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Supreme Court Strikes out Perjury Suit Against Buhari

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The Supreme Court on Monday struck out the suit seeking the disqualification of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential election over alleged perjury.The suit was filed by Kalu  Kalu, Labaran Ismail and Hassy El-Kuris, all legal practitioners. Delivering judgment, the Justice Mary Odili-led panel of five justices held that the case was statute barred and therefore dismissed.

 News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports that the justices during the introduction of appearances wondered why Mr Abdullahi Abubakar, State Counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice will be representing a private individual. Abubakar had announced his appearance for the first respondent (General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) in the suit.They warned him to desist from such act of using public office to defend a private litigation.Muhammad Dattijo, while addressing the counsel sited the President Bill Clinton’s numerous private cases while in the office.
“Clinton in his numerous private litigation, he never used government organs but rather personally sponsored all his private cases,”.He warned that his actions contravene the Code of Conduct for public servants which has consequences.Odili in her judgment said, ‘the court notes the inappropriate appearance of Mr Abdullahi  Abubakar state counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice, representing the first respondent Gen. Muhammad Buhari Rtd in his personal capacity.“This practice must be discouraged, appeal haven been withdrawn is hereby dismissed,”” Odili said.The juctices had warned AbubakarThe appellants grievances had arisen from the dismissal of their suit at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, on grounds that it was statute barred and as such could not be heard.They had approached the apex court to nullify the candidacy of President Buhari in the just concluded presidential poll over allegations of perjury.The appellants specifically wanted Buhari’s nomination and subsequent victory at the Feb. 23 presidential election nullified on the grounds that President Buhari lied on oath in his form 001 that he submitted to INEC for the purpose of clearance for the presidential election.They asked the apex court for an Order to set aside the judgment of the court of appeal and hear the matter on merit and grant the reliefs sought in the Originating Summons.Among the reliefs sought are a declaration that Buhari submitted false information regarding his qualification and certifcate to INEC for the purpose of contesting election into the office of the President of Nigeria and that he should be disqualified.They also prayed for an order of court directing INEC to remove Buhari’s name as a candidate of APC and another order restraining Buhari from parading himself as a candidate in the 2019 presidential election and also APC from recognising Buhari as a candidate.The Court of Appeal in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Mohammed Idris, had on July 12, held that the singular fact that the suit was filed outside the 14 days provided by the law robbed the court of jurisdiction to entertain the it.The Federal High Court had in May declined to grant the request of the appellants on the grounds that the suit was not filed within the time allowed by law and therefore sustained the preliminary objection raised by Buhari at the hearing.The appellants had through their counsel, Ukpai Ukairo, presented 12 grounds for the setting aside of the judgment of the Court of Appeal, amongst which are;That the ”Learned Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law in relying on a Preliminary Objection withdrawn and struck out by the Court of Appeal in striking out and dismissing the appeal.“The Learned Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law and breached the right of the appellants to fair hearing by relying on a preliminary objection, withdrawn by the 2nd Respondent and struck out by the Court, thus being a case not made out or relied upon or abandoned by a party in entering a decision in a judgment.“They erred in law in holding that ‘the failure of the Registrar to sign the Originating Summons is fatal and goes to the issue of jurisdiction’ and thereby struck out the Originating Summons.Also that “The Learned Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law in holding that delving into the other issues raised in the appeal will be regarded as an academic exercise as the case has been held to have been statute barred by virtue of Section 285(9) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) 4th alteration and robs this court of its jurisdiction”.According to Ukairo, the appellants in the brief of argument distilled two issues for determination, (i). Whether the Learned Trial Judge was right in relying on the processes filed by the 1st defendant through a Law Officer in the Ministry of Justice?(ii).  Whether the Learned Trial Judge was right in holding that the suit was statute-barred by computing the number of days from Sept. 28, 2018 when the 2nd Respondent held its primary election wherein the 1st Respondent was elected as a candidate of the 2nd Respondent?The appellants had approached the appellate court to nullify and set aside the Judgment of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court which declined to hear their suit instituted to challenge the educational qualification of President Buhari before the conduct of the 2019 general election.But the appellate court in a judgement delivered held that the suit had been caught up by the Fourth Alteration to the 1999 Constitution which stipulate a 14 days time period within which an election matter must be filed.Though the appellate court agreed with the trial court that the suit was statute barred having filed out of time, it however disagreed with the trial court on the date the cause of action took place.Justice Ahmed Mohammed had in his judgment held that the cause of action took place on Sept. 28, 2018 when the APC held its primary election to select candidate of the party in the 2019 general election.But the appellate court however held that the cause of action took place on Oct. 18, 2018, the date Buhari submitted his form 001 to INEC for the purpose of clearance for the presidential election.The appellants had filed the suit on Nov.5, 2018, claiming October 25, the date INEC published the list of successful candidates in the 2019 general election as the date the cause of action arose, making the suit to be competent.The three man panel of the justices of the Court of Appeal had also dismissed the suit based on the preliminary objection filed by the APC’s lawyer challenging the jurisdiction of the suit on the grounds that it is incompetent.The justices held that the failure of the Registrar of the Federal High Court to transmit the record of proceedings was fatal to the originating summons and makes the suit incompetent.The decision had prompted the appellants to approach the apex court in their further quest for justice. (NAN)

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JUDICIARY

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Appellate Court 600 Pre-election Appeals so far, says President

The President of the Court of Appeal,  Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem on Friday said the court has so far received 600 pre election matters from its 20 Divisions.

Dongbam-Mensem made this known when Amb. Samuela Isopi, Ambassador, EU Delegation paid her a visit in her office.

“The court received over 600 Pre-Election appeals in the 20 Divisions of the Court from November to date and more appeals are still being filed

” .Over 60 Panels were setup in the various Divisions to hear and determine all Pre-Election appeals filed.

” Mindful of the pressures under which the Hon Justices are working, some experienced Registrars of the Court were empanelled to summarize the decisions so far made and distribute to the various divisions to avoid conflicting decisions,” she said.

The president expressed joy at their  presence which she said  provided  an opportunity to exchange views, share experiences and learn from their respective experiences in  their countries.

No doubt, she said there are challenges being experienced, what is imperative is how those challenges were surmounted to ensure the sustenance of democracy in the Country.

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According to her, transparency in the electoral process is one of the core values of democratic stability in a nation.

She stated that  the active involvement of Election Observation Missions in Nigeria to ensure free, fair and credible elections  is appreciated.

“Pertinent to state that the role of these Observer Organizations have greatly impacted the resolve to review the Electoral Act, 2010.

“The Electoral Act, 2022 has introduced laudable innovations to strengthen our democracy and ensure credible elections.

“The Court of Appeal has reviewed, developed and expanded the scope of working materials for Judges she said.

According to her there is now a Judicial Electoral Manual which incorporate decisions of the Supreme Court and those of this Court and the “critical” fundamental sections of the Electoral Act, 2022

This , she said, to ensure that appeals with similar facts and issues are categorized together to maintain the doctrine of stare decisis.

” In preparation of delivering its Constitutional mandate, the Court is faced with numerous challenges which includes but not limited to paucity of funds

” To effectively manage the tribunals, deployment of ICT equipment and the need for continuous training of support staff with a view to enhancing their capacities and powers to effectively drive the electoral adjudication process.

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” Permit me to state that the Court is in a dilemma, we have just 21 days to the General Election and the special intervention fund to conduct the Election Petition Tribunal is yet to be released she said.

She added  that this will impact negatively on the activities of the Court and Tribunals to effectively discharge its Constitutional duties.

” It is expected that by now, provisions would have been made for the procurement of necessary materials and equipment needed for the smooth running of the various Tribunals.

” Also we ought to have organised further trainings for Hon. Justices, Members of the Tribunals and Secretariat Staff but we cannot due to paucity of funds.

“We are hopeful that these challenges will be soon addressed before the conduct of the General Election.

” I thank your Excellences for the visit and look forward to a fruitful interactive session” she said.

Speaking , Amb.l Isopi , expressed delight in the effort noticed in the improvement in election  matters.

” One of the points you made was to support the judiciary on building capacity of judges on election related matters .

” I am happy to say  we were able to support in training 300 judges.

” We also trained secretaries and support staff because, for us ,this is something that is seen as being crucial .

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” This is because, we know that it really can contribute in improving and promoting election disputes resolutions she said. (NAN)

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JUDICIARY

Mbaise Fed Constituency: Supreme Court Dismisses APC’s Suit Against PDP

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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal instituted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Ahiazu Mbaise Ezinihitte Federal Constituency of Imo.

The Apex Court threw out the appeal on the ground that APC has no legal right to dabble into the candidate selection of PDP.

In a judgment delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the Court held that APC acted like a busy body and meddlesome interloper in the ways and manners it got involved in the PDP matters.

A chieftain of the APC in Imo State, Mr Nnamdi Igbokwe had instituted the suit against the nomination of Mr Emeka Martins Chinedu as PDP’S candidate for Ahiazu Mbaise Ezinihitte Federal Constituency.

He had prayed for an order of the court against INEC not to accept or list Chinedu as lawfully nominated candidate.

The grouse of the APC was that PDP’s candidate was returned unopposed in a primary election for the House of Representatives ticket for the February 25, 2023 National Assembly election.

The APC claimed that the unopposed system that produced Chinedu during PDP’S primary election was not known to law and should not be accepted by the electoral body.

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APC had lost the suit at the Federal High Court as well as the Court of Appeal before it proceeded to Supreme Court to ventilate its anger on how PDP produced the candidate.

But the Supreme Court in its judgment held that the appellants, (APC and Igbokwe) have no business in challenging the candidate selection process of the PDP.

Justice Agim while dismissing the appeal held that the case of APC was without merit and asked parties to bear their respective cost of litigation. (NAN)

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JUDICIARY

 Edo Governorship Primary: Supreme Court Declares Obaseki’s Faction Authentic Candidates

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The Supreme Court declared the candidates who emerged from the primaries conducted by the Gov Godwin Obaseki-led faction of the PDP in Edo as the authentic representatives of the party.

This judgment delivered by Justice Centus Nweze brings to an end the long-drawn legal battle to decide which of the two factions is in control of the state chapter of the party.

Delivering the judgment in the appeal filed by Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama and others against Mr Mathew Iduoriyekemwen and others, the apex court held that the case of the appellant was faulty as it did not emanate from the judgment of the appellate court.

The court in its judgment dismissed the appeal on the grounds that it was incompetent.

The judgment set aside the judgment of the Appeal Court which was in favour of candidates belonging to the Legacy Group of the PDP in Edo State led by the National Vice Chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih.

The judge held that an appeal must be based on issues contended at the lower court to qualify for review.

“Any ground of appeal that does not challenge issues raised at the lower court is incompetent. I enter judgment in favour of the respondents “, the apex court held.

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The judgment which arose from a consolidation of all cases relating to the leadership tussle has put to rest anxiety as to the right persons to represent the party in the elections.

The battle for control of the PDP apparatus in Edo state between Obaseki and Orbih took a different dimension when the two groups presented two different lists of aspirants to INEC following parallel primaries conducted by the two factions.

The crux of the matter is who has the power the primary election for the selection of party flag bearers for the National Assembly and State House of Assembly elections slated for February 25 and March 11, this year.

Wednesday’s unanimous decision by the supreme court, therefore, means the candidates who emerged from the ward up to the national primaries conducted by the Obaseki faction of the Edo PDP will be fielded for elective positions.

Both Obaseki and a National Vice Chairman of the PDP, Chief Dan Orhbi have been locked in a leadership battle for the soul of the party in Edo State.

A Federal High Court in Abuja had in May last year recognized orbih’s faction as the authentic candidates, another in Benin City, gave recognition to Obaseki’s faction.

Both also appealed the judgment of the trial court entered against them at the Court of Appeal.

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Speaking with newsmen shortly after the judgment was delivered, Philip Shaibu, the deputy governor of the state who was in court to witness the proceedings expressed joy that the matter has been finally put to rest.

He called on all PDP members to close ranks to deliver for the party in all the elections, stating that there was no winner or loser as the victory was for the PDP.

Shuaibu urged aggrieved parties to embrace peace said that the umbrella is now widen to accommodate all.

Newsmen report that a Federal High Court in Benin-city, Edo had ordered INEC to recognise and publish the names of candidates produced by Obaseki’s faction as PDP’s candidates in the 2023 elections.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, in a related suit ordered INEC to recognise the candidates of Chief Dan Orbih faction as authentic candidates of the PDP for the forthcoming elections.

The parties in their various suits had asked the court for an order compelling INEC, to publish their names as the validly elected candidates of the Edo State PDP for the 2023 general election.

In his judgment, Justice S. M. Shuaibu of the Federal High Court, Benin relying on past decisions by the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, held that only the National Working Committee (NWC) of a political party has the power to conduct party primaries.

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“There is nothing before the court to show that the primaries in which the fourth to 39th defendants participated was conducted by the National Working Committee of the PDP. Rather, their primaries were conducted by the Edo State chapter of the PDP,” the judge held.

The Judge further held: “In my view, the power of INEC under Section 84 of the Electoral Act is limited to monitoring of party primary elections and does not extend to preparing or declaring the results of that election. This remains the law.

“In light of the foregoing, the fourth defendant, INEC, cannot rely on results prepared by the first defendant, Edo State PDP.”

Dissatisfied, the Orbih’s faction appealed the judgment up to the Supreme Court, where judgment was today entered against them. (NAN)

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