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Court suddenly adjourns Atiku’s petition against Tinubu over INEC’s reluctance to release documents

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Hearing in the petition of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar against the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was suddenly adjourned on Tuesday by the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja over the alleged refusal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make some critical electoral materials available to him.

The Court shifted further hearing in the petition till June 7 pending the time the electoral body is expected to have.responded to the request of Atiku and the People’s Democratic Party PDP for documents supply.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, Eyitayo Jegede, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN who conducted proceedings for Atiku had sought to tender forms EC8A from 10 out of 21 Local Government Areas of Kogi State to establish the petition against Tinubu.

The exhibits mainly documents used for the February 25 Presidential Election are those from Ankpa, Dekina, Idah, Ofu, Olamaboro, Yagba East, Yagba West, Kabba-Bunu, Igalamela Odolu and Kogi were sought to be tendered by the PDP presidential candidate.

Although, the schedule of documents to the effect was filed along with the exhibits, the Court however noted that tendering such sensitive exhibits in piece meals would not be of any help especially in the areas of marking and numbering them.

Jegede who rose to the questions put to him by the Court stood his grounds and blamed the INEC for deliberate refusal to supply his client with the vital documents.

The Senior lawyer hinted the Court that Atiku had paid as much as N6M for the supply of cerified true copy of the exhibits lamented that the electoral body had not been forthcoming and cooperating as required and envisaged.

Jegede explained that to save the situation, the legal team of the former Vice President had to subpoena top officials of INEC to compel them to bring the required documents before the Court on their own.

However in the end, the senior lawyer sought for a 24- hour adjournment to enable him approach the electoral body to do the needful.

Following no objections from counsel to respondents, INEC represented by Abubakar Mahmud SAN, Tinubu represented by Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN and the All Progressives Congress APC having Lateef Fagbemi SAN as lead counsel, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani adjourned the matter till June 7.

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Judiciary

Group asks CJN, NJC to monitor alleged moves by Ahwinahwi to compromise A’Court Judges

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A Niger Delta interest group that styles itself as Urhobo New Frontiers (UNF), in Delta State, has raised the alarm over alleged plots to influence Justices of the Court of Appeal to do their bidding as the electoral petitions moves to Court of Appeal.

UNF therefore called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, President of the Court of Appeal, Hon Justice Monica Bolna’an Dongban-Mensem, National Judicial Council to as a matter of urgency save Nigeria democracy from those bent on compromising the judiciary to have their way.

The group noted that the call became necessary following a number of judgments that have emanated from the electoral tribunal across the country which have left many Nigerians wondering if the judiciary has also lost its high held axiom as the ‘last hope of the common man’.

Urhobo New Frontiers in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Chief James Onosakponaome and Mr Ovieighele Ochuko said that it’s worrisome to hear some of the grounds for which elections were nullified across the country and sadly in Delta in particular.

The group disclose that political money bags have invaded Abuja in their quest to compromise judicial officials, including justices of Court of Appeal who will sit to hear appeals emanating from different tribunal across the country.
The group’s statement which was titled, “Move To Compromise Court Of Appeal Justices, Need For CJN, NJC To Be Vigilant’, reads in part:

“The judiciary has remained the beacon of hope for the Nigerian people since the return to civil rule in 1999 and has managed to remain apolitical and as the stabilizer of our current democratic journey. However, we are saddened and taken aback with recent pronouncements from electoral tribunals.

“One of such judgments that we considered ‘absurd’ is the decision of the National Assembly Petition Tribunal nullifying Rt Rev (Hon) Francis Ejiroghene Waive of APC electoral victory for nonpublication of his academic qualification which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on its portal.
“The mere fact that Waive submitted his academic qualification to INEC as required by law suffices, but even when INEC showed evidence to the fact and further notified the electoral umpire when he noticed that his qualification was not published, the Tribunal in what many analysts termed, “Father Christmas judgment” awarded victory to the PDP candidate, Chief Solomon Ahwinahwi for the Commission’s act of omission.
“Without prejudice to the lordship at the Court of Appeal, if candidates in an election compromised INEC official and ensure that the particular of its opponents are not published and he or she is rewarded by the Court, as this case seems to be, the court may be setting dangerous precedents that may consume us all. The court is a place of justice and should not reward people for subverting justice.

“We have it on good authority that the Delta PDP candidate, Hon. Solomon Ahwinahwi, is currently in Abuja shopping for any willing Court of Appeal justice and in his usual boisterous manner was quoted to have said he used $80,000 to purchase judgement at Tribunal and now is offering $70,000 to $100,000 as cash advance payment for any willing judge to compromise justice.
“He is being allegedly helped by a former Kogi senator who is running for governor, Dino Melaye and both of them were seen at Maitama on Friday.
“We, therefore, urge Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, President of Court of Appeal, Hon Justice Monica Bolna’an Dongban-Mensem, National Judicial Council to as a matter of urgency step in to stop these dark agents and save Nigeria democracy from the hands of desperate politicians who will go to any length to compromise the judiciary in order to have their way.”

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PEPT: Why Appeal Court Justices may not be liable for perceived compromised judgments by Alex Kadiri

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Senator Alex Kadiri who represented Kogi East from 1999- 2003 has expressed concern over the notion that the Justices of the Court of Appeal are responsible for perceived compromised judgements at the election petition Tribunals when the system has made it difficult for them to carry out their duties.

He querried the situation whereby the Nigerian justice system is structured in such a way that the cart is put before the horse whereby the winner of an election is sworn in before the election petition cases are determined

“I have no confidence in what the tribunals have done not because I believe in the theory that they were bribed, since I have no proof, but the truth is that the judges were put in a very perplex situation where they now have to judge and remove a sitting President or a siting governor.
“Like in Kenya where Uhuru Kenyata can be removed by a tribunal, Nigerians are not that honest. 
“A president Tinubu was declared winner, he was sworn in, moved in to presidential villa. He has appointed service chiefs, he has nominated the ministers they have been screened by the Senate and have been sworn in, then you assemble five judges to see whether or not he ought to be president? We are asking for too much, why are we pretending? 

To overcome that problem he advised the National assembly to amend the constitution and the Electoral law

“All election petitions should be resolved before anybody is sworn in as either President or vice President, Senator, governor and all the rest. 

“Nobody must be put in a situation where he will have the upper hand in determining the outcome of any election petition Tribunal. Like I said, if you are one of these judges sitting with lawyers all saying the same thing.

“The man you are discussing has already been sworn in and he has taken oath of office. He has started making contacts with world leaders, he had spoken to Joe Biden, spoken to many western World leaders, Spoken to all African leaders and he has even been made chairman of ECOWAS and was threatening to take war to Niger and then you put five judges there that his election was fraudulent and therefore he is going to be removed? 

“So, we are expecting too much from these judges. All cases about election should be terminated, all the final matters about the elections should be fully settled before any person is sworn in to any office at any level that is when we will know whether the judges are independent or not, whether they are corrupt or not.

“The way  it is today whatever they do, if really Tinubu is the true winner and the judges say Tinubu is the winner they would be accused of taking bribes. No matter what.”

The elderstatesman also took a swipe at some lawyers who are at the tribunal in a case as important as Presidential Election petition and yet leave loop holes, the way the judges were pointing out, It is a shame. 

He said it is a shame for a learned lawyer to be so incompetent that he can not organise his defence. 

“Now we have almost 100 senior advocates in court, If all these loop holes were there why did they put Nigerians through the expectation of getting a verdict different from what they got?

On the hardship being presently experienced by Nigerians, he said,

“If we take the issue at the last sets of election I have said it that every election, every result of every election has repercussion and implications. 

“If you elect idiots, you will end up getting idiotic senators, members of the House of Reps, state Assembly, councillors and chairman of local government councils

“If you elect intellectuals based on what they know and what they are likely to contribute to the system, you will get intelligent legislature and executive. But the situation in our country today where the leadership recruitment method is bad and faulty we will continue to be Backward as we are now.”

“I was in Botswana about four years ago for a while and I studied their system. They pay no fees, get children in school. They are given uniforms. Their boys and girls go to Europe but as soon as they finish their studies they return to the country because there is nothing attractive in Europe or America or the UK for them to hang there. 

“That is not the situation in our country. Why can’t we as a nation copy a tiny country like Botwana at the edge of South Africa here. Why is it difficult for us to get one honest leader that we can all defer to his leadership? 

He blamed the legislative arm of government for not living up to expectation.

“The last Senate in their attempt to please the executive pass the Electoral law in a manner that even they the senators denied themselves of the right to vote at primaries. 

“I did not believe that 109 senators will be in a room debating and not one of them could realize that the law they were passing they were excluded, about 360 members of the House of Reps not one noticed that the law they were passing excluded them from participation. 

“It is a shame and that was how the law was passed and implemented. They were all sitting at the conventions like ghost because they did not know what was going on. 

“Their election having taken place, my worry is even more. All the fellows who came out through the most crooked routes to become candidates of course fought to win the election and when they won they ask their opponents to go to the courts. 

“Some went to the tribunal and had their elections upturned some of them have their petitions approved but why do we have to even go to the tribunal if things were done properly?

He lamented that in the 21st century Nigeria, Election materials will not come on time on election day despite all the monies this country has invested in the electoral process.

“Late arrival of Electoral materials, non arrival, police brutality, issue of thugs hired by the strongman who wants to win election at all costs and you are asked to go to the tribunal to fight your case, what case? What proof? 

“Are you going to take the photo of a thug shooting at a voter to the tribunal before a tribunal can believe that you have proved a case, what case are you proving? 

“So I think the National assemby should go back, put their tongues in their cheeks and review the Electoral law in such away that all those who aught to participate in the primaries are included including themselves. 

“Secondly, INEC hasn’t told us why they did so badly in the 2023 general election. They did not complain of funds because I think Buhari gave them more money than they ever asked. So what happened? Oh they did not compromise?

“The question is as an adult I sat and saw the way the conventions of the parties took place in Abuja here, it was a disgraceful jamboree. Nigerians were being paid dollars at the convention to vote for particular candidates. “Those who do not have enough dollars lost out. So our conventions were dollarised in a country where we use the Naira and the government look the other way. 

“I saw through this mess and I am an eye witness to all the rubbish. It was he who paid more that got the ticket of all the parties except people like Kwankwaso and his NNPP and Peter Obi who owned Labour Party, if not if you remove Peter Obi where is Labour Party? He was virtually the sole financier. 

“But for the APC and PDP it was a cash and carry matter, it was he who paid more that got the votes. In other country that goes through this type of situation, the system will collapse, we have not collapse yet but we will definitely collapse. 

On the issue of marginalization he accused the three major ethnic nationalities of Ibo, Hausa and Yoruba for decimating the minorities especially in the middle belt

According to him they have monopolised the power since the time of creation from Balewa to Obasanjo to Aguiyi Ironsi to Muritala, Buhari, Babangida, Abdusalami and all the rest, Shagari, Yaradua and now Shettima. 

“Where is the position for the Igala man here? It means that I can never be president of my country by virtue of where I came from. 

“Look at the US from where we copied their democracy, Joe Biden is from Delaway one of the smallest states in the US. He is bidding for second term. Do you envisage the situation in this country the way we are today when an Igala man or Birom man will aspire to be President of Nigeria? 

“Let us be honest to ourselves, there is no way except through a military coup when the minority will sieze power and subdue all the other soldiers and take power for some few months and then ECOWAS will come up and start protesting against his leadership. 

“So the idea that I am cut off from the possibility of governing my country or my state as the case may be did not go down with me at all. 

“It is a recipe for violence. I looked left right and left, forwards and Backward, I can not see any way an Igala like me will become the President of Under the present situation. 

He said the Hausa/ Fulani and the Ibos feel it is their birthright. “The only right we have is to go and work for them and when they win they give us one offer and remove all the most important aspects of that office and put one small boy there to control you.  

“Hausa/Fulani, the Ibos and the Yorubas have assumed that leadership of the country is for them alone to produce the President of Nigeria not an Igala man, not a Birom, not Ijaw man or even a Kaduna person or even a Kanuri man. 

“If you remember Kashim Shettima was crying out the last time saying that the North was against him because he is not Hausa/Fulani even though at last he made it.

“What is the future of my country. Should we refuse to talk and allow this country to just melt away. Because if all of us refuse to talk the country will just fizzle away. I pray it does not go into a civil war because the sequence of events as I said at my age does not give me any confidence that we would end up peacefully as one country.

 “At my age I cannot grovel for anybody, any fellow Nigerian be

0tryou Babangida, Buhari, Atiku, Tinubu or any human being because God has been very kind to me keeping alive till the age of 81 and within these years I have been uportuned to play vital roles at different times where I have not been found wanting.”rrrrrrrtt2m.;-

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Judiciary

Presidential Election Petition judgments to be delivered on Wednesday, 6th September – Court of Appeal

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The Court of Appeal has fixed Wednesday, September 6th for the delivery judgments of the Presidential Election Petitions

A press statement that was signed and issued by the chief registrar, Umar M. Bangari on Wednesday said,

“The Court of Appeal wishes to inform the General Public that judgment in the following petitions before the Presidential Election Petition Court will be delivered on Wednesday 6” September, 2023: CA/PEPC/03/2023 between Mr. Peter Gregory Obi & Anor VS. Independent National Electoral Commission & 3 Ors.
CA/PEPC/04/2023 between Allied Peoples Movement VS. Independent National Electoral Commission & 4 Ors.
CA/PEPC/05/2023 between Abubakar Atiku & Anor VS. Independent National Electoral Commission & 2 Ors.
According to him in a bid to promote transparency and openness, the judgments will be televised live by interested Television Stations for the public to follow.
He however warned  that it is important to be aware that access to the Court premises will be strictly on accreditation. “Only accredited individuals, including Counsel and representatives of Political Parties, will be granted access into the Courtroom.
“Interested members of the public are advised to watch proceedings from their television sets.

“For accreditation and further inquiries, please contact: Josephine on 08037052260 or Samira on 08164483081.

“We appeal for the maximum cooperation of the General Public to ensure a hitch free exercise, please.”

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