Court Strikes Out Case Challenging Tambuwal As Sokoto Governor

Building Collapse: Governors' Forum Visits Governor EmmanuelThe Federal High Court in Abuja has struck out an application filed by Senator Umar Dahiru seeking to amend the suit challenging the nomination and subsequent election of Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.

Senator Dahiru based his motion on the basis that the Governor was wrongly nominated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election which held on April 11, 2015.

However, neither the plaintiff Senator Dahiru, nor Governor Tambuwal, were in court for the ruling.

In his ruling, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, dismissed the application for amendment because it was not the application remitted by the Supreme Court for retrial.

Justice Kolawole held that the plaintiff had claimed in his motion on notice filed on January 27, 2015 that the primary election conducted on December 4, 2014 by the APC which produced Governor Tambuwal was a sham and in gross violation of the Electoral Act 2010 and the APC Election Guidelines.

He, however, said the plaintiff had then somersaulted to file a fresh motion on notice, seeking the variation of his pleadings in his earlier suit to the effect that he should be declared governor based on the same primary election.

The judge said the plaintiff “intended to steal a match which [he] originally said was null and void”, and in essence to have a second bite of the cherry.

On this basis, the judge consequently struck out the plaintiff’s motion in its entirety.

court

Justice Kolawole added that granting the application will occasion injustice on the part of the first and second defendants because the motion on notice did not intend to cure any misnomer.

He highlighted that granting the application for amendment of the reliefs would change the “nature and character” of the case file which the Supreme Court had remitted to the High Court for retrial.

The judge ruled that “in view of the fact that the application is dismissed, the case file has become empty and there is nothing to adjourn or be heard”, adding that “the suit is struck out and has been dismissed”.

While counsel to the defendants, Jubrin Okutekpa, applaud the ruling, lawyer to Senator Dahiru, Abdulhamid Mohammed, said they would study the judgement for the next step to take.

APC Mourns Audu, Restates Faith In Rule Of Law

APCThe All Progressives Congress (APC), has sadly mourned the death of its governorship candidate in Kogi State, Abubakar Audu.

The National Secretary of the APC, Mala Buni, in a statement said “Mr Audu was certainly one of our stars, a democrat par excellence, a development-oriented leader and a beacon for the liberation of Kogi State from its apparent decay.

“He was a Prince of hope, a symbol of peace and an apostle of unity and reintegration of Kogi State.

“We commiserate with his family and the great people of Kogi State for having a strong belief in Mr Audu’s capacity to redeem the state”.

The statement further read that the demise of Mr Audu had no doubt created a big vacuum in Kogi State and the APC. The party, however, said it took solace in the fact that God gives and God takes.

“He might have physically transited, but he will forever be spiritually and politically relevant not only in Kogi State but in Nigeria.

“We appeal to the people of the state to see Audu’s death as an act of God. There should be no recourse to lawlessness or vindictiveness in whatever form.

“The only honour we can do Mr Audu is to remain peaceful and resolve to be undaunted in preserving the adorable ideals he lived for. It was evident to all that he ran a good race, he played his part well and he earned a rare rating as an exemplary leader.

“We will not abandon Mr Audu even in death because his legacies are timeless, his virtues can withstand all seasons and his vision remains immortal”, the statement read.

Rule Of Law

The APC, however, urged its members and supporters in Kogi State and nationwide not to allow their spirit to be dampened by the sudden passage of Mr Audu.

“The party should be united in mourning and be encouraged to effect the desired change in Kogi State through the ballot anytime, any day.

On the Independent National Electoral Commission’s position that the November 21, 2015 governorship poll in Kogi State was inconclusive, Mr Buni said that APC was studying the declaration of the Returning Officer, Professor Emmanuel Kucha, who is the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi.

Professor Kucha had based his decision on Section M, Paragraph 4 (Page 22) of INEC Approved Guidelines and Regulations for the Conduct of the 2015 General Elections.

The APC, nonetheless, believes in the rule of law, strict adherence to 1999 Constitution and Electoral Act 2010(as Amended).

“Our government was a product of the rule of law, we have absolute faith in the nation’s law and we will not in any manner, undermine the law. Our observations and position will be within the laws of the land.

“The situation in Kogi State is a test case for the rule of law and our growing democracy. APC is committed to its pledge to ensure a sustainable democracy in the country”, the party said.

A/Ibom Governorship Election Was Free And Fair, PDP Witnesses Tell Tribunal

akwa ibom tribunalMore witnesses presented by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the disputed Akwa Ibom governorship election have testified that the election in the state was free, fair and complied with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010.

At the resumed hearing of the Akwa Ibom Election Tribunal on Thursday, a defence witness, Samuel Iyang, told the Justice Sadiq Umar-led panel that it was false that elections did not take place, as alleged by the petitioner.

The witness told the tribunal that not only was the election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), but that it was peaceful and recorded a large turnout of voters.

Under cross examination by Counsel to the Petitioner, Dayo Akinlaja (SAN), the witness insisted that there was no violence, prompting Akinlaja to confront him with a Police report, which had been earlier submitted as an exhibit to the tribunal.

In the report, which the witness read to the tribunal, three people were said to have been murdered as reported to the Police on the election day .

The tribunal also discountenanced the question on the Police Report, on the ground that the witness was not the maker as stated by the Counsel to the Governor .

Also testifying, one Tony Nkangude informed the tribunal that he voted in the elections.

However under cross examination, Nkangude who said that his party, the PDP had agents in all the polling units and wards in his local government, was given result sheets for the election in his local government, which shows that one Jerry Akpan signed the result sheets on behalf of all the 14 wards in his Local Government.

Also reacting to the statement by the Akwa Ibom State Attorney-General, Mr. Uwem Nwoko, that the All Progressive Congress (APC) in its case has shown that the elections substantially complied with the Electoral Act, Mr. Akinladja says his client will not join issues with anyone outside the tribunal.

The Counsel to the Petitioner said he is optimistic that the tribunal, which is the statutory body to determine any petition will do justice to his client’s case.

 

Court Strikes Out Restraining Order Against APGA Nat’l Chairman

High_courtAn Abuja High Court has struck out its earlier order restraining the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr. Victor Umeh,  from parading himself as the National Chairman of the party.

The court also struck out the order restraining him from submitting the names of the party’s candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2015 general elections.

Orji Nwafor-Orizu had in an ex parte motion granted an interim order restraining Umeh and from setting up any committee/panel in respect of primary election in Anambra State for the 2015 general elections.

The Court, presided over by Justice Valentine Ashi, in striking out the order stated that he was misled into granting the order in the first place and that the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit as the plaintiff is neither an aspirant nor a person who participated in the nomination process of the party.

Justice Ashi, relying on several Supreme Court decisions, held that “until a person has participated in the primaries of a political party, he cannot approach the court for any purpose.”

He further declared that “the only recognized exception, where a person can approach the court is under section 87 (9) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, this case does not fall within that exception.”

 

House Commences Process To Further Ammend Electoral Act

house_of_repsThe House of Representatives has commenced a process to further amend the Electoral Act 2010 to ensure a level playing field for all participants during elections, and a more transparent electoral process.

A debate on a Bill sponsored by Rep. Daniel Reyenieju (Delta State), commenced on the floor of the House towards the amendment of several sections of the Electoral Act 2010 to make it more precise and encourage more participation from Nigerians.

The 28 section bill seeks among other things to increase the days available for the electorate to report damage or loss of voters’ card to the electoral body from 30 to 45 days to curb disenfranchisement.

But the speaker, Aminu Tambuwal deferred further debate on the bill till next week to allow for wider participation.

The House however declined to pass for second reading a bill for an Act to authorize the issue of N271 billion being the budget of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).

Kogi Governorship Tussle: Supreme Court Fixes Judgement Day

Kogi State Governor, Idris Wada and his challenger in the 2011 governorship election Mr Jibrin Isah will on February 21, 2014 know their fate on who was the authentic candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP in the poll.

Isah, a governorship aspirant and alleged winner of the January 9, 2011 Peoples Democratic Party governorship primary in Kogi State, is seeking court order to nullify the nomination of Governor Wada and declare him the governor of the state.

Justice Mahmoud Mohammed of The Supreme Court fixed Friday February 21 to give final judgment in the legal battle, after parties in the suit had adopted their final briefs of argument.

Adopting his brief for Governor Wada, Chris Uche submitted that the appellant, based on section 141 of the Electoral Act 2010, could not be declared governor by virtue of his failure to participate in the December 3, 2011 governorship election.

He argued that the aborted primary election of January 2011, being relied upon by the appellant, was rightly cancelled by the PDP, a position that was supported by both counsel to the People’s Democratic Party and the Independent National Electoral Commission.

However, in his argument seeking nullification of Governor Wada’s election, counsel to Jubrin Isah, Wole Olanipekun, canvassed that the election of Governor Wada cannot stand in law because it was conducted against the judgment of a Supreme Court.

Isah had lost both at the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal which separately dismissed his suit on the ground that they lacked jurisdiction to entertain a concluded election matter and that the litigant also lacked ‘locus standi’, to institute the case.

Court Nullifies Deregistration Of Political Parties By INEC

A federal high court in Abuja presided by Justice Gabriel Kolawole has nullified the deregistration of political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The court also declared Section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended, which said parties must win seats in the state and national assembly election as null and void.

Justice Kolawole made the declaration in his judgment in a suit filed by Fresh Democratic Party (FDP) and its presidential candidate in the 2011 general elections, Reverend Christopher Okotie.

INEC in December 2012 deregistered 31 political parties, basing its action on the power conferred on it by the 1999 constitution (as amended) and the electoral act 2010 (as amended).

The plaintiffs, in the suit filed by their counsel Fred Agbaje, had asked for a declaration that Section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act, 2010 is unconstitutional, invalid, null and void to the extent that if offends the provisions of section 40 and sections 221-229 of the 1999 constitution.

The plaintiffs also asked the court to make a declaration that INEC cannot deregister the party except in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 constitution.

In his judgment, Justice Kolawole said, “the concept of deregistration of political parties is strange to the 1999 constitution.”

“The criteria by which the National Assembly delimited deregistration to failure to win seats in states and national assembly elections appears like nothing but legislative arbitrariness, since INEC has powers to conduct other elections.”

He further said “INEC would not have lost anything by issuing the 1st plaintiff (FDP) with a query to enhance the integrity of its decision.”

He added that “the statutory powers conferred on the INEC can be described as ministerial but when such power concerns deregistration of a political party it becomes a quasi-judicial power because after registration a political party becomes a legal entity and acquires a legal right; to take away such legal rights cannot be taken without according the political party a hearing.”

But Justice Kolawole did not grant the plaintiffs’ prayer that the court should order the defendants to pay them the sum of N10million as compensatory damages.

Justice Kolawole’s ruling is negating an earlier ruling by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Lagos, which in March 2013, held that INEC has the power to deregister political parties.

 

Court Affirms INEC’s Power To De-register Political Parties

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has held that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has the power to de-register political parties in Nigeria.

Justice Okon Abang delivered the judgment on Wednesday, in a suit brought by the National Conscience Party (NCP) challenging INEC’s power to de-register political parties.

The NCP specifically challenged the provisions of Section 78(7)(ii) of the Electoral Act 2010 which empowers INEC ”to deregister political parties for failure to win presidential or governorship election or a seat in the National Assembly or State House of Assembly”.

In his judgment, Justice Abang held that the suit which was instituted on the 14th of September 2011 by one Mr. Tunde Agunbiade, a member of the NCP lacked merit, as it did not infringe on the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs to associate freely.

The development followed the decision of INEC to deregister 28 parties’ political parties last year.

The de-registered parties did not include the NCP as the same court had restrained INEC from de-registering NCP pending the hearing and final determination of the suit.

The court also lifted an earlier order it made restraining INEC from deregistering NCP pending the determination of the case.

Justice Abang awarded against NCP the cost of N15,000 each to be paid in favour of INEC and the National Assembly.

Edo Election: Tribunal Dismisses Petition Against Oshiomole

The Edo State Election Tribunal has dismissed the petition filed by the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Charles Arhiavbere, challenging the results of the 2012 governorship election in the state.

The judge said that the petitioner failed woefully to prove his allegation and thereafter dismissed the petition on that basis.

The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared the candidate of Action Congress of Nigeria and incumbent Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, as winner of the election.

The Judge further said there was no infraction proved to prevent the return of Oshiomhole in anyway and that if there was a petition completely starved of evidence, this is completely one.

The petition is bereft and devoid of any substance, said the Judge.

Gen. Charles Arhiavbere had filed a petition at the Election Petitions Tribunal challenging the victory of Governor Adams Oshiomole in the July 14 Edo Governorship election.

The petition stated that the ‘purported election’ was invalid due to corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provisions of Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

Other grounds for the petition included alleged intimidation and harassment of voters, depriving them from exercising their franchise and constitutional rights in 11 local government areas of the state.