PDP Shuns Court Order, Says All Is Set For National Convention

Nyesom-Wike-Governor-of-Rivers-StateThe Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says all is now set for its planned national convention scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, shunning a court order asking it to shelve the convention plan.

Hours after a Federal High Court in Abuja gave a ruling that proscribed the party from holding the national convention, the Chairman of the Planning Committee and Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike, told reporters that the planned convention would hold.

While the Federal High Court in Abuja has banned the party from holding the convention, another Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, has ruled that the PDP could hold the convention as planned.

The latest of the contradictory orders were issued on Tuesday by both courts.

In his ruling on a case filed by the factional chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the presiding judge of the Abuja court, Justice Okon Abang, restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission from supervising or monitoring the planned convention, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The trial judge in the ruling also ordered the Inspector General of Police to enforce his order which put paid to the planned convention.

He also directed Senator Sheriff to obtain and fill form 48 so as to commit anybody or group, who may disobey the order to prison.

Aware that a Port Harcourt court order contradicts that of his court, he said: “This division is not struggling with Port Harcourt division for jurisdiction but the Port Harcourt division should not have assumed jurisdiction because the Supreme Court has made it clear, that when a situation like we have at hand arises, a judge should consult with the Chief Judge before taking any step.

“If my brother in Port Harcourt is vast with this Supreme Court decision he would not have assumed jurisdiction. Let me make it clear here that Port Harcourt division cannot over rule me”.

“Any party or person that fails to comply with my decision will have himself to blame,” he warned.

In an earlier ruling on the same day, the court in Port Harcourt said that since the July 4, 2016 judgement of Justice Lima that ordered Senator Sheriff or his agents from parading themselves as the chairman and leaders of the party was not appealed, the judgement still subsists.

The ruling by Justice Ibrahim Walifa was in connection with originating summons of a matter between the National Convention Planning Committee of the party and the Independent National Electoral Commission, the police and Department of State Services.

Justice Walifa said that it was an abuse of court processes for the defendants to carry on as if nothing has changed and sought to originate a similar matter in a sister court.

He believes the High Court judgement of July 4 and August 16 have made it abundantly clear that the Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee was on the right side of the law.

Amidst theses contradictory orders, however, the PDP said convention planning committee is carrying on with its plan to hold the convention, with Mr Wike saying that the seeming conflicting judgements from the High Court in Abuja was simply a distraction.

“All the legal organs of the party have arrived for the event,” he said.

Billed to hold on Wednesday, the convention, according to the party, will see the election of officers of the Party drawn from the six geo-political zones of Nigeria to fill in the vacant positions that occurred following the dissolution of national officers due to the expiration of their tenure at the last National Convention on May 21.

The planned convention will hold at the Sharks Stadium, Moscow Road in Port Harcourt. .

Buhari Congratulates President-Elect Of Benin Republic

Patrice Talon  president-elect Benin RepublicNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has congratulated the President-elect of Benin Republic, Mr Patrice Talon, on his electoral victory in the presidential run-off on Sunday, March 20.

President Buhari also commended the Government and people of Benin Republic on the peaceful and orderly conduct of the presidential election.

The Nigerian leader saluted the courage and statesmanship of Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou and presidential candidate of the ruling coalition in upholding the democratic process by promptly congratulating his main challenger, Mr Talon, on his electoral victory.

President Buhari also commended President Boni Yayi for his leadership throughout the electoral process and for his invaluable contribution to democratic governance in the sub-region, evidently demonstrated in the successful conduct of the presidential elections.

He said he was encouraged by the determination and exemplary conduct demonstrated by Beninese in coming out en masse to perform their civic duties.

“The successful conclusion of the electoral process marks an important step in consolidating democracy in the sub-region and a beacon for other African countries to emulate,” President Buhari stated.

He expressed optimism that the Beninese would give the incoming government all the necessary support to succeed while reaffirming that Nigeria, as a beneficiary of the dividends of democracy, would continue to build strong partnerships with its neighbours for the peace, progress and prosperity of our citizens.

The result of the Benin Republic’s Presidential election was announced by the Autonomous National Electoral Commission earlier on Monday.

Uba Asks INEC Not To Declare National Assembly Winner In Anambra

ubaA factional Senatorial Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Anambra South Senatorial Zone, Mr Chris Uba, has asked the electoral body not to declare any candidate of the PDP winner of the National Assembly election.

Mr Uba’s call came few hours to the announcement of the result of the National Assembly election in Anambra State.

He also asked the INEC not to issue certificate of return for reasons that the Supreme Court is yet to give its verdict on the duly nominated candidates for the 2015 National Assembly election.

Mr  Uba, said he had filed an order of interim injunction from the Supreme Court restraining INEC from issuing the certificate of return to any PDP Candidate for the National Assembly election in Anambra State pending the determination of the applicant’s appeal in the Supreme Court on the duly nominated PDP candidates for the 2015 National Assembly election in the State.

In the order filed on March 25, Mr  Uba said that the order was also directing the stay of all actions concerning the return of any PDP candidate for the National Assembly election as the duly elected candidate pending the determination of the matter of the duly nominated candidates in the Supreme Court.

Mr Uba further said that the reasons for the move included the fact that his appeal before the Supreme Court was adjourned for definite hearing to 9 June.

2015 Elections: Commonwealth Observers Will Not Go To North-East

commonwealthThe Commonwealth observer mission to Nigeria’s general elections says it would not deploy any observer to north-east Nigeria despite the progress made by the Federal Government to restore security in the region.

The Chairperson of the group and former President of Malawi, Dr Bakili Muluzi, said that the Commonwealth mission would not take any risks, but get the information required from other bigger observer groups, as the security situation there remains a challenge.

Dr Muluzi said that the Observer Group would deploy its members across the country to witness the conclusion of the election campaigns, observe voting, counting, results, check the conditions available for credible elections and freedom for voters to exercise their franchise.

The Commonwealth Observer Group to Nigeria for the elections, starting this weekend is a high-powered 10-man delegation; consisting mainly of current and former African leaders and lawmakers, serving members of National Electoral Commissions from around Africa, led by the former President of Malawi, Dr Bakili Muluzi.

Dr Muluzi told a news conference in Abuja that their duty is only to observe and make recommendations towards improving democracy in Commonwealth nations.

He also said that observers would not take the risk of going into the north east where the Nigerian military is still battling the insurgents.

The Commonwealth Observer Group has a mandate to observe and consider the various factors affecting the credibility of the electoral process and determine whether the elections is conducted according to the standards for democratic elections.

This will be done alongside other observer missions such as ECOWAS, European Union and the National Democratic Institute.

Electoral Act Amendment: Looking At The New Provisions

Electoral Act provisionsStakeholders in the Nigerian political landscape have continued to express varying views on the ongoing process of amending the Nigerian Electoral Act with the recent passage of some provisions by the Nigerian Senate.

The July 6 edition of Politics Today on Channels Television focused on the new provisions of the amendment of the Electoral Act with guests from the legal and political sphere engaging in the conversation.

A legal practitioner, Wahab Shittu, believes that the only way to sanitize the electoral process was to review the laws and he lauded the Senate for making some of their decisions, which he said were steps in the right direction. Although, one of the amendments regarding the penalty for election result falsification, he said was too light.

A 12 month imprisonment with an option of a 500,000 Naira fine, he stated, was not deterrent enough as he argued that there should have been no option of a fine for such magnitude of crime which he said should have attracted a life jail.

A politician, Ken Okolugbo, also part of the conversation, noted that the Nigerian Senate has done very well with its approval of electronic voting. Although he admitted that the practise might not start immediately, he believed that it was a good foundation for a stronger electoral system.

He, however, differed with Mr Shittu as regards the penalty for election result falsification. The Political Scientist noted that Nigeria’s democracy was relatively young and as such would need to grow gradually.

He explained that the 12 months imprisonment was a good way to put all stakeholders in check, starting with the Youth Corpers who are usually deployed as electoral officers during elections. He believed that the fear of being jailed for 12 months was enough to stop them from engaging in sharp practices.

Burden of Proof At Election Tribunal

With the new amendments, the burden of proving irregularities during an election has been lifted off INEC.

Barrister Shittu believes that nothing has changed as the burden has always remained with the petitioner. He noted that it would have been better to have the Burden of Proof vested on the electoral commission because having conducted the election; they should be saddled with the responsibility of proofing that it was credible.

He also emphasized the need for an Election Offence Commission. He said that its non-inclusion in the Senates amendments was unfortunate.

Ken Okolugbo, who had been a victim of delay in electoral justice, agreed that INEC should have a major part of the job of proving the credibility of their elections. He cited his experience in court in the process of proving the irregularities of an election but ended up having his evidences nullified despite providing proofs sourced from the internet and seen to have been valid.

Shittu also disagreed on the power given to INEC to disqualify candidates. He argued that disqualification of candidates should be based only on them having flouted certain provisions of the constitution. He believes that too much power was being given to INEC to interfere in the internal democracy of political parties.

Okolugbo, however, expressed happiness at the provision. He believes the new development means that individuals can no longer be disqualified based on mere disagreements except a court says the person was not qualified.

Another new development was that the Senate also disagreed with INEC’s plan to conduct elections in one day and Barrister Shittu agreed with the Senate’s refusal to approve this in the amendment. He referred to their decision as being realistic as they knew the challenges associated with elections in Nigeria.

Okolugbo also aligned with the view of the Senate that the INEC does not have the capacity to conduct the presidential and governorship elections in one day.

Both guests however disagreed on the decision of the Senate not to legalise political debates. While Barrister Shittu opined that democracy was about the people and they should be given the opportunity to know the programmes of candidates in any election, Okolugbo believes that although the idea was good for democracy and so could be practised, it does not have to be included in the Electoral Act.

Osun Election Will Follow Ekiti Template – INEC

INEC Osaze-UzziThe Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, believes that the Ekiti State election has indeed created a framework for more successes at future elections in Nigeria.

INEC Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, was on Politics Today on Sunday and he said that the commission would be going into the Osun State governorship election with lessons learnt in Ekiti and with a mission to improve on them.

He said that having studied the way the Ekiti election went; they have been able to identify all the things that went right and would be focusing on making them better in Osun State.

He itemised the logistics of the election as one of the areas in which the commission achieved success with 97% of the polling units opening before 8AM due to the timely deployment of personnel and materials; a feat he said they would be aiming to achieve at 100% in Osun State.

He explained that they would use the same modalities as used in Ekiti to ensure that deployment of personnel and materials commence as early as 4am on election day, as well as ensuring the deployment of sufficient security personnel.

He also noted that a lot of voter education went into the Ekiti election and the commission would be hoping to do more of this in Osun State.

Fears about the delay in the distribution of Permanent Voters Card as raised by the All Progressives Congress, APC, also came to the fore as the party has insinuated that this might be a deliberate act to disenfranchise voters.

Osaze-Uzzi said that the complaint was strange to him as goings-on in Osun did not reveal the existence of any delays. He said that it was not too late to pick up the cards and all electorates should endeavour to go ahead and collect their cards on time as they would not be able to vote without it.

He added, “More than 62% of the people have taken advantage to pick up their cards and we hope that before the elections, come August 9, 100% everybody who is registered and eligible and has his card would go there and pick it up.”

Osaze-Uzzi also shed light on the issue of Ambassador Rufus Akeju’s exit from his position as the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Osun State ahead of the governorship election. He noted that Akeju was not removed as widely reported but agreed to step aside by mutual consent with the commission in order to maintain the integrity of the commission and not to play into the hands of politicians against the backdrop of intense partisan acrimony over his person.

A new Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Agbaje, has since taken over in Osun State. Until his posting, he was the Kogi State REC.


Fake INEC Staff Jailed 6 Months

A 24 year old man who claims to be a staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC in Cross River State has been sentenced to 6 months imprisonment.

Mister Emmanuel Silas was convicted today by a magistrate court for fraudulently obtaining between 12,000 and 4,000 Naira from different job seekers for employment in INEC.

INEC commissioner in Cross River State, Mister Mike Igini has advised Nigerians to beware of such characters as INEC does not collect money as processing fee for employment.