The five-man panel, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, dismissed the petition of Mr Peter Obi of LP seeking to nullify Tinubu’s election.
It also dismissed APM’s petition seeking to disqualify the president over the invalid nomination of his running mate, Senate Kashim Shettima.
Obi’s petition dismissed
The PEPC, dismissed the allegation of the Labour Party, LP, and its candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, that the 2023 presidential election was rigged in favour of President Bola Tinubu.
The court, in its preliminary ruling that was delivered by Justice Abba Mohammed, held that Obi and the LP did not by way of credible evidence, establish their allegation that the February 25 election was characterized by manifest corrupt practices.
It held that though the petitioners alleged that the election was marred by irregularities, they, however, failed to give specific details of where the alleged infractions took place.
The court noted that whereas Obi and the LP insisted that the election was rigged in 18, 088 polling units across the federation, they were unable to state the locations of the said polling units.
It further held that Obi’s allegation that fictitious results were recorded for President Tinubu and the APC, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was not proved.
More so, it held that the petitioners were unable to state the figures they claimed were reduced from election results they garnered in different states of the federation, especially in Ondo, Oyo, Rivers, Yobe, Borno, Tabara, Osun and Lagos state.
It held that the Petitioners equally failed to state the polling units where over-voting occurred or the exact figures of unlawful votes that were credited to Tinubu by the INEC.
It stressed that though Obi and LP said they would rely on spreadsheets as well as forensic reports and expert analysis of their expert witnesses, they failed to attach the documents to the petition or serve the same on the Respondents as required by the law.
The court held that though the petition contained serious allegations that bordered on violence, non-voting, suppression of votes, fictitious entry of election results and corrupt practices, the petitioners failed to give particulars of specific polling units where the incidents took place.
It held that several portions of the petition that contained the allegations, were “vague, imprecise, nebulous and bereft of particular materials.”
Therefore, the court struck out paragraphs 9, 60, 61, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 76, 77, 78, 83 and 89 of the petition.
Obi validly nominated as LP candidate
Nevertheless, the court dismissed the contention of the Respondents that Obi was not validly nominated by the LP to contest the presidential election.
It noted that the Respondents had argued that Obi left the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on May 24, 2022 and joined the LP on May 27, 2022.
The Respondents argued that as at May 30, 2022, Obi was not a valid member of the LP and could not have duly participated in its presidential primary election.
They insisted that his name could not have been contained in the membership register of the LP, which ought to be submitted to INEC, 30 days before the primary election was held.
However, the court, in its ruling, held that the issue of membership is an internal affair of a political party, which is not justiciable.
It held that only the LP has the prerogative of determining who is its member, adding that the Respondents were bereft of the legal standing to query Obi’s membership of the LP.
Likewise, the court held that contrary to contention by Tinubu and the APC, the Petitioners, were not under any obligation to join Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who came second in the election or his party, the PDP, in the case.
It held that both Atiku and PDP are not statutory Respondents or necessary parties to the petition.
No evidence Tinubu was convicted in the US over drug trafficking
The PEPC also dismissed the allegation that President Tinubu was convicted in the United States of America, USA, on a drug trafficking-related charge.
The court, in its lead judgment in the joint petition filed by the LP Obi held that evidence before it established that the $460, 000 fine that was imposed on Tinubu in the US, was a civil matter.
It held that such a fine did not translate to a criminal conviction that was capable of warranting Tinubu’s disqualification from contesting the presidential election that was held on February 25.
Justice Haruna Tsammani, who led the five-member panel, held that a careful perusal of exhibits that were adduced before the court showed that the case that led to the fine that was awarded against President Tinubu, “was in the civil docket” of the court in the US.
He held that contrary to the contention of the Petitioners, the case was a civil forfeiture proceeding against funds that were in the bank and not an action that was against Tinubu as a person.
He described such civil forfeiture proceedings as a unique remedy that is targeted at a property and not the owner.
No criminal record against Tinubu in the US More so, the court held that Obi and the LP failed to show that Tinubu was indicted, arraigned, tried or convicted for any criminal offence in the USA.
The court further noted that following a letter the Inspector General of Police wrote in 2003, the American Embassy, confirmed that there was no criminal record against Tinubu in its centralized information center.
It held that both the letter from the IGP and the response from the US Embassy were public documents that are admissible in evidence.
The court maintained that the Petitioners did not produce any evidence to establish that Tinubu was tried and convicted for an offence involving dishonesty.
Besides, the court held that a period of 10 years had elapsed since the said fine was imposed against Tinubu, saying it, therefore, could not be a valid ground to seek his disqualification.
It accordingly dismissed that leg of the petition the LP and Obi filed to nullify President Tinubu’s election.
The Petitioners had among other things, challenged Tinubu’s eligibility to contest the presidential election, alleging that he was previously indicted and fined the sum of $460,000.00 by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in Case No: 93C 4483, for an offence involving dishonesty and drug trafficking.
They contended that such indictment constituted a ground for disqualification under section 137 (1) (d) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
INEC can’t be forced transmit election results electronically
On the issue of INEC failing to transmit the presidential election results electronically real time on its result viewing portal, the tribunal said that the INEC was not mandated to send election results electronically.
Tsammani said: “There is no provision for the electronic transmission of election results in the Electoral Act 2022.”
On the mode of transmission of election results, the tribunal said INEC is at liberty to define the mode it intends to use.
“By the provision of Section 52 and Section 65 of the Electoral Act, INEC is at liberty to prescribe the manner in which results can be transmitted. INEC cannot be compelled to electronically transmit results,” the court held.
On 25% votes, Abuja not special than other states
The PEPT also held that scoring 25 percent of votes in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja was not compulsory for one to be declared winner because FCT has no special status over the other 36 states of the federation.
Peter Obi wan about 59 percent of the votes cast in the FCT, President Tinubu got 19 per cent and Atiku Abubakar scored 15 per cent.
Speaking on the requirement claims by the LP and Obi, the panel said that FCT residents have no special privileges as the petitioners claimed.
According to the PEPC, Section 134 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) stipulates that a presidential candidate must attain or score a majority of votes cast in a presidential election, where two or more candidates are involved, and at least 25% in two-thirds of the 36 States and FCT to meet the constitutional requirement to be declared as duly elected as President of Nigeria.
The tribunal said the petitioners’ interpretation of Section 134(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution is “completely fallacious, if not outright ridiculous.”
APM’s petition against Tinubu incompetent
The panel in its first ruling dismissed as incompetent, the case the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, filed to nullify President Tinubu’s election.
The court held that the issues the APM raised in its petition contained pre-election matters that could only be determined by the Federal High Court.
Chairman of the panel, Justice Haruna Tsammani, who read the ruling, upheld preliminary objections that all the Respondents raised to challenge the competence of the petition.
Justice Haruna noted that since the petition centered on the qualification or otherwise of President Tinubu to contest the presidential election that was held on February 25, the APM ought to have gone to court within 14 days after Tinubu was nominated by the APC.
He held that since the cause of action bordered on a pre-election matter, the APM, lacked the locus standi to challenge Tinubu’s nomination.
More so, Justice Tsammani held that the Supreme Court had earlier decided that a political party does not have the right to challenge a nomination that was made by another political party.
He held that section 131 and 237 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, made provisions for the qualification or disqualification of candidates in an election.
The court noted that the main grouse of the APM was on the alleged invalid nomination of Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima.
“It is clear that the claim of qualification is non-qualification of the 3rd Respondent (Tinubu) centered on the alleged invalid nomination of the 4th Respondent (Shettima). It is a pre-election matter,” Justice Tsammani held.
He further held that section 84(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022, stipulated that political parties should not impose qualification criteria on a candidate, except as provided for in the constitution.
According to the court, sections 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 185 and 187 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, settled the issue of qualification and nomination of a candidate for an election.
It held that where an election had already been conducted and the result declared, the qualification of a candidate could no longer be challenged on the basis of sections 131 and 137 of the Constitution.
The court held that since the APM failed to challenge President Tinubu’s nomination within the constitutionally allowed period, its case, therefore, had become statute-barred.
It held that where the constitution has qualified a candidate for an election, no other law can disqualify such a candidate except the constitution itself.
The court held that the issue of double nomination as canvassed by the APM, was not a legally cognizable ground for disqualification.
Besides, the court held that it found no reason why Mr. Ibrahim Masari was cited as the 5th Respondent in the petition since he would not in any way be affected by the outcome of the case.
Consequently, it struck out his name from the petition.
The APM had in its petition marked: CA/PEPC/04/2023, argued that the withdrawal of Mr. Masari who was initially nominated as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC, invalidated Tinubu’s candidacy in view of Section 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The party argued that there was a gap of about three weeks between the period that Masari, who was listed as the 5th Respondent in the petition, expressed intention to withdraw, the actual withdrawal of his purported nomination, and the time Tinubu purportedly replaced him with Senator Kashim Shettima.
It further argued that Tinubu’s candidature had elapsed at the time he nominated Shettima as Masari’s replacement.
According to the petitioner, at the time Tinubu announced Shettima as the Vice Presidential candidate, “he was no longer in a position, constitutionally, to nominate a running mate since he had ceased to be a presidential candidate of the 2nd Respondent having regards to the provisions of section 142 of the 1999 Constitution”.
The APM contended that Masari’s initial nomination activated the joint ticket principle enshrined in the Constitution, stressing that his subsequent withdrawal invalidated the said joint ticket.
President is not a magician, says Remi Tinubu
The first lady, Oluremi Tinubu, says her husband, President Bola Tinubu, would not wave a magic wand and solve all of the country’s problems in a flash.
The first lady said this on Sunday during an inter-denominational church service to commemorate Nigeria’s Independence Day.
She said her husband inherited the current challenges in the country, adding that the president is determined to fix them rather than blame past leaders.
“All we inherited are things that had happened many years ago. We are not here to put blame on any administration but to fix what has been damaged,” she said.
“My husband is not a magician. He is going to work and I believe and hope that we will have peace in this country. The best is yet to come to us.
“Good governance can only be impactful if the people follow the example of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who embodied the fruit of the spirit, including love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance and forgiveness.
“A Nigeria of abundance has begun, and to be part of the greatness that God has started in the nation, Nigerians must look beyond their current realities and embrace hope anew.”
Also speaking at the event, George Akume, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), urged Nigerians to remain patient, adding that measures are being put in place to provide solutions to the problems bedevilling the country.
“Solutions to Nigeria’s complex problems can never be as instant as expected. It will take some time, but measures are already being put in place to address them,” Akume said.
Lagos to clampdown on illegal dredging operation, reads riot act
Determined to end illegal dredging activities in the state, the Lagos State government has vowed to stop all illegal dredging operations and flush out those operating without a government’s permit in the dredging sector from the state.
The Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Dayo Bush-Alebiosu disclosed this during a meeting with the members of the executive council of the Dredgers’ Association of Nigeria, Lagos State chapter.
The meeting was called to seek the cooperation of the association in enforcing guidelines regulating dredging activities and to declare Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration’s zero tolerance for illegal dredging operations in the state.
According to the Commissioner, though the meeting is a familiarization forum to interact with members of the association and get first-hand information on how dredging activities could be improved upon with the view to maintaining the state’s waterfronts and prevent environmental degradation.
While soliciting their support in sanitizing dredging activities in the state, Bush-Alebiosu disclosed that the state would not condone the spate of illegal dredging activities being carried out in every nooks and crannies of the state.
Bush-Alebiosu also expressed the readiness of government officials to begin enforcement activities soon and that anybody caught violating dredging laws and regulations of the state would be prosecuted.
He therefore urged them to obtain all necessary permits and regularize their operations immediately.
He assured them of the government’s readiness to stand by the association in carrying out their lawful activities and also support them in all they do to ensure good waterfronts in Lagos State.
UN appeals to Lagos to allocate certain percentage of contracts to women-owned businesses
In his remarks, Mr Kehinde Gbajumo, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry expressed his delight that the state executive members of the association were present at the meeting, saying this would go a long way in conveying the views of the state government to their members.
Gbajumo noted that dredging activities in the state are “no longer business as usual,” adding that the ministry is now all out to enforce the laws regulating dredging activities, he also enjoined them to comply with the guidelines.
In his response, the President of the Dredgers Association of Nigeria, Mr Bature Akpomejero pledged their support and cooperation to the state government in getting rid of illegal dredgers in the state.
He solicited the support of the ministry for proper regularization of dredging activities to curb the activities of illegal dredgers and their impact on the environment.
Akpomejero also urged the ministry to look into the issue of overloading of trucks by dredgers and those moving wet sand on the roads, which cause a lot of damage to our roads.
The secretary general of the association, Richard Ntan, also lent his voice; assuring the ministry of maximum cooperation and collaboration of the association, noting that they are ready to cooperate with the government.
Ntan called for more such meetings with the ministry to be able to iron out grey areas affecting their operations while fashioning out areas of mutual benefit between dredgers and the state government.
The dredging operation terms and conditions were later distributed to the members of the association to further enlighten them on their obligations to the state.
Nigeria@63: God will heal our land – Pastor Adeboye
Pastor Enoch Adeboye has prayed to God to heal Nigeria, asking citizens to also pray for the betterment of the nation.
The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) said this on Sunday during the church’s October Thanksgiving Service and Nigeria’s 63rd Independent Day celebration.
Pastor Adeboye spoke on the topic ‘Freedom Indeed’ during the service.
“I pray in the name that is above every other name that God will heal our nation,” the preacher said.
“Independence is talking about freedom, that is why we would be talking about freedom indeed. You may be enjoying independence from the colonial master and still be a slave to sickness, poverty, terror, and forces of darkness,” he added.
“I am wishing you a very good celebration but more than anything else, I wish all of you who are in Christ freedom and freedom indeed.”
In many churches across the nation, the Christians marked Independence Day with praises and prayers for the country.
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