The Court of Appeal sitting in Makurdi, on Tuesday upheld the decision of the Election Petitions Tribunal affirming the election of Abdullahi Sule as the governor of Nasarawa State.
In its judgement, the court presided by Justice Jumai Sankey resolved all the five issues raised in the petition brought before it against the appellants, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, David Ombugadu.
The court held that the appellants were unable to prove their case and thereby affirmed the verdict earlier passed by the Tribunal, which confirmed that Mr Sule was legally and lawfully returned as governor of Nasarawa State.
In his reaction, counsel to the governor, Dr Mubarak Adekunle, hailed the decision of the appellate court.
He said, “The Court of Appeal in Makurdi has just delivered its judgement. The court resolved all the five issues against the appellant.
“The Tribunal stroke out several paragraphs of their reply to Engineer A. A Sule’s reply. They appealed against that and the Court of Appeal affirmed it that the Tribunal was very right to have struck out all those paragraphs.”
“On all the allegations which border on disenfranchisement, cancellation of votes, inflation of votes and deflation of votes, the Court of Appeal affirmed that the Tribunal was right that they were unable to prove their allegations,” he added.
Adekunle added that on whether Governor Sule was fully or properly returned as elected, the appellate court affirmed that the appellants were unable to prove their case, having resolved all the allegations against the appellant.
He noted that the court affirmed the verdict of the Tribunal that “Engineer Sule was legally, lawfully and properly returned as Governor of Nasarawa State.”
The clergyman said, “He doesn’t like trouble with anyone, you hardly see him exchanging words with people.
“He was a lover of peace, even in his house when I come around to visit them, you will always see him up and doing. He is a man who is committed, diligent, and obedient.”
Nwachukwu was seized from his residence on October 30 by suspected robbers who dispossessed him of cash, valuables, and documents of his house.
After several days in captivity, a ransom of N20 million was demanded and after several pleas, it was reduced to N10 million and further down to N40,000, which was paid.
However, he didn’t come back alive.
An Unexpected Death
Reacting to his death, Nwachukwu’s wife, Nnenna and his eldest son, Uchenna, demanded a change of mind from the citizens and more government action in tackling the menace of kidnapping.
“I want God to have mercy on us because human beings are very bad, even if God provided people to guard the country, we don’t know their minds; they will be guarding but in their mind, they can be connected with armed robbers,” Nnenna sobbed.
She added, “It is only God that will deliver us from this country because look at my husband now, an innocent man, a man that doesn’t talk, a quiet man that has no problem with anybody who doesn’t even have a friend; all he was after was how he would succeed.”
On his part, the deceased’s son urged the government to recruit more personnel into the Anti-Kidnapping and Robbery units of respective security agencies.
“I didn’t expect my dad’s death because the way he died, he never deserved that. If only they shot him and leave him it will be better for me.
“But he was butchered as if he is being taken for a ritual after collecting everything they asked for, taking all the money at home alongside documents,” Uchenna said.
Meanwhile, a joint effort of local vigilantes and the police has resulted in the arrest of one of the suspects in the process of trying to dispose of the body.
According to a senior operative of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Nasarawa, Anuforo Cletus, some people were sighted moving a wheelbarrow at midnight.
“They (vigilantes) raised alarm to the police within the checkpoint and the police quickly moved in while in the process of hitting the spot, the other two people took off. He took off too but unluckily for him, he was arrested,” he explained.
Cletus added that the suspect, a retired army officer, has been detained at the Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department of the Police in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital.
But the suspect insisted he wasn’t part of the abduction, stressing that he only helped the abductors dispose of the victim’s remains before he was apprehended.
“Having shot him (Nwachukwu), the man was now confused and that was where I came in,” he said.
The suspect narrated further, “It was foolish but he said I should assist him in pushing the corpse out of that farm otherwise, it will implicate him the more. So, I foolishly assisted them in pushing the body.”
On his part, the Commissioner of Police in Nasarawa, Bola Longe, gave assurance that more strategies would be introduced to ensure safety.
He said, “We are going to subject the criminal elements to a kind of disjointed strategy. We will bombard them from all angles with the support of the people.
“I want to assure all the members of the public that they should go about their lawful businesses because we will provide an unfettered condition that will enable them to actualise their dreams without criminal intimidation.”
Two women, Mercy Friday and Tani Diwu have been apprehended in Nasarawa state by the Nigeria police for attempted culpable homicide.
The two women who are currently at the State’s criminal investigation department are alleged to have taken a thirteen-year-old boy, Ovey Friday who is their stepson and grand son to a herbalist over accusation of witchcraft.
The women also accused Friday of making love to his stepmother in her dreams.
Narrating the incident to Channels Television, Ovey Friday said, “She said that I am sleeping with her in the dream that is why she took me to the babalawo (herbalist), then the babalawo carried a stone, the stone was shining then he rubbed it on my hands and tied them.
“He then brought fire, and he put pepper, then he come carry one wrapper come cover me, then he said I should put my hand near the fire, then the fire come die, he still bring another fire again three times. The I pray, I pray, then the babalawo come leave for one minute then he come loose, then he come give me one medicine, I drink then him say e Don finish him work”
Ovey was said to have been abandoned after the incident for over a week, before his maternal siblings rushed him to the Dalhatu Araf Specialist hospital in Lafia, the Nasararwa State capital.
The severity of Ovey’s predicament
Ovey’s managing consultant, Doctor Edego Egba, who doubles as Chairman, Medical advisory committee of the hospital revealed that the severity of the burn may affect the usefulness of his hands and pointed plastic surgery as the last resort.
“He had 12 percent full thickness degree burns and the functionability of the hands will depend on how we finish because since it is a deep burn affecting both hands, it is usually very difficult for us to treat the patient to return to the normal because no matter how you do it, the patient may have complications”
A future almost destroyed
Wulko in Endehu district of Nasarawa Eggon local government area, Nasarawa state is Ovey’s community.
It is a settlement of peasant farmers, during our visit to the community, some residents were reluctant to share their views on the alleged continuous maltreatment and battering of Ovey before this incident since he moved in with his stepmother in September.
A two bedroom apartment standing alone at the outskirts of Wulko was Ovey’s residence where he was leaving alone with his stepmother while his father was away making ends meet as a commercial motorcyclist in Lagos State.
Ovey is a junior secondary school three pupil at the Government secondary school in Wulko, he served as the class captain of twenty three pupils before the incident. Despite having being established since 1982, the school environment is not a befitting one.
Cracked walls, broken rooftops, patched floors among other deficiencies characterized the school with teachers spotted using tree shades as offices as no provisions had been made for them. However, the pupils are grateful they have a place to learn.
We step into Ovey’s class and met the students preparing for their pre-qualification examinations to senior secondary level, an exam which Ovey is likely not going to be a part of.
Nje Alanana, the Principal of the school, Magga Ayaka, Ovey’s Form Master,Oklo Cornelius, Ovey’s Best Friend spoke to Channels Television regarding the brilliant lad’s plight.
“This boy is a boy that performs very well, very intelligent student for that matter in fact we have missed this boy, his absence has created a lot of vacuum because I don’t think we can get anybody to replace him,” the principal said.
On his part, the form master said, “We feel bad and it’s paining us because he was very active. For now,we are missing him, the role that he was playing in the class and even in the fellowship is vacant. We are feeling it very badly and we pray that this type of thing will not occur again to any of our students.”
His best friend Cornelius prayed for his return, saying he misses the moments they had.
“I have to be praying for God to save him from his condition. Me and him we used play together, we used to ask ourselves questions, we used to go to church together, the way he is not around I am not feeling good because I don’t see his face again.”
A call for justice
Abdullahi Ubandoma, a legal practitioner in Lafia wants those who dealt unfairly with Ovey to be punished according to the law.
Ubandoma says if the right penalty is accorded the crime against Ovey, then, it will serve as a deterrent to those who abuse children.
The Nasarawa State police commissioner Bola Longe assured that a robust investigation will be carried out to ascertain what really happened and to bring those involved in the crime to book.
“whether or not the child’s rights law is passed in the state, we have the penal code, we have the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that has taken care of this kind of incident so I think the woman will be charged before a court of law and we will be expecting results at least so that next time we wouldn’t have this kind of scenario happening in the state again”,Ubandoma said.
“I have ordered that the stepmother and other person’s that were involved in the whole episode should be rearrested for thorough investigation and I have ordered that the matter should be transferred to the state criminal investigation and intelligence department for professional and exhaustive investigation so that such a maltreatment will not reoccur in that family again,Longe said.
The state acting coordinator of child protection network, Jerry Danjuma noted that a number of communities are ignorant of the provisions of the child’s rights law and suggested a robust sensitization.
“We still have a lot of work to do in our communities for people to know that this is a bad behaviour. Once you Commit a crime, it’s a crime against the state so the law should take its course”
In search of spiritual solutions
Ovey’s paternal grandmother, Tani Diwu disclosed that she had declined the decision of taking him to a herbalist and rather suggested that he should be taken to a church.
In her words, “I informed his father of a church at Akwanga where I had taken one of my son’s. This boy lived with me after the demise of his mother and I am not aware of anything of such but if you insist he is possessed we should take him to that church”.
Mercy Friday, Ovey’s stepmother who is eight months pregnant, claimed that her husband was the one who sent her money to tackle the issue of the alleged witch craft and insisted the act didn’t happen in her presence.
She said, “His grandmother wanted to take him to Akwanga then his sister referred us to a man at Kwandere in Lafia. His father then directed us to go to the herbalist at Kwandere to confirm whether or not he is possessed, I had refused to go but he insisted.
“When we took the boy there, the herbalist confirmed he is a cultist, I thought he will give a concoction to drink and vomit but he took him inside a another room and we were not there. We didn’t know what he did to him. When he came out, I asked the herbalist what has happened to Ovey’s hand and he replied that it is the work that he did, then I querried Ovey for not calling our attention.”
Investigations still ongoing
Mr Friday, Ovey’s Father is yet to return from Lagos State since the incident which took place on the 28th of October.
We placed a call across to his mobile phone, he hung up immediately he was confronted with the matter and later switched off his mobile device.
The said herbalist who carried out the dehumanizing act on Ovey, is still at large, police say a manhunt has been initiated for his capture.
Ovey’s stepmother and paternal grandmother are at the state criminal investigation and intelligence department in Lafia with investigations underway after which they will be charged to court.
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has told Nasarawa residents that togetherness is a Nigerian story of hope.
He said the coming together of communities in Hadari Emirate district in Kokona LGA of Nasarawa State to form a farming settlement for the production of livestock and crop products, under the auspices of the Nigerian Farmers Group and Cooperative Society (NFGCS), is a true Nigerian story of honesty, hard work and cooperation regardless of ethnic differences and social background.
The Vice President was accompanied by the State Governor, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, stated this on Thursday during a visit to the NFGCS Farms Centre located in Gaa’te village, Kokona LGA, Nasarawa State.
According to Prof. Osinbajo, “just going around today, I have seen a lot of hope that indeed this country can work and work very well again.
“If the people of this community can do all of what we are seeing here today, growing rice, other grains and also selling the products, I am very sure they will soon start exporting it; I think this is how it should really be.”
The NFGCS farm, which was founded by an ex-Niger Delta militant, Mr. Reston Tedheke, started with three hectares and N1.5m in 2017, now occupies 3,000 hectares and is worth about a billion naira, with over 300 people employed. Tedheke was inspired by the Buhari administration’s focus on Agricultural diversification of the Nigerian economy. The components of the farm include a ranch, crop farm, poultry and a rice mill, amongst others.
“You can see that Mr. Retson Tedheke left Delta State with his family to live here, and they can feel safe here and enjoy everything that the indigenes of this State enjoy. In fact, he tells me he is now officially an indigene of the State; this is the story of a great nation,” the Vice President noted.
Continuing, Prof. Osinbajo stated that what the youth in Kokona LGA are doing is the real revolution that Nigeria requires.
He said: “I think what we are seeing here today is the revolution that we have been talking about, the real revolution; of ideas, the revolution of technology, the revolution of young Nigerians who are determined to ensure that in this country, they make money (legitimately); and they can produce what they eat. This is the story of great nations.
“Every nation that has been great, nations that have been economically successful, have done so on the back of their young men and women who are determined to make an honest living, who are determined to become entrepreneurs.”
Speaking about the resilience of the Nigeria Farmers Group and Cooperative Society and their promoters, the Vice President urged other youth groups to emulate their doggedness to succeed even under what sometimes could be difficult conditions.
According to him, “I was also quite fascinated by the way that they have been able to get credit. Just like he (Tedheke) pointed out, the banks had not been too willing to lend to farming start-ups.
“Small agricultural enterprises don’t necessarily attract the best credits from our banks. But I have been told that “Kiakia”, a FinTech company, also a mobile payment company that also gives credit to farming communities, has supported this project.”
On his part, Governor Sule commended the efforts of Tedheke for the courage to invest in a community different from his own.
He said the investment in the agricultural project was not by accident, noting that the State government under his watch is putting in place policies that would attract investments to the state, especially in areas where it has comparative advantage.
He also commended the traditional council of Kokona Local Government Area for their support and efforts in ensuring peaceful co-existence amongst the different ethnic groups in the area.
Earlier in his remark, the coordinator of the NFGCS Farms Centre, Mr. Tedheke, thanked the Vice President for personally visiting the farm, and the Nasarawa State Governor, for the support in actualizing the dream of building the farm.
He, however, appealed for more support from the State and Federal Government in the areas of infrastructure, especially road and power.
The NFGCS is an organization established in 2017 under a partnership with farming communities in Hadari Emirate District in the Kokona LGA, especially in Gaa’te, Marke, Mante, and Sabon Gida villages.
The police in Nasarawa State has arrested a 23-year-old man for slicing the throat of his step-mother in Agyaragu village, Lafia Local government Area of Nasarawa State.
The Public Relations Officer of the Nasarawa State Police Command, ASP Ramhan Nansel, confirmed the incident to Channels Television.
According to him, the incident happened on stressing that he stabbed the elderly woman with a knife.
But narrating what happened, an eyewitness who confided to Channels Television said the suspect borrowed a knife and cut the woman on the leg who forcefully ran out of their house shouting for help.
The victim who was rushed to the hospital was confirmed dead, a situation which prompted the mother of the alleged suspect to run away for safety after the children of the deceased planned avenging her death.
Nasarawa State Governor, Mr Abdullahi Sule, has extended the olive branch to members of the opposition political parties in the state.
The governor, who hosted chairmen of the 13 Local Government Areas (LGAs) at the Government House in Lafiya on Monday, urged them to support his administration towards developing the state.
Reacting to his recent victory at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, he called on every citizen of the state, including members of the opposition to work together for the progress of the state.
“I think we are now putting Nasarawa on a course of development and we are making global impact; we are taking information about Nasarawa all the way to the UN and discussing with the various SDGs, in order for people to understand that Nasarawa exists and Nasarawa is on the map and Nasarawa has a focus and direction,” Governor Sule said.
He added, “If that is the case, we cannot do it alone. We need everybody with various knowledge to come together to do that.
“Therefore, I am using the opportunity to call on all good people of Nasarawa, irrespective of religion, age or political affiliations, to come together so we can develop our state because our state needs to be developed.”
The governor recalled that on receiving the news of his victory at the Tribunal, he immediately reached out to Mr David Ombugadu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), urging him to see the judgement as a victory for all.
“I sent a special text message to my brother, the PDP candidate, David Ombugadu, and informed him that in reality, he should take the victory for all of us,” he said.
Governor Sule equally used the moment to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for selecting him to be part of the delegation that escorted him to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
The council chairmen were at the Government House to welcome the governor back from his trip, as well as congratulate him on his recent victories at the Tribunal and Supreme Court.
Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State says contrary to reports circulating on social media, his administration has no plan to dissolve the 13 elected local government chairmen.
The governor stated this on Monday while receiving the council chairmen at the Government House.
Sule who dismissed the report said that as a law-abiding citizen, he will not be found wanting by breaching the law.
“I saw a report that this administration was going to dissolve the local and institute new chairmen. The way you saw it was the way I saw it.
“I never heard of it, I never even thought of anything like that. It has never crossed my mind, nobody ever advised us on anything in that line. And I never dreamt of it and if the deputy governor dreamt of it, he never told me,” he said.
While calling on the council chairmen to ignore the claims, Sule assured them that his administration will not short-change the mandate given to them by the people.
Speaking further he said: “You are working with us as a team in order for us to work towards developing this state and taking this state to the next level. If the law said you are taking ten years, A. A Sule will allow you to spend your ten years.”
He, however, appealed to members and supporters of opposing political parties to avoid acts capable of breaching the existing peace in the state.
The governor warned that for the state to develop, the citizens must learn to accept outcomes of judgments from ongoing cases at the various election petition tribunal without recourse to acts that are inimical to peace.
Governor Sule’s remarks come days after the governor returned to the state after attending the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York as part of the delegation who accompanied President Muhammadu Buhari to the event.
The Governor Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Lafia, Nasarawa State has dismissed the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, David Ombugadu.
The PDP and its candidates had filed the suit to challenge the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Abdullahi Sule, in the March 9 poll.
They sought an order of the court for a fresh election in Nasarawa, alleging that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not comply with the accreditation requirements in more than 90 per cent of the polling units in the state.
In its ruling on Saturday, the Tribunal dismissed the petition for lack of merit after over eight hours of a thorough review of proceedings.
The chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Abba Mohammed, upheld the election of Sule as the governor of the state.
He ruled that the first respondent (the governor) truly scored the highest votes cast and that the petitioners’ allegations of pervasive case of non-compliance with the Electoral Act (2010 as amended); over-voting, undue allotment of votes to the APC, disenfranchisement of voters, widespread irregularities, and violence cannot be seriously relied upon.
According to the judge, the petitioners were unable to provide proper proves and credible evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.
Reacting to the judgement, counsel to the respondent, Sherrif Mohamed, commended the ruling while that of the petitioners, Gambo Afiku, appreciated the ruling.
He, however, said the next line of action for his clients would be based on further consultations.
The Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule says a monthly security meeting will be introduced in the respective local government areas of the state under the watch of traditional rulers and security personnel to review challenges peculiar to each of them as to come up with a way forward.
Governor Sule revealed this at an expanded Security Council meeting held Thursday at the council chambers of the governor’s house with all security heads and the chairman of the Nasarawa State Traditional Council , HRH Sidi Bage.
“One of the items that we have that is coming up is a situation where there will be some kind of monthly meeting between traditional rulers and the security agencies in every local government. The essence of having that type of meeting is for them to be able to assist us with information,” the governor said.
He assured systems will be put in place to ensure that the security situation of the state is improved.
He explained that the deceased comprised of nine men and two women.
But an eyewitness who pleaded anonymity said the trailer with registration number Kano-KMC 523 YD, loaded with cement heading towards Lafia, crushed the Sharon car with registration number Nasarawa-LFA 497 ZY, killing all the nine occupants.
He further revealed that the trailer also crushed the motorcycle rider, while one of the occupants of the trailer also died in the accident making it eleven.
Meanwhile, the bodies of the 11 deceased persons have been deposited at the General Hospital in Akwanga Local Government Area, Nasarawa State.
Three people have been killed following heavy rain in Lafia Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.
The victims – two women and a teenage boy – were said to be returning from a night vigil on Thursday morning before they got drowned in Amba River located along Kilema Road Lafia.
The three persons died as a result of an overflow of the river following the downpour which lasted hours.
Shortly after the incident, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa visited the area and promised to tackle the environmental challenges in the state.
He listed some of the steps to be taken by the government to include expansion of water channels, road construction, and river dredging, among others.
Governor Sule said, “The one thing that has to be done is increase the length of the area that will allow the water to pass, so we would extend the bridge so that we can have more water passing.
“Number two is to ensure that we dredge this particular area of the river to allow for more space, but the biggest problem we have which we will have to talk to our people is that most of the waste from Lafia taking over the places and causing this blockage.
The governor, however, warned residents to stop dumping waste on water channels while the government tries to minimise the impact flooding in the state.
“It is the blockage that is the cause of this problem. We have to find a way to avoid that.
“And for this one, we would find a solution, and then we would do the bigger work; that is why we introduced this monthly sanitation so that we can reduce such problems,” he stated.
“The painstaking presentation by my lawyers has carefully and convincingly proved beyond any reasonable doubt that my election was not only free, fair and credible, but it was in line with the constitution,” he stated.
Senator Al-Makura described the judgement as a two-in-one victory hinged to the fact that the petitioner could not prove his allegation and his lawyers proved his election was credible.
He was confident that his victory at the Tribunal would spur him to deliver dividends of democracy to his constituents.
The lawmaker said, “I believe this judgement will give me the impetus to continue to do the things that I have been doing and if given the opportunity, I will do much better now that the constituency has been reduced to one-third of the whole state.
“So, all the efforts I have put in the three constituencies before will now be concentrated on one senatorial district, notwithstanding the fact that I will also bring to bear, my contributions to other zones by supporting closely the efforts of the governor of the state.”