Ondo Election: INEC Raises Alarm Over Security

Ondo Governorship Election, Ondo Governorship PollThe Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised security concern over the attitude of politicians in Ondo State ahead of the forthcoming governorship election.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mr Olusegun Agbaje, says the actions of some aggrieved politicians in the state since the political parties conducted their primaries is capable of undermining the security of the state.

“The mindset of the political class, especially the politicians that belong to the leading political party on what it takes to win elections usually involve violence and malpractices among their followers.

“There is an urgent need for the political class to change its do or die attitude to good conduct in politics and a political caution of violence has to be done away with in our political parties.

“Our political parties must imbibe the culture of sincere eternal party democracy in the interest of the nation’s democracy,” he said.

Mr Agbaje made the remarks on Thursday at a meeting with members of the civil society groups in Abuja, to assess INEC’s preparation for the elections.

‘I Will Resign’

On the sideline of the event, the senior INEC official also explained why the electoral umpire published the name of Mr

Recession, Jimoh Ibrahim, Ondo PDP
INEC-Recognised Ondo PDP Governorship Candidate, Jimoh Ibrahim

Jimoh Ibrahim as the Peoples Democratic Part (PDP) candidate for the polls.

 

The decision has led to massive protest in Ondo State, southwest Nigeria.

“It is the court judgement of that day that forced us to say it is this person and that means if another higher court comes with a judgement to say it is Eyitayo Jegede, (we will obey),” he noted.

Agbaje further revealed that he had made a commitment that INEC would obey the ruling of the Appeal Court if the ruling favours Jegede.

“If the Appeal Court says it is Eyitayo, the commission cannot say no, but if it does, I will resign my appointment as a commissioner,” he stated.

Ondo PDP, Eyitayo Jegede, Ahmed Makarfi
Mr Eyitayo Jegede

Meanwhile Mr Clement Nwakwo, who is a member of one of the civil groups, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, had a different view about the procedure of selecting candidates.

He advised the politicians to address issues of candidacy in-house, instead of approaching various courts for such decisions.

“I do not think that INEC has any major role to play in deciding who the candidates are (and) that’s why they have taken the decision.

“It is really for the political parties to sort out their mess for the court to really not become a theatre of deciding who candidates are, but the political party themselves making those decisions in line with their own process and the rule of law,” he recommended.

PDP Crisis Deepens

At least 1.6 million registered voters are expected to participate in the Saturday, November 26 governorship polls in Ondo State.

There has been crisis over the authenticity of candidates in some of the parties in the polls including the PDP, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Alliance for Democracy (AD).

Olusola Oke, AD, Ondo Election
AD declares Olusola Oke as its candidate

While the APC and AD finally adopted Mr Rotimi Akeredolu and Mr Olusola Oke as their respective candidates, the controversy has deepened in the PDP.

Both factions of the party have continued to lay claim to having produced the authentic candidate of the party, although the Ali Modu Sheriff faction is backed by the court ruling which favoured Jimoh Ibrahim and which INEC has obeyed.

The PDP faction led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, has equally been optimistic that “justice would be served” and called on all PDP faithful across Nigeria as well as the general public to remain calm and continue to support them.

In a statement by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Dayo Adeyeye, the Caretaker Committee has reiterated its support for Jegede as the party’s sole flag-bearer.

President Buhari having a chat with Governor Lalong and Mr Akeredolu
President Buhari having a chat with Governor Lalong and Mr Akeredolu

On his part, APC candidate, Mr Akeredolu has made a mockery of the PDP, saying he would defeat both Ibrahim and Jegede if put together in the polls.

Briefing reporters after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, he boasted that he would emerge victorious at the poll.

Ondo PDP: Makarfi Faction Insists Jegede Is Governorship Candidate

Ondo PDP, Eyitayo Jegede, Ahmed MakarfiCaretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has reiterated its support for Mr Eyitayo Jegede as its only flag-bearer in the Saturday, November 26 governorship election in Ondo State.

The support was declared on Tuesday at a meeting between the factional PDP Chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi and the state chairmen in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

A statement by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, revealed that the meeting took place at the temporary Secretariat of the Party in Wuse II and deliberated on topical national issues.

The State Chairmen were briefed on the developments in the party and some certain decisions of leadership.

The meeting also received reports from the state chairmen on the state of affairs in their various territories.

It was equally optimistic that justice would surely be served and therefore, echoed full support for Mr Jegede, as its candidate in the Ondo governorship poll.

The leaders further called on all PDP supporters across Nigeria and the general public, especially Ondo State residents, to remain calm and continue to support them in moving the party forward.

One-Sided Justice

Meanwhile, a three-member special panel of the Court of Appeal handling the appeal cases of the Ondo PDP crisis on Tuesday recused from the panel, following allegations that the justices have been compromised.

The justices bowed out of the cases after considering a petition written by a factional Ondo State PDP Chairman, Mr Biyi Poroye, who claimed that the justices were likely to be biased against him.

In the petition dated October 31 and addressed to the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, the Poroye alleged that the Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, had boasted in the public that he and his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike, had settled the judges to do their bidding.

Mimiko Meets Buhari, Says Jegede Remains PDP's Lawful Candidate,
Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko

He also purported that Justice Sankey was transferred from Yola where Eyitayo Jegede, the appellant, who is also a senior lawyer, was practicing law for the past 15 years and that when the justice arrived in Akure, Governor Mimiko boasted that he catered for her to the tune of 100 million Naira.

The petitioner had consequently sought for the disbandment of the panel on the ground that his side would not get justice from the panel.

Ondo Governorship: PDP Crisis Continues As Appeal Court Panel Withdraws

Ondo PDP governorship candidate tussle The three-member special panel of the Court of Appeal handling the appeal cases of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in respect of the Ondo State governorship candidacy for the November 26 governorship election has disqualified itself following allegations that the justices have been compromised.

The three justices bowed out of the cases on Tuesday following a petition written by a factional chairman of the party in the state, Mr Biyi Poroye, who alleged that the justices were likely to be biased against him.

In the petition written on October 31 and addressed to the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, the petitioner alleged that Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State had boasted in the public that he and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State have settled the justices to do their bidding.

Poroye further alleged that Justice Sankey was transferred from Yola where Eyitayo Jegede, the appellant, who is also a senior lawyer, was practicing law for the past 15 years and that when the justice arrived in Akure, Governor Mimiko boasted that he catered for her to the tune of 100 million Naira.

In the circumstances, the petitioner demanded the disbandment of the panel on the ground that his side would not get justice from the panel.

‘Unfortunate And Un-godly Petition’

At the resumption of hearing of the matter on Tuesday, Justice Sankey drew the attention of lawyers in the case to the petition and demanded to know whether the panel could continue hearing of the case in spite of the strongly worded petition against them.

Lawyer to Mr Jegede, Wole Olanipekun, in his reaction said: “I am taken aback by the development and I was not copied”.

Mr Olanipekun describes the petition “as most embarrassing, unfair, unfortunate and un-godly because the justices have not taken any step to suggest any likelihood of bias.

“If any party should complain, it is my client, whose right has been aborted because of the removal of his name as a candidate of the PDP on the list by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)”.

Counsel to the petitioner, Dr. Alex Izinyon, however, told reporters that he was speechless, having no prior knowledge of the petition.

“I have no inkling of the petition and was not consulted by my client before writing the petition,” he stressed.

Dr. Izinyon asked the court to invite the petitioner to the courtroom to explain the rationale behind his petition and to make clarifications on how he came about his claims.

“I have been caged by my client in his bid to make caricature of the court, I have come here to do my job in accordance to the law, I do not know how the court will react to this petition but I stand by you, justices of this court because I do not have any evidence that you have been compromised,” he told the panel.

After thorough consideration of the claims, Justice Sankey disqualified the panel.

“Ordinarily, since no fact had been put forward before the court to establish a case of likelihood of bias and since lawyers in this matter have all denied knowledge of the petition, ‘we would have minded to ignore the petition. But it is a settled law that when a case of likelihood of bias has been raised in a petition, it has to be looked into, even if the petition is frivolous,” she explained.

The head of the panel added that the panel members considered it necessary to disqualify themselves from all petitions in respect of Ondo PDP governorship matters.

“We hereby step down from this matter and the case files are to be returned to the president of this court for re-assignment to another panel,” Justice Sankey added.

INEC Decries Conflicting Judgments By Election Tribunals

Mahmood-Yakubu- TribunalsThe Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed concern over the increasing number of conflicting judgments from election tribunals and Appeal Courts across Nigeria.

Professor Mahmood Yakubu on Wednesday, made the expression at a National Conference on Election Petition Tribunals and Appeals organised by the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

The INEC Chairman said that there was a need for certainty in the rules governing the resolution of electoral disputes in order to stem the tide of avoidable and endless litigation arising from conflicting judgments.

Mr Yakubu said that judicial precedence was very important because “democracy goes beyond the conduct of elections”.

With a total of 749 appeals emanating from the decisions of the various Election Petition Tribunals, the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, commended the judiciary for sustaining democracy.

On his part, the Country Director of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Shalva Kipshidze, promised continued support to the country’s electoral process.

The two-day conference, which attracted judges from across Nigeria, is aimed at stemming the tide of conflicting judgments in order to establish judicial precedence.

Judges Decry Deplorable State Of Appeal Court In Benin

court of appealJustices of the Court of Appeal have decried the deplorable state of the premises of the appellate court in Benin City, Edo State capital.

Justice Bada made the concern known during a special court session to mark the commencement of the ‘2016 Legal Year’ of the Court of Appeal on Friday.

While briefing reporters after the proceedings, Thompson Okpoko (SAN), debunked allegations of dismissal of five justices of the court for corrupt practices during the sitting of the election petition tribunal.

The Court of Appeal had earlier debunked the online report claiming that the President of the Court of Appeal (PCA), Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, had sacked five justices of the Benin Division of the court.

The Head of Media and Publicity of the Court, Mrs Sa’adatu Musa, said that at no time was any Justice of the Court of Appeal sacked by the PCA or any other authority.

She added that the President of the Court of Appeal has no constitutional powers to sack any justice of the court.

Justice Salami Accuses Judiciary Council of Cruelty

The immediate past President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, has accused the National Judicial Council (NJC) of being behind his travail as a judicial officer in the last three years.

He accused the council of dealing with him cruelly.

Speaking at a valedictory court session held in his honour at the headquarters of the appellate court in Abuja, Justice Salami said the NJC created by the constitution to protect him and other judicial officers championed his travails at the bench.

He said the NJC failed in its duties and thereby surrendered its functions to the Executive Arm of the government, thus ingratiating itself to the executive.

Justice Salami emphasised that the advice of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar, to both the executive and the legislative arms of government “that the NJC is the final authority in matters concerning judicial officers” was superfluous, as all powers needed by the council was enshrined in the constitution.

Chief Justice Mukhtar gave the advice at the inauguration of the recent batch of Senior Advocates of Nigeria in Abuja,

Salami, who retired on October 15, 2013, having attained the compulsory 70 years retirement age, accused the President of the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Moses Bello of being an impostor, for presiding over the meeting that recommended his suspension from office.

Also at the valedictory court session, the president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Okey Wali, called on the Federal Government to fund the nation’s judiciary properly.

“A situation where appropriation for the judiciary keeps nose diving while those for other arms are increasing cannot be proper,” he stated.

The Acting President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, earlier in her speech, eulogised Justice Salami, saying his services to the nation at all levels, spanning over four decades were well appreciated.

 

Group calls on FG to prevent Nigeria’s surge into anomie

A pressure group, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has painted a gloomy future for the nation, warning that except a decisive action is taken to stem the rot in the polity, the country may be heading for anomie and ruin.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja over the weekend, the chairman of the TMG group, Mashood Erubami stated that while the people buckle under the yoke of economic deprivation, joblessness and all forms of social injustice, principal actors in all strata of government continue to display obscene opulence and grandeur.

The group called on the federal government to urgently address the issue of insecurity, unemployment and increasing cases of corruption.

This is coming as Nigeria is plagued by unprecedented bomb attacks, insurgencies, jail breaks and attacks on academic institutions and security establishments.

The also called on the president to limit any form of judicial interference by recalling the suspended president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami based on the recommendation of the national judicial council.