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JUDICIARY

Presidential Election Tribunal: Buhari, Atiku Know Fate Today

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Atiku, Buhari: The Looming Post-election Political Battles
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The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, yesterday fixed today, Sept.11 to deliver judgment in the petition filed by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar challenging president Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the Feb.

23 general election.

The Court of Appeal Public Relations Officer, Mrs Sadiat Kachalla, announced this in a notice of judgment  in Abuja.

The tribunal had Aug. 21 reserved judgment on the appeal after parties adopted their addresses.

Justice Mohammed Garba, Chairman of the five-man panel of justices had stated that the judgment date would be communicated to parties.

President Buhari was declared the winner of the election after scoring 15,191,847 votes as against Atiku’s 11, 262,978 votes.

While adopting his address, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Counsel for Buhari, had described the petition as a shame as it lacked substance and merit.

“I have handled a few electoral petition cases, this is one petition that yarns for help, for assistance and for evidence but could not get any.

“Apart from the hype the matter has generated, there is nothing in law to support the allegations before the tribunal,” Olanipekun said.

On the qualification of the president, Olanipekun said Section 131 (b) had settled that matter.

“I make bold to say that the Constitution and case laws had not compelled the candidates of the election to tendered certificates or attached same to INEC form before submission.

“The laws only mandate any person contesting election in the country to have gone to school up to Secondary School level,’’ he said.

On the issue of election results transmission by electronic means, the counsel said the use of such technology must be provided for in the Electoral Act.

“The allegation on the management of server by INEC is vague. Where is the server? This is a million dollar question that the petitioners could not substantiate.

“My Lords, this petition was not properly diagnosed, the action was ill-advised, I therefore urge the tribunal not to bow to sentiment or public opinion that does not represent the law.

“This petition is liable to be dismissed with a considerable cost’’, Olanipekun said.

On his part, Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, Counsel for All Progressive Congress (APC) said he could not help but take the liberty to align himself with the submissions made Olanipekun.

“My Lords it is disheartening to see that this petition still remains watery at this stage.

“The petition made allegations they could not proof. We have done a table showing how the petitioners have proven the case so far.

“The election took place in 119,976 Polling Units, 8,901 Wards in 774 Local Government Areas across the country.

“It is sad therefore to see that the petitioners only called 62 witnesses. Out of this figure, only five witnesses gave direct evidence of what happened in polling units on the day of election.

“I feel sad that this matter has been starved of evidence and therefore deserves to be dismissed,’’ Fagbemi said.

Also, Mr Yunus Usman, SAN, Counsel for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) urged the panel to uphold all of its objections raised against the admissibility of all pieces of documentary and oral evidence led by the petitioners.

Usman submitted that the electoral body conducted the Feb.23 presidential election in total compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

He also urged the panel to disregard the petitioners’ claims that the results of the election were transmitted electronically to a central server managed by INEC, adding that it was the “greatest lie of the century’’.

He submitted that it was laughable when the petitioners made pleadings that suggested that only the PDP and APC and their candidates contested the election.

Usman prayed the tribunal to take judicial notice of the fact that the Electoral Act 2010 prohibited the transmission of election results electronically.

According to him, the law only provides for manual transmission of election results.

Usman said that all the witnesses presented by the petitioners admitted to the fact that transmission of election results electronically had no placed in the country’s statute books at the moment.

In countering allegations that INEC abandoned its pleadings by not presenting witnesses, the counsel said the commission simply extracted salient pieces of evidence from the petitioners’ pleadings to solidify its defence.

“It would have amounted to wasting the time of the tribunal for us to call witnesses when the petitioners could not discharge the burden of proof on allegations they had made,’’ he said.

Usman thereafter prayed the court to dismiss the petition for lack of merit.

Meanwhile, Dr Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, Counsel for the petitioners urged the tribunal to discountenance the addresses of the respondents, adding that the petitioners had indeed discharged the burden of proof.

He said the tribunal must exercise its powers in good conscience to uphold the petition and return Abubakar as president.

Uzoukwu further said the second respondent (Buhari) was unable to present his Secondary School Certificate before the tribunal in order to rest the allegation.

“My Lords, we pray the panel to judiciously and judicially evaluate our evidence in context of whether we have justified our allegation against Buhari’s certificate or not.

On the issue of server, Uzoukwu said INEC had operated, activated and stored the Feb.23 election results in a centrally controlled server.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that the tribunal would have to rule on all pending interlocutory applications filed by parties before delivering judgment on the main appeal.

JUDICIARY

Man, 24, Jailed 6 Months for allegedly Stealing Canned Beer, Drinks

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An Abeokuta Magistrates’ Court on Friday sentenced a 24-year-old man, Wisdom Emmanuel, to six months imprisonment for stealing canned beer and other soft drinks valued N216,000.

The convict, whose address was not provided, was convicted on a one-count charge of stealing.

The Magistrate, Mrs B.

V Williams held that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt, while the defendant was guilty as charged.

She, however, sentenced Emmanuel to six months imprisonment without an option of fine.

Earlier, the Prosecution Counsel, Insp.Lawrence Olu-Balogun, told the court that the defendant committed the offence on May.

18 at about 2:30am at No 2 Olubara Road Housing Estate, Ibara in Abeokuta.

Olu-Balogun said that the convicts broke into the shop of one Mrs Taiwo Olayinka and stole different brands of can drinks, and cartons of Indomie

“Emmanuel entered the shop of the complainant at mid-night and stole one pack of canned Guinness valued N12,000, 12 pieces of Lord’s dry gin valued N18000, 12 pieces of canned Bullet valued N24,000.

“He also stole eight cartons of Indomie valued N64,000, five packs of Maltina valued N20,000, six pieces of Five Alive valued N18,000, six pieces of 33 canned beer valued N5000.

“12 pieces of Goldberg valued N12,000, twelve pieces of Legend Stout valued N12,000, two pieces of Coca-Cola valued N700, and a cash sum of N20,000 all valued N216,000,” he said.

He further explained that the convict was caught by the patrol team of the police, while some of the stolen items were recovered from him.

The prosecutor, however, said the offence contravened sections 383 and 390(9) of the Criminal Code Laws of Ogun 2006. (NAN) 

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JUDICIARY

Emirship tussle: Court rule against Kano govt, others challenging jurisdiction

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The Federal High Court sitting in Kano has on Thursday, ruled against Kano State government and others challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the issue of fundamental human rights instituted by a Kano traditional holder, Aminu Babba Dan’Agundi in connection with the Emirship tussle.

Recall that the applicant, who is the traditional title holder of Sarkin Dawaki Babba of Kano emirate, Aminu Babba Dan’Agundi had approached the court seeking for enforcement of his fundamental human rights claimed to have been violated by government action in the Emirship tussle.

The respondents in the suit are Kano State Government as 1st respondent, Kano State House of Assembly (2nd), Speaker of Kano State House of Assembly (3rd), Attorney General of Kano State (4th), Kano Commissioner of Police (5th), Inspector General of Police, IGP (6th), NSCDC and DSS as 7th and 8th respondents respectively.

Delivering the ruling on jurisdiction on Thursday, the presiding judge, Justice Abdullahi M. Liman, ruled that the court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter concerning the applicant’s fundamental human rights.

Justice Liman gave the ruling relying on Section 42 sub-section 1 and Section 315 of the 1999 constitution as amended.

However, reacting to the ruling, the Counsel to the 2nd and 3rd respondents, Ibrahim Isah Wangida, said he will meet with his client to decide the next line of action whether or not they will take the option to appeal the ruling in the Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, the judge, Justice Liman, adjourned the matter till Friday for hearing of all pending applications saying the case is too sensitive for it to be dragged for too long.

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LG Autonomy: S/Court Reserves Judgement on FG’s Suit against 36 Govs

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By Lubem Myeorny, Abuja

The Supreme Court yesterday reserved judgment in a suit filed by the Federal Government against the governors of the 36 states of the federation over alleged misconduct in the administration of Local Government Areas.

Justice Garba Lawal, who led a seven-member panel of Justices of the apex court reserved judgment after all parties, adopted their various written addresses earlier.

Lawal said the date for judgment will be communicated later.

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, had on behalf of the federal government sued the 36 states over the manner the governors are running the LGs funds.

In the suit marked SC/CV/343/2024, the AGF prayed the apex court for an order prohibiting state governors from unilateral, arbitrary and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected local government executives.

Fagbemi in the originating summons is praying the Supreme Court for an order permitting the funds standing in the credits of local governments to be directly channelled to them from the Federation Account in line with the provisions of the Constitution as against the alleged unlawful joint accounts created by governors.

He also sought an order of the apex court stopping governors from constituting caretaker committees to run the affairs of local governments as against the constitutionally recognised and guaranteed democratic system.

He applied for an order of injunction restraining the governors, their agents, and privies from receiving, spending, or tampering with funds released from the federation account for the benefit of local governments when no democratically elected local government system is put in place.

Fagbemi asked the apex court to invoke sections 1, 4, 5, 7, and 14 of the constitution to declare that the state governors and State Houses of Assembly are under obligation to ensure a democratic system at the third tier of government.

The suit also wants the apex court to invoke the same sections to hold that the governors cannot lawfully dissolve democratically elected local government councils.

In a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the originating summons deposed to by Kelechi Ohaeri from the AGF’s office, Fagbemi averred that he filed the suit under the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on behalf of the federal government.

The deponent asserted that the local government system recognised by the constitution is a democratically elected local government council and that the amount due to local government councils from the federation account is to be paid to the local government system recognised by the constitution.

That the governors represent the component states of the Federation with Executive Governors who have also sworn to uphold the Constitution and to, at all times, give effect to the Constitution, and that the Constitution, being the supreme law, has binding force all over the Federation of Nigeria.

Other prayers include: that the constitution of Nigeria recognises federal, state, and local governments as three tiers of government, and that the three recognised tiers of government draw funds for their operation and functioning from the Federation Account created by the Constitution.

By the provisions of the Constitution, there must be a democratically elected local government system, and the Constitution has not made provisions for any other systems of governance at the local government level other than a democratically elected local government system.

In the face of the clear provisions of the Constitution, the governors have failed and refused to put in place a democratically elected local government system, even where no state of emergency has been declared to warrant the suspension of democratic institutions in the state.

The failure of the governors to put a democratically elected local government system in place is a deliberate subversion of the 1999 Constitution, which they and the President have sworn to uphold.

Fagbemi also said that all efforts to make the governors comply with the dictates of the 1999 Constitution in terms of putting in place a democratically elected local government system have not yielded any result.

The AGF said that the federal government continued to disburse funds from the Federation Account to the governors for non-existing democratically elected local governments to undermine the sanctity of the 1999 Constitution.

He averred that in the face of the violations of the 1999 Constitution, the federal government is not obligated, under Section 162 of the Constitution, to pay any state funds standing to the credit of local governments where no democratically elected local government is in place. 

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