Kogi Drags NASS, AGF Before Supreme Court Over Assembly Takeover

The Kogi State Government has sued the National Assembly and the Attorney-General of the Federation before the Supreme Court, asking for an order nullifying the House of Representatives’ resolution to take over the legislative functions of the state’s House of Assembly.

The House of Representatives had on March 9, 2016 passed a resolution to take over the legislative functions of the Kogi State House of Assembly.

The House of Representatives passed the resolution following the crisis that broke out from the tussle for the speakership position between two factions of the state assembly.

It also in the said resolution directed the Inspector-General of Police to seal up the House of Assembly until the crisis was resolved.

But the Kogi State Government represented by the state’s Attorney-General and the House of Assembly, filed its suit on April 29, 2016 before the Supreme Court, to challenge the House of Representatives’ resolution.

The National Assembly and the AGF are the two defendants to the suit.

The plaintiffs in the suit with number, SC.340/2016, filed under Order 3 Rule 5 of the Supreme Court Rules, asked the apex court to declare that the House of Representatives’ resolution was passed in breach of section 11(4) of the Constitution.

They also urged the apex court to nullify the resolution.

‎They contended in their statement of claim that “the factional disagreement” between members of House of Assembly was normal in a democracy.

According to them, the crisis started on February 16, 2016, following a disagreement between two factions in the House of Assembly over the speakership position.

They claimed that following the disagreement, a faction of the members of the House of Assembly‎ filed the suit, FHC/LKJ/CS/16/16 (Kogi State House of Assembly & 3 Ors V National Assembly & 2 Ors.

They said while the suit was pending, the House of Representatives invoked its power ‎under section 11(4) of the Constitution to take over the functions of the House of Assembly.

The plaintiffs said the House of Representatives declared the impeachment ‎proceedings embarked upon by five members of the members of the House of Assembly for the removal of the Speaker, as clearly violating section 92(c) of the Constitution.

They added that the lower legislative chamber of the National Assembly also condemned the roles played by the police in providing cover for only five members out of the 20 members of the House of Assembly “to commit illegalities”.

But the plaintiffs claimed that the said “disagreement” between the factions in the House of Assembly did not create any “adverse security situation” in the state.

Their statement of claim accompanying the suit added, “There is no security report by the Governor of Kwara State, the police or any security agency in Nigeria that the disagreement among members of Kogi State House of Assembly caused insecurity and danger t o public safety in the state.

“At all times material to the passage of the resolution of the National Assembly to take over Kogi State House of Assembly, Kogi State was ad is calm and peaceful as citizens go about their lawful business.”

The plaintiffs therefore sought the following two prayers: “A declaration that the resolution of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 9, 2016, which purportedly took over the legislative functions of Kogi State House of Assembly is passed in breach of section 11(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the National Assembly from interfering with or take over the legislative functions of Kogi State House of Assembly based on the resolution of the House of Representatives passed on Wednesday, March 9, 2016.”

The processes of the suit had been served on the defendants.

But the defendants have yet to respond to the suit and no date has been fixed for the hearing.

Sagay Slams Supreme Court Over Rivers Election Tribunal Judgement

Eminent jurist, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), assailed the recent verdict of the Supreme Court on the 2015 Rivers State governorship election afresh yesterday, branding it a farewell to election petitions in the country.

The ruling, Sagay said in a in a 52 page review of the apex court’s decision, was shocking, catastrophic and uncalled for.

He said not a few Nigerians have lost faith in the Supreme Court on account of the judgement which upheld the election of Mr. Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the duly elected governor of the state.

“In the Richter scale of earthquakes, it must have measured up to 15: enough to induce a miscarriage, even in a man,” he said of the disappointment of those he called innocent Nigerians by the ruling.

He could not understand how the verdict was arrived at despite “the murder, mayhem, chaos and devastation almost amounting to a catastrophe, displayed on television, reported in all newspapers in all its gory details; after the damning reports of International and Local Observers who barely survived their mission.

“It was the worst shock ever created by a Supreme Court decision since I was knowledgeable enough to follow and understand Court judgments.”

Citing the judgement of Nweze, JSC in in Okereke v. Umahi S.C. 1004/2015 where the Supreme Court, said that the use of the Card Reader would ‘dethrone’ and ‘depose’ the Voters’ Register, Sagay said: “How does the Card Reader ‘depose’, or ‘dethrone’ the voter’s Register. After verification by the Card Reader, the voter’s name still has to be identified in the voters’ Register and ticked before he can vote.

“It must be noted that both the Tribunal and Court of Appeal emphasized that the Card Reader was intended to and did strengthen the application and efficacy of the Electoral Act, by ensuring a credible election for the benefit of Nigerians.

“The Election Tribunal stated expressly that “the usage of the Card Reader was complementary to the usage of the voters’ register. In other words, the two work hand in hand towards ensuring credible elections. The voters’ Registers properly come to play where a prospective voter has been screened by the Card Reader. The sum total of the role of the Card Reader is that it is complementary to the usage of the Voters’ Register.”

“So where in all this did Nweze, JSC, discover the ‘deposition’, and ‘dethronement’, of the Voters’ Register by the Card Reader? Absolutely nowhere. What Nweze had simply done was to give the Card Reader a bad name in order to subject it to judicial execution. Has the Card Reader eliminated the voters’ Register? No! Has it brought integrity and transparency to the voters’ Register and the whole electoral process? Yes!

“All the Card Reader does is to act as a gate man for the voters’ Register. There was no dethronement and deposition here. There was only a step forward towards free, fair and credible elections – a procedure for sanitizing our elections and for eliminating fraud, dishonesty and rigging from our electoral process. Should any Supreme Court anywhere in the world resist and reject such a beneficial development in the electoral process? No!

“The law as stated in Section 49 has not in any way been altered by the Card Reader.

“So, all this talk of superseding and dethroning has no bearing whatsoever on Section 49 of the Electoral Act 2010. There is no provision of the Electoral Act banning or prohibiting the use of Card Readers. It is wrong of any one to assert that the use of Card Readers is electronic voting. It shows that such a person cannot distinguish between accreditation and voting.”

The jurist said the Supreme Court ought to have considered the following questions on the Card Reader before arriving at its decision:

* Was the voters’ Register instituted in the Electoral Act to promote and ensure free, fair and credible elections?

*If this is so (and it necessarily must have been so) did the introduction of the Card Reader enhance the capacity of the Voters’ Register to produce clean, fair and credible elections?

He added: “As all the Courts, even the Supreme Court, have admitted, the Card Reader has sanitized and brought transparency and integrity to the election accreditation process. The sum total of the usage of the Card Reader therefore is that it is complementary to the work of the Voters’ register. “The two work hand in hand to ensure a credible election” – (The Tribunal)

“It follows that if all the Card Reader does is to enhance, improve and promote the capacity of the Voters’ the Card Reader could NOT in any sense have ‘deposed’, ‘dethroned’ the Voters’ Register as Nweze wrongly asserted in Okereke v. Umahi. Helping and enhancing the Voters’ Register’s capacity and efficiency cannot be classified as ‘dethroning’ or ‘deposing’ it. It is still there as the ultimate source after the cleanup of the process by the Card Reader.”

Sagay also faulted the Supreme Court’s position that “in order for an election to be nullified, the Petitioner (Dr. Dakuku Peterside) has to establish that not only was there a substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act, but additionally the Petitioner must show that the substantial non-compliance affected the result of the election.”

Relying on Section 139(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 which stipulates that “An election shall not be liable to be invalidated by reason of non-compliance with this Act if it appears to the Electoral Tribunal or Court that the election (i) was conducted substantially in accordance with the principles of this Act and (ii) that the non-compliance did not affect substantially the result of the election,”

Sagay said:”In other words, any election has to clear two hurdles in order to be valid; (i) it must comply substantially with the provisions of the Act; (ii) where there was any non-compliance, no matter how insignificant, it must not have substantial effect on the result.

“Therefore a petitioner will succeed if he can establish either of the following: Substantial non-compliance with the Act, only or substantial effect on the result by any degree of non-compliance, no matter how trivial. I repeat, the petitioner need only establish one of these two situations in order for the election to be invalid, namely, Substantial non compliance with the electoral Act including the schedules and regulations or Substantial effect on the election result of any infraction of the Electoral Act, schedules, regulations etc no matter how trivial the infraction.”

“Therefore, Kekere-Ekun, JSC, was absolutely wrong when she stated at page 67 of her judgment that in addition to establishing substantial non-compliance, the Petitioners were also obliged to also establish that the non-compliance also affected the result of the election. This is an error that some Justices of the Supreme Court have been repeating again and again in spite of corrections that have been offered several times.”

The Nation

Orji Kalu Welcomes Supreme Court Ruling, Assures EFCC Of Support

Former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Kalu, yesterday, welcomed the verdict of the Supreme Court directing his trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged N2.4billion fraud when he ran the affairs of the state between 1999 and 2007.

The apex court had dismissed his appeal for lacking in merit.

Kalu, who in the appeal, had sought to quash the charge of money laundering brought against him by EFCC, said moment after the Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday that “this is another opportunity to prove my innocence.

“I have all the records and facts of the case. I am willing to submit myself for the rule of law to take its course. That has always been my passion advocacy, right from the lower courts where the case enamnated,” he said from London.

He added: “this clarification has become imperative lest oppositional forces mischievously misinterpret the ruling and mislead the public by injecting their jaundiced opinions into the routine directive as had always been with similar cases where the apex court intervened.”

He assured the EFCC of his “continued support and profound cooperation in any further investigation into this allegation,’’ and also claimed it “is part of the price I have to pay for opposing the third-term agenda fiasco of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.”

A similar appeal by Kalu’s associate, Udeh Jones Udehogo, was similarly dismissed yesterday by the Supreme Court for the same reason.

Justice Suleiman Galadima, who wrote the lead judgments in both appeals, upheld the concurrent decisions of the Federal High Court, Abuja and Appeal Court, Abuja, in refusing the appeals.

The five-man panel of the apex court, in its unanimous judgments, directed the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to assign the cases to new judges for hearing.

On Kalu’s case, Justice Galadima, whose judgment was read by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, said: “The appellant had approached the Federal High Court, Abuja to quash the charges made against him by the EFCC.

“The Court dismissed the case. He went to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division. He lost and approached this court.

“Having considered all issues raised and arguments by parties, I come to the conclusion that I cannot, but help in dismissing this appeal for lacking in merit. It is dismissed.

“I affirm the decision of the court bellow, which rightly affirmed the decision of the Federal High Court, that it was not bound by the ex-parte order of the Abia State High Court as to vitiate the charges preferred against the appellant.

“The learned Chief Judge of the Federal High Court should assign the case to another judge for expeditious trial,” Justice Galadima said.

Other members of the panel: Justice Mahmud Mohammed (the Chief Justice of Nigeria), Bode Rhodes-Vivour, sylvester Nwgwuta and Datijo Mohammed agreed with the lead judgments in both appeals.

In its decision on April 27, 2012, the Court of Appeal, Abuja division, dismissed the appeal by Kalu against the ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja, dismissing his motion seeking to quash the charge against him and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited.

Justice Ejembi Eko, who read the judgment on behalf of Justices Kayode Bada and Regina Nwodo, resolved all issues in the appeal against Kalu and his company and dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.

Justice Eko noted that the proof of evidence attached to the 97 count charge preferred against the appellants by the EFCC disclosed a prima facie case against the former governor and others.

Justice Eko said the facts raised in the proof of evidence established a prima facie case against the appellants. He further said that as far as there is a link which prima facie is all about, the appellants had an obligation to stand trial to defend themselves.

He further ruled that the ex-parte order of May 31, 2007 by Abia State High Court, asking the Federal High Court to stay all proceedings against Orji was a racquet suit aimed at frustrating his arrest and subsequent prosecution.

“That order was an order at large, personal rather than definite. It was an order made as an ex-parte and not at the course of trial.” He described the ex-parte motion as an abuse of court process.

Justice Eko said the claim of breach of personal freedom raised by Orji was sentimental in nature, adding that the claim bordered on the realm of conspiracy theory and is politically motivated. He said right to personal liberty is not absolute.

On whether EFCC had the competence to charge the appellants, Justice Eko held that both the EFCC Establishment Act and the Money laundering and Prohibition Act, (MPLA, 2003, 2004) had given the commission power to prosecute offenders.

“EFCC derives its competence to prosecute from section 6 and 7 of its Establishing Act. Equally, the definition of economic crime is quite wide,” he said.

The appellate court further held that the proof of evidence attached to the 97-count charge preferred against the appellants by the EFCC disclosed a prima facie case against the former governor and others.

Justice Eko also denounced the ex-parte order of May 31, 2007 by the Abia State High Court.

“That order was an order at large, personal rather than definite. It was an order made as an ex-parte and not at the course of trial.”

The EFCC had on July 27, 2007 arraigned Kalu before the High Court in Abuja on charges of money laundering, official corruption and criminal diversion of public funds totaling over N5 billion.

On September 3, 2007 Kalu filed a motion before the court seeking an order to strike out all EFCC charges against him and to vacate the terms and conditions of the bail earlier granted by the court. The court dismissed the motion, a decision Kalu appealed to the Court of Appeal.

After Eight-Year Delay, Supreme Court Orders Orji Kalu To Go Face Trial

The Supreme Court, Friday, gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the nod to prosecute the former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu on a 107-count corruption charge.

The charge borders on the alleged complicity of the erstwhile governor in money laundering and illegal diversion of public funds to the tune of N5.6billion.Kalu was alleged to have perpetuated the fraud while he piloted the affairs of Abia State between 1999 and 2007.

Though the anti-graft agency docked him before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on July 27, 2007, however, for the past eight years, the defendant, through various interlocutory applications, frustrated moves by the prosecution to open its case against him.The defendant firstly challenged the competence of the charge against him, as well as the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear and determine the case.
Meanwhile, following refusal by the trial court to quash the charge, Kalu, took the case before the Court of Appeal in Abuja.The appellate court, in a unanimous judgment, upheld the competence of the charge, adding that the high court was constitutionally empowered to exercise jurisdiction on the trial.Dissatisfied with the verdict, Kalu approached the Supreme Court, begging it to set-aside the concurrent findings of the two lower courts.

The former governor, through his lawyer Chief Awa Kalu, SAN, pleaded a five-man panel of Justices of the apex court, headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, to quash the criminal charge against him.

He contended that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie nexus linking him to the ingredients of the offence contained in the charge.

It was his contention that the proof of evidence the anti-graft agency adduced against him did not nail him to the commission of any crime.

Nevertheless, the apex court, in a unanimous judgment on Friday, dismissed the appeal, even as it ordered the appellant to go and face his trial before the high court.

While upholding the Court of Appeal verdict, Justice Suleiman Galadima who delivered the lead verdict, said the apex court was satisfied that the former governor has a case to answer pertaining to allegations that were levelled against him by the EFCC.

Besides, the apex court ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to re-assign the case to another Judge to

Death Sentence: Supreme Court To Decide Reverend King’s Faith Today

The Supreme Court will give the final word today whether Rev. Chukwuemeka Ezeugo, a.k.a Reverend King should be hanged for murder or whether he should spend some few years more in jail.

King, General Overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly in Lagos, is challenging the judgment of a Lagos High Court sentencing him to death by hanging.

The apex court presided over by Justice Walter Onoghen adjourned till today to give judgment after listening to arguments from counsel to prosecution and defence in the matter.

Lagos State Attorney general and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, who appeared before the Supreme Court alongside Mrs. Idowu Alakija, the Director of Public Prosecution and other Senior Counsel in the State, urged the court to dismiss the appeal and uphold the judgment of the lower court.

Ezeugo was arraigned on September 26, 2006 on a six-count charge of attempted murder and murder.

He pleaded not guilty to the allegation but was sentenced to death by the then Justice Joseph Oyewole of Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, on January 11, 2007 for the murder of one of his church members, Ann Uzoh.

Justice Oyewole is now a judge of Appeal Court sitting in the Calabar division.

The Lagos State Government had said that the convict poured petrol on the deceased and five other persons and that Uzoh died on August 2, 2006; 11 days after the act was perpetrated on her.

Ezeugo was convicted and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for the attempted murder and death by hanging for the offence of murder.

Dissatisfied, Ezeugo challenged the verdict before the Court of Appeal in Lagos, but the appeal was thrown out.

“I hereby rule that the prosecution effectively discharged the burden of proof on it. This appeal is devoid of any basis and accordingly fails.

“The judgment of the High Court is hereby affirmed, and the conviction imposed on the appellant, (which is death by hanging) is also affirmed,” Justice Fatimo Akinbami who read the judgement held. The two other members of the panel of Justices, Amina Augie and Ibrahim Saulawa concurred with the lead judgement.

Again, Ezeugo not being satisfied with the verdict, approached the Supreme Court, and urged that the judgment be upturned.

The apex court has now fixed the final judgment for today.

Pm News

Stella Oduah, Andy Uba Remain Elected – Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a motion filed by the Independent National Electoral Commission seeking clarification on its January 29, 2016 judgment, which many claimed had sacked federal legislators from Anambra State, including senators Andy Uba and Stella Oduah.

A five-man panel of the apex court, led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, held that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the motion

Justice Nyang Okoro, who read the lead ruling of the court, held that there was no ambiguity in the apex court’s judgment and could not be accommodated under Order 8, Rule 16 of the Supreme Court rules.

But despite declining jurisdiction to clarify the judgment, Justice Okoro went on to highlight what the apex court decided and did not decide in the said verdict.

Justice Okoro, who had delivered the judgment, which was being sought to be interpreted, ruled, for instance, that the apex court did not resolve the question relating to the legitimacy or otherwise of the list of candidates submitted to INEC for the 2015 National Assembly election by the various factions of the Peoples Democratic Party in Anambra State.

He ruled, “The motion is not seeking correction of any clerical mistake or some error arising from any accidental slip or omission. May I say, generally too, that this court has the power to correct its own clerical errors or slip of the pen. Such power is exercisable in both civil and criminal proceedings.

“It must be clearly stated that it is not every slip or error in a judgment that would be allowed to undermine or derogate from an otherwise well-written judgment. I have seen the application by the applicant (INEC) and the issues thrown up for determination.

“I am of the view that this court has no jurisdiction to determine and pronounce upon them as it will have the effect of rewriting the judgment and in the process, making orders, which ought not to have been made in the first place. The judgment of this court is final by virtue of Section 235 of the Constitution.

“From the issue before us, nothing has been shown, which is not clear in the judgment. It is wrong for anyone to import into the judgment, issues which were not ventilated and decided upon.”

Justice Okoro explained that, although the panel upheld the earlier judgment of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, to the effect that the Ejike Oguebego-led executive committee of the Anambra chapter of the PDP was the authentic body to run the party’s affairs, it did give the EXCO the power to submit a list of candidates to INEC.

Justice John Okoro stated that the Supreme Court neither ordered INEC to accept the list of candidates for the National Assembly election from the Oguebego-led EXCO nor did it direct INEC to conduct fresh elections to the National Assembly in the state.

He added, “For instance, the applicant is seeking clarifications whether to issue certificate of return to persons in the list of Ejike Oguebego-led executive committee. This was not part of our judgment.

“Also, INEC is seeking whether to do a fresh election to the National Assembly, as it affects Anambra State. This, again, was not part of the judgment. These are matters that have been properly ventilated at the election tribunal and the Court of Appeal. I am not aware that any of those matters are on appeal in this court.

“It is untrue that parties do not understand the import of our judgment. Where in the judgment did we state that the Oguebego-led committee should take over the functions of the National Executive Committee of the PDP so that it can submit a list to INEC? I think counsel are not fair to this court when they say they do not understand the judgment of this court, which was written in simple English language.”

The court dismissed the motion filed and argued by INEC’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomoolo (SAN) and upheld the objection by lawyer to the Oguebego-led EXCO, Chris Uche (SAN), who had urged the court to decline jurisdiction.

The Punch

Aisha Alhassan Has No Locus To Challenge PDP’s Nomination Of Ishaku – Supreme Court

Supreme Court on Monday stated that the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its governorship candidate in Taraba State, Aisha Alhassan, had no locus standi to challenge the nomination of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate Governor Darius Ishiaku by his party.

The court made the declaration while giving reasons for dismissing the appeal of APC and Alhassan in its judgment on February 11, 2015.

According to Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, who read details of the judgment, the appeals and cross appeals had no redeemable substance.

The apex court held that Governor Ishiaku was duly sponsored by the PDP, to contest in the election, adding that evidence brought before it had confirmed Ishiaku’s membership of the party.

“The matter is very simple, the apex court has ruled on matters of this nature at different occasions.

“There is no way a candidate of another political party who did not participate in the primaries of another political party could suddenly rise to challenge the conduct of such an exercise.

“It is therefore, clear that the appeals and all the cross appeals against the election of Governor Darius Ishiaku have no redeemable substance,” Rhodes-Vivour held.

Besides, the court declared that the Taraba State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal grossly misdirected itself by upturning Ishiaku’s victory.

It would be recalled that the tribunal had nullified the governor’s election and went ahead to declare Alhassan as duly elected governor of Taraba.

However, an appeal by Ishiaku set aside the tribunal judgement, prompting Alhassan and the APC to approach the apex court, which dismissed their appeals and affirmed the validity of the governor’s election.

Why Wike Is Rightfully Elected Governor Of Rivers – Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday gave reasons while Nyesom Wike was affirmed as the validly elected governor of Rivers.

Justice Mohammad Mahmud, who presided, held that the Governorship Electoral Petition Tribunal that handled the case swayed INEC guideline on the use of card readers for the election.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) also held that the tribunal also denied Wike fair hearing.

The Justice said: “While the court commends the introduction of card readers, the innovation, however, cannot supersede the voters register.

“The extant laws of the Federation provides for the use of voters register but the card reader irrespective of its importance does not have a place in any extant law of the land.

“Hence it said that the tribunal was wrong to base it judgment on non-compliance with the use of card readers,” Mahmud held.

On the issue of allegation of violence and irregularities during the election, Mahmud held that Dakuku Peterside, candidate of the APC in that election, failed to prove the allegations.

“The APC and its candidate, Mr Dakuku Peterside, were not able to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt because they failed to bring witnesses from all the polling units to substantiate the claims.

“For Peterside to prove non-accreditation, he ought to have tendered the voters register and then demonstrate it before the open court.

“We have aligned ourselves with the provision of the law that recognizes the voters register as key element to conduct any elections,” he said.

Mahmud, therefore, said the voter register could not be jettisoned for the card reader because it had a place in law while the card reader did not.

According to him, the tribunal and the lower court were unduly swayed by INEC’s directive on card reader usage during the election.

While noting that INEC had empower to make subsidiary regulations regarding conduct of election, Mahmud held that the regulations must not go contrary to constitutional provisions.

On the evidence of INEC staff who described the election as a sham and a mockery of democracy, the court held that his evidence could not take the place of testimonies of voters.

“We however discovered that under cross examination witness did not state whether he personally witnessed any violence at any polling unit, thereby making his evidence hearsay.

“The laws do not give room for arbitrary nullification of an election. A petitioner has to prove that there was substantial non-compliance in all polling units, this we did not see,” he said.

Mahmud further said that APC and Peterside failed to bring the issue within this parameter.

The CJN, however, commended the introduction of the card reader but urged the electoral body to approach the National Assembly to give its usage the status of law.

On that of Ogun state, the Court held that Amusu Ibikunle’s return as governor hinged on similar reasons adduced in the Rivers appeal.

NAN reports that Ibikunle contested the election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Mahmud held that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Gbeyeoga Isiaka, failed to prove allegations of violence, irregularities and other related malpractices during the election.

The Macabre Dance At Nigeria’s Supreme Court

By Segun Tomori

Shock, disbelief and outright amazement describes the mood of a wide spectrum of Nigerians to the recent streak of pathetically strange judgements recently delivered on gubernatorial disputes in Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Abia States by the Supreme court. Never in our recent history has apex court rulings faced so much opprobrium and dissatisfaction even among prominent legal luminaries. The Supreme court inadvertently endorsed electoral heist; certified violence as a veritable means of winning elections and supplied a huge dose of adrenaline to the veins of brazen vote robbers.

Rivers State presented a worst-case scenario. Gov. Wike of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was allocated over 1 million votes while INEC documents reveal that only 292,878 voters were accredited in the whole State! Violence was the order of the day during the elections as gunmen had a field day intimidating people, maiming and killing especially in opposition strongholds while the obviously compromised hierarchy of security agencies looked the other way or were mostly in connivance. We were inundated with reports that the former first lady relocated to Rivers to ensure victory for her “godson” at all cost. Assistant Inspector General (AIG), Zone 6 , Tunde Ogunshakin was allegedly posted out of the State at the instance of the “Dame” who called her husband, the then President, that the top cop was becoming a clog in the wheel of rigging. He had arrested a Divisional Police Officer with electoral materials and was uncompromising, so he had to be shown the way out. He was transferred to Calabar, the Cross-river State capital, 5 am, on election day.

International observers were unanimous in condemning the charade called the Rivers elections. The leader of African Centre of Leadership Strategies and Development, Humphery Bekaren who spoke on behalf of international observers had called for the cancellation of the polls. “We request all lovers of democracy to join us in calling for the outright cancellation of the phony election. Unless this is done, we would have sown the seed that could eventually grow into providing a shade of fear and death over us,’’ he stated. “What we saw did not meet international standard of electioneering, not even the ones set by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC,’’ he further stated.

The Elections petitions tribunal agreed with international observers and the All Progressives Congress (APC). It held that Wike of the PDP was not duly elected, nullified the elections and ordered a fresh one within 90 days. Tribunal chairman, Justice Ambrosa averred that thuggery overran the state during the election. “The allegation of intimidation, harassment, snatching of ballot boxes, ballot papers, lack of result sheets, late arrival of election materials, diversion of election materials, ballot stuffing, allocation of figures, non-collation of result, failure to use card readers were all established by the petitioners.” he stated.

The appeal court also concurred and affirmed the judgement of the lower court. It ruled the seven issues raised by Gov. Wike against him and in favour of Dakuku Peterside, the APC candidate. It held that Wike’s elections did not conform to the stipulations of the electoral act. It therefore beats one’s imagination the contrary evidence our learned justices of the Supreme court garnered, or the jurisprudence it relied upon to affirm Wike’s election despite the avalanche of evidence weighed in against him.

Akwa-Ibom was another spectre of the absurd during the gubernatorial elections. Violence was massively used to intimidate voters; evidence of thousands of ballots cast for the opposition party which were isolated and thrown away by rogue staff of INEC in collusion with the PDP were presented before the tribunal; vote allotting instead of collation characterised the elections in substantial Local governments. It was therefore no surprise that the petitions tribunal cancelled the elections in 18 out of the 31 LGs of the State and ordered that fresh polls be conducted there. The Court of Appeal however disagreed with the partial cancellation and nullified the entire elections. It posited that the tribunal was wrong by its refusal to comply with section 179(2) of the constitution.

“The court said having agreed with the evidence of principal witnesses, video evidence, and evidence from state collation agents, the tribunal should have concluded that there was no collation and that votes were merely allotted.” Evidences of over-voting in 27 out of 31 LGs formed the crux of the appellate court’s judgement. Total accredited votes of over 400,000 jumped mysteriously to 1.2m from which over 900,000 was credited to Gov. Udom Emmanuel of the PDP. Claims of incident forms by the PDP to back manual voting which led to over-voting according to it, couldn’t be validated. The alleged storming of the Supreme court by Sen. Godswill Akpabio and his declaration to his supporters that “it is all over” when the justices went on recess before delivering the verdict raises suspicion about a fore-knowledge of the judgement. Was the Supreme court penetrated by reactionary forces? Was the judgements procured through covert inducement? Only time will tell.

Abia State also followed a similar pattern. Though violence wasn’t as widespread as Rivers and Akwa-Ibom, the Appeal Court nullified the election of PDP Governor, Ikpeazu and declared All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Alex Otti winner. The Justice Omoleye-led court said  the APGA candidate scored 164,444 valid votes to defeat Mr Ikpeazu who polled 114,444 votes. He stated further that the cancellation of the elections held in three LGAs of Obingwa, Osisioma Ngwa and Isiala Ngwa by the returning officers after the results were uploaded to INEC was wrong. “In the Electoral Act, the Returning Officer has the right to only declare results of elections and not to cancel elections.” he concluded.

It is therefore curious that the Supreme court didn’t see any merit in this judgements. Prominent Legal luminaries like Prof Itse Sagay expressed surprise and wondered how all governorship cases will go the same way. It is evident that the Supreme court allowed itself to be swayed by technicalities into giving judgements instead of delivering justice. The constitutional lacuna that didn’t vitiate manual accreditation might have been exploited to deliver the jaundiced judgements,but Section 160 of the constitution which “empowered INEC to make its own rules or regulate it’s procedures” should have taken care of that. But to the Supreme Court, the former prevailed. But at what cost? Lost lives, brigandage, ballot stuffing, testimony of security agencies and observers; and evidence of substantial non-compliance with the electoral act were thrown into the thrash can.

It will be pertinent at this point to call for an independent probe of Supreme court judges. This is the time for investigative journalists at home and abroad to swing into action. We must not allow acts of omission or commission of an apex court compel Nigerians to resort to self-help. In this investigation, President Buhari should avail investigators the assistance of the Department of State Security (DSS). Purveyors of election violence have been emboldened, vote robbers are now basking in the euphoria of their conquest. We must take the sail out of their wind by unravelling the circumstances that led to the infamous judgements.

However, we must now go back to the drawing board to tighten the noose around vote riggers. President Buhari should lead the process that will herald holistic electoral reforms. The constitution and the electoral act should be amended to incorporate Card readers and electronic voting in our statutes. Electoral Offences Commission that will ensure that vote robbers face justice should be in place before the next general elections in 2019.

There is no corruption greater than the subversion of the people’s will. This must be fought to a standstill if the fight against graft by the present administration will not be a mirage on the long-run.

 

 

Segun Tomori, is a Public Affairs Analyst based in Abuja, 08062672869, twitter: @seguntomori

 

 

I Wasn’t Sacked By The Supreme Court – Stella Oduah

Senator Stella Oduah On Friday in Abuja, described as “a misinterpretation”, media reports which quoted a Supreme Court judgment to have sacked her and other federal lawmakers from Anambra.

Reports in the media said that the apex court had ordered the replacement of Oduah and other federal lawmakers from the state saying that their nomination to contest in the 2015 election was wrong.

In a statement issued by Cynthia Ferdinand, Press Secretary to the Senator, Oduah said that the report in the media was misleading as the apex court did not order the withdrawal of her certificate of return.

She said that the judgement of the Supreme Court said that it was only the National Executive Council of a political party that had the legal right to sponsor candidates in an election.

Oduah, therefore, stressed that she and all the other lawmakers from Anambra state have not been sacked by the Supreme Court contrary to media reports.

“It is pertinent to note that this is a mere misinterpretation of the Supreme Court rulings and‎ should be disregarded in all entirety‎.

“The Supreme Court did not order the withdrawal of the Certificates of Return issued by the Commission.

“It did not hold that the faction of the PDP had the right to sponsor candidates for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“It did not equally authorise the Commission to substitute our clients with the individuals whose names were on the list improperly allowed by the Commission,

“Series of judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria states that it is only the National Executive of the party that has the vires to sponsor candidates,” she said.

Meanwhile, the solicitors to the nine lawmakers allegedly sacked, have written to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to also fall into the folly of misunderstanding the judgment.

The letter signed by the lawmakers urged the commission not to allow itself to be misled by its legal department just as it was initially misled to accepting the list presented by the state chapter of the party.

The lawmakers stressed that separate rulings of the Supreme Court including that of Jan. 29, upheld that only the list submitted by the National Executive Committee was valid.

“This correspondence is aimed at setting the record straight so that your good self will not again be misled by your legal department into unjustifiably occasioning an unnecessary confusion in the process.

The letter also drew the attention of INEC to pages 4647 and 48 of the judgment of the Supreme Court to further butress the point that the couurt did not sack their clients.

The solicitors stated further that the apex court did not authorise the Commission to substitute the lawmakers’ names with the individuals whose names were on the list improperly allowed by the Commission.

NAN reports that the media was awash with reports that the Supreme Court had sacked the nine remaining lawmakers from Anambra state.