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A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sitting in Apo, Abuja, has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to stay action on the issuance of a certificate of return to any candidate in Akwa Ibom North West senatorial district election.

Justice Valentine Ashi made the order on Friday, following an application with suit No ‘FCT/HC/M/2680/19’.

Senator Godswill Akpabio is the applicant.

She restrained the respondent in the suit – the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – from issuing any certificate, pending the determination of the suit before the court.

In an ex parte motion dated February 28, 2019, with an affidavit deposed to by one Daniel Idoko and filed on March 1, Senator Akpabio prayed the court for leave to apply for “judicial review for the issuance of writ of Mandamus, prohibition, injunction, and other declaratory reliefs” against INEC.

He also asked the court to direct the respondent to stay further action, ”particularly further action in respect of issuance of certificate of return to any candidate in respect of the seat of senator representing Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial district on the account of election held on the 23rd February 2019.”

Granting the order, Justice Ashi said there was “some merit, especially in regards to the need to keep things in status quo.”

“Leave is hereby granted to the applicant to apply for judicial review for the issuance of a writ of mandamus prohibition injunction and other declaratory reliefs against the respondent,” she held.

The judge further ordered a stay of issuance of a certificate of return to any candidate in respect of the seat as sought by the applicant

She adjourned the case till March 8 for hearing and directed the parties to first address the court on jurisdiction on the next adjourned date.

POLITICS

Kano is next — Fani-Kayode reacts to Supreme Court ruling

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Femi Fani-Kayode, former Minister of Aviation, has reacted to Friday’s Supreme Court ruling which nullified the victory of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the last general elections in Zamfara State.
The ruling APC today lost its bid to govern Zamfara State for the next four years as the supreme court ruled that it did not conduct valid primaries in the 2019 general elections.
Also, the apex court validated the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, which gave the verdict that no valid primaries were conducted by the APC in Zamfara State.
Further, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous judgement by a seven-member panel, decided that a party that had no valid candidate cannot be said to have emerged winner of the recently conducted general elections.
In an appeal filed by the APC, the apex court ruled against the appellant and ordered a fine of N10 million against the APC.
Reacting, Fani-Kayode congratulated PDP on the judgment favourable to them, hoping that the Kano election will also favour PDP.
On his Twitter page, he wrote: “Congrats to the @OfficialPDPNig in Zamfara state for being declared winner of the Governorship election by the Supreme Court. By God’s grace Kano shall go the same way!”

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POLITICS

The storm is over, may God bless the Supreme Court of Nigeria — Atiku react

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The Zamfara state judgement upholding the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship election has raised the hope of the presidential candidate of the party for the February 23, 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar who is challenging the outcome of the poll at the tribunal.

In a statement on Friday by his Special Adviser on Media, Paul Ibe, Atiku said nothing was as pleasing to the ears of believers, as justice being served in the holy month of Ramadan.

The former vice president said when justice prevails, the people rejoice, chains are broken, freedom is multiplied while the society is enriched.

“Atiku Abubakar is hopeful that the Supreme Court and our Lords Justices will let Lady Justice have full reign in other petitions that will come before them, and that good conscience, fear of God and the rule of law will prevail.“

“In so doing, they will write their names for good on the sands of time and avoid the infamy that oppressors wish to thrust on them as their legacy.

“Once again, Atiku Abubakar commends the Supreme Court for siding with justice. He congratulates the Governor-elect Hon. Bello Matawalle and the people of Zamfara, who will finally have a government that will address the issues that have made life an ordeal in that great state.“

“The storm is over and peace and calm are coming to Zamfara. May God bless the Supreme Court of Nigeria. May God bless Zamfara state and may God bless Nigeria, now and forever,” he said.

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NEWS

Presidential Election Tribunal: What Buhari told court about Justice Bulkachuwa before she stepped down

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The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Muhammadu Buhari, has told the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja that he was not aware that biological son of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, Aliyu Haidar Abubakar, campaigned for him during the electioneering period.
According to the President, he only got to know that Abubakar was his supporter after he read a copy of the motion the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

PDP and Atiku had filed the motion to disqualify Justice Bulkachuwa from presiding over the five-man panel tribunal that is hearing petitions challenging the declaration that he won the February 23 presidential election.

Buhari, who is the 2nd Respondent in Atiku and PDP’s petition marked CA/PEPT/02/19, claimed that his attention was further drawn to exhibits that contained newspaper cuttings, indicating that Justice Bulkachuwa son canvassed for votes in his favour.

However, in his 11-paragraphs written address he filed to support affidavit he lodged to counter Atiku’s motion, President Buhari, insisted that the petitioners failed to prove that Justice Bulkachuwa had in any way, exhibited any form of bias against them since the petition was entered before the tribunal.

Buhari’s affidavit was deposed to by one Kolawole Andrew Aro, a litigation officer in the chambers of President Buhari’s lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN.

Buhari, who was represented at the tribunal on Wednesday by a team of lawyers led by seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, told the Tribunal that he had since his emergence to power, refrained from dabbling into the membership of any judicial panel.

President Buhari said he never interfered with the constitution of any tribunal, “whether the panel is adjudicating on election petitions relating to the office of President, Governor, National or State Assembly, or sitting in any civil or criminal matter howsoever.”

He maintained that Atiku and the PDP, had no reason whatsoever to be apprehensive about the involvement of the Court of Appeal President in the adjudication of their dispute with regards to the outcome of the 2019 presidential election.

He said: “Having said that, and bearing in mind the sole issue distilled for determination by the respondent supra, it is the Respondent’s humble submission that whether or not the honourable President of the Court of Appeal should rescue herself from further sitting or participating in the proceedings in this petition and be replaced by another justice of this honourable court to sit in his place to hear and determine petition, as prayed by the petitioners, is within the prerogative and discretion of the honourable President of the Court of Appeal.

“What is to be taken into consideration in coming to one decision or the other in respect of the application is also within the exclusive discretion of the honourable President.

“This is not a decision that can be dictated to her by either the petitioners or respondent or any of their counsel.

“When it comes to matter of discretion, the judge or justice involved is the sole determinant.

“The honourable President of the Court of Appeal had not displayed any bias in favour of any or the parties, particularly the Respondent.

“For the respondent, it has no reason whatsoever to complain about any of the justices sitting on the panel or any Justices of Court of Appeal for that matter.

“It is not the constitutional responsibility of the Respondent to appoint or nominate Justices of the Court of Appeal sitting or adjudicating on a presidential election petition.

“We submit that the Respondent has no say, in whatsoever manner, in the appointment or Justices who are adjudicating on the present presidential election petition.

“As the Chief Executive of Nigeria, the Respondent respects the doctrine of separation of powers and does not dabble into the membership of any judicial panel, whether the panel is adjudicating on election petitions relating to the office of President, Governor, National or State Assembly, or sitting in any civil or criminal matter howsoever.

“The Respondent was not at any time privy to the said exhibits, he only became aware of them on being served with the Petitioners’ present application”.

“May we submit that from the totality of the Petitioners’ processes, we notice that the Petitioners do not deny the truism as provided by the constitution, regarding the prerogative of the President of the Court of Appeal, to constitute this panel.

“In other words, it is still within the constitutional prerogative of the same President to either decided whether to recuse herself and if he does, to nominate or appoint a replacement or to leave the panel of four, having regard to the clear provision of section 239(1) (a) of the Constitution”, President Buhari added.

On its part, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which is the 1st Respondent in the matter, through its team of lawyers comprising five SANs led by Mr. Yunuz Uztaz, urged the tribunal to dismiss Atiku and PDP’s motion, contending that it was in breach of section 42 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended. INEC, argued that the motion was discriminatory in the sense that it sought to disqualify Justice Bulkachuwa on the basis that she was married to a politician.

Noting that many male judicial officers are equally married to politicians, INEC, maintained that granting the instant application would set ”a very dangerous precedent”.

“My lord we vehemently oppose the application. And we have filed a five-paragraphed affidavit to show that exhibit 2 to 4 that was attached my the petitioners, is of no moment.

“We urge your lordship not to be lured into accepting or succumbing to the argument of the petitioners. We humbly urge your lordship to dismiss the application”, INEC’s lawyer added.

Similarly, the All Progressives Congress, APC, through its team of nine SANs, led by Prince Lateef Fagbemi, accused the PDP and Atiku of engaging in “cheap blackmail”.

While adopting its 15-paragraphed affidavit, the APC, said it was appalled that PDP was in the habit of engaging in “unpardonable and regrettable attacks” on Judges, saying it did so during a governorship election petition case that involved Osun State.

“This application is nothing but cheap blackmail. On facts and law, the application is most unmeritorious”, Fagbemi argued. Nevertheless, noting that Justice Bulkachuwa will retire by next year, Fagbemi, while concluding his argument, said, “My lord, we urge you to lead the matter”.

Meanwhile, replying on point of law, counsel to the petitioners, Dr. Uzuokwu, SAN, argued that none of the Respondents disputed the allegation that Justice Bulkachuwa was connected to key members of the APC which is the 3rd Respondent in the matter.

However, DAILY POST reported that the judge stepped down shortly after Buhari’s claims.

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POLITICS

Fish out killers of 15 Fulanis or risk losing your positions — Gov Bello tells LG bosses, traditional rulers

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Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has given seven days ultimatum to four councils administrators and traditional rulers where 15 Fulanis were killed to fish out the perpetrators or risk losing their positions for ineptitude of duty.
Governor Bello, who gave the order during a security stakeholders’ meeting held in Government House Lokoja on Tuesday, lamented that the killings happened in Yagba West, Omala, Dekina and Igalamela Odolu Local Government Areas, adding that his administration will not condone killings of any citizen in the state.
While giving ultimatum to the administrators of the four local governments and their traditional rulers, Governor Bello vowed to apprehend and bring to book the perpetrators of the dastardly act, saying “government will not allow the insecurity situation that occurred in Benue, Nasarawa and Zafara states to happen in Kogi.
“These Fulanis have been staying with us in the state peacefully without any rancour. Any politician or detractor, who are behind this killing will be made to face the full wrath of the law as my administration will not spare anybody no matter how highly placed in the society.”
He commended the security agents for their effort in ensuring that there is absolute peace in the state, urging them to do more in order to keep the state safe.
Meanwhile, the Administrator of Yagba West where the killing of 11 Fulanis took place, Comrade Joseph Olutimi, stated that he received a report that a farmer was allegedly killed by Fulani herdsmen, noting that he quickly informed the security agents who swung into action.
He pointed out that the Fulanis were killed by yet-to-be-identified gunmen, stressing that the people of the local government have been living peacefully with the resident Fulanis.
In his speech, the Special Adviser to the governor on security, Commodore Jerry Omadara reported that last week a farmer in Yagba West was allegedly murdered in his farm by suspected herdsmen, stressing that, some people took the law into their hands in a reprisal attack and killed Fulanis, who resided in some communities in the local government and dumped their corpses in Omi Dam.
He further disclosed that three corpses of Fulanis were found in Oluja community in Dekina Local Government while several cows were killed by unknown gunmen, adding that Omiyowo, Ogar, Ejigba and Dekina recorded high rate of killing of innocent citizens.
The Secretary Meyetti Allah in charge of Yagba West, Mohammed Mainasara said eleven Fulanis residents in the council were killed without provocation.

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POLITICS

Nigerians React As Tribunal Asked To Stop Buhari’s Inauguration

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A political party, Hope Democratic Party (HDP), has filed a motion seeking an order of the presidential election tribunal restraining President Muhammadu Buhari from presenting himself to be sworn-in on May 29th, 2019 and not surprisingly, Nigerians have reacted.

Punch reports that the party is also seeking an order that will restrain the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) from swearing-in, administering the oath of office and oath of allegiance to the president.

Here are some of the reactions on Twitter:

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POLITICS

Terrorists are now the commander-in-chief of Nigeria, says Bakare

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Tunde Bakare, serving overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, says terrorists are in charge of Nigeria.
Speaking during a service at his church, Bakare said the country had been taken over by bandits, kidnappers, killer herdsmen and looters.
He described them as the “commander-in-chief” of the nation.
“It is evident that the bandits; criminals, killing people every day; those kidnapping people over the place; and cattle rustlers and killer herdsmen terrorising the people are in charge in this country; they are the commander-in-chief,” he said.
“Nobody seems to know what to do anymore; the terrorists are in charge. They have even extended their regime to these areas. They now kidnap lecturers; doctors are no longer safe.
“The whole nation is under the control of terrorists. But in the name of the Lord, Nigeria shall be delivered. I shall witness the deliverance and greatness of Nigeria.”

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POLITICS

The Evil I feared in PDP is haunting me in APC, says Okorocha

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Rochas Okorocha, governor of Imo state, says the evil he feared in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been haunting him since he joined the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Okorocha had defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), where he contested and won the 2011 governorship election.
The outgoing governor had been declared winner of the 2019 senatorial election in Imo west but the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) withdrew his certificate of return.
The commission based its action on the complaint of Francis Ibeawuch, the returning officer for the election who said he declared Okorocha under duress.
Speaking at an interactive session with journalists in Abuja, the governor said he remains a staunch member of the APC despite efforts to “frustrate him out of the party”.
He accused Adams Oshimhole, national chairman of the APC, and some other leaders of working with INEC to ensure he does not get his certificate of return as the “duly elected senator”.
“The evil I feared in the PDP has befallen me ten times in the APC. Last week, I wrote a letter to INEC for the first time myself, informing INEC of their wrongdoings and illegal actions taken by INEC to withhold my certificate on mere allegations of duress which was never founded, neither was there any committee set up to investigate the matter,”Okorocha said.
“So, INEC on their own believe the reports of their returning officer without investigating the authenticity of the investigation. So, there was no issue of fair hearing at all.
“What is important here is that INEC does not have the power to withhold the certificate of return having declared the result. I believe the INEC chairman is up to a game with the chairman of the APC who is being used to frustrate my coming to the senate and this is politically motivated.
“I’ve given enough time that INEC might correct itself and do the needful and issue me my certificate of return but to no avail.”
Okorocha alleged that Festus Okoye, a national commissioner of INEC, is being used as the “hatchet man” against him.
“Many things have happened so far and these should be of concern to everyone. INEC that made the submission to the tribunal have gone back requesting to withdraw it because the submission was defending the declaration by INEC,” he said.
“I wonder what they want to do with the certificate, if they don’t give it to me, who will they give it to? Maybe they will give it to Festus Okoye because he is from my Senatorial zone but what they are doing is presenting INEC as a lying organisation and that is dangerous for our democracy because, as it stands right now, the image of INEC is bastardised.
“What it means is that tomorrow somebody can withhold the certificate of anybody because you don’t like his face because you feel that he wants to politically challenge you in future.”

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POLITICS

Presidential Election: We will deliver justice — Bulkachuwa assures Nigerians

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The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal led by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, on Wednesday assured Nigerians and the international community of its resolve to dispense justice in all the petitions challenging the outcome of the February 23 election.
Bulkachuwa, presiding over the five-man panel, gave this assurance at the inaugural sitting of the tribunal which held in a packed courtroom of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.
She leads four other members of the panel drawn from various divisions of the Court of Appeal.
They are Justices Abdul Aboki (Abuja Division), Joseph Ikyegh (Benin Division), Samuel Oseji (Lagos Division) and Justice Peter Ige (Abuja Division).
Bulkachuwa pleaded for the support of stakeholders including litigants, lawyers , the press and members of the public to ensure the smooth running of the proceedings of the tribunal.
The President of the Court of Appeal who started delivering her speech shortly after leading the four other members of the panel into the courtroom at 10.05am, barred analysis of the tribunal’s proceedings in the media.
She assured that the Court of Appeal which sits as the PEPT would work in accordance and within the dictates of the constitution, the law and international best practices to ensure justice was done to all.
She said, “The independence of the judiciary is key to any vibrant democracy, especially in the resolution of election petitions.
“Therefore, an independent judiciary is a robust and an indispensable requisite of a free society under the rule of law.
“As we gather in this honourable courtroom today, I wish to use this opportunity to reassure Nigerians and friends of Nigeria , that the Court of Appeal will work in accordance and within the dictates of the constitution, the law and international best practices, to dispense justice to all, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.
“I would like to conclude with this quote by my lord, the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Mr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, CFR, that ‘Politics is not anarchy, it is not disorderliness, it must be punctuated by justice, fairness and orderliness.’”

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