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US drops 40 tonnes of bombs to ‘wipe out’ ISIS-infested island

An island “infested” with ISIS fighters was annihilated by almost 40 tonnes of bombs dropped from US warplanes.

Dramatic aerial footage shows explosions as bombs hit Qanus Island followed by huge mushroom clouds billowing into the air over the Tigris River in Iraq.

The island had become a “safe haven” and “major transit hub” for the terrorists, who hid within thick vegetation, as they moved into Iraq from neighbouring Syria, the US-led coalition said.

But the hideout was obliterated and an unknown number of jihadists were killed as US Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle and F-35A Lightning II aircraft, alongside Iraqi warplanes, launched airstrikes this week.

Bombs were dropped on Qanus – located near the US military base in Qayyarah – amid a series of ground attacks by Iraqi troops.

The US-led coalition said the island, north of Baghdad, was a hideout for terrorists moving from Syria and the Jazeera desert into Mosul, Makhmour, and the Kirkuk region of Iraq.

Major General Eric T Hill, a commander with Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led anti-ISIS campaign, said: “We’re denying Daesh the ability to hide on Qanus Island.

“We’re setting the conditions for our partner forces to continue bringing stability to the region.”

A spokesperson for the coalition added: “Coalition Forces used 80,000 pounds of munitions on the island to disrupt Daesh the ability to hide in the thick vegetation.

“CTS Forces continue to conduct ground clearance operations to destroy any remaining Fallul Daesh on the island.”

US-backed forces have driven ISIS out of its strongholds in Iraq and Syria following months-long offensives.

The terror group has become so desperate to kill its enemies or innocent civilians that it has been strapping suicide vests to cows.

Many of its fighters have ended up dead or captured, and thousands of jihadi brides and children – including some who left Britain to join the terror group in the Middle East – are stuck in refugee camps.

But US and Iraqi officials told the New York Timeslast month that ISIS was gathering new strength, carrying out guerrilla attacks and trying to recruit people at the notorious Al Hol camp in north-east Syria.

The camp was home to British ISIS bride Shamima Begum – who has been stripped of her UK citizenship – before she was moved to a different one, reports mirror.co.uk.

The report said ISIS still had as many as 18,000 remaining fighters in Iraq and Syria, and a hidden war chest of as much as $400million (£325million).

Donald Trump has announced plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Syria despite concerns that it would mean less support for local troops or militia fighting terrorism.

General Mazloum Kobani Abdi, commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US ally, in the fight against ISIS, warned that the terror group was resurging in Syria after the US president’s announcement.

In an interview with CNN he asked for increased US support for his troops to stop ISIS from re-establishing itself.

On Tuesday – the eve of the September 11 terror attacks – the US announced sanctions on “terrorists and their supporters”, including the Islamic State.

Senate President congratulates Buhari, APC on Election Petition Tribunal victory 

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the president’s resounding victory at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.

The Tribunal on Wednesday dismissed the petition by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in its entirety.

A statement by his spokesman Pls Awobiyi quoted the Senate president  and having said, “The judgment of the tribunal has again put a judicial seal on the mandate freely given to the president by the Nigerian people in the February 23 presidential election.”

Lawan urged the President to accept the affirmation of his election as a reminder of the confidence of Nigerians in his capacity to continue to lead Nigeria towards its manifest destiny of greatness.

The Senate President said the Nigerian people have great expectations from the Next Level Agenda of the President and further pledged the full cooperation of the National Assembly with the Executive in the pursuit of the best interest of the Nigerian people.

Lawan also commended the petitioners for using the judicial window prescribed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in seeking redress for their grievances and urged them to join hands with the government and the Nigerian people in the important task of nation-building.

 

PDP rejects tribunal judgement…heads to Supreme Court

The Peoples Democratic Party has rejected the judgement of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal which dismissed a petition by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the 2019 general elections.

In a statement by party spokesman, Kola Ologbodiyan, the PDP said the judgement was a subversion of justice and an assault on Nigeria’s judicial system.

Below is the full statement:

Verdict, A Subversion of Justice, Says PDP…Heads To Supreme Court

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) completely rejects the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal describing it as provocative, barefaced subversion of justice and direct assault on the integrity of our nation’s justice system.

The party is particularly shocked that the tribunal failed to point to justice despite the flawless evidence laid before it, showing that President Buhari was not only unqualified to contest the election but also did not score the majority of valid votes at the polls.

The PDP finds as bewildering that a court of law could validate a clear case of perjury and declaration of false information in a sworn affidavit, as firmly established against President Muhammadu Buhari, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence.

The party is also rudely shocked that the Court took over the roles of the Respondents’ lawyers who clearly abandoned their pleadings by refusing to call evidence in defense of the petition. The court raked up all manner of excuses to make up for the yawning gaps occasioned by the total absence of any evidence from the Respondents.

Nigerians and the international community watched in utter disbelief when the tribunal ruled that one need not provide a copy or certified true copy of educational certificate such individual claimed to possess, contrary to established proof of claims of certification.

The party notes as strange that the court even went ahead to provide rationalizations in favour of President Buhari, even when all hard facts before it shows that he did not possess the claimed educational certificate and that the Army was not in possession of his WAEC certificate as claimed in the affidavit he deposed to in his Presidential nomination form.

The PDP also described as shocking that the court approved the flawed declaration of President Buhari as the winner of the election despite evidence to show the perpetration of illegalities, manipulations, alterations and subtraction of valid votes freely given to Atiku Abubakar by Nigerians.

Indeed, the pervading melancholic atmosphere across our nation since the verdict is a direct indication that the judgment has not fulfilled the desires and expectations of Nigerians.

The PDP however encouraged Nigerians to remain calm and not to lose hope or surrender to despondency or self-help, as our lawyers are upbeat in obtaining justice at the Supreme Court.

This is more so as the tribunal itself admitted that there are several errors in the judgment.

Signed:

Kola Ologbondiyan
National Publicity Secretary

I didn’t inflate contracts, Fashola tackles BPP

Babatunde Fashola, minister of works and housing, says there was no inflation in the contracts awarded by his ministry in 2018.

The Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) said it saved N26 billion for the federal government in 2018 by revising the sums of government contracts approved by some ministries, departments and agencies.

The agency said the highest reduction was made from the ministry of power, works and housing where N22.22 billion was cut from a request of N877.40 billion.

Fashola was in charge of power before it was removed from his portfolio by President Muhammadu Buhari in August.

In a statement on Monday, Hakeem Bello, the minister’s spokesperson, said the claim that savings were made by the agency is subjective.

“Being a department of the same government, ordinarily this should not warrant a reply; however the misleading nature of the reporting in the media and the statements credited to BPP compel a response for the purposes of clarification and enlightenment of the public,” he said.

“Any person who takes time to read the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, which created the BPP will understand that no contract can be awarded until BPP certifies that it has NO OBJECTION.

“Therefore there was no INFLATED contract because BPP clearly stated that it reduced the costs, and according to BPP she ‘… saved over N26 Billion…’ And this is the heart of the matter, because BPP’s ‘savings’ can only be a SUBJECTIVE assessment based on rates quoted by contractors, reviewed by the Ministry , and sent to BPP for certification.

“Once rates are published and design is known, quantities can be ascertained and costs can be determined.

“This is the field of Quantity Surveyors and Construction Economists, and the Minister of Works and Housing has not made any secret about his call for a revision of the Public Procurement Act to resolve this and other gaps in the Law.

“Indeed, during the first term of this Administration, the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing had commissioned the compilation of a service wide Rate of major items of procurement from the largest to the smallest for BPP to consider, adopt or amend and publish.”

AMCON: Court clears Duke after N350m payment

Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday cleared a former Cross River State governor Donald Duke of his N537,334,360.77 debt to Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) after he paid N350 million as final settlement.

The court discharged its August 21 interim order which had permitted AMCON and the United Bank for Africa (UBA) to seize Duke’s properties and funds in his accounts.

Justice Nicholas Oweibo cleared Duke following settlement terms filed and moved by AMCON’s legal team from Benson Reeds Legal Practitioners, Abuja.

AMCON counsel, Mrs Juliet Benson, told the judge that Duke had fulfilled the terms of the out-of-court settlement and both parties had agreed to the terms.

“I hereby pray the court to adopt the terms of settlement as the judgment of court,” Benson said.

Duke’s counsel, Edoigiawerie Omoruyi confirmed that his client had “shown good faith by promptly making the payment of over N350m which parties all agreed to.

“I join my colleagues in praying the court to enter our terms of settlement as the full and final judgment of court.”

In a bench ruling, Justice Oweibo upheld their prayers.

The judge added: “All orders in the case stands discharged.”

AMCON had on August 8 sealed off Duke’s Ikoyi home following the interim order.

Justice Oweibo, on September 3, upheld Duke’s prayer and adjourned till September yesterday, for a report of settlement, after Duke promised to pay off the debt.

Stonehedge Investment Ltd, Duke and his wife, Owanari Bob-Manuel Duke, were first to third defendants in the suit.

South African authorities frustrate efforts to evacuate Nigerians

Cameras set, tape recorders cued, security screening passed; the long wait for Nigerians trapped in xenophobic attacks in South Africa is running unend at the cargo wing of the Lagos Airport following delay in the arrival of Air Peace aircraft.

Scores of reporters, cameramen, security agencies have waited for the fourth hour for the arrival of Nigerians to their country of birth.

Time check: 4.05 pm. It is the fourth hour on the roll as security officials; reporters; cameramen and other security agencies await the arrival of 317 Nigerians already profiled to return to their country of birth.

The delay; without sufficient words from concerned authorities has triggered anxiety among Nigerian on the rationale by South African authorities to erect roadblock on the evacuation of Nigerians from the Rainbow Nation.

Investigations reveal that South African authorities are frustrating the evacuation of Nigerians who have completed processes for the first batch of airlift from that country.

The Air Peace aircraft which left Nigeria 11:30 pm Tuesday arrived OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg about 4:00 am.

Sources at the Nigerian High Commission in Johannesburg said the Commission had prepared the first 320 Nigerians for the first evacuation, but, the South African Immigration officials started formetting trouble by arresting Nigerians billed to be evacuated by demanding relevant travel documents; even as they accused them of travelling without valid papers.

The Nigerian High Commission had prepared travel documents for the Nigerian but Immigration wanted to know how the Nigerians came into the country and began to arrest them, the official disclosed.

“South Africa is frustrating Nigeria. The Air Peace aircraft has been there since 4:00 am. Their Immigration started giving our High Commission problems. They said some Nigerians didn’t have papers. Immigration is arresting them, asking them to explain how they came to South Africa.

“About five minutes ago only 182 Nigerians were allowed to board the flight; the rest are being barred by South Africa Immigration. They are frustrating the Nigerian High Commission, taking the passengers away. They want to frustrate the airline and the Nigerian government. The aircraft has on, burning fuel since 4:00 am. They are not happy that Nigeria is evacuating its citizens. They don’t want the world to know that a Nigerian airline and Nigerian government is evacuating them.

“Our high Commission is having tough time with South African government. They are stopping and arresting Nigerians, saying they should explain how they came into the country,” the official said.

FEC approves increase in VAT rate to 7.2%

The federal executive council (FEC) has approved an increase in value added tax (VAT) rate from 5% to 7.2%.

Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, disclosed this to state house correspondents at the end of the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

However, this is subject to an amendment of the VAT act of 1994 by the national assembly.

VAT replaced the sales tax in 1994 and was pegged at 5% by the military government of Sani Abacha.

In 2007, former president Olusegun Obasanjo increased VAT to 10% on the eve of his departure from office but it was reversed by his successor, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, following opposition from labour.

Wednesday’s FEC meeting, which started at 11am and ended at 6:12pm, was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Ahmed said FEC directed immediate consultations with states, local governments and other relevant stakeholders before the new rate takes effect in 2020.

‘I wasn’t worried all along’ — Buhari reacts to tribunal verdict

President Muhammadu Buhari has described the ruling of the presidential election petition tribunal on the February 23, 2019 poll, as a victory for Nigerians who trooped out to overwhelmingly elect him for a second term in office.

Speaking shortly after the tribunal upheld his victory, the president said he was not worried about the petition filed to challenge the outcome of the election because he knew that Nigerians elected him.

“Good conscience fears no evil report. I was unperturbed all along, because I knew Nigerians freely gave us the mandate. We are now vindicated,” Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, quoted Buhari to have said.

Adesina said Buhari dedicated the victory to God, and to Nigerians, while also commending the judiciary for “dispensing justice without fear or favour.”

He said the president has extended a hand of fellowship to those who had felt aggrieved at the outcome of the election, and went to court, noting that it was within their democratic rights.

“It is time for the country to move forward as one cohesive body, putting behind us all bickering and potential distractions over an election in which Nigerians spoke clearly and resoundingly,” he was quoted to have said.

Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, had asked the tribunal to declare him winner, arguing that the election was rigged in favour of Buhari.

But at the tribunal, Mohammed Garba, the lead judge, said the PDP and Atiku failed to provide enough evidence to support the claims in the petition.

Ambode congratulates Buhari on election tribunal victory

 

Former governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, has congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on his victory at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.

The Tribunal on Wednesday ruled that President Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the February 23, 2019 Presidential election fairly.

Ambode, in a statement by his media aide, Habib Aruna, said the ruling by the tribunal was a validation of the second term mandate of the people given to President Buhari to continue the strides of development and to take Nigeria to the next level.

“I join millions of Nigerians, the leadership of our great party and all members of our party across the nation to congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari on this well-deserved victory at the Tribunal. This victory is a validation of the confidence in the President’s re-election and a testament to the fact that the people are happy with the progress made by his administration and are keen to see four more years of progressive governance,” he said.

He urged all supporters of the party and Nigerians in general to rally round President Buhari in his quest to return Nigeria to the path of greatness and respectability.

 

Tribunal dismisses Atiku’s petition against Buhari’s victory

The presidential election petition tribunal has dismissed the petition challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last election.

At its sitting on Wednesday, the tribunal said the petition filed by Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lacked merit.

Mohammed Garba, the lead judge, said the PDP and Atiku failed to provide enough evidence to support the claims in the petition including those bothered on electoral malpractices.

“I have come to the conclusion that the petitioners have not proved any of the grounds in paragraph 15 as required. For failure of this, this petition is hereby dismissed in its entirety,” he said.

Atiku had gone to the tribunal to challenge the victory of Buhari who was declared winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Among the grounds of his petition was that Buhari was not qualified to contest for president, and that he garnered more votes than the APC candidate.

But the tribunal said Buhari was “eminently qualified” to contest the presidential election.

It also ruled that the petitioners failed to prove there were electoral malpractices in the election.

The tribunal also said they failed to establish that electoral officials were harassed and that any such harassment influenced the outcome of the election.

Atiku had claimed results from INEC’s server showed he got more votes than Buhari but the tribunal dismissed this claim as well.

“It is my view that whatever results you claim to have gotten belong to a whistle-blower,” the lead judge said.

“It is possible to use scientific method to alter data on a website. Therefore, the petitioner relied on information from a third party (and) the evidence is unreliable because it is hearsay and inadmissible.”

FUOYE Protest: Another student dies from gunshot injury

Another student of the Federal University, Oye Ekiti (FUOYE), identified as Joseph Icon, died on Wednesday morning.

The deceased, according to the Students Union President, Awodola Oluwaseun, was one of the victims that sustained gunshot injuries at a protest on Tuesday.

“Another student just died this morning. I am on my way there but I’m scared because police are on the street beating up any FUOYE student at sight,” he said.

The victim was a 300-level student and a campus comedian, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

Ojo Raymond, the president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) who was present at the hospital, said that the deceased died at the Federal Medical Centre, Ido in Ekiti State.

The students protest turned violent after police officers shot sporadically at students who tried to have a conversation with the wife of the Ekiti State governor, Bisi Fayemi, on poor electricity at the institution.

Before now, a 100 level student, Oluwaseyi Kehinde, was confirmed dead.

The school spokesperson, Godfrey Bakri, said he was unaware of the deaths when contacted. He told our correspondent he needs to get instruction from his principal before addressing the press.

The police spokesperson, Caleb Ikechukwu, also insisted that he was not willing to speak with respect to the death.

Mr Ikechukwu had claimed that no gunshots were fired at the incident.

Many students have stormed the social media to pay tribute to the slain students.

The Ekiti State Government released a statement on Tuesday, saying Mrs Fayemi’s convoy was attacked and that it “has been informed that there might have been casualties recorded during the incident.”

Also, the management of the institution has ordered indefinitely closure of the school as well as proscription of the union.

Atiku vrs Buhari: Tribunal ruling on 2019 election (Live Updates)

3.00 pm: The tribunal considers Issue 3, which is whether or not Buhari was elected by a majority of lawful votes cast on February 23, 2019 election.

2.58 pm: Justice Garba says, “I have no doubt in my mind that the petitioners have failed to prove that the second respondent does not possess the qualification to contest the election into the office of the President as stipulated in section 131, 137, 138 of the Constitution. I am also of the firm view that the petitioners have failed to prove that the second respondent submitted false information which is fundamental in nature to aid his qualification to contest the election into the Office of the President as prescribed in section 35(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011.”

“I come to the conclusion and I resolve issues 1 and 2 against the petitioners,” he states.

2.53 pm: Justice Mohammed Garba of the presidential tribunal says, “The onus rests squarely on the petitioners to prove their assertion that the 2nd respondent does not possess the educational qualification to contest the election or that he submitted false information which is fundamental in nature to aid his qualification. This I have mentioned that the petitioners failed to prove. The petitioners cannot, therefore, rely on any failure in the case.”

2.37 pm: Buhari is not only qualified but eminently qualified to contest the presidential election, says Tribunal.

Buhari would have been qualified by mere showing that he had primary school education. The tribunal says the courses attended by Buhari are higher than secondary school education. Exhibits 21 and 24 tendered by the petitioners showed that Buhari had WASC.

The petitioners have failed to discharge the burden of proof of the allegation of non-qualification or submission of false information which is fundamental in the aid of the 2nd respondent’s qualification, the tribunal declares.

2.21 pm: Tribunal notes that Buhari’s witnesses confirmed that Buhari had secondary school education.

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“In effect, the 2nd defendant went through secondary education and then proceeded to military school. The military school is higher than secondary education,” says the tribunal.

2. 16 pm: Tribunal says it is established that a candidate is not required under the Electoral Act to attach his certificate to his Form CF001 before a candidate is adjudged to have the requisite qualification to contest the election.

Citing a previous Supreme Court judgment, the tribunal says, “Submission of educational certificate is not a requirement for qualification to contest election for governor under section 177 Constitution.”

2.08 pm: Buhari says he completed primary education in 1952, secondary education in 1961. PDP says no proof was presented in court.

2.01 pm: Ex-Borno State Governor and former National Chairman of PDP, Ali Modu Sheriff, walks into the courtroom. He is now a member of the APC.

1.56 pm: The tribunal to resolve Issues 1 and 2 now. Issue 1 dwells on whether Buhari possessed the requisite educational qualification to contest the February 23 presidential election.

The second issue is whether Buhari gave false information (about his educational certificate) in an affidavit submitted to INEC which was fundamental in nature to aid his qualification to contest the election.

Both issues are to be resolved together by the tribunal.

1.50 pm: The tribunal adopts the issues as raised by the petitioners. The tribunal is to deal with the issues in the order as raised by the petitioners’ lead counsel, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN).

1.49 pm: INEC raised four issues for determination, Buhari three, APC raised six issues while the petitioners (Atiku, PDP) raised five issues.

1.41 pm: Justice Mohammed Garba delivering the lead judgment.

1.40 pm: Tribunal resumes sitting.

12.59 pm: Final summary of rulings

A total of eight rulings were delivered:

*Three motions filed by INEC against the petition

-One dismissed

– Two partially succeeded leading to the striking out of some paragraphs in the petitioners’ petition and their reply to INEC’s reply to the petition

* Buhari filed two motions

– Two motions succeded partially leading to the striking out of some paragraphs in the petitioners ‘ reply to Buhari’s reply to the petition

*Petitioners filed one motion against APC’s reply to their petition

– Motion succeded in part leading to the striking out of some of the paragraphs of APC’s reply to the petition

*APC filed two motions

– One succeded partially in terms of prayers 6 and

– APC’s second motion also succeded partially

12.58 pm: Tribunal takes “a short break.” Main judgment to be delivered upon return.

12.57 pm: APC’s second motion also succeded partially.

12.51 pm: Petitioners motion succeded in part leading to the striking out of some of the paragraphs of APC’s reply to the petition.

12.34 pm: The tribunals says it will step down the ruling on the second motion by APC to first deliver ruling on the motion by the petitioner challenging the APC’s reply to their petition on the grounds that the reply is incompetent.

12.09 pm: Buhari’s second motion also succeeded partially. Some other paragraphs of the petitioners’ reply to Buhari’s reply to the petition are struck out.

11.50 am: Buhari’s first motion also succeded partially leading to the striking out of some paragraphs in the petitioners ‘ reply to Buhari’s reply to the petition.

11.46 am: Summary of rulings

*Three motions filed by INEC against the petition.

*One dismissed.

*Two partially succeeded leading to the striking out of some paragraphs in the petitioners’ petition and their reply to INEC’s reply to the petition.

* Buhari filed two motions.

*Two motions succeded partially leading to the striking out of some paragraphs in the petitioners ‘ reply to Buhari’s reply to the petition.

*The last two motions were filed by APC.

11.23 am: Other members of the panel agreed. The motion to be ruled upon is by Buhari asking the tribunal to strike out the petitioners’ reply to his reply to the petition.

11.22 am: Justice Garba also upholds another part of INEC’s motion striking out paragraphs 1 to 26 of part 2 of the petitioners’ reply to the commission’s reply to the petition.

11: 11 am: Justice Garba is to deliver the lead ruling on the application. Justice Garba upholds part of INEC’s prayers in the third application by striking out some paragraphs of the petitioners’ reply to the commission reply to the petition for violating paragraph 16 of the First Schedule to Electoral Act.

11.04 am: Prayer 7 and 8 in INEC’s motion succeed. The tribunal holds some named paragraphs in the petition are struck out for containing serious criminal allegations of undue interference with electoral process against individuals that are not joined as parties to the petition.

The third application is also by INEC asking the tribunal to strike out the petitioners reply to its reply to the petition.

10.53 am: The fifth of the prayers of INEC in the application is now being considered.

The tribunal dismisses the fifth prayer by INEC, saying contrary to the commission’s contention, the petitioners’ paragraphs 148 to 200 and 260 to 261 are not vague, imprecise, or nebulous, and so cannot be struck down as requested by the commission.

10.51 am: Ruling on the issue, Justice Garba says “I find no merit” in the prayer of the applicant.

10.44 am: The tribunal now considering the INEC’s claim that the petitioners’ Ground E is a pre-election issue and thus incompetent. In the petitioners’ ground E, it was alleged that Buhari gave false information of fundamental nature in the affidavit submitted to INEC to aid his qualification to contest the election.

10:43 am: Atiku Vs Buhari: Facts and figures (3)

*May 22, 2019: President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa withdrew as head and member of the five-man tribunal following the petitioners’ allegation of bias against her

*June 10, 2019: Justice Mohammed Garba takes charge as new head of the panel and tribunal’s pre-hearing session commenced

*July 3, 2019: Pre-hearing session ended

10.39 am: Again, the tribunal holds that the ground D of the petition challenged by INEC was valid and competent. It says that by virtue of section 31(5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, the ground D having to do with non-qualification of Buhari to contest the election is both a pre-election and post-election issue.

10.34 am: The tribunal is now considering the aspect of INEC’s motion which says some of the grounds of the petition constitute a pre-election matter which ought to have been filed in court within 14 days after the cause of action arose.

The said pre-election issues referred to by INEC are the allegations by the petitioners that Buhari was not qualified to contest the February 23 poll and that Buhari gave false information in his Form CF001 submitted to INEC.

10.31 am: Justice Garba noted that INEC appears to have made a detour by not further responding to Uzoukwu’s claims. He rules that that documents signed by Uzoukwu as a lawyer whose name appears on the rolls of the Supreme Court were validly and competently filed.

10.27 am: Uzoukwu says he was called into inner bar (conferred with SAN rank) along with INEC’s lead counsel, Yunus Usman (SAN) in 1982. Uzoukwu says he was Attorney-General of Imo State from 1994 to 1996.

10.23 am: The grounds of the INEC’s motion is that the petitioners’ lead counsel, Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), who signed the petitioners’ list of witnesses and other documents was not on the roll of lawyers kept by the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court and as such cannot practise law in Nigeria.

The tribunal says if the allegation is found to be true all the documents of the petitioners will be struck out.

Uzoukwu debunks INEC’s allegation, says he was called to the Nigerian bar in 1982.

10:13 am: The second ruling is on another motion filed by INEC on April 25. The application by INEC seeks among others, the striking out of: 1. The petitioners’ list of documents relied on by the petition, 2. Petitioners’ list of witnesses, 3. Some paragraphs of the petition.

10:07 am: The tribunal unanimously dismisses INEC’s motion which Justice Garba describes as not being well-grounded in law.

The tribunal rules that a vice presidential candidate is not a necessary party in an election petition but an appendage of the presidential candidate who nominated him.

9.57 am: Justice Garba who is delivering the lead ruling of the five-man tribunal is now considering the arguments for and against the INEC’s motion.

9.53 am: The first application to be ruled upon by tribunal is the one filed by INEC (the 1st respondent) asking the tribunal to strike out the petition on the grounds that the petitioners failed to join the vice-presidential candidate of the APC, Yemi Osinbajo, as a party to the petition.

INEC says in the motion that Osinbajo is an indispensable party to the petition. It says failure to join Osinbajo in the petition has robbed the tribunal of jurisdiction to hear the petitioners’ case.

9.49 am: Justice Mohammed Garba who heads the five-man panel announces that reserved rulings on applications taken during the pre-hearing session will be delivered first before the judgment.

9: 44 am: APC’s lawyer, Fagbemi, tenders Olanipekun’s apology for his absence. He said Olanipekun was in Europe when the hearing notice for the proceedings was served on Tuesday.

9. 43 am: Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) announces appearance for the APC’s legal team

9. 39 am: Prof. Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) announces appearance for Buhari’s legal team. He takes the place of Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who is absent at the proceedings.

9.36 am: Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN) leads INEC’s legal team.

9.35 am: Adams Oshiomhole represents APC. Livy Ozoukwu (SAN) leads petitioners’ legal team.

9.33 am: Uche Secondus represents PDP

9.32 am: Yaya Abubakar represented Atiku.

9.31 am: Secondus introducing himself.

9.28 am: “My lords are about to come in. Can we please settle down?” A court registrar announces.

9.26 am: AGF, Abubakar Malami, is here. Minister of State for Niger Delta, Festus Keyamo, SAN, arrives at the venue.

BREAKING: Buhari qualified to contest presidential election, tribunal rules

The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Wednesday said President Muhammadu Buhari was qualified for the 2019 election.

The tribunal said Mr Buhari’s certificate from the Nigerian military is higher than the Secondary School certificate stated as a minimum academic requirement for the election in the constitution.

“Mr Buhari is not only qualified but is eminently qualified” for the election, chairman of the Court of Appeal panel said.

Mr Mohammed said this while reading judgement in the petition filed by Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party questioning Mr Buhari’s re-election.

Mr Mohammed said the PDP had failed to further prove otherwise.

The court held that the evidence tendered regarding Mr Buhari’s qualifications were not to be relied upon, since the PDP was not the original makers of the documents.

Mr Abubakar and the PDP had through their lead counsel, Livy Uzoukwu, among others had contended that Mr Buhari was not qualified to have contested and that he supplied false information to the INEC.