Melaye: Appeal Court Reserves Judgment in Senatorial Dispute Suit
The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Tuesday, reserved judgment in three separate appeals filed by Sen. Dino Melaye challenging his election victory that was quashed in August by the National Assembly election petitionS tribunal.
The three appeals were filed by the PDP and Melaye, praying the appellate court to set aside the majority decision of the tribunal which voided the election of Melaye of Kogi West Senatorial District.
Justice Abubakar Datti Yahaya, who presided over the three appeals announced that a date for judgment delivery would be communicated to parties as soon as it is fixed.
PDP, represented by Jubrin Okutepa, SAN, in his final argument prayed the appeal court to set aside the majority decision of the tribunal against Melaye on the ground of denial of fair hearing and refusal to evaluate evidence adduced during the hearing.
The party claimed that the tribunal failed to evaluate the testimonies of its witnesses while no reference was made to all the documentary evidence it supplied before the tribunal came to a wrong conclusion of over voting, even when the petitioner did not tender voter register.
PDP further claimed that the tribunal turned the head of natural justice upside down when it based over voting used in cancelling the senatorial election on the number of collected permanent voter cards rather than voter register as required by law.
PDP therefore urged the three-man panel of justices to invoke section 16 of the Court of Appeal Act and dismiss the petition for lacking in merit.
In the second appeal filed by INEC, through its lawyer, Kola Olowookere, the Appeal Court was urged to dismiss the allegation of mutilation of election result and favouring a particular candidate as alleged by the petitioner, Senator Smart Adeyemi and the All Progressives Congress APC.
The electoral body argued that finding of over voting by the tribunal was wrong and baseless because the voter register and result of election in 2015 tallied with the result in the disputed area.
INEC alleged that the tribunal did not evaluate the exhibits it tendered to prove that there was no over voting and pleaded that appeal be allowed.
The third appeal filed by Dino Melaye and argued by Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, urged the Appeal Court to set aside the over voting decision of the tribunal because it was based on hearsay instead of polling units agents’ results
The senior counsel, drew the attention of the Justices to the fact that only three witnesses were called, adding that the evidence of the three witnesses based on hearsay cannot justify the cancellation of the senatorial election.
Melaye’s counsel further submitted that mutilation of result sheet was untenable because the final result of the senatorial election was endorsed by agents of the candidates and the parties, and that the petitioners failed to establish that the alleged mutilated result substantially affected the final result collation.
However, Sen. Smart Adeyemi and the All Progressives Congress (APC) opposed the arguments of the appellants and pleaded with the appellate court to dismiss the three appeals because appellants were not denied fair hearing and that the tribunal based its findings on over voting on the report of INEC which comprehensively contained the number of collected voter cards unit by unit.
Adeyemi and APC through their counsel, Adekunle Otitoju, argued that INEC breached an order of the federal high court to the effect that the senatorial election result must be collated and announced in Kabba, the senatorial district headquarters and not in Lokoja as done by the electoral body.
They alleged that while their agents were in Kabba waiting for the collation, the INEC officials and agents of the appellants allegedly colluded and secretly moved the result collation to Lokoja where the result sheets were allegedly mutilated to favour Melaye.
They also insisted that mutilation of results, dated Feb. 25 instead of Feb.23, was so apparent and that over voting was so established to the tune of over 48,000 votes.
They therefore urged the court to dismiss the appeals and uphold the majority decision of the tribunal. (NAN)
Tribunal: Atiku Accuses INEC of Blocking Access to Documents
The legal team of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday said it was denied access to electoral documents by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), despite paying N6 million.
The team is requesting the documents as exhibits, to tender before the presidential election petition tribunal, to prove its case against the victory of President Bola Tinubu in the last election.
Eyitayo Jegede, lead counsel to Abubakar, told the five-man tribunal yesterday that INEC’s refusal to provide the documents is frustrating the PDP candidate’s case.
Jegede had sought to tender results from 10 out of 21 LGAs in Kogi state to prove the former vice-president’s case against Tinubu.
The LGAs whose results were sought to be tendered are Ankpa, Dekina, Idah, Ofu, Olamaboro, Yagba East, Yagba West, Kabba-Bunu, and Igalamela Odolu.
Jegede said the team had to subpoena INEC officials to provide the required documents before the tribunal.
However, Haruna Tsammani, chairman of the tribunal, said the court would have difficulty marking and numbering the documents as exhibits, adding that it was insensitive to tender such sensitive documents piecemeal.
Jegede sought adjournment of the case to enable his team to get the required documents from INEC.
The commission, represented by Abubakar Mahmoud, did not object to Jegede’s request for adjournment.
Also, Wole Olanipekun, Tinubu’s lawyer and Lateef Fagbemi, counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC), did not oppose the request for adjournment of the case.
Tsammani subsequently adjourned the case to June 7.
Tinubu, the standard bearer of the APC, was declared the winner of the February 25 election with 8,794,726 votes.
The outcome of the election is being challenged by Abubakar and Peter Obi, flagbearer of the Labour Party (LP).
Court Dismisses Suit Against Tinubu over 25% FCT Votes
A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed the suit filed by five residents of the federal capital territory (FCT), who sought to stop the inauguration of Bola Tinubu as president.
Inyang Ekwo, the presiding judge, yesterday, ordered the lawyer representing the five residents to pay the sum of N10 million each to the attorney-general of the federation and the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
Ekwo held that the plaintiffs have no locus standi to file the suit.
The presiding judge also said the suit can only be filed at the presidential election petition tribunal and not the federal high court.
The plaintiffs had averred that Tinubu failed to secure at least 25 percent of votes cast in the FCT.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/578/2023 was filed on April 28.
The plaintiffs — Anyaegbunam Okoye, David Adzer, Jeffrey Ucheh, Osang Paul and Chibuike Nwanchukwu — sued for themselves and on behalf of other residents and registered voters in the FCT.
They had asked the court to determine “whether or not the person who is to be elected president of the federal republic of Nigeria, and consequently administrator of the FCT through the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and the Federal Capital Territory Development Authority, on the first ballot is required by section 134(2)(b) of the Constitution to obtain at least 25% of the votes cast in the FCT”.
The plaintiffs also wanted a declaration extending former President Buhari’s tenure, while also asking the court to set aside the certificate of return issued to Tinubu and restrain the CJN and any other judicial officer from swearing him in.
Election Tribunal: APC Agents Disrupt Results Upload in Rivers –Atiku’s Witness
Abiye Sekibo, a witness of Atiku Abubakar, has told the presidential election petition court that “agents of the APC” attacked voters and truncated the electronic transmission of election results in Rivers state.
Sekibo, who was PDP’s coordinator during the February 25 presidential election in Rivers, said officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were prevented from using the bimodal voters’ accreditation system (BVAS) to upload results collated from polling units across the state.
“The agents of the 2nd respondent (Mr Tinubu) and 3rd respondent (APC) ensured that INEC presiding officers did not upload results of the presidential election in Rivers,” Sekibo told the court.
Meanwhile, Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, had blamed the inability of the commission to upload results from polling units on “technical glitches”.
During cross-examination by Akin Olujinmi, Tinubu’s lawyer, Sekibo said he voted at his polling unit at Okrika LGA of the state.
Lateef Fagbemi, APC’s lawyer, in his cross-examination, asked Sekibo how he traced the identities of the agents to APC.
Responding, Sekibo said he witnessed several results collation in 20 out of the over 600 polling units across the state, adding that he deduced the agents’ identities from their violent actions.
Sekibo, who is Atiku’s seventh witness to testify before the five-member panel headed by Haruna Tsammani, said “we tried to get to Obiakpor Local Government Area but were prevented. There was violence and people were being killed”.
Bola Tinubu, the standard bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was declared winner of the February 25 election with 8,794,726 votes.
The outcome of the election is being challenged by Abubakar, standard bearer of the PDP; and Peter Obi, standard bearer of the Labour Party (LP).
Obi Tenders Evidence from Eight States Against Tinubu
This is after the petitioner (Obi) tendered more evidences from eight states.
Since Tuesday, May 30, the Tribunal has been hearing petitions challenging the
Obi; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar; and the Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM) are the petitioners.
On the other hand, the respondents include the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Tinubu, Vice-President Kashim Shettima, and the APC.
According to results declared by INEC, Tinubu, 71, got 8,794,726 votes, 76-year-old Atiku polled 6,984,520 votes and Obi, 61, finished the race with 6,101,533.
This was the first presidential election to deploy the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), an electronic system for accrediting voters before voting and transmitting results to the INEC server, as well as the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV).
I Signed Nasarawa Result Sheet Under Duress – PDP Witness
A witness of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ibrahim Hamza, told the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, on Monday that he signed the election results of Nasarawa State under duress.
The witness said this at the continuation of the hearing of a petition filed by Atiku Abubakar and his party, PDP.
They are challenging the Feb. 25 presidential election results, which brought President Bola Tinubu to power as a duly elected president.
Respondents in the petition marked CA/PEPC/05/2023 are Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President Bola Tinubu, and All Progressives Congress (APC).
Hamza, who is the 10th witness called by the PDP, said he is a human resources consultant and represented PDP as Nasarawa collation officer.
During cross-examination by the counsel for INEC, Abubakar Mahmoud, the witness told the court that he signed the results under duress.
“I did not state this in my witness statement of oath because I knew a day like this would come.
The results were altered after I appended my name and signed.
“Due process was not followed. I had to sign to obtain a copy of the results because there was this intimidation that if I did not sign, I would not be given the result,” he said.
He said that he voted, but the results were not uploaded because the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) failed. (NAN)
10th NASS: Court Stops EFCC, ICPC, DSS From Detaining ex-Gov. Yari
A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, restrained the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) from detaining Sen. Abdul’aziz Yari pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
Justice Donatus Okorowo, who gave the order in a ruling he delivered on an ex-parte motion moved by Michael Aondoaaa on Yari’s behalf, also stopped the Department of State Services (DSS) from detaining the senator-elect.
Justice Okorowo, hence, ordered the the respondents (EFCC, ICPC, DSS) to show cause in the next adjourned date on why the prayers sought on the motion ex-parte should not be granted.
“The respondents are however restrained from detaining the applicant until the return date for the order to show cause,” he ruled.
The consequently adjourned the matter until June 8 for the respondents to show cause.
Yari, the former Zamfara governor, had though his team of lawyers which include Abdul Kohol but led by Mr Aondoaaa, filed the ex-parte motion marked: FHC/ANJ/CS/785/23.
In the motion dated and filed on June 2, Yari sued the EFCC, ICPC and DSS as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.
The former governor prayed the court for an order, restraining the respondents, their officials, whosoever and howsoever described from arresting and/or threatening to arrest and detain him in order to prevent him from participating at the Proclamation of the 10th Senate by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on June 13.
Yari, who gave 15 grounds on why the application should be granted, averred that he was desirous of contesting the position of the president of the Senate of the 10th National Assembly in accordance with the 1999 Constitution (as amended), and pursuant to the Senate Standing Orders 2022 as (amended).
He said his aspiration to contest the position of President of the Senate had received overwhelming support from the general public and amongst distinguished senators-elect irrespective of party affiliations.
He said the support which the applicant has continued to garner across party lines has drawn consternation from some members of his political party, the APC who have allegedly resorted to using the respondents and their agents to harass and threaten to arrest and detain the applicant on trumped-up charges for the period leading to the First Sitting of the Senate when nominations and election of presiding officers shall be constituted.
“The respondents and their agents have threatened to violate the applicant’s rights as enshrined in the constitution by unlawfully threatening to arrest and detain the applicant.
“The respondents and their agents are mandated to operate within the ambit of their establishment laws, and to respect the fundamental human rights of the Applicant as enshrined in the Constitution,” he said.
Yari said if the order was not given, his rights would have been breached by the respondents.(NAN)
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