Court Jails Two Brothers For N15.4m Fraud

Bauchi Assembly Crisis: Court Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo

 

The Federal High Court sitting in Benin City, the Edo State capital has sentenced two brothers – Wisdom Onojiolou and Omorodion Onojiolou – to one-year imprisonment.

Justice M.G. Umar gave the ruling on Thursday after the duo were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on two counts of intent to defraud and obtaining under false pretence.

Both men were said to have fraudulently obtained the sum of N15.4 million from one Philian Uwadiae under the pretence of helping her to establish a business in Benin.

READ ALSOFamily, Prophet Trade Blame Over Disappearance Of Minor From Ondo Church

One of the counts read: “That you Wisdom Ehis Onojiolou sometime in March 2016 in Benin within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did with intent to defraud, obtained the aggregate sum of N9,000,000.00 (Nine Million Naira) Only from Philian Uwadiae under the pretence that the money was to set up human hair business for her in Benin, a representation you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(b) of the Advance  Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act”.

The two brothers pleaded guilty to the charges when it was read to them.

In view of their plea, the prosecution counsel, I.M. Elody, prayed the court to sentence and convict the defendants accordingly.

But the defence counsel, Martha Imafu, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy as the defendants were first time offenders who have become remorseful.

Justice Umar, thereafter, convicted and sentenced the defendants to one-year imprisonment commencing from the date of judgement and ordered that they make restitution to their victim.

Court Orders Final Forfeiture Of Over N280m Traced To Invictus Obi

Bauchi Assembly Crisis: Court Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo

 

 

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the final forfeiture to the Federal Government, the sum of N280,555,010 traced to Obinwanne Okeke, popularly known as Invictus Obi.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa made the order of final forfeiture on Thursday following the submissions of the EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had told the court that the funds were warehoused in the Nigerian bank accounts of Invictus Oil and Gas Limited and Invictus Investment Limited, respectively.

The anti-graft agency had also said the two firms were owned by Invictus Obi whom it described as, “a strong leader of a cyber-crime syndicate that specialises in business e-mail compromise”.

READ ALSOSchool Principal Killed, Another Injured In Taraba Ambush

In 2016, 31-year-old Obi was celebrated by Forbes as one of Africa’s “most outstanding 30 entrepreneurs under the age of 30.”

He was, however, arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) August 2018.

Obi is standing trial in the United States for allegedly defrauding some American citizens in 2018 to the tune of $11m.

He was alleged to have committed the offence “through fraudulent wire transfer instructions in a massive, coordinated, business e-mail compromise scheme.”

Alleged N11bn Diversion: Court Adjourns Shema’s Trial.

A file photo of former Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema.

 

 

The Katsina High Court has adjourned the trial of former Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema, and three others until December 11 and 12.

Justice Mai-Kaita Bako adjourned on Tuesday with respect to the statement of the fourth accused person, Mr Lawal Dankaba, which was rejected by the court.

Dankaba told the court that all the statements he made since inception of the trial were under duress.

The former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in the state, Mr Sani Makana; former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Lawal Rufa’I; and former chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Dankaba, are the three others standing trial along with the former governor.

They were alleged to have conspired and diverted the sum of N11 billion from the state ALGON account while piloting the affairs of the state.

When the trial started in 2015, Dankaba told the court that he was among those who conspired with the former governor to divert the money.

He later told the court that the statement he made was not true, noting that he was forced and threatened to make the statement.

Meanwhile, former Governor Shema is standing trial before Justice Hadiza Shagari of the Federal High Court in Katsina.

He was charged with 26 counts bordering on money laundering to the tune of N 5.7 billion belonging to Katsina State Subsidy Re-Investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) fund.

The charges were filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Reject MasterCard Transactions With NIMC Logo, Court Orders Banks

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered all Nigerian banks not to honour any Mastercard transaction that has the logo of the National Identity Card Management Commission (NIMC) on it, pending the determination of a design infringement suit filed by Chams Plc, and Chams Consortium against the Singaporean payment and financial technology company.

The trial judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa also ordered that the court order and other processes, be served outside jurisdiction on Mastercard’s office at 152 Beach Road, 35-00, The Gateway East, Singapore.

The court made the order sequel to an ex-parte application filed by Chams Plc lawyer, Snr Advocate of Nigeria, Kemi Pinheiro asking the court for the restraining order.

Joined as defendants with the Singaporean firm in the suit, are its Nigerian subsidiary, Mastercard Services Sub-Sahara Ltd, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Mr Ajay Banga, Daniel Monehin, and Omokehinde Ojomuyide.

The court also listed the names of the banks on which the orders should be served before adjourning till November 25, 2019 to hear the motion on notice.

In a 41-paragraph statement of claim filed before the court, the plaintiffs claim that sometime in 2006, they were invited by the Federal Government of Nigeria to bid for the Nigeria National Identity Card project.

As a result of the invitation, the plaintiff says it went into research and originated a smart card technical design that could serve as a national identity card as well as a means of general financial payment and banking transaction.

“The smartcard design is as a result of extensive financial, human, and intellectual investment in research and development and same has never been executed in any part of Africa”, the plaintiffs averred.

The national identity card although designed primarily as an ID card, also has other functions that include the incorporation of bank transaction functionality such as cash withdrawals, balance enquiries, PIN change, bill payments, account transfers, and airtime purchases. It also features biometric functionality with electronic payments, and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) travel card.

On May 25, 2007, NIMC on behalf of the Federal Government announced the plaintiff (Chams Plc) as the preferred bidder for the concession. This was confirmed by a letter from NIMC on the same date.

The plaintiff further stated that due to the national significance, complexity, and enormity of the project, it was necessary for them to collaborate with other companies and service providers to provide support in order to achieve the multi-faceted design it created.

“The first and second defendants, as a result of their perceived competence in the financial and payment service space, approached the plaintiffs through the 5th and 6th defendants on the authority of the 4th defendant with an offer to provide the payment infrastructure for the card”, the plaintiffs further averred, pointing to several correspondences between both parties.

The plaintiffs further stated: “The concession was awarded to the plaintiffs based upon its unique and ingenuous design submitted to the third defendant and the federal government.

The design was contained in the Lump Sum Contract of Works and Services for the Personalization of National Identity (Smart) cards and prototype documents submitted to the third defendant”.

The plaintiffs further pointed to several trainings and workshops they organized in conjunction with NIMC, between March and May, 2012, where stakeholders are sensitized on how the national identity card is programmed to work.

Technical partners, including MasterCard were also in attendance and they played active roles.

“The plaintiffs in uttermost good faith provided and made available their developments, research, design, and concept for the Nigerian National Identity (smart) Card to MasterCard in the belief that the plaintiffs and MasterCard were partners on the project”, it further stated.

Things, however, took another twist when in May 8, 2013, Mastercard in a press release announced to the world that it was set to produce over 100 million copies of the National identity smart card, using the exact designs created by the plaintiffs. “By the joint press release of the defendants, it was discovered that Mastercard, without recourse to the plaintiffs as the originators of the concept and design, unilaterally and without justifiable reason announced the publishing issuance, and distribution of the national identity smart cards based on the same concept and design created by the plaintiffs”, it was further claimed.

The specimen was allegedly released by Mastercard both in the press release, and on its global website, “where they applauded themselves for having developed an e-ID (electronics ID) for the Nigerian citizenry which has exactly the same features as the concept and design of the plaintiffs”, it stated.

The defendants allegedly went on subsequently to produce the e-ID for NIMC with the exact prototype created by the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs further stated the technical details of the infringement on their designs.

Due to this infringement, the plaintiffs say that its contract with NIMC was terminated. Although the termination was challenged in court, NIMC and the plaintiffs resolved the issues amicably.

However, the plaintiff claimed that on its design, NIMC had already awarded a contract with them to produce 50 million e-cards. “In order to fully implement the contract, the plaintiffs entered into several agreements with the first defendant to provide support to achieve the desired objective of the contract.

The plaintiffs further claimed to have lost reputation, and enormous amounts of money as a result of the action of the defendants. Part of the loss included setting up of Chams limited that has capacity for processing and switching 100 million national identity cards; establishment of a card personalisation plant in Abuja, Nigeria that has capacity to produce 1,750,000 cards per day; and acquisition of several technical partners.

The grouse of the Plaintiffs according to its court processes is that Mastercard has stolen and infringed upon its intellectual property in the design of the National Identitiy card.

The plaintiffs, therefore, asked the court for the following reliefs:

A declaration that the plaintiffs as the originators and creators of the National Identity Smart Card design more particularly described in the statement of claim, are entitled to the exclusive and uninterrupted use of same without any interference by any other person;

A declaration that the act of the 1st, 2nd,4th, and 6th defendants in manufacturing, producing, or printing National Identity Smart Card with the design of the plaintiffs without consent of the plaintiffs, amounts to an infringement of the plaintiff’s intellectual property rights in the design;

An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th from manufacturing, designing, producing, and or printing, or authorizing the manufacturing, producting, designing and or printing of any National Identity Card with the logo ”NIMC” more particularly described in the statement of claim;

An order for the delivery -up, or destruction upon oath of all National Identity Smart Card produced by the 1st, 2nd,4th, and 6th defendants using the plaintiffs’ concept and design or other articles in the possession, custody, or control of the defendants;

An inquiry as to damages or at the plaintiff’s option, an account of profit, and order for payment of all sums due together with interest as aforesaid.

N25m Fraud: Court Jails Two Ex-Bankers After 10 Years Trial

Bauchi Assembly Crisis: Court Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo

 

Justice Adama Iyami- Lamikanra of the Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has convicted and sentenced a former manager of Diamond Bank Plc (now Access Bank), Chinyere Oti, and a former account officer of the same bank, Odigboh Okechukwu, to two years imprisonment.

The duo were jailed on Monday for defrauding the bank the sum of N25,018,467, the spokesman from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement.

The convicts were arraigned on November 19, 2009, by the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the EFCC on seven charges bordering on conspiracy and stealing.

READ ALSO: Kaduna Poly Rector Seeks Joint Action Against Kidnappers

The charges were amended on April 25, 2019.

Count four of the charge read, “Odigboh Okechukwu and Chinyere Oti on or about the  23rd day of October, 2008 at Diamond Bank Plc  Port Harcourt within the Port Harcourt Judicial Division did fraudulently steal the sum of  twenty million four hundred and thirty one thousand three hundred and forty two naira five kobo (N20,431,342.05) property of Diamond Bank Plc by means of Diamond Bank Cheque No. 16216303 through an unfunded account in the name of Achufa Investment Limited operated by Odigboh Okechukwu and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 381 (1) and punishable under Section 390( 9) of the Criminal Code CAP 37  Vol. II Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.”

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Their pleas led to a 10-year- long trial.

The prosecution called three witnesses and tendered 15 exhibits while the defence called three witnesses.

Delivering her judgment on Monday, Justice Iyayi- Lamikanra found the two defendants guilty of the charges and sentenced them to two years imprisonment each or an option of fine of N1,000,000 each.

She also ordered the convicts to pay a sum of N25 million as restitution to Diamond Access Bank Plc.

Trouble came for the two convicts when the former Diamond Bank Plc petitioned the EFCC alleging that its manager at  Rumukwrushi Branch in Port Harcourt, Mrs Chinyere Oti, fraudulently opened a current account for one of its customers and used the account to make fraudulent withdrawals and overdrew it to N25,018,467.

Investigations revealed that the alleged customer of the bank never opened an account with the bank, but Okechukwu used the customer’s photograph to open the account without the customer’s knowledge or consent.

It was through the account the two convicts defrauded the bank.

Appeal Court Affirms Bello’s Election As Niger Governor

Easter: Governor Bello Challenges Residents On Nation Building
A file photo of Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello

 

 

A Court of Appeal has affirmed the election of Mr Abubakar Bello as the duly elected governor of Niger State.

The court gave the affirmation on Saturday in a unanimous judgment delivered by a five-man panel of justices, while ruling on the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the March 9 poll, Umar Nasko.

It held that it lacked the jurisdiction to enter judgment against Mister Bello as the appellants failed to conclude their petition within 180 days, as stipulated by Section 294 Sub-section 2 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Justice Oyebisi Omoleye, who read the lead judgment, insisted that election matters must be concluded within the 180 days prescribed by law.

The judge held that having failed to do that, the appeal filed by the PDP and its candidate has failed and was subsequently dismissed.

Court Grants Stay Of Execution Of Court Ruling On Bayelsa APC Primaries

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted Stay of Execution on the court order that nullified the Bayelsa State All Progressives Congress governorship primaries that produced Mr. David Lyon as its candidate for the November 16 election.

The leader of the APC in Bayelsa State, and Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, who spoke at a pressure conference in Yenagoa, the state capital, on the stay of execution order, asked party supporters to stand firm.

This comes after the court had declared on Thursday that the APC didn’t follow constitutional guidelines in its primaries hence the party has no candidate for the November 16th election in the state.

READ ALSO: APC Has No Governorship Candidate In Bayelsa Election, Court Rules

The case was presided over by Justice Jane Inyang.

One of the APC governorship aspirants, Senator Heineken Lopkobiri had earlier approached the court asking it to declare him, and not David Lyon, the authentic candidate of the APC.

Counsel to Lopkobiri in reaction to the court ruling described the judgment as strange. According to him, the judgment delivered was not part of their prayer when they approached the court.

Meanwhile, Lyon’s counsel says the party has begun the process of appealing the court’s judgment.

The ruling is coming two days to the election.

2006 Bank Recapitalisation: Court Fixes Dec To Try Ex-bankers Suit Against CBN, NDIC

Bauchi Assembly Crisis: Court Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo

 

The National Industrial Court sitting in Lagos has fixed December 17 and 18 to try the suit initiated by over 1,000 former bank workers affected by the recapitalisation exercise in 2006.

The defendants in the suit are the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).

At the proceedings on Tuesday, the court was informed that one of the defendants, the NDIC, was not present or represented by its counsel.

VIDEO: I Was Attacked, Harassed By APC Thugs – Natasha Akpoti

The defendant’s lawyer was said to have sent in word that he was stranded in Abuja.

Although the court was not happy about the development, it granted another adjournment to enable the defendants to file their reply to the interrogatories filed earlier by the former bank workers.

On the other hand, the other defendant – CBN – particularly asked the court for a short time to file its reply to the interrogatories.

The apex bank explained that it needed time to access its archives spread all over the country, in order to come up with an appropriate response to the interrogatories.

Reacting to the adjournment on behalf of his colleagues, chairman of the former bank workers, Magnus Maduka, reiterated their commitment to pursue the case to a logical conclusion to ensure that their terminal benefits and allowances were paid.

Interrogatories, also known as requests for further information, are a formal set of written questions by one party and required to be answered by another party or parties in a suit, in order to clarify matters of fact and help to determine in advance what facts will be presented at the trial of a case.

Court Disqualifies Bayelsa APC Deputy Governorship Candidate

Court Nullifies Zamfara APC Governorship Primary

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has disqualified the deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State, Mr Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, from participating in the November 16 poll.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in his judgment on Tuesday, said Mr Degi-Eremienyo provided conflicting information in his documents submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The judge, however, upheld the arguments of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the proposed deputy governorship candidate gave false information in support of his candidacy to the electoral body.

READ ALSO: Appeal Court Affirms Tribunal’s Ruling, Says Nasarawa Governor Duly Elected

The PDP had asked the court to regard the discrepancies in Mr Degi-Eremienyo’s certificates as major impediments to his candidacy.

It also accused the APC governorship running mate of providing different names at all levels of his education.

The PDP alleged that while Mr Degi-Eremienyo’s name was written as Degi Biobara in his primary school certificate, the documents from his secondary education bore Adegi Biobarakumo, as his name.

It added that the APC governorship running mate’s university education had Degi Biobarakuma as his name while the PDP said the result from his MBA certificate had Degi Biobarakuma Wangaha as the name of the same person.

In his ruling, Justice Ekwo upheld the arguments of the PDP that the affidavits sworn to support the changes in the names were insufficient to validate the changes.

The court, therefore, decided that Mr Degi-Eremienyo did not fulfill the requirements for participation in the forthcoming governorship election and subsequently disqualified him.

Court Reserves Judgement In Appeal Challenging Okowa’s Election

A file photo of Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has reserved judgement in the appeal filed by the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Great Ogboru, against the election of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as the governor of Delta State.

A five-man panel of the court led by Justice Uzo Ndukwe-Anyanwu reserved judgement on Monday after the lawyers to the parties in the appeal adopted and argued their final briefs.

READ ALSO: Appeal Court Affirms Makinde’s Election As Oyo Governor

Ogboru is asking the court to reverse the decision of the Delta State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal which returned Senator Okowa as the winner of the March 9 poll.

He had raised 37 points of appeal through his lawyer, Mr Nicholson Ichekor, upon which he asked the court of appeal to set aside the entire judgement of the Tribunal.

The APC candidate alleged over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

U.S. Green Card: How An American Robbed Me Of N52m, Nigerian Tells Court

Lagos Arraigns Danish Man Who Allegedly Killed Wife, Daughter
File photo

 

 

A Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja has heard how an American citizen defrauded a Nigerian businessman of $145,000 (about N52 million) in a Green Card scam.

The businessman, Olukayode Sodimu, testified on Friday as a prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of the American, Marco Ramirez.

He claimed that he got to know the alleged serial conman through a newspaper advertisement.

The American, who was first re-arraigned before Justice Josephine Oyefeso on June 22, 2017, was re-arraigned before Justice Mojisola Dada on amended 12 counts bordering on conspiracy and obtaining under false pretence.

He was docked alongside his companies – USA Now LLC, Eagle Ford Instalodge Group LP, and USA Now Capital Group by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC accused Ramirez, who faces two separate criminal suits at the Special Offences Court, of defrauding five Lagos-based Nigerians of $1.5 million.

READ ALSO: Appeal Court Affirms Sanwo-Olu’s Election, Fines Appellants N2.4m

In the first suit, the American was accused of allegedly defrauding two Nigerians—Gabriel Edeoghon and Oludare Talabi of $ 388,838.

In the second suit, he allegedly defrauded three Nigerians — Ambassador Godson Echejue, Abubakar Umar, and Sodimu of $1.2 million.

According to the EFCC, the offences are contrary to and punishable under Sections 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, No. 14 of 2006.

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

 

A Convincing Lecture

At Friday’s sitting, Sodimu while being led in evidence by the EFCC counsel, M. Owede, told the court that he first got to know Ramirez and his company in 2013 through an advertisement in a national newspaper for an Employment-based Fifth Preference (EB-5) American Investment programme.

He said, “The advert in the paper said that USA Now LLC was the regional centre for the EB-5 Investment Programme and that one could invest $500,000 in it.

“It stated that by investing $500,000, the investor and his children under 21-years of age will be issued a U.S. Green Card, which implies permanent residency in the U.S.”

Sodimu also testified that after seeing the advert, he verified the authenticity of the programme and that he found out online that such programme existed and that he attended a seminar which was advertised in the newspapers to be holding in Eko Hotels.

He said that at the seminar, Ramirez gave a lecture and thereafter had a meeting with him.

“The defendant mentioned that a number of Nigerians had benefited from the programme that they had either received Green Card or were about to get one through his offers,” the businessman narrated.

He said further, “He presented Umar who is the second Prosecution Witness (PW 2) in this case as someone who had paid his $ 500,000 and Umar’s process had reached the final stage and he was about to do his medicals.

“I believed him and I chose to participate. I met him several times after that day to verify his claims and make enquiries. He gave me a brochure that had some explanations and stated that he had American government backing for the programme.

“He gave me a pre-qualification questionnaire. I filled it and he took it back to the United States.

“I got an email from a lady he told me was his personal assistant. Based on the responses on the questionnaire, I was given sets of forms and requirements I had to meet.”

Sodimu claimed that he was required to pay $500,000 to a separate account called an investment account and that he was required to pay an additional $45,000 as administrative fees into the defendant’s bank account.

“He said that being an investment, the $500,000 is repayable with interest after five years – I read through the agreement given to me before paying a kobo.

“The agreement made it clear that all the money, including the $45,000, was refundable if the investor was not accepted by the American government,” the witness testified.

 

Under Investigation

Sodimu told the court that in June 2013, he paid the $45,000 administrative fee in five tranches within a week and two months later, he paid $100,000, which was the first instalment of the $500,000 investment fee.

He said, “As at the time the $100,000 was transferred, I had the whole money but in naira. The banking regulation is that one can only register such amount of money from the inflow from the proceeds of export.

“At the time, I could only get $100,000 in tranches and the defendant was putting so much pressure on me.”

Sodimu said that while he was figuring out how he was going to get the balance of the $500,000 investment fee, he found out via the internet that Ramirez and his spouse were under investigation by the FBI in America for fraud.

“When I saw the news report, I was very worried and very concerned. I called Marco and I told him what I saw on the internet. He confirmed it but said it was just a minor problem and it will soon be resolved.

“I took a flight to the U .S. a few days later to find out what was going on and I had a meeting with him and from the discussion, I realised things were far worse than he claimed on the phone.

“I spoke to his lawyer and officials of the Securities and Exchange Commission in Texas and I found out that he was under investigation by the FBI, following a petition by his victims.

“When it became obvious that I could have been duped, I remembered some people I saw during the seminar and I made some phone calls and I was able to identify four people who were in similar or worse situations than mine.”

Sodimu told the court that he and other alleged victims of the American made several fruitless efforts to contact him to refund their money.

When they realised they had been duped, Sodimu said they petitioned the EFCC through the law firm of Festus Keyamo & Co.

He said that in 2015, he and the other victims learnt that Ramirez was still coming to Nigeria to transact businesses.

Sodimu said the American was apprehended by the anti-graft agency during one of his business visits to Nigeria.

“Till now, he has not paid me back the $145,000, neither has he issued me a Green Card,” he said.

Justice Dada adjourned the matter until November 13 for the continuation of trial.

Appeal Court Affirms Sanwo-Olu’s Election, Fines Appellants N2.4m

Lagos Election: AD, LP Candidates Challenge Sanwo-Olu's Victory At Tribunal
A file photo of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

 

 

The Court of Appeal in Lagos has dismissed an appeal filed by the Labour Party (LP) challenging the judgment of the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal which affirmed the election of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the governor of Lagos State.

In a unanimous decision on Saturday, the five-man panel of justices held that the appeal filed by LP lacked merit and “sank never to rise again, even on appeal.”

The party and its candidate in the March 9 governorship poll, Mr Ifagbemi Awamaridi, had appealed the judgment of Tribunal delivered on September 23.

They insisted that Sanwo-Olu was not qualified to contest the election and that the governor did not win the poll.

The respondents in the appeal included the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Sanwo-Olu, All Progressives Congress (APC), INEC’s Residential Electoral Commissioner in Lagos, Returning Officer for the Lagos State Governorship Election, the Commissioner of Police in Lagos, and the Nigerian Army.

Justice Hannatu Sankey, who read the lead judgement of the panel, however, affirmed the decisions reached by the Tribunal.

According to the court, LP failed to produce any oral or documentary evidence through witnesses and other channels to establish the fact that Sanwo-Olu was not qualified to contest the election or did not win the poll.

It ruled that the petitioner went on a “Columbian journey of making assertions with nothing to back it up,” and thereby dismissed the appeal in its entirety.

Dead On Arrival?

 

The appellate court also upheld the Tribunal’s decision that no proof of allegation of collusion and assault against officers of the Nigerian Army was provided by the appellants.

It added that no sufficient fact was provided to substantiate the allegation of electoral malpractices at the polling units against the respondents.

“The appeal is lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed. I hereby uphold the judgment of the Lagos State Election Petition Tribunal,” Justice Sankey held.

All the other four justices of the court affirmed and concurred with the lead judgement.

In a related development, the court also dismissed an appeal filed by the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and its governorship candidate, Owolabi Salis, also challenging Governor Sanwo-Olu’s victory.

In a unanimous decision, Justice Ayobode Shodipe, who read the lead judgement, held that the appeal of AD lacked merit and was “dead on arrival.”

“The appeal is seriously lacking in merit and is hereby dismissed. The seven issues of the appellant (Salis) are hereby resolved against him,” Justice Shodipe ruled.

Meanwhile, the appellate court ordered that a cost of N200,000 should be awarded against the appellants in favour of each six of the seven respondents.

The Commissioner of Police in both appeals was, however, exempted while the total cost awarded against the appellants was N2.4 million.