From Abdulgafar Oladimeji, Kano
The petitioners and respondents in the legal tussle over the 2019 governorship elections in Kano state on Wednesday, adopted their final defense before the gubernatorial Election Tribunal presided by Justice Halima Shamaki sittiing at Miller road Court complex.
Abba Kabiru Yusuf(1st petitioner) alongside Peoples Democratic party(PDP)(2nd petitioner) had dragged Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) (1st respondent)Abdullahi Umar Ganduje(2nd respondent) All Progressives Congress(APC)(3rd respondent) challenging the declaration of Ganduje as the winner of Kano governorship election.
The respondents in their final written addresses urged the court to dismiss the pleadings made by the petitioners, stating that the petitioners have failed to discharge the burden on proof.
The respondents further urged the court that the exhibits that were tendered from the bar by the petitioners were not Certified True Copies (CTC) therefore prayed the tribunal to dismiss the petition. In its entirety.
Counsel to the 1st respondent(INEC) Ahmed Raji(SAN) told the court that the issues raised by the petitioners were bankrupt in merit and argued that the petition lacked the fertility of life.
Raji(SAN) submitted that , Abba Kabiru failed to produce direct evidence to substantiate his claims that INEC wrongfully declared his opponent, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje as the winner of the poll, arguing that the electoral act was strict on the petitioners appealing to the tribunal to on this grounds dismiss the petition.
Abdullahi Umar Ganduje(2nd respondent) responding to the petition filed against his gubernatorial victory before the tribunal said the petitioners failed to produce results that were contrary to that which was declared by INEC.
Ganduje through his counsel, Offiong Offiong(SAN) submitted that, Abba Kabiru invoked presumptions in attempt to prove to the court that he was duly elected as Kano state governor, praying the court to dismiss the claims made by the petitioners.
The 3rd respondent, All progressive Congress, APC also in its defense told the tribunal that the petitioners in their claims made an unlawful translation of the provisions of the law.
The respondents through its counsel Alex Iziyon(SAN) further said the petitioners failed to tender voters register that indicate the number of voters, who voted and number of votes scored to substantiate their claim as winners of the elections.
According to him, INEC posses the inherent jurisdiction to cancel elections and proceed to order for a rerun, arguing that on March 9th 2019 INEC acted rightly by declaring the Kano state governorship election as inconclusive.
Iziyon(SAN) further argued that the petitioners in their claims to election victory acted in contrast to the provisions of the law by presenting Pink Copies result sheets, explaining that jurisprudence has transited from submission of Pink Copies to another stage, on this ground he pray the court to dismiss the petition and uphold the emergence of All Progressive Congress, APC and its candidate Abdullahi Umar Ganduje as winner of the election.
Responding to the submissions made by the respondent, counsel to the petitioners, Kanu Agabi(SAN) urged the court to ignore the response from the respondents on the issues raised.
Agabi(SAN) said on the 9th of March 2019 elections were held and results were announced, adding that Abba Kabiru Yusuf of the PDP scored the highest number of votes unfortunately INEC refused to declare PDP as the winner of that election.
He argued that the rerun election held on the March 23 was null and void, stressing that therefore the results from the rerun, which declared Abdullahi Umar Ganduje as duly elected Kano state governor was null and void, that the court should declare the results of March 9, 2019 as the valid results and return PDP and its candidate, Abba Kabiru Yusuf as the winner of the election, urging the tribunal to so hold.
DAILY ASSET observed that anxiety, apprehension and palpable fears have enveloped the ancient city of Kano as residents are gripped under the fear of the likely outcome of the legal battle between both political giants.
It would be recalled that at the height of the court proceedings, the chairman of the tribunal Justice Halima Shamaki reacting to the tense atmosphere that had trailed the proceeding threatened to relocate the tribunal from Kano to Abuja.
Throughout the proceedings, heavily armed security operatives were stationed at strategic positions as they disallowed hundreds of party faithful who were usually eager to gain entrance into the court complex to witness the epic legal battle.
In her ruling, Justice Shamaki said the tribunal would communicate to the parties, concerned the date that the final judgment would be delivered
Alleged N320m Fraud: Rep Mutu’s Defence Opening Suffers Setback
The plan by Rep Nicolas Mutu (Delta-PDP) to open his defence, on Wednesday, in the alleged N320 million money laundering charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) suffered setback at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The matter, which was listed as number one on the cause list before Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo, could not proceed due to the Ill-health of Mutu’s counsel, Patrick Ikwueto, SAN.
Reports says that the EFCC had, in the 13-count amended charge, sued Mutu along with Airworld Technologies Ltd and Oyien Homes Ltd as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.
In the second amended charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/123/2019, dated Nov.22, 2021 and filed Nov. 23, 2021, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the counts.
Mutu waa alleged to have committed the alleged offences between Aug. 2014 and Aug. 2016 when he served as the chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
In the charge, he was accused of procuring “Airworld Technologies Ltd to conceal of the sum of N320,159, 689.63 to be paid by Starline Consultancy Services Ltd” when he ought to have known that the said sum formed part of proceeds of corruption, gratification and fraudulent acquisition of property.
When the matter was called on Wednesday, Mutu, who represents Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency of Delta was in court but his lawyer, Ikwueto, was conspicuously absent and no lawyer represented him in the courtroom.
However, counsel for the 2nd defendant, J.O. Asoluga, SAN, was in court.
The EFCC’s lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho, informed the court that the matter was scheduled for the defendants to enter their defence but that he was in receipt of a letter earlier in the morning from Ikwueto who had been appearing for Mutu and the 3rd defendant that he was indisposed.
Iheanacho said in the letter, a medical report from University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, was also attached.
The lawyer said Ikwueto, in the letter, sought an adjournment of the case and also for the court to vacate tomorrow (Feb. 22)’s date to enable him attend to his health.
Iheanacho said he would reluctantly conceded to adjournment on the ground of Ill-health.
He, however, felt bad that the two days scheduled for the trial would be vacated even when the court had deliberately listed only two matters on the course list to enable the case progress since the judge comes from outside jurisdiction.
Counsel for the 2nd defendant, J.O. Asoluga, SAN, said he had no objection to the application for adjournment.
Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo consequently adjourned the matter until March 20 and March 21 for the defendants to open their defence.
Reports says that the judge had, on Jan. 22, fixed Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 for Mutu to open his defence after his no-case submission was dismissed by the court.
Giwa-Ogunbanjo, in a ruling, directed Mutu and his co-defendants to enter their defence as they have a case to answer in respect of the allegations made against them.(NAN)
Surety Faces N500,000 Bail Bond Forfeiture Charge
A 47-year-old man, Ogbonna Anoka, who allegedly stood surety for a church member, but failed to produce him in court as required, on Tuesday appeared before a Sabo-Yaba Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos.
Anoka, whose house address was not given, entered a ‘not-guilty’ plea to a charge of perversion of justice.
The Prosecutor, Insp.Magaji Haruna, told the court that Anoka committed the offence on Jan. 26, at the State Criminal Investigation Department, M.A.K Smith St., Panti, Yaba, Lagos.
Haruna alleged that the defendant conspired with one other person to obstruct and pervert the course of justice.
“The defendant stood as a surety for one Nonso Onyekwelu, a church member, who was involved in a case of conspiracy and receiving stolen property reported at the station.
“Onyekwelu was granted bail and released to the defendant, who promised to produce him at the station until the case is finally disposed off.
“The accused is hereby called upon to show cause why the sum of N500,000 bond executed by him should not be forfeited,” the prosecutor said.
The offence, Haruna said, contravenes Section 97 (3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
Reports says that the Section 97 provides seven years imprisonment for perversion of justice, while sub section (3) provides two years imprisonment.
The Magistrate, Mrs O. Y. Adefope, granted bail to the accused in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum.
The case was adjourned until Feb. 21 for mention (NAN)
Court Discharges Sowore, Bakare, Orders DSS to Release Seized Items
A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, discharged Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare of alleged treasonable felony charge by the Attorney-General.of the Federation (AGF), Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN.
Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling after counsel for the AGF, A.R. Tahir, withdrew the charge, struck out the matter.
Justice Nwite also ordered the Department of State Service (DSS) to immediately release three phones and the sum of N10, 000 seized from Sowore during his arrest.
The judge also ordered the DSS to release a phone belonging to Bakare and the sum of N1, 500 confiscated from him during his arrest.
Justice Nwite equally ordered that Sowore’s international passport be released.
The orders followed an application by lawyer to Sowore and Bakare, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, to tye effect.
Reports says that Sowore and Bakare were earlier arraigned before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu in 2019 before the matter was reassigned to Nwite.(NAN)
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