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Cabal targets Osinbajo over actions taken as Ag President

Fresh facts have emerged on some decisions taken by President Muhammadu Buhari on the functions of his deputy, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.

A source in the Presidential Villa confided in The PUNCH that members of the cabal in the Presidency were bitter about the roles played by the Vice-President, when he stood in for Buhari, when the latter went on medical leave.

The source cited the emergence of Walter Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of the Federation and the removal of Lawal Daura as the Director-General of the Department of State Services on August 7, 2018 as two of their grievances against Osinbajo.

Buhari had on November 10, 2016 sworn in Onnoghen in acting capacity despite the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, which stated that he should be appointed as Chief Justice of Nigeria being the most senior justice of the Supreme Court.

The President did not forward Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for consideration despite public outcry.

Recall that it was Osinbajo, who acted as President, during Buhari’s absence from the country, that forwarded Onnoghen’s name to the Senate on February 7, 2017 and swore him in on March 7, 2017

Also, the Federal Government had on January 15, 2019 arraigned the ex-CJN before the Code of Conduct Tribunal .

But Osinbajo had during a conference of the Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, claimed Buhari was not aware of Oongohen’s trial until Saturday, January 12.

The Vice-President, who at the event, expressed misgiving about the trial of Onnoghen and other judges, had said, “It has consequences such as we have today, such that people say how can such an important person be subjected to trial without the Federal Government.”

He had also said Buhari believed that there should not be interference by the executive in other organs of government.

But the President did not wait for Onnoghen’s trial at the CCT to be concluded before suspending him on January 25.

Justifying his action, Buhari had said, “Although the allegations in the petition are grievous enough in themselves, the security agencies have since then traced other suspicious transactions running into millions of dollars to the CJN’s personal accounts, all undeclared or improperly declared as required by law.”

Also, Osinbajo, when he was acting President, removed Daura, as the director-general of the DSS on August 7, 2018 and appointed Matthew Seiyefa, who was kicked out by Buhari in September of the same year.

The source, who confided in one of our correspondents, attributed Osinbajo’s travails to the roles he played in Onnoghen’s issue and Daura’s removal.

The source said, “The VP underestimated the level of vindictiveness some of these people have towards him.

“They accused Osinbajo of sidelining them when he took critical decisions during Buhari’s medical leave. If you remember, there was a lot of drama surrounding the confirmation hearing of (Walter) Onoghen and the removal of Daura.

“They were also not happy about the issue of the presidential panel on recovery of public assets. Obono-Obla developed a life of his own in handling the assignment given to him. They thought the VP was supposed to have checked him.

But a top member of the All Progressives Congress, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the situation as “sad” and “beyond mere words.”

The source said, “Those of us within the party are onlookers in this matter. They are turning this 2023 game dirty because how can you explain what is happening to the Vice- President who brought in class and finesse into government?

“It’s possible some persons around the President made some discoveries about the VP’s handling of certain issues and were able to convince him (Buhari) to whittle down his powers.

“Whatever is happening cannot be hidden for too long. Without doubt certain individuals within and outside the villa are taking advantage of the situation.”

Another party stalwart, however, said nothing out of the ordinary was happening.

The party stalwart, who also wished to remain anonymous because “the issue is purely within the purview of the President,” said, “It’s just a storm in a tea cup; there is nothing unusual happening.”

In response to a question on the replacement of the Osibajo-led Economic Management Team with the Prof Doyin Salami-led Economic Advisory Council, he said, “There is a new energy to refocus government to revamp the economy.

“Whether it is the Vice-President that is the driver of the economic management team or not, all of them are still reporting to the President.

“The Vice President has a constitutional role to play and he is playing it. I don’t know why some people want to create a rift between the Vice-President and his principal.

“If the President is saying this (economic) route that we’ve taken in the last four years has not yielded the desired results, let us go another route is there anything wrong with that?

“I don’t think what is happening is meant to slight the Vice-President. It is not a sign that the President has lost or is losing confidence in the VP.”

EMT scrapping won’t affect governance – VP’s office

When contacted, the Office of the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, insisted on Wednesday that governance was not affected in any way by Monday’s scrapping of the Economic Management Team by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Osinbajo hitherto chaired the EMT, which superintended over the economic programmes of the present administration.

In place of the EMT, Buhari named an Economic Advisory Council with Prof Doyin Salami as the chairman.

Other members are Dr Mohammed Sagagi (vice-chairman); Prof Ode Ojowu; Dr Shehu Yahaya; Dr Iyabo Masha; Prof Chukwuma Soludo; Mr Bismark Rewane; and Dr Mohammed Adaya Salisu (secretary).

Buhari further directed that the new EAC would report directly to him.

“The Economic Advisory Council will advise the President on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.

“The EAC will have monthly technical sessions as well as scheduled quarterly meetings with the President. The Chairman may, however, request for unscheduled meetings if the need arises”, the Presidency had stated.

The scrapping of the EMT had fuelled speculation that it appeared the VP’s powers were being reduced.

But, his office said on Wednesday that the business of governance would continue, in spite of the dissolution of the EMT.

His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, while responding to enquiries by The PUNCH, following the speculation, stated, “Governance continues. The business of governance is not affected by the EMT dissolution in any way.”

Akande also maintained that there was only one Presidency, adding that the speculations were entirely unnecessary. “There is only one Presidency,” he said.

Aside from the scrapped EMT, Osinbajo oversees some agencies: the National Emergency Management Agency; the National Boundary Commission; and the Border Communities Development Agency.

The VP chairs the boards of NEMA and the Niger Delta Power Holding Company.

Amid speculation on Tuesday that a Monday memo from Buhari allegedly directed Osinbajo to seek his approval before taking decisions on any agencies under his watch, the VP’s office vehemently denied it.

One source informed the paper on Wednesday that in government, it was the normal practice for memos to pass between top officials of government.

“A lot of memos are exchanged every day.

“But, at this level of government, you would not say a memo was written specifically raising due process issues over the VP,” the source added.

In its response on Tuesday, the VP’s office had described the alleged memo as “false.”

“This is obviously misleading and aims only to plant seeds of discord in the Presidency, while attempting to create unnecessary national hysteria”, it stated.

Osinbajo’s office further noted, “The agencies in question are established by law and the Vice-President has always insisted on due compliance with the enabling statutes and other established regulations.

“Depending on the particular scope of activity in question, agencies may require management approval only, at the level of the Director-General or Chief Executive Officer. In this category falls the great majority of their day-to-day activities.

“However, other activities, or procurements, with value exceeding a certain threshold, require board approval. These may get to the agency board chaired by the Vice-President. In a few cases where Presidential approval is required, the Director-General must seek such approval from the President, through the Vice-President.

“These rules have always guided the activities of statutory agencies and the ones under the Vice-President’s supervision have always been so guided.”

Osinbajo’s economic team dissolved for good reasons – Adesina

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the economic management team led by the Vice-President was dissolved for good reason and better management.

Adesina said this during an interview on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme on Wednesday.

When asked if the dissolution of Osinbajo’s economic team signalled friction between the President and his deputy, Addesina said, “Nothing out of the ordinary is going on. Governance continues and the Presidency remains one. And this Presidency just wants to do what’s best for Nigeria.

“But unfortunately our country is one in which even if a 100-year-old man dies, people will still want to find out what killed him.

“In Nigeria there are too many inferences from things that are just normal and natural; things that are designed to accelerate governance and make sure there is probity and accountability. They will find all sorts of inferences. All that President Buhari has done particularly this week is just to tweak governance and get the best for Nigerians.”

The President’s spokesman said he was not aware of alleged plans by the Presidency to remove the Social Investment Programme from Osinbajo’s control.

He said the new economic advisory council which would report directly to the President, could sometimes defer to the Vice-President when the need arose.

Adesina added, “You seem to forget that the Vice-President is the number two man in the country. If the President is away, the Vice-President acts because it is a joint ticket. Therefore, the new economic advisory body can also relate with the Vice-President when necessary.

“It is just some Nigerians who want to drive a wedge between the President and the Vice-President that read meaning to everything. They insinuate about everything. It is still one Presidency and decisions taken are best for the country.”

When asked when the new economic council led by Prof. Doyin Salami would be inaugurated, Adesina said he had no idea but promised that it would be communicated to Nigerians in due course.

APC debunks crack in Presidency

When contacted for his reaction, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, debunked insinuations of a crack in the presidency.

He said, “It is irrelevant and a non-issue. It is just an attempt to create an issue where there is none.”

We are watching – Afenifere

The Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, says from the look of things, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo’s office has been rendered useless, impotent and irrelevant.

It, however, said it would be too early to speculate if Osinbajo’s ordeal was caused by any misdemeanour on his part or if it was based on permutations ahead of the general election in 2023.

The Spokesman for Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said this during an interview with The PUNCH on Wednesday.

He said, “We are watching as events unfold. We are studying the situation but we must also not muddle up issues. For now we will not jump into any premature conclusion that this is about 2023 alone. We will need to know if we will need more information to know whether it is political or whether there was abuse of office or process.

“But the barrage of the last 48 hours shows that there is something wrong. We will wait to have all the facts because we don’t want to say a Yoruba man is being attacked.

“They may have had a justifiable reason to do so. But we are taking note of every development and at the appropriate time, we will make our position known. But clearly, what has happened is that the VP’s office has been rendered impotent, useless and irrelevant.

The Economic Management Team led by Osinbajo was suddenly dissolved on Monday and replaced with an advisory council that would report directly to President Muhammadu Buhari.

It was learnt that some of the agencies like NEMA, would rather deal directly with the President than Osinbajo.

There are also reports that some of Osinbajo’s aides had been transferred out of the Presidential Villa and seconded to some Ministries Departments and Agencies.

The Presidency, it was reported, was planning stripping the Vice-President of his brainchild known as the Social Investment Programme which comprises the Trader Moni initiative, N-Power, school feeding programme and others.

The welfare programme is expected to be placed under the newly created Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development headed by Sadiya Umar.

Buhari Media Organisation congratulates Onigbinde for resigning

The Buhari Media Organisation has congratulated BudgIT co-founder, Seun Onigbinde, for resigning his position as the Technical Adviser to the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning.

The Chairman of the BMO, Niyi Akinsiju, said that Onigbinde took the honourable path by resigning even as he wished him well in his future endeavours.

Akinsiju said, “We congratulate him for taking the path of honour. We have always said that this matter has to do with principles and philosophy. We had nothing against his person.”

When asked if the implication was that government critics were not allowed to take up appointments, Akinsiju said those who criticise government constructively can take up appointments.

He, however, said Onigbinde was known to engage in name-calling and insulting the President and his supporters and as such should not have taken up the appointment.

The BMO chairman added, “We welcome criticisms but when you insult the President and even his followers, you have gone beyond the reasonable limit of criticism. If you do such, it can be assumed that you have taken an ideological position.

“If you don’t like a person, you cannot relate with such a person and it is illogical to say you want to work for that same person.”

When confronted with the fact that Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, of the Peoples Democratic Party appointed two opposition members into his government over the weekend, Akinsiju said the debate was not about party affiliation but ideology.

“A critic should criticise government policy and not a person who rains insults on people,” he said.

Onigbinde, who runs a pro-transparency group, had been trending on social media for nearly three days for accepting the appointment.

However, Buhari’s supporters, as well as the BMO, had kicked against the appointment, asking him to resign immediately.

At least three known critics of the Buhari government who were given appointments in recent time have been forced to resign.

In June, Dr. Festus Adedayo, who was appointed as Special Adviser to the Senate President was forced to resign while Olu Onemola, a former aide to ex-President Bukola Saraki who was retained by Senate President Ahmad Lawan, was forced to relinquish his appointment.

 

Jubilation in Ogun as Tribunal affirms Abiodun’s victory

Massive jubilation and dancing erupted at Isabo and spread to other parts of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, as the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal led by Justice Yusuf Halilu affirmed the victory of Governor Dapo Abiodun in the March 9, gubernatorial election in the state.

The jubilant are supporters of Dapo Abiodun and members of the All Progressives Congress(APC) who since morning surged into Isabo, waiting for the outcome of the petition.

In affirming Abiodun’s victory, the tribunal declared that the petitioner, Hon. Abdulkabir Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied People’s Movement (APM) “did not only failed, but also irredeemably failed to prove” his case against Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress(APC).

The Tribunal chairman, Justice Yusuf Halilu held that Akinlade’s petition ” is destined to fail, it failed and is hereby dismissed.”

He added that Abiodun was duly elected by virtue of scoring the highest number of valid votes cast by the voters and declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying the Tribunal concur with it and has no reason whatsoever to tinker with the outcome of the March 9 governorship election in Ogun State.

I’ll rather congratulate Buhari openly than visit him at night —Wike

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has said that he congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari after the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal confirmed his election because it was better to offer public congratulations than visit the President at night.

Wike said that unlike some governors of the Peoples Democratic Party who visit President Muhammadu Buhari at night, he made his declaration public because it came from the heart.

He spoke at the funeral service of late Madam Blessing Awuse, mother of one of PDP leaders in the state, Sergeant Awuse, held at St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Emohua, on Thursday.

He said, “I am sure all of you are surprised that I congratulated Buhari.

“Is it not good for me to congratulate him than to go to his house in the night?

“Many PDP governors go to see him in his house in the night. I have never gone and I will not go. I won’t go.

“We are the only state that the Federal Government refused to pay us our money used to execute federal projects because I don’t go to see him in the night and I won’t go.

“He is not my friend; he is not doing well, but he won in court.

“Should I say that the court did wrong? No.

“President Buhari, congratulations and carry Nigerians along.

“Unify the country; the country is too divided.

“I am saying what is right. What I will do, I will do; what I will not do, I will not do.”

On the passage of late Mrs. Blessing Awuse, Wike said she lived a fulfilled life and raised disciplined and trustworthy children, describing her burial as a celebration of life.

Chief Mourner, Sergeant Awuse, thanked the governor for his love and friendship, saying, “Wike always intervenes at the most critical time.”

Anglican Bishop of Ikwerre Diocese, Rt. Rev. Blessing Enyindah, praised the governor for his commitment to the development of the state.

Why I handed over the treasury to women —Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja said placing women in strategic positions of his government, like the financial sector, is to ensure effective management of limited resources available, and promote a stronger sense of inclusiveness.

Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari as saying this in a Press statement on Thursday.

Adesina wrote: President Buhari said he preferred women to oversee the economic and financial hub of the country, Ministry of Finance, as they can readily deploy their experience in aligning resources with the needs of the country, explaining that the nation also had many female technocrats with local and international experiences on economy and finance.

The President gave the insight into his preferred choice for Ministers of Finance while receiving a delegation of National, Zonal, State and FCT Women leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by the party Women Leader, Hajiya Salamatu Umaru Baiwa at the State House.

“I am happy that I can defend myself very effectively on this issue. The APC party leader is my witness. Since the coming into power of this administration I have handed over the treasury to women.

“Even at household level, you hand over the money to women to manage. It can be taken to the level of managing the country’s treasury as well. I have consistently given it to women. It is strategic.

“I am conscious of the leadership roles of women in the society and by my action I have justified my belief,’’ President Buhari said.

The President reiterated that his administration will ensure inclusiveness for women and youths, especially in the second term, by providing more access to facilities that will enable spread of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, and encourage more interest in agriculture.

President Buhari said the traditional and subsistence style of farming should be replaced with commercialized and business oriented techniques.

“We have to move away from the traditional ways of farming that were practiced in the pre-colonial and colonial era,’’ he added.

The President said he instructed the ministers to work with traditional institutions to encourage interest in farming, with the Central Bank of Nigeria readily providing loans at low interest rates and longer periods of repayment.

“On unemployment, I know there is no able bodied person that went back to the farm in the last three years that regretted the action,’’ he added.

In her remarks, the APC Woman Leader congratulated the President for his victory at the polls and the tribunal, commending the administration for its efforts in managing the affairs of the country, which provided the impetus for the vigorous campaigns.

Baiwa said women were particularly pleased and willing to vote for the President because the government deliberately formulated some policies to favour and empower women, like the social intervention Trader Moni.

She said the APC had many resourceful and loyal women that would contribute to the success of the administration, while commending the President for giving women strategic positions in the government.

“Our prayer is that God will give you the tenacity to overcome all obstacles,’’ the Woman Leader said.

Otunba Adewale Adenaike hails Presidential Election Tribunal’s decision

 

A former governorship aspirant in Ogun State, Otunba Adewale Adenaike has said that he was not surprised at the unanimous decision of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal which affirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the 2019 elections.

Speaking with journalists after the judgement was delivered,  Adenaike  said: “I knew from the on-set that Nigerians freely gave their mandate to President Muhammadu Buhari whilst rejecting the PDP candidate and his party.”

“Nigeria’s Justice System is alive and kicking”, the Ogun State politician asserted.

“I congratulate all Nigerians for this victory regardless of political divide, its time for governance, let’s join hands with our President and his team in order to lift our country to the next level,” he added.

He advised Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to sheath his sword, accept the decision in good faith and align with Mr President for the sake of Nigerians.

When asked about why the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has not appointed his cabinet, he stated that Governor Abiodun is a system person and will do what is best for Ogun.

“I’m confident that my governor will deliver on all his promises. He will assemble the best brains in Ogun in order to drive his progressive agenda, don’t be in a hurry”, he said.

Instead of going to supreme court, Atiku should apologise to Nigerians – Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed, minister of information, has asked Atiku Abubakar to apologise to Nigerians for distracting the government instead of appealing the verdict of the presidential election petition tribunal.

On Wednesday, the tribunal dismissed the petitions of Atiku and the PDP challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last presidential election.

In a statement on Thursday, Segun Adeyemi, media aide of the minister, quoted Mohammed as saying that Nigerians would want the petitioners to join hands with the Buhari administration in taking the country to the next level.

The minister said the PDP should be thanking its stars that it is not being prosecuted for ”coming to court with a fraudulently-obtained evidence”.

”Nigerians are tired of this orchestrated distraction, and will rather wish that the opposition, having lost at the polls and in court, will now join hands with the government to move Nigeria to the next level,” he said.

”This is more so that the judgement validating the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari was unanimous that the petition lacked merit, that the petitioners failed to prove any of the grounds upon which their case was anchored and that President Buhari is eminently qualified to contest the poll.

”It is intriguing that a party that trumpets the rule of law at every turn will present, in open court, evidence it claimed to have obtained by hacking into a supposed INEC server.

“Don’t they realise this is a criminal act for which they are liable? Instead of threatening to head to the Supreme Court, driven more by ego than commonsense, they should be sorry for allowing desperation to overwhelm their sense of reasoning. Enough is enough.”

The minister commended the tribunal for taking hours to explain how it arrived at its verdict.

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 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.”

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.

Tribunal nullifies Adeyeye’s election, declares Olujimi winner in Ekiti

The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday nullified the election of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, of the All Progressives Congress in the February 23 election.

The three-member tribunal chaired by Justice Danladi Adeck, in a unanimous decision, declared the former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, of the Peoples Democratic Party as the winner of the election in the Ekiti South Senatorial District.

In the judgment, the tribunal nullified elections in some polling units which left Olujimi polling 54,894 votes to defeat Adeyeye, who scored 52,243 votes.

Justice Adeck predicated the tribunal’s verdict on nullification in some units and recount of the ballots by the contending forces as granted.

The judge said that the petitioner proved those cases of criminal allegations of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Acts and other corrupt practices raised in her petition beyond a reasonable doubt.

He said, “In Ikere, Gbonyin and Emure local governments, the petitioner was able to prove cases of over-voting and votes in those units were expunged from the ballots.

“It is not tenable to say that marked ballots were not properly deposited in the boxes because when this did not happen, then it will lead to over voting and will affect counting at every level of collation.

“To avoid this pitfall, those elections must be expunged in order not to vitiate the electoral process. Therefore, after those votes were deducted, PDP was left with 54,894 while the respondent polled 52,243.

“The petitioner having polled the highest number of lawful votes should be declared the winner of the election. We hereby declare the petitioner the winner and he is hereby returned elected. We hereby direct the INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return from the respondent and issue same to the petitioner”, the chairman said.

Supporters in tweet war ahead of judgment on Atiku vs Buhari Wednesday
Olujimi, dissatisfied with the verdict of the Independent National Electoral Commission which returned Adeyeye as the winner of the election, had approached the tribunal seeking to be declared as the winner of the election.

She had prayed the tribunal to, in the alternative, “nullify Adeyeye’s victory and order supplementary election accordingly in the district”.

The PDP candidate had said that she scored the highest number of valid votes in the election which she said was fraught with irregularities as she prayed the tribunal to cancel votes in areas “found to be incredibly mared with irregularities like over voting, multiple thump printing, ballot snatching, ballot stuffing and improper ballot counting to know the actual winner of the poll.”

Olujimi had also accused INEC of dereliction of duties, saying most of the documents used for the conduct of the election were not duly signed by agents.

But Adeyeye countered Olujimi’s submission, saying INEC did what was right and constitutional by declaring him winner having found to have got the highest number of lawful votes.

Tribunal fixes Wednesday for judgement on Atiku’s petition against Buhari

The presidential election petition tribunal will deliver judgement on Atiku Abubakar’s petition, challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday.

Sa’adatu Musa, spokesperson of the court of appeal, disclosed this in a notice on Tuesday.

“Please be informed notice has been given for judgment to be delivered tomorrow September 11, 2019. 9. 00 AM,” Musa said.

In his petition, Atiku, the PDP presidential candidate in the February election, had claimed he defeated Buhari by 1,615,302 votes.

Atiku based his claim on information he said was accessed from the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

According to him, he polled 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari, whom he claimed polled 16,741,430 votes.

He argued that the president was unqualified to vie for the highest office in the land because he did not possess the minimum qualification as required by the constitution.

“The 2nd respondent (Buhari) was not duly elected by the majority of lawful votes cast at the election. The election of the 2nd respondent is invalid by reason of corrupt practices. The election of the 2nd Respondent is invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). The 2nd respondent was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the said election,” his petition read.

“The 2nd respondent submitted to the 1st Respondent an affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election.”

In response to the petition, the All Progressives Congress (APC) said Abubakar is not qualified to be president because he is from Cameroon and not a citizen of Nigeria by birth.

The party asked the tribunal to declare the 11.1 million votes polled by Atiku and the PDP as wasted votes.

The tribunal will settle the scores on Wednesday.

Tribunal upholds Tinubu’s election

The National Assembly and State Houses Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Ikeja on Monday, affirmed the election of Sen. Oluremi Tinubu of the All Progressive Congress for Lagos Central senatorial constituency.

Delivering judgment, the three-member tribunal led by Justice Kunaza Hamidu, held that the petition filed by Chief Adesunbo Onitiri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the election of Tinubu failed as it did not establish any prima facie case against her.

“The petition lacked merit and is hereby dismissed.

“The declaration of Sen. Oluremi Tinubu by the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) as winner of Feb. 23 National Assembly election is hereby affirmed,” the tribunal declared.

Onitiri had dragged Tinubu and INEC before the Tribunal, challenging the result of the Lagos Central Senatorial District election over alleged irregularities.

Respondents in the case are the APC and INEC.

Onitiri had alleged that INEC wrongly declared Tinubu winner of the polls with 131,725 votes, while he was said to have scored 89,107 votes.

He claimed that INEC ought to have declared him winner of the election instead of Tinubu, claiming that he scored the highest lawful votes cast at the election.

In a petition filed before the tribunal, Onitiri’s counsel, Onome Akpeneye, alleged that the results declared by INEC was fraught with vote-buying, violence, over-voting, inducement of voters with monetary and material gains, campaigning and lobbying voters, on the day of election.

Other irregularities he stated in his petition, included: non-accreditation and improper accreditation of voters by INEC officials, intimidation and arrest of his supporters and poll agents, as well as instigation of electoral violence by agents of the first respondent.

Onitiri also alleged that apart from the listed irregularities, there were irreconcilable entries in the result declared and the number of votes recorded in favour of Tinubu by INEC in forms EC8A and EC8B respectively.

“The final result was signed only by the agent of APC and the Senatorial INEC Returning officer in an unknown location,” he added.

Gbajabiamila appoints Ganduje’s daughter as aide

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has appointed Fatima, daughter of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, as his Special Assistant on Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organisations.

Fatima’s husband, Idris, who is a son of the immediate past Governor of Oyo State Senator Abiola Ajimobi, made the announcement on his Instagram page.

He wrote, “Fatima Abiola-Ajimobi, I don’t know if you still believe me because I say it so often; you’re an extraordinary young woman. I have watched you struggle when you were at your lowest and noticed how you never lost faith and ‘you walk confidently in the direction of your dreams…’ The mantra you live by.

“My prayer for you, my wife, is that your courage never ceases and your light never dims.

“At such a young age, I am privileged to congratulate you on your appointment as the Special Assistant on NGOs and Civil Society to the Speaker of the National House of Representatives.”

Tribunal sacks Orji Kalu from senate

The National Assembly petitions tribunal sitting in Abia state has sacked Orji Uzor Kalu as senator representing Abia North.

Kalu, who is currently the senate chief whip, had been elected under the All Progressives Congress (APC).

But the tribunal nullified his election at its sitting on Monday.

Mao Ohuabunwa, Kalu’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rival in the election, had challenged his victory at the tribunal and he was declared winner of the election on Monday.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Kalu winner of the senatorial election after securing 30,203 votes against Ohuabunwa’s 20,801 votes.

Although the tribunal upheld Ohuabunwa’s argument that Kalu was not duly elected, it ordered that a rerun be conducted in selected polling units within 90 days.

The polling units which cut across three local government areas, were identified as where votes were cancelled during the poll.

The tribunal had earlier dismissed a petition by Anagha Anagha, candidate of the All Grassroots Alliance (AGA), challenging Kalu’s victory.

Obaseki fired the only commissioner I nominated – Oshiomhole

Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo state, removed the only commissioner he nominated into his cabinet.

In an interview with Channels Television, Oshiomhole said the governor took the action after a reconciliatory meeting between him and his successor.

He said four other governors attended the meeting.

The duo have been in the news in recent times over the crisis in the Edo. The misunderstanding between them led to a split in the Edo house of assembly.

A faction of the assembly is said to be loyal to the governor while the other is on the side of the APC national chairman.

There are reports that both men fell apart as a result of Oshiomhole’s opposition to the governor’s reelection bid but the APC chairman told Channels that he has nothing to gain by opposing the governor’s second term ambition.

“We have no argument over money or appointment… In the meeting we held with four governors, including Governor Bagudu, I asked the governor, how many commissioners did I nominate in your cabinet. He agreed that I only nominated one person out of more than 20 commissioners,” Oshiomhole said.

“Not many Nigerians will believe that because for me I was out of government and I have convinced myself that the day I step out of government, that is it. After that first meeting, the governor decided to remove that one commissioner along with seven others. But that is not my business.

“The governor can never tell you that I have interfered in his choice of projects and so on. The only thing I feel a bit worried about is that some of the projects we started together have been abandoned. There is no way to solve disagreements without talking to the aggrieved parties.

“Let me assure you. This governor is not under threat. It is those who make money from crisis, those I call merchants of confusion, who can tell the governor that he wants to be impeached. What will I gain if Godwin does not run a second term?”