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Tribunal: Buhari, Atiku know fate Sept.11

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The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday fixed Sept.11 to deliver judgment in the petition filed by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar challenging president Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the Feb. 23 general election.

The Court of Appeal Public Relations Officer, Mrs Sadiat Kachalla, announced this in a notice of judgment  in Abuja.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the tribunal on Aug.21 reserved judgment on the appeal after parties adopted their addresses.

Justice Mohammed Garba, Chairman of the five-man panel of justices had stated that the judgment date would be communicated to parties.

reports that the president was declared the winner of the election after scoring 15,191,847 votes as against Atiku’s 11, 262,978 votes.

While adopting his address, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Counsel for Buhari, had described the petition as a sham as it lacked substance and merit.

“I have handled a few electoral petition cases, this is one petition that yarns for help, for assistance and for evidence but could not get any.

“Apart from the hype the matter has generated, there is nothing in law to support the allegations before the tribunal, Olanipekun said.

On the qualification of the president, Olanipekun said Section 131 (b) had settled that matter.

“I make bold to say that the Constitution and case laws had not compelled the candidates of the election to tendered certificates or attached same to INEC form before submission.

“The laws only mandate any person contesting election in the country to have gone to school up to Secondary School level,’’ he said.

On the issue of election results transmission by electronic means, the counsel said the use of such technology must be provided for in the Electoral Act.

“The allegation on the management of server by INEC is vague. Where is the server? This is a million dollar question that the petitioners could not substantiate.

“My Lords, this petition was not properly diagnosed, the action was ill-advised, I therefore urge the tribunal not to bow to sentiment or public opinion that does not represent the law.

“This petition is liable to be dismissed with a considerable cost’’, Olanipekun said.

On his part, Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, Counsel for All Progressive Congress (APC) said he could not help but take the liberty to align himself with the submissions made Olanipekun.

“My Lords it is disheartening to see that this petition still remains watery at this stage.

“The petition made allegations they could not proof. We have done a table showing how the petitioners have proven the case so far.

“The election took place in 119,976 Polling Units, 8,901 Wards in 774 Local Government Areas across the country.

“It is sad therefore to see that the petitioners only called 62 witnesses. Out of this figure, only five witnesses gave direct evidence of what happened in polling units on the day of election.

“I feel sad that this matter has been starved of evidence and therefore deserves to be dismissed,’’ Fagbemi said.

Also, Mr Yunus Usman, SAN, Counsel for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) urged the panel to uphold all of its objections raised against the admissibility of all pieces of documentary and oral evidence led by the petitioners.

Usman submitted that the electoral body conducted the Feb.23 presidential election in total compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

He also urged the panel to disregard the petitioners’ claims that the results of the election were transmitted electronically to a central server managed by INEC, adding that it was the “greatest lie of the century’’.

He submitted that it was laughable when the petitioners made pleadings that suggested that only the PDP and APC and their candidates contested the election.

Usman prayed the tribunal to take judicial notice of the fact that the Electoral Act 2010 prohibited the transmission of election results electronically.

According to him, the law only provides for manual transmission of election results.

Usman said that all the witnesses presented by the petitioners admitted to the fact that transmission of election results electronically had no placed in the country’s statute books at the moment.

In countering allegations that INEC abandoned its pleadings by not presenting witnesses, the counsel said the commission simply extracted salient pieces of evidence from the petitioners’ pleadings to solidify its defence.

“It would have amounted to wasting the time of the tribunal for us to call witnesses when the petitioners could not discharge the burden of proof on allegations they had made,’’ he said.

Usman thereafter prayed the court to dismiss the petition for lack of merit.

Meanwhile, Dr Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, Counsel for the petitioners urged the tribunal to discountenance the addresses of the respondents, adding that the petitioners had indeed discharged the burden of proof.

He said the tribunal must exercise its powers in good conscience to uphold the petition and return Abubakar as president.

Uzoukwu further said the second respondent (Buhari) was unable to present his Secondary School Certificate before the tribunal in order to rest the allegation.

“My Lords, we pray the panel to judiciously and judicially evaluate our evidence in context of whether we have justified our allegation against Buhari’s certificate or not.

On the issue of server, Uzoukwu said INEC had operated, activated and stored the Feb.23 election results in a centrally controlled server.

reports that the tribunal would have to rule on all pending interlocutory applications filed by parties before delivering judgment on the main appeal. 

OMO/SH

edited by Sadiya Hamza

 

 

 

Foreign

French court orders trial of Rwanda genocide suspect at UN tribunal

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A French court on Wednesday ordered that Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga be handed over to a United Nations tribunal for trial.

UN prosecutors accused Kabuga of bankrolling and arming ethnic Hutu militias that killed 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda during a 100-day period in 1994.

He is indicted for genocide and incitement to commit genocide, among other charges.

Kabuga, whose arrested in Paris in May ended a manhunt that lasted more than two decades, has called the charges lies.

His lawyers say he would not receive a fair trial at the tribunal, which is based in The Hague and in Arusha, Tanzania.

They also argue his health is too frail for him to be transferred to the African country, particularly during a dangerous pandemic.

But the court said his health was not incompatible with a transfer.

The 87-year-old is currently being held in a Paris prison.

In a letter to the UN tribunal’s chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, ahead of Wednesday’s ruling, Kabuga’s lawyers urged him to leave the case with France’s judiciary.

“If you were to decide to assert the primacy of your jurisdiction over French jurisdiction, thus endangering the life of Felicien Kabuga, we would take the risk of renouncing on discovering the truth forever,” Laurent Bayon wrote, citing Kabuga’s medical history.


Edited By: Halima Sheji/Salif Atojoko (NAN)

 

 

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Judiciary

Tribunal upholds Yahaya Bello’s election

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The Kogi  Election Petition Tribunal has dismissed the petition of Mr Musa Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the election of Governor Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Wada was challenging the election of Bello in the Nov. 16, 2019 governorship election in Kogi.

Wada, in his petition, alleged that the election was marred with violence and other irregularities including corrupt practices.

Delivering the majority judgement, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Kashim Kaigama, dismissed Wada’s petition on the grounds that it was lacking in merit.

The tribunal held that the evidence of some of the witnesses was contradictory and amounted to documentary hearsay.

The tribunal further awarded a cost of N500,000 to be paid by each petitioner to each of the respondents.

However, a member of the tribunal, Justice  Ohimai Ovbiagele, disagreed with the judgement.

In his dissenting judgement, Ovbiagele held that Bello was not the duly elected governor of Kogi.

“I hereby nullify the election of the Bello and make an order that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct fresh elections within three months from today.

Edited By: Gregg Mmaduakolam/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Foreign

Rwanda genocide suspect, Kabuga opposes transfer to UN tribunal – Lawyers

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Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga has the right to be presumed innocent and opposes being transferred from France to a UN tribunal based in Tanzania, his lawyers said in a statement.

Kabuga, 84, is accused of bankrolling ethnic militias that massacred some 800,000 people in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and had been on the run for a quarter of a century until his arrest on Saturday in a Paris suburb.

He is due to appear at 1200 GMT before judges at a Paris court who will decide whether to hand him to the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.

The international court is based in The Hague, Netherlands and Arusha, Tanzania.

The lawyers said they would seek a postponement at the opening of the hearing.

It was unacceptable, the lawyers said, that France’s public prosecutor’s office had on Saturday referred to the one-time tea and coffee tycoon as one of the leading perpetrators of the slaughter, before any trial had begun.

Kabuga is Rwanda’s most wanted man and had a 5 dollars million bounty on his head.

He was indicted in 1997 on seven criminal counts including genocide and incitement to commit genocide.

Under French law, an eight-day postponement to hearing will be automatically granted.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Judiciary

Kogi tribunal dismisses SDP, Akpoti’s petition against Bello’s election

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The Kogi Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, on Monday, dismissed the suit by Natasha Akpoti, Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s candidate in the Nov. 16, 2019 governorship election against Gov. Yahaya Bello.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that Akpoti and her party, SDP, had filed a petition, asking the tribunal to nullify the victory of Governor Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the poll and order a rerun.

At the sitting in Abuja, the three-member tribunal, led by Justice Kashim Kaigama, in the unanimous judgment, held that the petition failed woefully.

The tribunal also awarded the cost of N100,000 to be paid by each of the two petitioners to each of the three respondents in the case; the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the APC and Mr. Bello, totalling N600, 000.

NAN reports that Akpoti and her party had, in December 2019, filed their petition before the tribunal, praying for an order nullifying the election on the grounds that it was conducted substantially in contradiction to the Electoral Act and the electoral guidelines issued by INEC.

They alleged that the election was marred by corrupt practices, violence, and over-voting in all the polling units in the 21 local government areas of the state.

They also alleged that Bello and his running mate, Edward Onoja, should be disqualified to contest in the election on the grounds that Onoja gave false information in his Form CF001 submitted to INEC concerning the circumstances of his exit from the banking industry.

They alleged that while Onoja was sacked by the bank, he claimed that he retired from the service.

They also alleged that Onoja falsified his age and forged his educational certificate to aid his qualification to stand the election.

In the lead judgment, Justice Ohiamai Ovbiagele held that the petitioners failed to prove the alleged corrupt practices and falsification of results by any credible evidence.

He added that the petitioners merely dumped their exhibits on the tribunal without linking them to the petition.

He also noted that none of the petitioners’ 15 witnesses gave any evidence concerning over-voting, implying that the allegation was abandoned.

He held that testimonies by many of the witnesses were “patently hearsay devoid of any evidential value,” while those of some others were “ludicrous,” “unreliable” and “doubtful.”

“They are all doubtful illogical and some instances patently unreasonable,” the judge said.

He added that some of the witnesses, who claimed to have been eyewitnesses of violence at various polling units, failed to tender the video evidence they claimed to have and also failed to tender the voter cards, even though they claimed they voted in the election.

“Any voter without a voter card should not be taken seriously,” he said.

He described as “absurd,” the attempt by the petitioners to “to prove their petition without polling unit agents.”

Justice Ovbiagele also noted that “the pieces of evidence that emanated from the cross-examination of all the petitioners’ witnesses, like a dynamite, shattered the testimonies of these witnesses.”

The judge also dismissed the age falsification allegation on the grounds that the petitioners failed to prove that either Bello or his running mate was less than 35 years old as of Nov. 16, 2019, when the governorship election held.

The judge dismissed the petitioners’ claim that Onoja was dismissed from banking industry but falsely claimed in his Form CF001 submitted to INEC that he retired.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Judiciary

Lockdown: Ag Appeal Court President gives guidelines for proceedings in court, tribunal

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The Acting President, Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, on Monday gave guidelines for proceedings in courts and tribunal during the lockdown order, due to COVID-19.

Dongban-Mensem said in the guidelines in Abuja, that to reduce the time spent in argument in court, all counsel are encouraged to use their letterhead papers to clearly include their names, which party they are appearing for and their designation.

She also said that in the briefs, parties should state when the briefs were filed, what date, the appellant(s), the respondent(s) (where multiple parties) properly identified.

According to the guideline, in the processes, respondent’s notice shall be properly identified by date of filling and date of the process, preliminary objection (if any) and suit number/appeal number to be clearly stated.

The name of the party, date of judgment and court and place as well as the date the appeal was filed must also be indicated.

“All these details shall be submitted electronically to the office of the chief registrar (CR) for onward transmission and copies must be sent to the respective deputy chief registrars (DCRs).

“The court is an enclosed place, so much talk with its characteristic spewing of saliva predisposes both court workers and the public to health hazards, especially in this time of menacing coronavirus pandemic,’’ she said.

Dongban-Mensem added that when counsel are served motions, which they have no objections to, they should simply send their no objection notice to the court as is contained in the Court of Appeal Rule (2016).

She said that any counsel, out of jurisdiction and unable to attend court, should ask their local representatives to stand in for them.

In the case of tribunals, she said that where witnesses are taken, persons who are not witnesses before the court shall not be admitted.

She added that the chairman and members of the tribunal shall determine the number of people allowable in court at any particular sitting.

According to her, people to be allowed should not be more than 20, depending on the size of the court hall.

Dongban-Mensem advised all counsel to put into maximum use the Court of Appeal Facebook page – Court of Appeal Abuja, Nigeria.

She added that all messages placed on the court’s Facebook page must also be posted/sent/shared via social media law platforms for prompt attention.

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde/Sadiya Hamza
(NAN)

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Judiciary

Omar v Jatau: Bauchi Tribunal adjourns hearing until April 30

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The Bauchi elections petition tribunal has adjourned until April 30, the case involving Alhaji Tata Omar and All Progressives Congress (APC) challenging the declaration of Mohammed Jatau of Peoples Democratic Party as winner of the Zaki Federal Constituency polls.

The National and State Houses of Assembly tribunal which sat on Friday in Bauchi ordered the adjournment for commencement of hearing on the adjourned date.

This was after it had heard the briefs from the petitioner and the respondent on the Jan. 25, Zaki Federal Constituency rerun election.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Omar and the APC, on March 13, with file Number /02/2020, filed a petition before the tribunal challenging the declaration of Jatau as the winner.

PDP and INEC were also joined in the suit as second and third respondents.

Justice Haruna Kereng, who heads the tribunal, after listening to the applications and the pre- trial conference by the parties adjourned until April 30, for commencement of hearing.

“Further, it is also directed that the said hearing shall be on a day-to-day basis including Saturdays.

“The tribunal may, if it thinks it is expedient and in the interest of justice, enlarge or bridge any allotted number of days and the duration of time allotted,” Kereng said.

He said the parties are allowed to call 21 witnesses during the proceedings.

The chairman of the tribunal also explained to each party that 20 minutes for examination in chief would be allowed.

“Also 10 minutes for re-examination and 30 minutes for cross-examination,” he added

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo
(NAN)

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Politics

Kogi Guber: PDP condemns alleged attack on members at Tribunal

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the alleged violent attack on its leaders, members, lawyers and witnesses at the premises of the Kogi State governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja.

The party made the condemnation in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan on Friday in Abuja.

Ologbondiyan described the attack  as part of the desperate plots to eliminate some of its leaders, trigger confusion, disrupt and manipulate the judicial process, instill fear in the tribunal judges in a bid to subvert the course of justice.

He said there was no way the alleged manipulations at the Nov. 16, 2019 Kogi governorship election could stand before the law.

Ologbondiyan said it was indeed a terrific sight when scores of hoodlums attacked PDP leaders, for which some members and witnesses were now receiving treatments in various hospitals.

“The party however, insists that no amount of violence, intimidation or blackmail can cow it into abandoning its avowed determination to retrieve the mandate freely given to its candidate by the people of Kogi state in the November 2019 governorship election.

“The PDP also called on the judges of the tribunal not to be deterred by the antics of the APC but stand firm on the side of the law and the mandate of the people of Kogi state,” he said.

Ologbondiyan cautioned the perpetrators  to desist from such attack as the people of Kogi state might not have any other option than to use every means of self defense allowed and available in a democracy, in the face of any such attack in the future.

He urged the Inspector General of Police to interrogate the All Progressives Congress (APC) Kogi State Chairman,

 Mr Abdullahi Bello,

for  eventual prosecution over the violent attack at the tribunal.

“The police should also bar him from the sittings of the tribunal due to his unruly conduct.”

Edited By: Buhari Bolaji/Maureen Atuonwu
(NAN)

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Judiciary

Absence of tribunal chairman stalls ex-CAC Registrar’s trial

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The absence of the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Umar Danladi, on Tuesday stalled trial of former Acting Registrar-General of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) Azuka Azinge.

Azinge is charged before the tribunal on Dec. 23, 2019 on 11 counts bordering on breach of the code of conduct for public officers.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that no reason was given for the judge’s absence.

Counsel in the matter were told by the tribunal officials that a date would be communicated to them.

NAN reports that Azinge is also accused of receiving allowances she was not entitled to as an acting Registrar-General of the CAC.

She pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to her on Dec. 23, 2019.

NAN reports that on Dec. 28, 2019, the CCT ordered the suspension of Azinge, pending the conclusion of her trial on charges bordering on the breach of the code of conduct for public officers. 

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza

 

 

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Judiciary

Alleged unlawful removal:  ex-Chairman investment tribunal drags Finance Minister to court

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NNN: The former Chairman of Investment and Securities Tribunal (IST), Siaka Idoko-Akoh, on Monday dragged the Minister of Finance and five others before National Industrial Court over alleged wrongful and unlawful removal.

Other defendants in the suit are Ministry of Finance,  Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse (permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance), the IST, J.I Udunni (acting Chairman of IST), and the Attorney-General of the Federation.

The claimant is also seeking N500 million as general damages against the defendants for the emotional and psychological trauma he allegedly suffered as a result of his removal from office.

At the resumed hearing on Monday, the claimant’s counsel, Mr Mimi Ayua informed the court that he had served all parties with all relevant processes.

While counsel to IST and Udunni, C.I Okpoko, confirmed receipt of service with court’s processes, Ministry of finance, the honourable minister of finance, Isa-Dutse and the AGF had no legal representation.

The Judge, Justice Sanusi Kado asked  C.I Okpoko, directed that hearing notices be sent to all parties in the matter with proof of service to be kept in the court’s file.

Kado adjourned the matter until May 5, for hearing.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the claimant was appointed as the Chairman of the IST on Aug. 1, 2017 and removed on Sept. 24,2019.

Idoko-Akoh has approached the court to seek redress andprayed the court to declare that  his removal was wrongful, unlawful and contravened sections 277 to 279 of the IST Act, 2007, haven not been either found culpable or indicted or charged for any misconduct.

The claimant is further seeking the court’s declaration that his appointment as the chairman of the Tribunal was for a secured tenure of five years and could not be removed from office except in accordance or in compliance with the provisions of sections 277 to 279 of the IST Act, 2007.

In addition, Idoko-Akoh is seeking the court’s declaration that “Udunni does not possess or qualify to be the acting Chairman of the Tribunal as prescribed by the IST Act, 2007.”

He is also seeking an order of the court  to declare as invalid, null, void and of no effect the letter dated Sept. 24,2019 removing him as the Chairman of the Tribunal.

The claimant, in addition, is seeking an order of the court to set aside, nullify and invalidate the letter of Sept. 24,2019 purporting to have removed him from office as the Chairman of the Tribunal.

Idoko-Akoh is also asking the court to compel the defendants in the alternative pay him  N251.2 million as salaries, allowances and other entitlements in lieu of the remaining three-year tenure, as  Chairman and an additional N10 million as cost of prosecuting the suit.

Edited By: Kevin Okunzuwa/Sadiya Hamza

Source: https://nnn.com.ng/alleged-unlawful-removal-ex-chairman-investment-tribunal-drags-finance-minister-to-court/

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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