Kano tribunal nullifies PDP candidate’s election

The Kano State National and State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal has nullified the election of a member of the House of Representatives, Surajo Harisu, representing Dambatta/Makoda Federal Constituency on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The three-man tribunal also declared Alhaji Badamasi Ayuba of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) winner of the April 9 House of Representatives election, having scored the highest number of lawful votes. 

Tribunal Chairman, Justice Muhktar Ladipo Abimbola said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wrongfully rejected the valid votes cast for the petitioner.

He ruled that the onus of proving whether or not a ballot paper is wrongfully or rightfully rejected rests on INEC, which he said failed to prove the justification for the rejection of the votes.

Justice Abimbola said: “The oral evidence, thereof, that the rejected votes were wrongfully rejected, is sufficient evidence linking the rejected votes to the case of the petitioner.  

“We have looked with serious pains and examined very carefully and scrutinised the certified copies of the rejected ballot papers, which are in 7,683 ballot papers. Out of this number, 6,983 votes were validly cast in favour of the petitioner.

“An examination of the ballot papers shows that most of them were rejected because of ink stains. Section 54, Subsection 1 of the Electoral Act states specifically that any ink stain from the staining of the thump of the voter on any part of the ballot paper, in our view, shall not be a ground for rejecting a ballot paper, if the choice of the voter is very clear.

“The petitioner pleaded copiously and specified the number of votes he claimed were wrongfully rejected by INEC. In our view, this is prima facie proof and this proof ought to have been contradicted or controverted by officials of INEC who, instead, admitted that at the election, there were indeed rejected votes.

“INEC officials have the duty to prove the justification for the rejection of the votes but failed to plead or produce any evidence before us.

“We, therefore, hold that the 6,983 votes, which were validly cast for the first petitioner, were wrongfully rejected by INEC. These votes ought to have been added to the votes of the first petitioner…

“Judgment is, therefore, given in favour of the petitioner and the election of the first respondent is hereby set aside. INEC is hereby mandated to issue the first respondent the Certificate of Return.”

INEC to prosecute 800,000 voters over multiple registrations

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would soon prosecute 800,000 Nigerians for engaging in multiple registration during the last voter’ registration exercise.

The electoral umpire said it was already collaborating with the Legal Aid Council to prosecute the registrants, vowing that there was no going back in its determination to convict those found culpable to serve as a deterrent to other perpetrators of electoral malpractices in the future.

INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Lagos State Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola, spoke in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, yesterday while delivering a lecture entitled: “ INEC and Challenges of Credible Elections: The 2011 Experience”, organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council.

Ogunmola said the electoral body would sanction those who registered more than once, saying; “if we fail to prosecute the perpetrators now, it will portend grave danger for the future elections in the country”.

He, however, said the 800,000 registrants already identified in the computer as having registered more than once may not truly reflect the actual number of multiple registration, “because of the malfunctioning of the Direct Data Capture Machines (DDCMs)”.

The REC assured that after the ongoing investigation by the commission, anybody proven to have registered more than once would be arrested and taken to court.

He expressed confidence in the ability of the Commission to deliver to Nigerians credible, free, fair and peaceful elections in 2015 and beyond.

Tribunal sacks CPC Senators, Reps

Opposition Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) was dealt a huge blow yesterday.

The party lost two senatorial and eight House of Representatives seats at the election petition tribunal.

All the seats were lost in Katsina, the home state of the party’s presidential candidate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in the last general election.

The National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal sitting in Katsina nullified the election of Senator Ahmed Sani-Store (Katsina Central) and Senator Abdu Yan’doma (Katsina North Central).

The affected House of Representatives members include: Tasi’u Duguru, (Mashi/Dutsi Constituency), Muhammad Tukur (Katsina Central), Umar Adamu (Daura/Mai’adua/Sandamu Constituency), Aminu Ashiru (Mani/Bindawa Constituency) and Musa Salisu (Kankia /Kusada/Ingawa Federal Constituency). 

Others are Muntari Dandutse (Funtua/Dandume Federal Constituency), Murtala Isa (Faskari/Sabuwa/Kankara Federal Constituency) and Abdu Dankama (Jibia/Kaita Federal Constituency).

Delivering the judgment, tribunal judges Justices Solomon Akintaye and Halim Saleeman ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct fresh elections in the affected senatorial districts and federal constituencies. 

The judges according to the News Agency of Nigeria said all the affected CPC contestants were not qualified to contest the April elections based on the judgment of the Court of Appeal which set aside the January 15, 2011 CPC primary elections that recognised them as the party’s standard bearers.

The tribunal said it relied on sections 141 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended and 135 of the 1999 Constitution which provided that candidates should only contest election under a political party’s sponsorship.

They, however, said that the tribunal was not unaware of the pending case at the Supreme Court involving the affected legislators, but that the judgment of the Supreme Court could only take effect from the date it was passed, “hence it will not affect our verdict”.

LG election: PDP releases list of screened candidates

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Lagos State, on Wednesday, released the list of 45 candidates for the forthcoming local government election while aggrieved members of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) are protesting against the list released by the leadership of the party.

Making the list available, the Publicity Secretary of PDP in Lagos State, Taofik Gani, said the party primary was witnessed by the three representatives of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission.

He stated that, “as a national party, we have again showed rival political parties, especially the ACN, how to manage dissenting interests to produce acceptable democratic results.

Meanwhile, the party has appealed to those who were not fortunate at the primary to understand that in a contest, there must always be a winner and a loser today can win tomorrow.

This is just as it admonished its members to remain steadfast with the party and abstain from anti-party activities.

Speaking on the decision of the party to field candidates in all the Local Council Development Areas, the publicity secretary said, “our involvement in the LCDA election is another doctrine of necessity in our political decision.  Our party has received several calls from Lagosians who now know the truth in governance. They have been so deprived of the dividends of democracy, especially at the local government level.”

Jonathan defends mandate today

President Goodluck Jonathan will today defend his mandate before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, and canvass reasons why the April 16 general election that brought him to power, should not be nullified.

A five-man panel of justices hearing the petition against him, yesterday, gave President Jonathan and Vice-President Namadi Sambo five days, from today, to adduce reasons why they should not be sacked from office on the strength of the petition before it by Congress for Progressive Change, challenging the outcome of the said presidential poll.

The order was handed to the respondents on a day the Justice Kumai Baayan Akaahs-led panel declined to summon INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to appear in court and explain why he refused to grant the petitioner access to specific election materials it sought to tender as exhibit in court with a view to proving that the presidential election was rigged.

Though CPC ab-initio convinced the tribunal to issue Subpoena Duces Tecum and Subpoena Ad Testificandum against INEC, however, the two orders were yesterday vacated by the panel following a counter-application that was subsequently filed by INEC boss, Jega, asking that the order be varied…(read more)

INEC testifies against Ukwuani Constituency petitioner

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Supervisory Presiding Officer, SPO, Mr. Jude Ekerete has testified against a petitioner who was one of the candidates for Ukwuani Constituency in the last House of Assembly election, Mr. Chris Ochor, that he actually did not cast his vote in his ward.

Mr. Ekerete made the revelation while testifying before the National and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba and presided over by Mr. Justice U. Ogwurike.

Ochor (petitioner) had gone to court to challenge the election of Dr. Alphonsus Ojo (second respondent) as elected member of Delta State House of Assembly representing Ukwuani Constituency.

The SPO, under cross- examination by the first and second respondents’ counsel, Mr. Ikhide Ehighelua, told the tribunal that the voters register of Ward I Unit 4 (Umutu) where Ochor was supposed to have voted, indicated that he did not cast his vote in the governorship/House of Assembly elections.

When asked by the petitioner’s counsel, Mr. Peter Mrakpor, whether he was in all the units during accreditation exercise, Mr. Ekerete said it was not possible for him to be in all the units, adding that he visited some of the units while he received information about the conduct of the election from the presiding officers posted by INEC to man the various units.

He also said that women were not prevented from voting in the election at Ezionum as claimed by the petitioner.

The matter was adjourned by the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ogwurike to October 5, 2011 for final address by all counsel.

Appeal Court affirms Dakingari’s election

The affirmation of the election of Governor Saidu Usman Dakingari of Kebbi State by the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal has sparked wild jubilation in the state.

The people took to the streets in Birnin Kebbi, the state capital, after last Friday’s verdict of the court which dismissed the petition filed by the gubernatorial candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Mallam Abubakar Abubakar, challenging the declaration of Dakingari as governor by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Some of the people who jubilated believed that Dakingari had done “some good works in the state, saying that the case instituted by the CPC candidate in the Kebbi gubernatorial election was “needless distractions” to the governor’s resolve to deliver democracy dividends in the state.

Tribunal nullifies election of Oyo PDP lawmaker

The National and State Houses of Assembly Election Tribunal in Oyo State, on Wednesday, nullified the election of Mr Rabiu Musiliu Adesola of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) into the Oyo State House of Assembly.

The tribunal set aside the election of Adesola, in its judgment in a petition filed by Mr Yisau Adesope Azeez of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in respect of Oorelope State Constituency of Oyo State.

Azeez, in his petition, had alleged that the return of Adesola at the April 26, 2011 polls was invalid by reason of corrupt practices and/or non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

He further alleged that Adesola, who was the first respondent in the petition, was not duly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast at the election to Oyo State House of Assembly for Oorelope State Constituency on April 26, 2011.

In its judgment read by its chairman, Justice Frank Nwizu, the tribunal, after reviewing the evidence of witnesses and materials placed before it as exhibits, nullified the results of three polling units out of the six complained of having irregularities by the petitioner.

After substracting 523 votes from 6,484 votes purportedly scored by the PDP and 284 votes from 6,335 votes purportedly scored by the ACN, the petitioner was credited with 6,051 votes while the first respondent bagged 5,961 votes.

INEC ordered to conduct fresh poll in Kano constituency

The Kano State National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election in Bichi Federal Constituency within three months.

This followed the tribunal’s nullification of the election of the member representing Bichi in the House of Representatives, Lawal Shehu, of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). The three-man tribunal is led by Justice Muhktar Ladipo Abimbola.  

Justice Abimbola said the tribunal predicated its decision on grounds of unlawful exclusion of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) candidate, Alhaji Abdullahi Damargu, from the April 9 election.

He said INEC failed to publish a new list of candidates for the election, after a court had declared Damargu the lawful candidate of the CPC.

He upheld the arguments of the petitioner and declared the election for the constituency null and void. 

The tribunal chairman, who cited several court rulings, including Atiku Vs. Yar’Adua, said: “The issue at stake is not the validity of nomination but the exclusion of the candidate.

“INEC failed to comply with a court ruling. It should have published a new list of candidates to reflect the content of the decision of the court. We are entitled to take cognisance of court rulings.”

Muhammed Magaji, Shehu’s counsel, told reporters after the judgment that he would challenge the judgment at the Appeal Court.

He said: “We have the right under the law to appeal the decision of a lower court, and we intend to exercise that right at the Court of Appeal.

“The tribunal has given its ruling, but we have grey areas where we are quite dissatisfied with the position of the court.”

In two other judgments, the tribunal upheld the election of the member of the House of Representatives, representing Kumbotso Federal Constituency, Munir Baba Dan Agundi, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and that of Muhammed Ali Wudil, of the ANPP, representing Wudil/Garko Federal Constituency.

Bauchi assembly queries Yuguda’s appointment of 24 DGs

Less than 24 hours after the appointment of 1,070 political appoimtees, including 24 Directors-General (DGs), by the Bauchi State governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda, the state House of Assembly, on Tuesday, questioned the appointment of the DGs without its approval and set up a committee to find out if the appointment of the DGs was constitutional.

Raising the issue of the appointment on the floor of the assembly under matter of public importance, Honourable Dayabu Chiroma, representing Darazo state constituency, stated that the assembly had approved the governor’s request for the appointment of 20 Special Advisers, "but in his announcement yesterday (Monday), there were 24 Directors-Generals besides the 20 Special Advisers."

He said that in carrying out its oversight function, the asembly could not stop the governor from appointing political aides, declaring however, that "but we have a constitutional duty to regulate such appointments, because they have to be paid from Consolidated Funds."

He, therefore, called for explaination on the appointment of the Director-Generals by the governor.

After deliberating on the matter, the asembly set up a seven-man committee to be chaired by Honourable Abdulmumini Hassan Ningi, representing Ningi state constituency, to look into the matter and to submit its findings to the committee of the whole House tomorrow.

Reaction to the issue, the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Alhaji Yusuf Musa Gumli, told journalists in his office that the appointment of the Director-Generals by the governor was different from that of Special Advisers, saying that "all of them are to assist the governor in his duties.’’(read more)

Counsel alleges smuggling of fake document into tribunal records

Anambra State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal II, sitting in Awka, was Tuesday told that an assistant secretary of the tribunal (names withheld) allegedly smuggled a document into the case file pending at the tribunal with the alleged connivance of a petitioner.

The document in question was in relation to a petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate for Ogbaru 11 constituency, Mrs. Njideka Ezeigwe, challenging the victory of Chief Benson Nwawulu of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.

According to counsel to APGA and Nwawulu, Mr. T.A. Oguji, what is purported to be a letter from the tribunal is not a document of the tribunal, but something allegedly manufactured by the petitioner and smuggled into the records of the tribunal.

He urged the tribunal to compare its documents with what the tribunal’s secretary served the respondents on September 23, 2011, adding that if the respondent’s exhibit 4, which was allegedly forged had existed as claimed by the petitioner, they (counsel to the petitioner) would have made reference to it in their counter affidavit of September 17, 2011.

Urging the tribunal to discountenance the document and regard it as a worthless piece of paper, the respondent’s counsel argued that the affidavit of facts sworn to by the assistant secretary of the tribunal to the effect that he did not commit the offence, failed to answer the big question as to how the document got into the case file.

Also urging the tribunal to discountenance the document, counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Mr. A.Y Ibrahim submitted that there was no application written by the petitioner for an application to be made.

Ibrahim urged the tribunal to take note of the discrepancies on the face of the document attached to the petitioners’ affidavit and the letter served on the respondents, including the signatures on the documents.

The INEC counsel further argued that the two affidavits sworn to by the two assistant secretaries of the tribunal, absolving themselves from the allegation, failed to explain the where about of the letter that was supposed to be in the case file.

But the counsel to the petitioner, Mr. Martin Okeke in his submission, said the affidavit of facts by the assistant secretary of the tribunal gave all the needed information and rendered the allegation by the respondents unnecessary.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Y. A. Adesanya fixed ruling on the matter for October 13, 2011.

We have no witnesses — INEC tells tribunal

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday told the election petitions tribunal in Jos that it has no witness to present before it, saying it would rely on the testimonies of witnesses produced by other parties before the tribunal.

INEC was slated to open its case yesterday since the PDP candidate, Governor Jonah Jang closed his case last week. But at the resumption of hearing, INEC through its counsel, A.A. Ibrahim, said it has no witnesses of its own, but will depend on witnesses already brought before the tribunal by the LP candidate, Pauline Tallen and Jang of the PDP to prove its case. INEC’s position brought to close submissions by all parties in the case. The tribunal chairman, Justice Joseph Jella then gave all the respondents in the case eight days beginning from today, Wednesday September 28, to submit their addresses and five days to the petitioners to do same. Another three days were also given to the respondents to file their replies from the points of law.

The tribunal has fixed Friday October 14th, 2011 for adoption of written addresses, saying any party that fails to do so on the said date will automatically forfeit its right to address the tribunal.

The tribunal chairman commended the counsel in the case for the manner in which they have conducted themselves so far.