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2019 Presidential poll: Tribunal fixes May 15, May 16 for pre-hearing sittings



The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Wednesday fixed May 15 and May 16 for the pre-hearing session  in the petitions filed by the candidate of PDP in the 2019 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, three other political parties and their presidential candidates.

They are challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

At the inaugural sitting at the Appeal Court complex, Abuja, Chairman of the five-man tribunal panel, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa,, urge all counsel representing parties in the matter to identify the petitions and applications filed before the tribunal.

Bukachuwa  who is also the President of the Appeal Court, assured all stakeholders that each litigant would be given equal opportunity to present his case in a mature manner.

”We therefore require the maximum cooperation of all the stakeholders, especially from the leaders of the Bar.

”We expect the proceedings to be conducted with decorum, a high sense of responsibility, dedication, and patriotism in our quest to arrive at just decisions in all petitions before us.

”We assure all stakeholders that each litigant will be given equal opportunity to present his case in a mature manner before us,’’ she stressed.

The president also called on counsel to all the parties not to hype the polity after sittings by making a public analysis in the media as to what transpired in the court room.

According to Bukachuwa, proceedings at the tribunal will be treated as any other low profile case, where proceedings in the court are not discuss publicly until a decision is pronounced by the tribunal.

The chairman said that the tribunal will do everything possible to make relevant information available as at when due adding that, any breach at the tribunal will not be condoned.

”The independence of the judiciary is the key to any vibrant democracy, especially in the resolution of election petition. Therefore, an independent judiciary is a robust and an indispensable requisite of a free society under the rule of law.

”I wish to use this opportunity to reassure Nigerians and friends of Nigeria, that the the court of Appeal will work accordance and with the dictates of the constitution.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that a group of Atiku supporters who were also sighted at the court premises wielding banners and placards were chanting solidarity songs .

NNN also reports that the five-man tribunal panel has 180 days’ period from the date of filing of the petition on March 18 to hear and deliver its judgment in the case.

NNN reports that Atiku, PDP and the others, in their various petitions, are seeking the nullification of Buhari’s victory at the Feb. 23 presidential poll on allegations of widespread rigging, violations of the Electoral Act, suppression of voters, violence amongst other electoral malpractices.

The others include: the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its presidential candidate, Chief Ambrose Owuru; Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) and its presidential candidate, Mr Aminchi Habu and the Coalition for Change (C4C) and its presidential candidate, Jeff Ojinka.

Atiku, in his petition, specifically asked the tribunal to disqualify Buhari as winner of the February 23 presidential election, on the grounds that he (Buhari) did not possess the requisite academic qualification to contest for the office of President.

The petition, which is premised on five grounds, alleged that Buhari lied about his academic qualification as well as schools attended in his form 001 submitted to INEC for purpose of contesting the 2019 presidential election.

Atiku and PDP had filed their petition against the outcome of the election at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) in Abuja, on March 18, 2019.

While Atiku and the PDP, in grounds one to three of their petition, specifically attacked the conduct of the Feb. 23, presidential election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), they asked the tribunal on grounds three to five to disqualify Buhari on the grounds that he was not qualified to have contested the election in the first place and as such all votes accredited to him by INEC should be declared as wasted votes.

Owuru, Habu and Ojinka, in their separate petitions, however, prayed the tribunal to nullify the election of Buhari on grounds of alleged massive rigging of the Feb. 23 presidential election as well as substantial non compliance with provisions of the law by the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Respondents in the petitions are: President Buhari, APC and INEC. However, unlike in all the other petitions, the C4C had included the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as the 2nd Respondent, with APC and INEC, as 3rd and 4th respectively in its petition.

The two petitioners who claimed to have been excluded from participating in the February 23 poll, averred that the election was invalid by reason of non compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act which stipulate the conditions under which election can be lawfully postponed.

Their main grouse was that they were validly nominated for the 2019 general election, but were unlawfully excluded from the said elections by INEC which de-listed their names and party logo from the ballot papers.

edited by Sadiya Hamza


43-year-old unemployed docked over violence, threat to life



A 43-year-old unemployed, Adekunle Shoetan, on Tuesday, appeared before an Ikeja Chief Magistrates’ Court, Lagos, for allegedly threatening the life of an aged man and his wife.

Shoetan, who resides in Alagbado area of Lagos, is facing a three-count charge of conspiracy, threat to life and attempt to commit a misdemeanour.

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

The prosecutor, ASP. Peter Nwaongwu, told the court that the defendant committed the offence on Oct. 24, at Alagbado area of Lagos.

Nwaongwu said that the defendant called one Alhaji Tajudeen Oladele with a hidden phone number and threatened him.

“The defendant told him not to go out of his residence for 21 days or else, he would die.

“He also told the complainant that he was paid by someone to assassinate him and his wife, Alhaja Tawakalitu Oladele.

“The defendant was, however, arrested after thorough investigation,” Nwaongwu said.

According to the prosecutor, the offences contravene Sections 5, 56 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.‎

The Nigeria News Agency reports that Section 5 stipulates a six-month jail term for attempting to commit a misdemeanour, while Section 56 stipulates a one-year jail term for threatening violence.

The Chief Magistrate, Mrs Yetunde Aje-Afunwa granted the defendant N500, 000 bail, with two responsible sureties each in like sum.

She adjourned the case till Dec. 19 for mention.

Edited by Ifeyinwa Okonkwo and ‘Wale Sadeeq

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Police arraign 2 minors, 1 man for allegedly stealing soft drinks worth N48,000



The police on Tuesday arraigned two minors and a 22-year-old man, Muhammad Mustapha in a Karu Grade I Area Court, Abuja for allegedly stealing soft drinks worth N48,000.

The police charged the defendants with three counts of joint acts, criminal trespass and theft.

They however denied committing the offence.

The Prosecution Counsel, Vincent Osuji, told the court that the complainant, Mrs Mary Ogobuegu, reported the matter at the Karu police Station on Nov. 9.

“Ogobuegwu alleged that the defendants conspired among themselves, trespassed into her business premises and stole some soft drinks.

“The drinks include, 16 packs of pet gold drink, five packets of mama Big Coke, Energy drinks and two packs of 5alive, all valued at N48,000.

“During police investigation, some of the stolen drinks were recovered,” Osuji said.

He said the offence contravened the provisions of sections 79, 348 and 287 of the Penal Code.

The Judge, Abdullahi Jibrin, ordered the defendants to produce one surety each who must be a civil servant and adjourned the case until Nov. 27 for hearing.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Woman drags step son to court over alleged criminal trespass, intimidation



A Shari’a Court in Magajin Gari, Kaduna, on Tuesday remanded in custody one Muhammad Sani, 26, facing charges of trespass, intimidation and insulting his step father’s sister.

The judge, Malam Murtala Nasir, gave the order following an application by the complainant, Ms Aina’u Muhammad, for a restraining order to be issued against the defendant.

Nasir said that the defendant should he kept in custody pending when a reliable surety comes for his bail.

The judge also directed that elders in the family should appear before the court at the next hearing of the case and adjourned the matter until Nov. 26.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Aina’u, 40, had approached the court seeking an injunction to restraint the defendant from coming to her house to visit his siblings.

The complainant, a resident of Zaria Road in Kaduna, alleged that whenever the defendant visits her home to see her late brother’s other children, he always harassed and rained insults on her.

” I want the court to intervene in the matter and restrain him from coming to my house; whenever he wants to see his siblings, he should wait outside and meet them there,” she prayed.

However, the defendant, who also resides at Zaria Road, denied the allegations.

According to him, he visits the complainant’s house only to check on his younger ones who are under her care.

He prayed the court to give him time to try to talk to older relatives of the complainant on the matter.

Edited by Bayo Sekoni/Maharazu Ahmed

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Alleged falsehood : Court slams N100, 000 against prosecution for stalling Melaye ‘s trial



An FCT High Court Maitama on Tusday ordered the prosecution to pay N100, 000 for stalling trial of the Sen. Dino Malaye in alleged falsehood filed against him.

Melaye, the senator representing Kogi West in the National Assembly, is charged with two counts bordering on giving false information to the police.

The Federal Government arraigned Melaye, alleging that he, sometime in April, 2017 deliberately gave false information to the police.

The judge, Justice Olasumbo Goodluck gave the order after the prosecution informed the court that their witnesses were not in court.

Goodluck held that by the provisions of Section 396 (4)(6) of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act,  2015, parties are entitled to five adjournments and nothing more.

The judge said she was not pleased with the  attitude of the prosecution in the matter, especially when the matter was placed on fast track,  day to day hearing and the defendant’s counsel comes from outside jurisdiction.

” A cost of N100, 000 is therefore awarded against the prosecution instead of N250, 000 prayed by the defendant’s counsel ” she ordered.

The judge said the trial was slated for Nov. 19 and Nov. 20 and both dates of trial are stalled for failure of the prosecution to bring their witnesses to court.

Goodluck then adjourned the matter until Dec. 5, for continuation of trial

Earlier, the prosecution counsel,  Mrs N.O.Ezra informed the court that her witnesses were not in court.

Ezra then prayed the court for an adjournment to enable them bring their witnesses.

Responding,  defence counsel Olusegun Odubela, SAN, told the court that this was unfair to the defendant because the witness could not be more involved in Kogi election than the defendant who was a candidate in the election.

Odubela added that the prosecution did not the the court the where about of their fourth witness.

” The court should be guided by the provisions of sections 396 (4)(6) of ACJA and 36 (4) of the 1999 constitution as amended.

” The prosecution have not adduced any cogent reasons why their witnesses are not available in court,  in case the court grants them an adjournment,  we will be asking for a cost of N250, 000, he said.

Odubela further told the court that since last sitting on July 4, the prosecution could have known and inform the court and the defendant’s counsel who comes from another jurisdiction. (NAN )

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Police arraign applicant for being in possession of alleged stolen phones



The police on Tuesday arraigned an applicant, Livingstone Okpezi, who was caught with seven cell phones respected to be stolen, in a Karshi Grade I Area Court, Abuja.

Okpezi, who resides in Angwan Sarki,  Orozo, Abuja, is charged with two counts of unlawful possession of stole phones and refusing to make a statement.

The prosecutor, Mohammed Lawal, told the court that the defendant on Oct.23  went to the Divisional Police Headquarters Karshi, Abuja with seven different types of phones.

Lawal alleged  that when the police asked the defendant where he got the phones from, he refused to answer.

He further alleged that the defendant refused to fill a statement form.

The prosecution counsel said the offence contravened the provisions of sections 143 and 286 of the Penal Code.

The Judge, Isa Mohammed Anas, admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N500,000  with a surety in like sum.

Anas ordered that the surety must present a valid means of identification and adjourned the case until Dec. 16, for hearing.

Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa/Sadiya Hamza

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Lagos business man in court for alleged N33m theft



A 27-year-old businessman, Ebuka Okejeme, was on Tuesday appeared in an Ikeja Chief Magistrates’ Court over alleged N33 million theft.

Okejeme, whose address was not given in the court, is standing trial on a two-count charge of conspiracy and stealing.

The Prosecutor, ASP. Peter Nwangwu, told the court that the defendant committed the offences on Oct. 21 at Aspanda Trade- fair Market, Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos.

Nwangwu said that the defendant and some others still at large defrauded one John Iloka of N33 million cash from a business transaction.

“The defendant obtained the money from the complainant, but failed to keep to his own end of the business deal.

“Okejeme converted the money to his personal use and absconded.

“All efforts made by the complainant to get the defendant to refund the money proved abortive,” Nwangwu said.

The prosecutor alleged that the defendant also stole auto bulbs, fan blades, wheel covers and vehicle accessories, valued at N20 million from the complainant.

According to him, the offences contravene Sections 287 (5) and Section 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

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

Section 287 provides a three-year jail term for convicted offenders.

The Chief Magistrate, Yewande Aje- Afunwa, admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N5 million with two responsible sureties in like sum.

Aje- Afunwa said that one of the sureties must be property owner and must live within the jurisdiction of the court.

The Chief Magistrate adjourned the case until Jan.16, 2020 for mention.

Edited by Dada Ahmed

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