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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

Forex: Court Strikes out Charge Against 19 BDC Operators

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Justice Lewis Allagoa of a Federal High Court in Lagos, on Monday, struck out the charge against 19 Bureau De Change (BDC) Operators, following the withdrawal of the case.

The suspects are Ibrahim Jubril, Abdullahi Abubakar, Ibrahim Hassan, Adamu Isiaka, Ibrahim Abdulrahman, Jubril Hassan, Mohammed Isoaka, Mohammed Aminu and Adamu Ibrahim.

Others  are Hassan Amadu, Salisu Hamidu, Mahmoud Mohammed, Murtala Usman, Hassan Yakubu, Abdullahi Kabiru, Ali Sadam.

Ahmadu Yusuf, Abdullahi Hussain and Alhaji Sido.

The defendants were charged with conspiracy, unlawfull operation of forex trading as BDC operators without licence from regulatory agencies and deriving various sums of money from such unauthorised trading.

They were said to have committed the offence around Feb. 21, within the Lagos metropolis.

When the case was called, Mr Umaru Bello, from the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Panti announced appearance for the prosecution.

The prosecutor, shortly after his announcement, informed the court that he seeks to withdraw the charge against the defendants.

He told the court that he received a call from his superiors in the office to withdraw the case.

He told the court that he would not be proceeding with the arraignment of the suspects.

Justice Allagoa accordingly, struck out the charge.

The police had earlier said that the offence contravenes the provisions of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2020. (NAN)

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JUDICIARY

Kogi: Appeal Court Vacates Inspection Order Granted to SDP by Tribunal

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Friday, set aside the inspection order granted Murtala Ajaka, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) by the Kogi Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja.

Reports says that the tribunal had, on Nov. 25, 2023, granted an ex-parte order, allowing the SDP and its candidate in the Nov.

11, 2023 governorship poll to carry out forensic examination of all the Bimordal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) used in the election, among other reliefs.

The three-member panel of justices led by Justice J.O.K. Oyewole, in a unanimous ruling, vacated the inspection order on the grounds that it went outside the provisions of the Electoral Act.

The appellate court held that while inspection is allowed under the Electoral Act, it must be jointly carried out with the respondents and the scope of the inspection should be within the strict limit allowed under the Electoral Act.

“The ex parte order made by the trial tribunal on the 25th November, 2023 at the instance of the 1st and 2nd respondents are within the jurisdictional competence of the said tribunal.

“However, paragraphs ‘g’, ‘k’ and ‘n’ thereof are beyond the scope of Section 146 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022. The said paragraphs ‘g’, ‘k’ and ‘n’ are hereby expunged.

“The inspection purportedly done pursuant to the said orders of the trial tribunal without the presence of the appellant violates paragraph ‘h’ of the said orders and it is hereby set aside,” the panel ruled

Reports says that while the SDP was represented at the Court of Appeal by Pius Akubo, SAN; Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, appeared for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) .

Gov. Usman Ododo of Kogi was represented by J.B. Daudu, SAN, while the All Progressives Congress (APC) was represented by Abdulwahab Muhammed, SAN.

Other members of the Appeal Court panel include Justices A. I. Banjoko and A.B. Mohammed.(NAN)

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JUDICIARY

My Wife Attempted to Stab me, Husband Tells Abuja Court

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A businessman, Mr Ojo Owo, on Friday told a Customary Court in Jikwoyi, near Abuja, that his wife, Muyibat, attempted to stab him with a knife.

His claims are contained in a divorce petition he filed against the woman. 

“One night, my wife took the kitchen knife and attempted to kill me over a little misunderstanding.

“She boasted that she will destroy, kill or cripple me and reduce me to nothing and that when she finishes with me, my family will not recognise me,” he claimed in the petition.

The petitioner also told the court that the respondent is “so stubborn, disrespectful, mannerless, diabolical and unfriendly” with anyone around him.

According to him, the respondent’s constant fights have caused him to develop high blood pressure which he will be nursing for the rest of his life.

The petitioner further averred that he had to abandon his matrimonial home to save his life due to the intolerable behaviours of the respondent “who constantly threatens my life”.

He urged the court to dissolve his marriage and grant him custody of the children.

The respondent, Muyibat, also a businesswoman, however, denied the allegations.

The Judge, Thelma Baba, advised the couple to explore avenues for amicable settlement for the sake of the children, and adjourned the matter until March 7, for hearing. (NAN)

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