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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)

JUDICIARY

Alia Signs Executive Order to Monitor Public Behaviour in Benue 

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Gov. Hyacinth Alia of Benue has signed an Executive Order establishing the Department of Public Order in the Ministry of Justice to coordinate government policies and matters relating to public order.

Performing the ceremony on Friday in Makurdi, Alia said the order was in pursuant of section 14 sub-section (2) of the 1999 constitution and section 10 of the Public Order Act, CAP 382 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He said he inherited a state characterised by widespread criminality and political violence such as kidnappings, murders, intimidation against targeted groups or individuals leading to emergence of local war lords and militia groups.

Represented by the Deputy Governor, Sam Ode, Alia said that those who breach the public rules would pay fines between N20,000 and N500,000 or be imprisoned, depending on the gravity of the offence.

He said the order prohibits all acts of violence, disobedience, lawlessness, and called for strict adherence to it.

“Apart from the grave state of insecurity highlighted above, my administration inherited indiscipline and disorderly public conducts which had been accepted by many citizens as norms, rather than aberrations.

“Incidences of disobedience to traffic light, wrong parking of cars, indiscriminate disposal of waste, loitering at late hour, will all attract penalties,” he said

Justifying the signing of the executive order, Alia said the act was to assist in maintaining law and order in the state.

He said the state was facing several security issues and needed to adopt her own measures in collaboration with security agencies and stakeholders to have a peaceful and harmonious home for all.

“Public order, as you know, is no doubt within the domain of the security agencies and law enforcement agencies which make up the criminal justice system in our country,” he pointed out.

Alia said the executive order reaffirms government’s stand against crime and against disorder.

”We are sending a clear message to those who seek to destroy the peace and harmony of our state.

“We will not tolerate violence, vandalismand any form criminal behaviour in the State,” he warned.

He announced the establishment of a Public Order Advisory Committee with the mandate to advise government on policies, restoration, attainment, preservation and maintenance of Public Order and safety in the state.

He said a Public Order Committee had been established to operate in all the local government areas by collaborating with the advisory committee and other stakeholders for the enforcement of the prescribed public order laws.

Earlier, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Public Order, Mr Fidelis Mnyim, had said that all over the world, there is a law where there is order.

Mnyim explained that the observance of law always go together with public order which is the core responsibility of all governments.

“The duty and responsibility of government is for the protection of lives and property which manifests by way of observance of law and order.

“Section 10 of the public order act has permitted the governor to make such orders.

”Some of the issues that you may see in the public order are in the realm of morality, but, like I said, the section has permitted the governor to do that,” he said.

NAN reports that the order also prohibited extorting money from developers, building on water channels or structures, kiosks, shanties on the right of way, hawking or selling of goods of any kind by the road side.

NAN also reports that the order also prohibits farming on empty unfenced plots of land or in front of any premises or on the street, or by the road side within urban areas.

It also forbids farming on undeveloped areas of Government Offices, Quarters or reserved areas.

It said rallies, wakes and other forms of public gatherings should not hold beyond the hours of 10:pm.

It insisted that any person or group wishing to hold gathering beyond 10 p.m. must seek and obtain permit from the Department of Public Order at the Ministry of Justice.(NAN)

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JUDICIARY

Court Adjourns Alleged Forgery Suit Against Ex-NIRSAL MD

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A Federal High Court, Abuja has adjourned a suit filed by the police against Mr Aliyu Abdulhameed, former Managing Directing, Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) Plc, over alleged document forgery until June 8.

Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned the case after prosecuting counsel, CSP Celestine Odo, sought an adjournment to enable them out their house in order.

When the matter was called, Odo said though the matter was slated for trial commencement, the prosecution was constraint to ask for further date.

Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, counsel for Abdulhameed and his co-defendant, Babangida Abdullahi, did not oppose the application for adjournment.

Justice Ekwo subsequently adjourned the matter until June 8, June 9 and June 10 for trial commencement.

Reports says that Abdulhameed and Abdullahi were arraigned on March 13 on a 10-count charge before the judge but pleaded not guilty to the counts.

They were, however, admitted to terms of administrative bail earlier granted to them by the police.

NAN reports that the criminal charge, dated and filed Nov. 28, 2023, was marked: FHC)ABJ/CR/555/2023.

In the charge signed by Odo, Legal/Prosecution Section of the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, the defendants, and others now at large, were alleged to have, about Oct. 23, 2023, conspired among themselves to commit an offence of forgery.

In count two, the defendants, and others now at large, sometime in Oct. 23, 2023, were alleged to have conspired among themselves to commit the offence.

The offences are said to be contrary to Section 3(6) and punishable under Section 1(2){c} of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010.

NAN reports that former President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Dec. 1, 2022, fired Abdulhammed on allegations of corruption bordering on agric loans.

NIRSAL, a $500m non-bank financial institution, is a creation of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) mandated to manage agribusiness-related credit risks in Nigeria.(NAN)

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JUDICIARY

 I Wasn’t in my Right Mind when I Made Divorce Pronouncement, Man Tells Court

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A businessman, Kabiru Musa, who was dragged to an Upper Shari’a Court ,Tudun Wada, Kaduna State by his wife , Murja Abdullahi has denied making three divorce pronouncement on her.

Musa denied the divorce, saying he was not in his right mind after two of the couple ‘s neighbours testified that they heard him make the pronouncement.

One of the witnesses, Hauwa Umar, a housewife said that the couple was arguing in the compound when the husband made the three divorce pronouncement.

Earlier, the complainant had brought the matter to court for divorce confirmation.

The Judge, Malam Iliyasu Umar adjourned the matter until May  26 for ruling.(NAN)

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