duly elected by the people of Kaduna State. “On behalf of the 2nd respondent, the final written address which was dated 2nd August, was filed on 3rd August, 2019, while the 2nd respondent filed a reply on fact of law on August 16,” Mustapha said.Meanwhile, Counsel to the 1st respondent, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),  Aliyu Umar (SAN) urged the tribunal to “dismiss the petition and confirm El Rufai as duly elected Governor of Kaduna State.“Umar drew the attention of the tribunal to the fact that the petitioners had just served him with a list of additional authorities on the day of sitting.He also told newsmen shortly after the sitting that:  “We told the tribunal to take witnesses of the petitioners one by one and urged the tribunal to hold that their evidence was different from what they alleged in their petition.“And their witnesses have all confirmed during cross examination that no INEC officials connived with any other person.“The petitioners only called 135 of the 685 witnesses the petitioners said they would call, that is short of the number they were supposed to call to prove their case.“They are to win their case by the evidence presented not by our witnesses,“Umar said.At the end of the sitting, Justice Bako, thanked counsel to all the parties, party members and representatives of the media  for their cooperation and publicity through out the hearing.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that  Khadi Adamu Usman and Justice Jude Obiora served as members of the Kaduna State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.(NAN)

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JUDICIARY

Benue APC Tussle: Court Strikes Out Aondoakaa’s Suit Against Fr. Alia

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The Federal High Court, Abuja has struck out a suit by an aspirant of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) in Benue, Mr Michael Aondoakaa, SAN, challenging the emergence of Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia as the party’s governorship candidate for the 2023 governorship election.

Delivering judgment on Thursday in Abuja, Justice Ahmed Mohammed held that although the suit was a pre-election matter, Aondoakaa filed it out of time.

“The grouse of the plaintiff is that the Benue APC primary election was not conducted in complaince with the law.

“The APC primary election took place on May 26 and the plaintiff was enjoined by law to commerce action within 14 days.

The judge held that the law was trite that where the cause of action was commenced on time, the litigant will have his right protected.

He said that since the primary election took place on May 26, filing the suit on June 10 made the suit status barred.

“From May 26 to June 10 is a period of more than 14 Days for filing a pre-election matter.

“The suit is therefore incompetent and the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the suit and the suit is hereby struck out,” the judge said.

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The judge also said that having found that the suit was filed out of time, there was no basis delving into the substantial matter.

Newsmen report that Aondoakaa, a former Attorney-General, had dragged the APC, Fr. Alia and the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) to court on the grounds that the APC conducted it’s governorship primary election in Benue in violation of the law

He asked the court to declare among other reliefs that Alia was not fit to contest the primary election because he was not a member of the APC.

“A declaration that the 2nd defendant (Fr. Alia) is not qualified to vote, contest and/or be declared as the winner of the 1st defendant’s (APC) Benue gubernatorial primary election, he not been a member of the party and his name not been contained in the list of the party’s membership register submitted to INEC.

“A declaration that pursuant to the provisions of the Electoral Act and the Constitution of the APC, the party has failed or neglected or refused to conduct a primary election for the emergence of its gubernatorial candidate in Benue for the 2023 governorship elections.

“A declaration that by virtue of the non-compliance of the APC with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and it’s constitution in the conduct of the primary election in Benue for the emergence of its gubernatorial candidate, Fr. Alia is not a candidate at the said March 11, 2023 gubernatorial election or at any subsequent election rescheduled.

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“To declare as null, void and of no effect whatsoever the Benue APC governorship primaries allegedly conducted on May 26 for non compliance with the provisions of the law.

” A further declaration that the summary result sheet of the Benue APC governorship primary election dated May 28 is a null, void and of no effect whatsoever.”

Aondoakaa also asked the court to declare that Fr. Alia could not validly contest and be declared as winner of the APC primary election being an ordained priest of the Catholic Church and fully engaged as a minister in the employment and or service of the Catholic Church.

He also prayed the court to declare that he was not given an equal opportunity to participate in the said Benue APC governorship primary election.

He further asked the court to make an order directing a fresh conduct of Benue APC governorship primaries.

The plaintiff, in addition, asked for a perpetual injunction restraining Fr. Alia from holding or carrying on or parading himself as the gubernatorial candidate of the APC for the March 11, 2023 gubernatorial election in Benue.

He asked for damages in the sum of N150 million  (NAN)

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JUDICIARY

Conviction: Appeal Court to Hear Abdulrasheed Maina’s Appeal Feb.8

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The Court of Appeal on Wednesday fixed Feb.8 for to hear  Abdulrasheed Maina’s appeal challenging the judgment of a trial court sentencing him to eight years imprisonment for N2 billion pension fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned  Maina before  Justice Okon Abang of a federal high court, on Oct. 25, 2019.

Maina is charged alongside , his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, on 12 counts of money laundering.

Abang on Nov. 8 sentenced the former chairperson of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), to eight years’ imprisonment for money laundering offences involving N2billion in pension fund.

Maina not satisfied filed an appeal at the appellate court challenging the judgment.

The appeal court slated to be heard on Wednesday was adjourned until Feb. 8 over the inablity of the appellent’s  counsel to follow court guildelines in filing his suit.

The three-member panel headed by Justice Haruna Tsammani fixed the date pointing out that the appellant must comply with the rule of the court.

He said the appellant did not comply with order 19 rule 3 of the court’s direction on filing, adding that the font size was not in compliance with the order.

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” You can not comply with the rules of the court you go back and comply with it” he said.

When the appeal was called,  the appellant’s counsel led by Olusegun Jolaawo,  SAN, told the court they were ready to argue their appeal.

Mr Farouk Abdullahi, EFCC equally told the court he was ready.

Unfortunately,  the panel found out that the appellent did not comply with the rules of the court in  filing the suit.

NAN reports that in that judgment, justice Abang sentenced him to various jail terms ranging from three to eight years, which are to run concurrently.

He was sentenced to three years for count 1, five years for count 2, eight years for count 3, eight years for count 4, two years for count 5, five years for count 6, and eight years in count seven.

He also sentenced him to three years on count 8, five years for count 9, eight years for count 10, three years for count 11 and three years for count 12.

He ordered that the terms of imprisonment shall run concurrently beginning from October 25, 2019, the date he was arraigned.

Justice Abang ordered that Common Input Property and Investment Ltd’s punishment, should be wound up and its assets forfeited to the federal government.

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In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/256/2019, EFCC alleged that Maina used fictitious names to open and operate various bank accounts.

It added that he recruited his relatives that were bankers to operate fake bank accounts through which illicit funds were channelled.

EFCC further alleged that sums of N300million, N500million and N1.5billion were stolen by from pensioners, were deposited in the accounts. (NAN)

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JUDICIARY

REOPENED – Alleged Defilement: Court Admits Medical Director to N50m Bail

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An  Ikeja Sexual Offences  and Domestic Violence Court on Wednesday admitted the Medical Director of Optimal Cancer Care Foundation, Dr Femi Olaleye, charged with alleged  defilement of his 16 year-old wife’s niece to bail in the sum of N50million.

Newsmen report that Justice Ramon Oshodi  admitted the defendant to  bail with two sureties in like, following the adoption of bail application by defense and counter affidavits by prosecution.

Ramon ruled that the sureties must have landed properties in Lagos and the original documents of the properties must be submitted to the chief registrar of the court.

He also said that the defendant must submit his British, Nigerian and other international passports in his possession to the chief registrar of the court.

The judge further ordered the court audile to verify the residential addresses of the sureties.

Ramon, however, ruled that the defendant be remanded in Ikoyi Correctional Centre pendingwhen he meets the conditions of the bail.

The judge adjourned the case until Dec. 19 for commencement of trial.

The defence lead counsel, Mr Babatunde Ogala, SAN, while moving his bail application dated dated Nov. 24 and filed on 25, prayed the court to grant the defendant bail on liberal term.

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Ogala argued that the defendant had had cancer  patients who looked up to him for his service and would not be productive if remanded in prison.

He  also urged the court to use its discretion to grant the defendant bail adding that he appeared voluntarily in court after he had been served.

”I wish to say they the defendant, not withstanding, is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. I wish to infer to a similar  case of Olarewaju Jame. The charged were the same and the circumstances were the same.

“Even in the case of Nnamdi Kalu, who was charged with treason, the court still used its discretion  and granted him bail

“The defendant has reliable  sureties who are his professional colleagues, willing and ready  to put their profession on the line  to stand ad sureties for him.

“He has a leading cancer NGO and he has patients who look up to him.

“In view of this my lord, we urge this  honourable court to grant the defendant bail on liberal term,”

The prosecution team, led by the Director of the Public Prosecution (DPP,) Dr. Babajide Martins, in his counter affidavit dated Nov. 28, argued that the nature of the charge was serious enough  because it attracted life imprisonment.

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Martins argued that the complainant was the first wife of the defendant while the nominal complainant was the niece of the wife.

“My lord, what the prosecution is concerned about is the defendant has capability to travel at very short notice. We urge the court to have the defendant submit his Nigerian passport and British Passport well in the interest of Justice.

“More importantly  my lord, there is need for defence to present exceptional circumstances for the court to grant the defendant bail.

“If my lord is kind enough to grant him bail, we urge the court to be mindful that the defendant is not at flight risk and does not interfere with the prosecution witnesses.

“He should also make himself available for trial,” the prosecutor said.

Newsmen report that Oleleye is charged with a two-count charge of defilement and sexual assault by penetration.

He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Th prosecution submitted that the the defendant allegedly defiled the survivor by having unlawful sexual intercourse with her.

The defendant was alleged to have  committed the offence between February 2020 and November 2021 on Layi Ogunbambi Close, Maryland, Lagos.

It was alleged that the defendant sexually assaulted the survivor by penetrating her mouth with his penis.

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According to the prosecution, the alleged offence contravened Sections 137 and 261 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015. (NAN)

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