The Kogi State governorship election tribunal siting in Abuja has agreed to accept forensic reports as parts of evidence to be tendered by the petitioner during the proceedings.
Ruling on an earlier motion filed by the petitioner, Captain Idris Wada, Justice Halima Mohammed said that the court would accept forensic experts as witnesses and their reports as evidence.
The court also asked all parties to the case to streamline their witnesses so as to enable it give judgement within the expected time frame.
Having ruled on all preliminary objections, the petitioner further proposed to the court that all certified documents from INEC be allowed to be tendered by consent during the proceedings.
Lead counsel to the petitioner, Chris Uche (SAN), said that the decision of the court is important to proving his case, while counsel to INEC, Alex Iziyon, (SAN) insisted that such documents should be verified before they are accepted by the court
Counsel to the first respondent, the Governor of Kogi State, Mr Yahaya Bello, Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN) also maintained that tendering of documents should be based on what the law says and not the views of the parties.
The court has adjourned till March 15 to rule on other pre-hearing matters, including duration for cross-examination of witnesses and whether or not all certified documents from INEC be tendered by consent.
The Federal Government has asked Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court in Abuja, to put the alleged mastermind of October 1, 2010 Independence Day bombing, Charles Okah in chains.
Mr Okah, who is standing trial on charges of terrorism alongside Obi Nwabueze, had on October 6, 2015, caused a commotion at the court, as he attempted to end his life by attempting to jump down through the window from a three storey building.
The counsel to the government, Alex Iziyon, made an oral application before the court on Tuesday, requesting that Mr Okah be chained in view of what transpired at the last proceedings of October 6.
However, the counsel to Mr Okah, Samuel Ozidiri, apologised on behalf of his client and urged the court to discountenance the prosecution’s request, as it was premature and not worthy of any sympathetic consideration.
Delivering a bench ruling on the application, Justice Kolawole said granting the prosecution’s request may turn out to be the greatest distraction in the suit.
According to him, even though the conduct of Mr Okah requires the court to put some form of restrain, the court will pull back its exercise of discretionary jurisdiction based on the apologies given by his lawyer.
He, however, warned Mr Okah not to test the resolve of the court.
The trail was adjourned to October 27 for continuation.
The Delta State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba on Wednesday adjourned judgement of the petitions filed by the governorship candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Labour Party (LP) O’terga Emerho and Great Ogboru respectively, to a date that would be communicated before August 28.
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Nasir Gummi, announced that the tribunal would communicate to counsels, the date for the judgement shortly after submissions from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents’ counsels against the suit filed by the petitioners to invalidate and nullify the result of the April 11 governorship elections in the state.
At the sitting, Alex Iziyon (SAN), the lead counsel to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petitions which he said varied with the petitioners’ evidences before the tribunal.
Counsels to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also aligned with the claims of the 1st respondent.
In replying their addresses, the lead counsel to the petitioners, Thompson Okpoko (SAN) and Dele Adesina asked the tribunal to look at the petition before it, based on facts of their submissions, asking the tribunal to nullify and call for a fresh election.
Governor Okowa was declared winner of the April 11 election by the INEC.
A Federal High Court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, has refused an application brought by four registered political parties, seeking to restrain the electoral commission from using Smart Card Readers in the conduct of the general elections.
The United Democratic Party, Action Alliance, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria and Alliance for Democracy filed the suit.
The parties, through their counsel Alex Iziyon, told the court that the proposed use of the readers was contrary to the provisions of the constitution, as well as the amended 2010 Electoral Act.
In the suit, the political parties challenged the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to introduce a process not specifically provided for in the constitution, as it prepares for the rescheduled polls.
Mr Iziyon told the court that the Electoral Act, in section 52(1), prohibited electronic voting, but that the electoral body had gone ahead to introduce electronic voter’s card reader.
The counsel urged the court to temporarily restrain the INEC from implementing the use of the card reader machine in the forthcoming elections, pending the determination of the suit.
He further urged the court to bridge the time within which INEC would be allowed to file a response, in view of the nature of the case which according to him had a robust electoral jurisprudence.
In his ruling on the exparte motion, the trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, noted that the political parties had shown that they had legal rights, showing that the case is triable, but observed that the parties would not suffer any irreparable harm if the electoral body is given the opportunity to be heard before the interim orders being sought could be granted.
Consequently, the court declined to make any interim orders against INEC on the proposed use of the Smart Card Readers.
However, it abridged the time for INEC to file its response to four days, after receiving court papers on the matter.
Hearing on the substantive motion on notice was thereafter adjourned until Tuesday, Mar 10.
INEC To Test Card reader
In a statement on Monday, the INEC said it will conduct a field testing of the functionality of the Smart Card Readers to be deployed for the accreditation of voters on Election Day. The General Elections was re-scheduled for March 28 and April 11.
According to the Commission’s Decision Extract issued on February 26 and signed by the Director of the Commission’s Secretariat, Ishiaku Gali, the field testing will take place in two states of each of the six geopolitical zones of the federation.
He said the testing would take place simultaneously on Saturday, March 7.
The states selected for the exercise are: Ekiti and Lagos, South West; Anambra and Ebonyi, South East; Delta and Rivers, South South; Kano and Kebbi, North West; Bauchi and Taraba, North East; Niger and Nasarawa, North Central.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja for an order declaring the seats of the five governors who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) vacant.
The governors are: Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Magatakarda Wamakko (Sokoto), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) and Abdulfatai Ahmed (Kwara).
Named as defendants in the suit along with the five governors is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The party is also asking the court to order the Houses of Assembly of the affected states to impeach the governors.
In the suit filed by Dr. Alex Izinyon, the party cited sections 177 (c), 221 and 222 (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a ground for the court to declare them ineligible to remain in office as governors having defected to APC.
The court was equally asked to make a declaration that in the absence of any division in the PDP, the five governors have vacated or forfeited their seats upon their defection to the APC.
APC Warns PDP To Back Off
The All Progressives Congress (APC) had last week cautioned the PDP against declaring vacant the seats of the five governors saying “apart from being illegal and smacking of double standard, such a move has the potential to plunge the polity into chaos.”
The party, in a statement by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, said “any attempt by the PDP to act in desperation and declare the governors’ seats vacant will be met with an unprecedented show of people power that will end, once and for all, the impunity of the PDP and the Presidency.”
According to the statement, “APC has irrefutable evidence that the PDP is desperately shopping for a pliant judge who will be heavily induced to declare vacant the seats of the five governors who recently defected to the APC. We also have the name of the lawyers who have been retained by the PDP for this hatchet job.
‘’We are in possession of the various nefarious legal options being explored by the PDP and the Presidency, but we hereby serve a strong notice to the duo that any attempt by anyone through any means other than what is provided for in Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, will not only have grave consequences, but will leave the polity severely bruised.
‘’We wish to state unequivocally that should the PDP go ahead with this plan, there will be widespread repercussions as the APC has resolved that henceforth, every act of impunity of the PDP and the Presidency will be met with stiff resistance in the form of a vociferous telegraphing of people power, the likes of which have not been witnessed.’’
APC also warned against any attempt by the PDP and the Presidency to “turn back the hands of the clock as far as the cleaning up of the judiciary is concerned, by inducing a servile and disreputable judge to do the duo’s bidding.
Accusing the PDP of engaging in double standard, APC said “For all of 14 years, elected members of the State Houses of Assembly, as well as the National Assembly have been defecting mostly to the PDP and no court has ever declared their seats vacant.
“The late Senator Wahab Dosunmu and Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, then of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) blazed the trail when they decamped to the PDP within a year of their election. Since then, scores of elected lawmakers at state and federal levels have defected to the PDP without any eyebrows being raised or anyone declaring their seats vacant.
“When Governors Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State and Theodore Orji of Abia State, both elected on the platform of the PPA, and Governor Isah Yuguda of Bauchi State, who was elected on the platform of the then ANPP, defected to the PDP, nobody declared their seats vacant.
“As a matter of fact, the PDP under the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua organised an elaborate reception to welcome Yuguda to the PDP. Why then should the case of the five PDP governors who have joined the APC be different? Why is the PDP suddenly afraid of taking the same medicine it has been administering to others? Does it mean that all the bravado that has been displayed by the PDP, which says it is not bothered by the defection of the five governors, is just a facade to hide its deep pain at the monumental loss?’’ APC queried.
The opposition party urged the PDP to go and read and be guided by the ruling of the Supreme Court after it (PDP) allegedly attempted to make the then Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, to lose his seat and to also strip him of his privileges following his defection to the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
It was not a good day for one of the suspects of the October 1, 2010 bombing in Abuja. Edmund Ebiware who apparently wanted an expeditious trial only to be greeted with the news of long adjournment at the instance of the prosecution who sought for more time to enable him produce his last witness.
The prosecutor told the court that his last witness is presently not in the country and as such would need more time to present him.
An excuse that got the suspect into an emotional mood as he was been taken away by prison warders out of the courtroom.
Earlier, the fifth prosecution witness who is a Principal Technical Officer with the State Security Service, Wasiu Agbaje testified that he had extracted the contents of the accused person phone shortly after he was arrested.
According to him two incriminating messages was discovered in one of the suspect’s phones. One in is his outbox message and the other in his sent box which linked him to the Independence Day bombing.
The witness said he used forensic suite software to extract the messages which he told the court he printed and passed to the service special investigative panel.
The printed text messages were later tendered as evidence by the prosecutor, Alex Iziyon (SAN), as evidence. Mr Iziyon said he sought for a long adjournment in the interest of justice.
The case has now been adjourned to October 3 and 9 for continuation of trial.