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)
Justice Ariwoola Becomes Third CJN in 7 Years
By Eze Okechukwu and Mathew Dadiya Abuja
President Muhammad Buhari yesterday at the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja swore in Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, to replace Bauchi-born Justice Tanko Mohammad who resigned from the position early yesterday on health grounds.
By the swearing in Chief Justice Ariwoola, who hails from Iseyin District of Oyo State becomes the third CJN in the seven years of President Buhari administration cumulatively in both in acting and substantive capacities.
Justice Ariwoola, born on August 22,1958 started out at the Local Authority Demonstration School, Oluwole in Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State between 1959 – 67. Afterwards, he proceeded to the Muslim Modern School in Iseyin between 1968-69, before going to Ansar – Ud – Deen High School, Saki in Oyo North District of Oyo State.
He studied Law at the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State where he bagged his bachelor of law’s degree with honours in July 1980. In July 1981, Ariwoola was called to the Nigeria Bar and he got enrolled at the Supreme Court of Nigeria as a Solicitor and Advocate soon after. The jurist served as a Justice of the Court of Appeal between 2005 -2011 in Kaduna, Enugu and Lagos divisions within the period. He was also a judge of the High Court of Oyo State, a position he was appointed to in 1992 from private legal practice.
Justice Ariwoola was the next most senior among the Supreme Court justices after the voluntarily retiring Justice Mohammad. Observers had watched out if the administration of President Buhari would flout orderly procedure in the appointment of Justice Mohammad’s replacement.
Former senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani had urged the government not to cut corners “in order to find a person who will fit into the political, sectional, religious or ethnic peg of the ruling establishment” but rather do the needful by following the established order for such appointments by the Apex Court.
Though the resignation of Justice Mohammad has been put down to Ill health, it’s in the public glare that crisis of monumental proportion has bedeviled the Supreme Court for a while now, leading to an allegation of corruption by 14 Justices of the Supreme Court against him. The allegations, which the justices conveyed in writing to Justice Mohammad captured non replacement of run down vehicles, accomodation challenges, epileptic power supply to the Supreme Court, lack of drugs at the Supreme Court clinic, increase in the electricity tariff, non- increase in the allowance for diesel, lack of internet services to residences and chambers.
But in a swift response to the allegations, Justice Mohammad through his media aide, Mr. Ahuraka Isah berated the fueding justices for taking the issue to the public realm; an action he likened to “dancing naked in the market square”. His spokesman would later advise the public that there’s no hostility or ill feelings among the justices of the Apex Court, adding that Justice Mohammad had held a meeting with the aggrieved justices to assuage their grievances.
Meanwhile, prior to the climax of the feud, Justice Ejembi Eko who retired from the Supreme Court on May 23,2022 had called on the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC and other investigative agencies in the country to probe and expose what he described as internal fraud in the management of the budgetary resources of the judiciary.
” The vandalization of the judiciary budget, despite increase of the budgetary allocation calls for investigations by the ICPC and other investigatory sgencies, “he said.
Similarly, Justice Walter Onnoghen who was forced out out of office by the President Buhari administration in 2019 and replaced with Justice Mohammad had at a book launch on June 16,2022 warned that the Supreme Court was gradually turning to “a glorified High Court”, owing to the ill treatment of the justices.
DAILY ASSET recalls that in a bid to restore calm and order at the Supreme Court,both the Body of Benchers and the Nigeria Senate, through the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters,as mandated by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan waded into the crisis “to as a matter of urgency intervene and bring normalcy to the troubled Apex Court.
CJN Tanko Mohammed Resigns￼
Mohammed resigned in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari swore in Mohammed as the acting CJN in January 2019 following the suspension and later sack of former CJN Walter Onnoghen.
CJN’s Special Assistant on Media, Isah Ahuraka, confirmed his resignation to the News Agency of Nigeria.
Justice Olukayode Ariwoola is the next most senior judge to Justice Mohammed following Justice Mary Odili retired on May 12 after attaining the retirement age of 70.
Mohammed’s resignation comes amid the corruption allegations leveled against him by some Supreme Court judges.
Fourteen Supreme Court judges in a protest memo accused Mohammed of not giving justices their legitimate entitlements.
The justices said their annual foreign training, meant to enhance capacity building for the country’s judicial process, had been blocked by Muhammad.
The main issues put forward by the justices in their letter through a welfare committee were; non-replacement of poor vehicles; accommodation problem; lack of drugs at the Supreme Court clinic; epileptic electricity supply to the Supreme Court; increase in electricity tariff; no increase in the allowances for diesel; lack of internet services to residences and chambers.
In response, Mohammed told the judges that the Supreme Court was cash-strapped and cannot grant their requests.
CJN noted that the Supreme Court, like any other establishment in the country, has been hit by a devastating economic crunch.
As a result, he said the leadership of the court under him could no longer meet some of its obligations to Justices, especially in the area of welfare.
He, however, said that the memo sent to him by the aggrieved Justices, notwithstanding, there is no rift between him and Justices of the apex court.
Reps Hail Supreme Court Judgment on Electoral Act
The House of Representatives has hailed the Supreme Court judgement which struck out the suit by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami seeking to void the provision of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.
Benjamin Kalu, the Spokesperson of the House gave the commendation while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.
The Supreme Court on June 24, ruled that the President lacked the power to direct the National Assembly to amend or enact an Act, adding that it violated the principle of separation of power.
According to the judgement, there is no part of the Constitution that makes the exercise of legislative power subject to the directive of the President.
Kalu l said that the House of Reps was happy with the Supreme Court judgement, adding that the House was not expecting anything less because the judges were erudite scholars.
“These are people who have followed the trend of event and understand the separation of power and the mandate of each arms of government.
“They understand that the separation of power is one of the tools of democracy and each arms focuses on the responsibilities of their mandate,” he said.
He said that the mandate of the House was law making with the intention of breaching a gap created in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that was not captured.
He said that the House of Reps could only do this by looking at Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Amendment Act.
“Although, many of you thought that it was either self-serving or targeted at individual but the law is made to advance our democracy, especially to increase the competitive elements in our democracy for credible election.’’
He added that the competitive element was necessary to advance the country’s democracy.
“This judgement is unequivocally embracing and heart-warming, it not a victory for the House of Reps but victory for the advancement of our democracy and the rule of law.
He described the judgement as victory for the supremacy of law making and the National Assembly.
“Let us celebrate this victory, the judiciary has added its own quota to the advancement of democracy, the Electoral Act, nation building is a joint task,” he said (NAN)
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