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INEC budgets N3bn to fight electoral cases in court




The Independent National Electoral Commission has budgeted over N3bn to defend the results of the February 25 presidential and national assembly election and the March 18 governorship and state assembly polls.

Several candidates who lost in the elections have filed petitions at the presidential and state election petition tribunals to challenge the outcome of the polls.

So far, over 100 election petitions have been filed by aggrieved candidates and their parties across the country.

The presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar; the Labour Party, Peter Obi; the Action Alliance, Solomon Okangbuan; Allied People’s Movement, Chichi Ojei, have also filed petitions for the nullification of the presidential election results.

INEC had on March 1 declared the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, as the winner of the February 25 presidential election, but the five candidates filed petitions seeking the nullification of the poll.

Also, election petition tribunals in over 12 states have equally received petitions from National Assembly candidates who are not satisfied with the results of the just concluded elections.

The states where the petitions had been received included Edo, Plateau, Ondo, Kwara, Ogun, Bayelsa, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Bauchi, Lagos and Niger states.

Some aggrieved candidates had protested in Ogun and Nasarawa states, vowing to challenge the results of the elections in court.

Last November, the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu lamented that the commission was handling over 600 cases in several courts across the federation.

Speaking at a capacity-building workshop for over 300 judges that would handle election disputes, he revealed that the cases pending against the electoral body relate to the conduct of primaries by political parties.

However, INEC in its Election Project Plan for the 2023 general election earmarked N3b for the prosecution of election-related cases.

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The document read in part, “Litigation and prosecution: N2,104,965,000 (2022) and #3,087,195,425 (2023). Total, N5,192,160,425.’’

Legal drafting

The INEC election project plan also showed that the electoral umpire budgeted N886.2m for legal drafting and clearance in 2022 and 2023.

The commission allocated N337.4m for legal drafting and clearance in 2022 while N548.7m was budgeted for the same item for this year.

However, it could not confirm the number of lawyers the electoral commission would engage to handle the numerous election petition cases lodged at the tribunals.

The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi said he did not know the number of solicitors that would be employed by the commission when asked on Sunday.

But the PDP and the All Progressives Grand Alliance have chided the commission over the amount budgeted for litigations, saying INEC must be above board.

Speaking on Sunday, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, urged the media to ‘rise and condemn the wastefulness of INEC.’’

He said, “Nigerians should ask INEC why they are spending so much to defend election cases. We have condemned the conduct of the 2023 general elections by INEC. The media should rise and condemn the wastefulness of INEC.

“How can an institution that spent over N300bn for BVAS use another N3bn for litigations? The expectation was that there would be no crisis of credibility after the deployment of BVAS.”

Similarly, APGA National Chairman, Mr Victor Oye expressed worry over the huge amount the commission proposed to spend on the defence of the election it conducted.

“It is very worrisome. This shows that there are likely to be more election petitions in 2023 than we had in 2019 (election). It is not a good development because this huge amount could have been deployed for more developmental purposes.

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“If elections are generally acceptable as free, fair and credible; there would be no need for these numbers of cases. This calls for INEC to be more responsible in the discharge of its constitutional mandate,” Oye submitted.

But the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Felix Morka, argued that there was nothing ‘extraordinary’ in INEC’s plan to defend itself against the plethora of election petitions and other lawsuits slammed against it.

While shying from commenting on the budget involved, Morka maintained that it was within the right of INEC to defend the conduct and outcome of the elections.

He said, “I don’t know anything about their finances or budget for the election petition litigation. But what I can say is that INEC is the electoral umpire, the agency charged with the duty to conduct elections for Nigeria. That duty extends to litigating or defending any lawsuit arising from that election.

“It is their legal responsibility to respond to or defend any petition brought against it in the conduct of the election. The law prescribes INEC functions and gives the commission powers that it would exercise, even in this instance.

“I don’t see anything extraordinary about INEC electing to defend the election or bring forth its response to the petitions that parties have brought. That is what we expect and we think INEC is well within its authority to respond to those lawsuits by candidates or parties.”

The National Chairman of the Labour Party, Julius Abure, however, disagreed with the APC’s position on the issue.

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Abure stated that his party and candidates were not intimidated by INEC’s N3bn war chest, which he alleged would eventually end up in private pockets.

According to him, the party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, and all their supporters are optimistic that the judiciary would do the right thing.

He also vowed that LP would pursue its cause for justice to the Supreme Court to reclaim its mandate.

He stated, “We are all Nigerians and we saw what played out in the last elections. For us, we are determined to pursue the course up to the Supreme Court.

“Even though a lot of people don’t have confidence in the judiciary, I believe once in a while the judiciary can still do the right thing. But we will give them the benefit of the doubt.

“We are very hopeful and we are sure that if there is a time the judiciary would do the right thing, it has to be from this case. This is because what transpired in the last elections is indeed a rape of democracy.’’

Continuing, Abure noted, “All the gains of the evolution of democracy since 2015 when the then president Goodluck Jonathan conceded, all the amendments we have made to the Electoral Act and other achievements in the electoral process have been eroded and the country took back to the 2007 era.

“This is a period where elections are openly rigged and security operatives won’t do anything, a situation where ballot boxes are snatched, voters are suppressed and where hate speech reigns. It is ridiculous to witness all these in the 21st century.”


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Daura honours Buhari with special Durbar (PHOTOS)




Less than 24 hours after he handed over the reins of power to Bola Tinubu, former president Muhammadu Buhari was hosted to a special durbar by a large crowd in Daura, his hometown.

There was plenty pomp, pageantry and celebratory gymnastics on display.

A durbar is a festival that normally holds during Eid el Kabir and Eid el Fitri celebrations.

It begins with prayers, followed by a parade of the emir and his entourage on horses.

Bashir Ahmed, Buhari’s former special assistant on digital media, described the event held on Tuesday as a “special Durbar celebration” hosted by the Emir of Daura in honour of the former president.

In pictures and videos shared on his Twitter page, sonorous traditional sounds permeate the air.

Men on horseback stir dust into the clouds, with energetic dance moves to go with it all.

“How to welcome your son after eight years serving the country as its commander-in-chief of the armed forces,” Ahmed wrote.

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Why I fell out with Ibori and refused to accept his candidate as my successor – Okowa





The immediate past governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, has addressed his fallout with his former boss and governor of the state, James Ibori.

Okowa and Ibori have been at loggerheads since the Delta Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary election in 2022.

Ibori had supported David Edevbie, a commissioner of finance in his administration, while Okowa threw his weight behind Sheriff Oborevwori, former speaker of the state house of assembly.

Oborevwori eventually won the primary and subsequently triumphed in the governorship election. He was sworn into office on Monday.

Okowa said Ibori’s insistence on backing Edevbie resulted in a disagreement between them


Speaking with newsmen on Sunday, Okowa opened up on why he opposed Ibori’s choice and resolved to pitch his tent with Oborevwori.

Okowa said Edevbie had tricked him into believing he would respect the Delta PDP zoning provision ahead of the governorship election in 2015.

The immediate past Delta governor said he shared his reservation about Edevbie with Ibori — but the latter was unmoved.

Okowa and Edevbie were commissioners in the Ibori administration.

“I don’t like to talk about it but obviously there’s no doubt that we didn’t work together,” Okowa said“We went into the primaries not agreeing on the same candidate, we talked about it but he(Ibori) did not want to shift ground on his candidate. That’s the truth and I did not agree with that candidate for basic reasons which I made clear enough to him and also to his own candidate.

“I did not hide it. Till tomorrow, I speak about it in truth not because I thought I was a god that needed to install somebody. David Edevbie is my friend. We were with the former governor in his tenure together as commissioners, but in 2014, when it became obvious that it was the turn of the Delta North — Delta Central and Delta South had had their turns — I heard that David was going to run and he was indicating interest.

“I went from Abuja with three of my friends to visit him in Lagos — and I said ‘David, please, it’s only fair, I know that there are so many people competing but I’m coming to you as a friend. It will not be fair if you run. Governor James Ibori has been there, Governor Uduaghan has been there, it’s obviously the turn of the Delta North; why don’t you allow us to have our space so that we can all be said to be part of the state? Thereafter, we can all work for you to become governor’.

“And at the end, he said ‘I will not run anymore, I will support you’. I thanked him and left back to Abuja.”

Okowa, who was a senator at the time, said Edevbie went against his word and was holding secret meetings with stakeholders, strategising on how to become governor.

“And then suddenly, next thing we heard was that they had endorsed David but this same David had committed himself to me,” he added.

“So we went into the race, a very tough race but God enabled me to win.”


Although Okowa appointed Edevbie as a commissioner in his cabinet, he said the latter still proceeded with his plans on how to become the next governor.

“In the second year, I started hearing that he was holding meetings in Lagos and other places where they were already prepping him to be governor without anybody discussing with me,” Okowa said.

The PDP vice-presidential candidate noted that although the zoning rules meant the governorship seat, in 2023, would go to Delta Central — Edevbie’s zone — he was adamant that the former commissioner would not be a beneficiary.

“In the first instance, he did not want the zoning to Delta North, so if the zoning was going to continue, he’s my friend but he shouldn’t be the one to benefit from the zoning he did not want,” Okowa said.

“I’m careful in what I do so it will be difficult for me to support someone outside Delta Central but my only mindset is that somebody who did not believe in the zoning cannot be the one to benefit from it and I made it clear to the former governor.”

Okowa said Ibori met with him a few days before the primary election to reach a compromise on a fresh candidate — but he noted that it was too little, too late.

“I told him it would be difficult to withdraw support from my candidate. I don’t do things like that,” Okowa said.

Oborevwori defeated Ovie Omo-Agege, the APC candidate and former deputy speaker of the house of representatives, to clinch the governorship seat.

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Sanwo-Olu kicks off second term with optimism for better Lagos




Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, officially commenced his second term in office following the completion of his swearing-in by the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba.

Sanwo-Olu was optimistic that the best days of the state and its inhabitants lie ahead.

The governor, who noted that his administration had set the stage for transformative change, as well as confronted significant challenges, said: “We never faltered. Our challenges became stepping-stones; and our trials the foundation of our resilience.

“As we continue to write the story of Lagos State, let us embrace the spirit of inclusiveness and harmonious coexistence, for it is this spirit that makes us truly ‘Eko’.

“I can boldly say that we have had four fulfilling years. We have learnt a lot, we have made some mistakes, and we have also implemented many transformational policies and programmes.

“We assure you that the progress we have made will not be reversed. We will remain steadfast in our mission to make Lagos State a model of good governance, a beacon of hope and opportunity for all. Our path is clear, and our resolve is unshakeable.


“As we venture into this second term, I want to assure you that the spirit of our endeavours remains unfaltering. We will continue to tackle our challenges head-on and celebrate our successes. We will harness the potential of our greatest resource – our people.

“We stand on the threshold of a new era. Our vision for Lagos is one that sees no bounds. It is a vision of a city where dreams take flight, where every citizen is a part of our growth story, and where the global community looks towards us with respect and admiration.”

He, therefore, pledged to continue to build a Lagos that is not only a commercial nerve centre but also a hub for innovation, culture and sustainable development.

Sanwo-Olu, who maintained that he and his team would welcome constructive criticism, noted that democracy thrives on differences of opinion and belief, therefore he would strive to respect the opinions of others even as he expects the same from them.

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“We will strive to communicate effectively and carry you along every step of the way.

“Let me also say that the work ahead is not for government alone. It is not the exclusive responsibility of public servants, or the civil service. We all share the responsibility of our state’s future.”

Earlier in his welcome address, Head of Service, Akeem Muri-Okunola, said that the re-election of Sanwo-Olu was a testimony of the works done under the T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda.

He noted that the governor was able to delete despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the EndSARs crisis, adding that the governor showed courage and tenacity during these periods.

He also noted that the success recorded at the polls showed that Sanwo-Olu’s efforts did not go unnoticed by the electorate. This is aside his efforts attracted international accolades.

Muri-Okunola asked that the residents of the state should commit the leadership of Lagos to prayer for more success in the next four years. At the ceremony held at the Tafawa Balewa Square were family members of the governor and his duputy, former cabinet members, serving and former permanent secretaries, party leaders and council chairmen.

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