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.
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.
Court rejects no-case submission of woman charged with N110m fraud
An Ikeja Special Offences Court on Wednesday rejected the no-case submission of a woman, Portia Emilia, charged with N110 million fraud.
Justice Olubunmi Abike-Fadipe, in her ruling, held that the prosecution had established prima facie against the defendant on the amended five-count charge bordering on stealing and fraud.
“I am satisfied that the prosecution has established a prima facie case, which the defendants are called upon to answer.
“The no-case submission is hereby overruled, and the defendants are called upon to enter their defence,” Abike-Fadipe said.
She adjourned until Jan. 18 2024 for the defendant to open her defence.
Emilia was arraigned on Aug.16, 2022 alongside her company, Savanah Crest Investment Ltd, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).
The defendant had pleaded not guilty to the charges leveled against her.
The EFCC counsel, Mr Franklin Ofoma, alleged the defendant stole the money from one Mrs Wendy Daniel and converted it to her personal use.
The prosecution had called two witnesses, tendered several documents and closed its case on March 16.
Defence had filed a no-case submission, arguing that with the evidence adduced by the EFCC, his client had no case to answer.
According to the prosecution, the alleged offences contravened the Criminal Laws of Lagos State (2015) and the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Fraud Offences Act 2006.
Police Parade Suspected Killers of Former Benue Judge
By David Trough, Abuja
The Benue State Police Command has paraded four suspects in connection to the murder of Retired Justice Margaret Igbetar, who was murdered in August this year.
State Commissioner of Police, Bartholomew Onyeka who disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Makurdi on Tuesday said the suspects have since confessed to the crime.
According to him, among those who were arrested was a nephew to the deceased, Aondohemba Joseph, adding that Joseph had alleged that Justice Igbetar was holding his father’s property which should have been bestowed on him, but she (Justice Igbetar) had refused to relinquish the said property.
Onyeka said, “You will recall that on 24th August 2023, a case of Culpable Homicide involving the late Justice Margaret Mary Igbetar (rtd) was reported and I had promised to ensure that Justice is served. One Aondohemba Joseph, a nephew of the deceased was arrested immediately.
“A more detailed and advanced investigation started when the case was transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) and handed over to the Operation Zenda investigative team to continue.
The suspect who eventually confessed to having planned and recruited other people to help him in killing his Aunty (Justice Igbetar) led a team of detectives to Adikpo, in Kwande Local Government Area of the state where more suspects were arrested including, Igbazenda Gbidye, 63yrs old and Dzungwenen Ukor, 40yrs old.
“These suspects admitted that Aondohemba Joseph had reported to them that his father died and left so much property in the hands of his aunty (the deceased) and she has refused to hand the said property over to him. They agreed to join him in eliminating her so that he could have access to his property.
“One Akuhwa Barnabas, 32yrs old, a driver to the deceased who was also arrested, corroborated their statements by admitting that he was the one who allowed the gang access to the house and manned the gate for them until they finished the assassination process”, the State Commissioner of Police stated.
Onyeka said commended the people of the state for their patience and cooperation adding that the command would continue to do its best to rid the state of crime
CJN Swear in 23 Federal High Court Judges, Wednesday
Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Olukayode Ariwoola will swear in the newly appointed 23 Judges of the Federal High Court on Wednesday.
A statement by the Director of Press and Information of the Supreme Court, Dr. Festus Akande on Sunday said, the Judges will be sworn in at 11:00 am at the main courtroom of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The new Judges according to the statement are: Dipeolu Deinde Isaac from Ogun State; Ogundare Kehinde Olayiwola from Ekiti State; Agbaje Olufunmilola Adetutu from Lagos State; Musa Kakaki from Kaduna State; Abdullahi Muhammad Dan-Ige from Sokoto State; and Sharon Tanko Ishaya from Kebbi State.
Others are: Salim Olasupo Ibrahim from Ogun State; Yilwa Hauwa Joseph from Gombe State; Wigwe-Oreh Chituru Joy from Rivers State; Owoeye Alexander Oluseyi from Kogi State; Anyalewa Onoja-Alapa from Benue State; Amina Aliyu Mohammad from Katsina State; Abiodun Jordan Adeyemi from Kwara State; Hauwa Buhari from Federal Capital Territory; and Aishatu Auta Ibrahim from Borno State.
The rest according to the statement are Hussaini Dadan-Garba from Bauchi State; Ibrahim Ahmad Kala from Gombe State; Mashkur Salisu from Zamfara State; Onah Chigozie Sergius from Enugu State; Egbe Raphael Joshua from Bayelsa State; Ariwoola Olukayode Jnr. from Oyo State; Ekerete Udofot Akpan from Akwa Ibom State; and Ogazi Friday Nkemakonam from Ebonyi State.
Akande also said, a valedictory Court session will be held on Tuesday, 10th October, 2023, in honour of the late Justice Chima Centus Nweze at the main courtroom of the Supreme Court at 10:00 am.
As customary, he said, the Chief Justice of Nigeria will preside over the session which will, among other things, feature the presentation of tributes by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Chairman of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) and President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), in honour of the departed Jurist.
It will be recalled that Justice Nweze died on Saturday, July 29, 2023 in Abuja after a brief illness at the age of 64 years. He was sworn-in as Justice of the Supreme Court on October 29, 2014.
The late Justice of the Supreme Court was born in Obollo, Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State on 25th September 1958 and attended St. John Cross Seminary, Nsukka from 1972 to 1977.
He gained admission into the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus in 1979 where he graduated with a Degree in Law in 1983. In the same year, he represented the Law Faculty and, indeed, all Nigerian Law Faculties, at the Philip Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Washington DC, as the Chief Oraclist.
His Lordship did his NYSC between 1984 and 1985 in Bauchi, after being called to the Nigerian Bar in 1984. He equally had his Doctorate Degree in Law from the same University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus.
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