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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.

Tribunal sacks Delta senator, orders fresh election

The Delta state national assembly election petitions tribunal sitting in Asaba has nullified the election of James Manager, lawmaker representing Delta south senatorial district.

The three-man panel led by E.I. Ngene gave the ruling on Saturday.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Manager, who ran on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the election but Emmanuel Uduaghan, his All Progressives Congress (APC) rival, challenged his victory.

Through Thomson Okpoko, his counsel, Uduaghan told the tribunal that the February 23 election in the district was marred by massive rigging.

He had asked the panel to cancel the election and order a fresh election.

Ngene annulled the election and asked INEC to conduct a fresh one within 90 days.

 

APC disqualifies ex-REC who joined Bayelsa guber race

Dr Frankland Briyai, former resident electoral commissioner (REC) of Cross River state, has been disqualified from participating in the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary in Bayelsa state.

The APC screening committee said Briyai was disqualified for not meeting specific criteria for participating in the primary election.

In its report forwarded to the party’s leadership, the committee said the former REC was not a card-carrying member of the party for a period of one year.

On August 8, Briyai resigned as Cross River REC to join politics.

He said he would contest the Bayelsa governorship poll — coming up in November — under the platform of the APC.

But the committee headed by Isa Song said the party’s guidelines requires governorship aspirants to be active party members for not less than one year.

“Each aspirant was asked questions relating to qualifications and conduct in line with both party constitution and election guidelines to contest for the Governorship Primary election under the platform of the APC”, the committee said in the report.

“We also asked them to produce evidence of membership of the party, voters card and payment of the prescribed fees as well as the original copy of their credentials for sighting. The screening committee was empowered to screen aspirants for the governorship election for Bayelsa’

“Therefore, Dr. Briyai Frankland was not cleared and disqualified on the ground of Section 3 paragraph ‘L’ of the guideline for nomination of candidates”.

It listed cleared aspirants to include Preys Aganaba, Heineken Lokpobiri, Ebitimi Amgbare, Diseye Poweigha, Lyon David, and Ongoebi Etebu.

INEC had earlier faulted the resignation of Briyari, saying it did not follow due process.

INEC office burnt, houses destroyed as Boko Haram strikes in Borno town

Thousands of people have been displaced in Gubio, a town in Borno state, following an attack by suspected Boko Haram insurgents.

Sources said the insurgents invaded the town around 5pm on Wednesday. They were said to have shot sporadically and set many houses on fire.

A soldier from the army’s 5 brigade stationed in Damasak told TheCable that the insurgents have been around Gubio communities for at least three months as a result of the relocation of the brigade headquarters from the town.

“There is no soldier in Gubio, and that is why those guys moved in. They burnt the INEC office and some other houses,” he said.

“As I am speaking, troops have been reinforced from the brigade and now in face-off with the insurgents.”

Jack Vince, a journalist resident in Maiduguri, corroborated the account of the soldier.

He said that the area had been without military presence and that was why it made easy for the insurgents to storm without any resistance.

“For about two weeks now no military post from Damasak on the border with Niger Republic to my community in Maiduguri, Magumeri, Kareto, Gubio and so on,” he said.

“Gubio was dislodged, soldiers ran to Damasak and Maiduguri leaving that wide expanse of land unguarded.”

A source claimed  that soldiers pulled out because the locals were not cooperating with them in fighting the insurgents.

“Thousands of people dislodged from Gubio have ran to the bush, trying to find their way to Maiduguri,” he said.

In May, the insurgents shot 11 villagers during an attack on Gundi village in Gubio.

Col Sagir Musa, army’s spokesman, did not immediately respond to a message seeking development on the attack.

 

Ex-INEC boss, Maurice Iwu narrates EFCC ordeal

Professor Maurice Iwu, former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, has finally spoken about his recent ordeal in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC.

According to Iwu, “The journey I have found myself on began brewing on February 23rd, 2019 when I was deprived of my civic duty of voting in the Presidential Election as a result of EFCC “investigations”. From the seizure of my international passport that February till this recent ordeal with actual charges and detention, God’s goodness has remained manifest as I recite “Te Deum” in Thanksgiving.”

The Former INEC chairman thanked “Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora for their enormous show of concern, support and the spiritual discipline (for not crucifying me before my day in the court of law). My gratitude to Ndi Igbo, umu Imo, Okigwe indigenes (both at home and abroad), clergy from various denominations, especially of the Catholic faith, which I belong to. The support were not just in words of encouragement, but more in actions of prayers, for in it all the glory of God was made manifest. Though I ask the same question Ps. 4:2a stated “How long, Oh men will you turn my glory into shame?”

“Whenever persecution comes my way, I become more aware that God does not forsake His own indeed, and I’m encouraged by Ps. 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.”

He said “Despite the challenges, I bow in honour and humility the Grace God has offered and continues to afford me and my family.

“Even with a spirit charged by the timeless words of Rudyard Kipling in his timeless poem “If” (1943).

“More than ever before, with what I have passed through within the last months, I embrace the ever reassuring grace and presence of the Holy spirit, which affords my soul to appreciate the professionalism and dignity of many of the staff and persons at the EFCC detention centre, Judiciary and the Ikoyi prisons. It could only be God.

“With a humble spirit, I plead for well meaning Nigerians to await the court trial and due process in this matter that would allow me to share my side of the story and equally bring to light the testimonies of this journey of immense grace and revelation.

“It is noteworthy, that none of the charges against me has to do with my tenure as Chairman of INEC. And to the scientific community, please be assured that this would not negatively affect the several ongoing work by Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) in contributing to the discovery and development of phytomedicines for tropical and emergent diseases, and the use of our world-class research facility for the standardization of African Medicinal Plants.

“I would like to acknowledge my beloved family, friends and my legal team for their support, hard work, solidarity and prayers. God heard all of you and never left me. The darkness that has enveloped the day is not yet over, please remain steadfast.

Iwu was released from Ikoyi Prisons after meeting the stringent N1bn bail granted him by the Federal High Court, Lagos, last week.

The court granted him bail after he was docked last week Thursday before Justice Chuka Obiozor by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a four-count charge bordering on money laundering although Realnews found out that there are other reasons for his trial which may be inherently politically motivated.

Realnews suggested in a report that prosecution of Iwu was because of the ongoing case at the Presidential Election Tribunal where Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is challenging the victory of President Muhammad Buhari at the presidential election in February 23. His traducers believed that he is the one advising Atiku on how to wage his case on the transmission of results of the February 23, presidential election through the INEC server. Although INEC has denied the existence of such server, it is believed that it was installed during the time Iwu presided over the commission as its chairman. It is alleged that he employed and trained all the staff manning the department who may have provided him information which he passed on to the Atiku Campaign Organisation.

Another grudge his traducers have against him is the alleged role he played in influencing the Ohaneze to support Peter Obi as the vice presidential candidate of PDP.

Also, Realnews gathered that the money Iwu was alleged to have laundered was the fund the federal government gave for research on prevention of Ebola during the outbreak of the disease in the country in 2014. Sources told Realnews that the disease was quickly contained in Nigeria because the fund was deployed to achieve the objective of the federal government to contain the spread of the disease in the country. As at the time of his arrest, there was no money relating to the fund found in Iwu’s account or that of his company, Bioresources, the source said.

According to the source, who craved anonymity, the prosecutors are also urging Iwu to implicate former President Goodluck Jonathan in order for him to be set free. The insistence of the prosecutors on this line of action led to an angry altercation between the EFCC official and Iwu during his interrogation. Iwu was said to have asked the EFCC official how he expected him at his age and background to implicate somebody who committed no offence and for what gain.

Realnews reports that Iwu’s travails with the EFCC started early this year during the elections when he was invited for questioning but was released to go on self recognition and directed to report regularly to the commission until his current arrest and prosecution. It was then rumoured that his arrest was to prevent him from influencing the outcome of elections in Imo, his home state, where the indigenes were battling to ensure that Rochas Okorocha, former governor, did not return his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu as the governor of the state.

INEC has no power to sack me, says ex-Cross River REC

The immediate past Cross River State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Frankland Briyia, on Wednesday, said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lacked powers to unilaterally sack him.

Briyia said his preliminary investigations revealed that the report that he was sacked by the commission was fake saying that he only resigned his appointment to join partisan politics and participate in the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State.

Speaking at the secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Yenagoa, Briyia said he was at the party office to inform the officials that he was a registered member of the party and intended to contest the forthcoming poll.

There were reports that INEC sacked the former REC for using its premises in Cross River to declare his membership of the APC.

But Briyia said: “No, INEC did not say so. INEC never meant to say so. I officially and legally resigned my appointment and INEC will attest to that. Let me state this. The REC is nominated by the President and the President sends the nominees to the Senate.

“The Senate screens them and if they’re found worthy confirms them and sends them to the President and the President eventually gives them appointments. The moment the appointment is given to the REC and the REC does anything wrong, INEC will investigate and sends its reports and makes its recommendation of what will happen to the REC whether he will be disciplined or not to the President.

“If the President and his team actually investigate and if he sees that what the REC has done actually contravenes the code of conduct, he will send the report to the Senate. The Senate will debate it, if the two-third majority of the Senate finds what the REC wrong, the Senate will rectify it and send it back to the President.

“It thereafter the President only, can sanction the REC. I have contacted INEC headquarters and the news about my sack is fake news. INEC said they didn’t say a thing like that. I’m sure you have watched or maybe read INEC publication, you won’t find anything like sack because I resigned officially.

“My departure created a vacuum and in INEC tradition the moment there’s no REC the administrative secretary takes over, that was what INEC meant. INEC doesn’t mean that I was sacked. So, don’t misquote INEC”.

Briyia said he had mapped out robust programmes for Bayelsa adding that if he became the governor of the state he would focus on human capacity and infrastructural development.

He said the people of the state were generally unemployed lamenting that most of them could no longer go to school.

The aspirant observed that civil servants were not re Irving their full salaries while most pensioners were languishing without their pensions.

He said: “I came because the good people of Bayelsa state called me to come and contest the gubernatorial election. We have insecurity in this state and insecurity has so many factors that cause them.

“When we identify those factors, we intend that God helping us after the gubernatorial election, we are going to turn this state around for the betterment of everybody that’s living in this state, whether you are indigenes or non-indigenes.

“Some of you have traveled out of this state. Ebonyi state and some of them were created the same time with Bayelsa. if you travel to Ebonyi state you will see infrastructural development. I was in Ebonyi state in January last year and I passed through some of those states that were created the same time with Bayelsa state.

“As a matter of fact, Bayelsa state is the list developed, in terms of human capacity and infrastructural development. Bayelsa state is the smallest and wealthiest of these states. That was the reason they asked me to come and contest because they found worthy and capable of turning this state around”.

INEC fires Cross River REC after resigning to contest guber poll

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Friday sacked the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Cross River State, Dr. Frankland Briyai.

Briyai had announced his resignation on Thursday.

He said he wanted to contest the forthcoming Bayelsa governorship election scheduled for November 16. However, the commission claimed it had yet to receive his resignation letter.

A statement by INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, frowned at the use of its premises or facilities for any political purpose.

He described the act as unlawful and contravened the Code of Conduct subscribed to by all INEC officials.

While announcing his sack, INEC directed its Administrative Secretary in Cross River State to oversee the office and take over the functions and duties of the REC until further notice.

The statement by Okoye reads: “The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Cross River State of INEC, Dr. Frankland Briyai yesterday (Thursday) addressed the media to the effect that he has resigned his position as REC with effect from August 8 2019 and joined a political party on whose platform he intends to contest the November 16, 2019 governorship Election in Bayelsa State.

“Although this was done at the commission’s Cross River State office in Calabar, the commission is yet to receive any communication on this from Briyai.

“Section 306(2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that the resignation of such appointment takes effect on receipt of the letter of resignation by the appointing authority – in this case, the President.

“While it is the right of any Commissioner or official of the Commission to resign his or her appointment and join any political party of his/her choice and to aspire for any office or position, INEC frowns at the use of its premises or facilities for any political purpose as this is unlawful and contrary to the Code of Conduct subscribed to by all its officials.

“Following his declaration, the commission has relieved Briyai of his duties as a Resident Electoral Commissioner and withdrawn all powers delegated to him. Consequently, the Administrative Secretary of Cross River State has been directed to oversee the office and take over the functions and duties of the REC until further notice.”

 

EFCC to arraign ex-INEC chair Iwu over N1.2bn scam

A former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Maurice Iwu is to face trial for alleged laundering of N1.2billion.

Iwu, who has been interrogated by the EFCC, was said to have been involved in the N23.29 billion poll bribery scandal which characterized the 2015 poll.

Although charges have been filed against Iwu, it was unclear last night when the ex-INEC chairman will be formally arraigned.

A source said: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to arraign a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Maurice Iwu.

“Iwu will be arraigned at a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos on a four-count charge bordering on money laundering.

“Iwu is alleged to have between December 2014 and March 2015, aided the concealment of the sum of N1, 203,000,000 (One Billion, Two Hundred and Three Million Naira)

“The said sum was in the bank account of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria Limited domiciled in the United Bank for Africa, UBA Plc.

A reliable source, who gave insights into the investigation of Iwu, said: “The cash in question was about the poll bribery scandal in 2015.

“Iwu has been implicated in the N23.29billion poll bribery scam perpetrated by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

“He was accused of allegedly using an NGO, West African Network of Electoral Observers, in the facilitation of bribery to top officials of the electoral commission. We have been on this case since 2016.

“We gave Iwu enough time to appear before us for interrogation. After series of quizzing and thorough perusal of relevant documents, we are set for his trial.”

The Acting Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Tony Orilade, said: “We will soon arraign the ex-INEC chairman,” but he was not forthcoming on the details.

The EFCC has been investigating the bribery scandal which was allegedly facilitated by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

About four oil firms, some directors of some oil companies, two banks and some politicians more than 283 staff of INEC are under probe.

Also, about 205 staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are on trial in connection with the biggest electoral fraud in the country.

Many of the indicted INEC staff and politicians have owned up and refunded huge sums of money to the EFCC.

More than N3.4billion in cash has been recovered apart from choice assets seized by the anti-graft agency.

Some choice assets belonging to the affected staff have been placed under Interim Asset Forfeiture until the determination of cases against them.

Apart from the EFCC’s findings, INEC’s panel, headed by a National Commissioner, Baba Arfo Shettima made shocking discoveries as follows:

• An NGO, West African Network of Electoral Observers, was used to share the bribe to INEC

• A former chairman of INEC (names withheld) coordinated the large-scale bribery scandal.

• Many former Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and retired Administrative Secretaries were used to penetrate INEC in all the 36 states for the bribery to alter poll results

• Some serving RECs and directors benefitted from the bribery scandal as confirmed by EFCC’s investigations

• A REC collected between N107million and N140million bribe

• While some RECs and INEC staff collected as much as over N100m, others were given as low as N150, 000 to compromise the electoral system.

Atiku vrs Buhari: INEC declines to call witnesses

The Independent National Electoral Commission said on Monday that it would not call any witness to defend its case in respect of the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Atiku and his party are by their petition challenging the outcome of February 23, 2019 presidential election which INEC declared was won by President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress.

The petitioners had rested their case with 62 witnesses on July 19 after which the five-man tribunal led by Justice Mohammed Garba adjourned further proceedings till Monday for INEC to open its defence.

But when called upon by the tribunal to open his case on Monday, INEC’s lawyer, Yunus Usman (SAN), said it would not be necessary on the grounds that the evidence extracted from the petitioners’ witnesses during cross-examination was in support of the commission’s case.

He said, “We have painstakingly reviewed the evidence of petitioners’ witnesses.

“We have also painstakingly studied the petitioners’ evidence under cross-examination, which supports our defence and our denial in consonance with our pleadings.

“My lords, we do not see the need to waste your lordship’s precious time by repeating what their witnesses have repeated under cross-examination.

“In that circumstance, we will not call any witness to help them prove their case.

“We, therefore, rely on the evidence of their witness under cross-examination.”

Responding, Buhari’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), requested to be allowed to open his client’s case at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

APC’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said his decision on whether or not to call witnesses would depend on the case to be presented by Buhari’s legal team.

On his part, the petitioners’ lawyer, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), thanked INEC’s legal team for not calling witnesses.

“I profusely thank my brother and friend for deciding not to call any witness,” he said.

The hearing has been adjourned till Tuesday.

PDP witness: An INEC official was caught with $10,000 on election day

Likita Ali, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) agent, says an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was arrested with $10,000 on the day of the presidential election.

Ali said this on Tuesday while being cross-examined by Yunus Usman, counsel to INEC.

The witness said he served as agent of the PDP in Lafia local government area of Nasarawa state.

He said the unidentified INEC official was allegedly caught at the Lafia local government collation centre.

“I was there when the INEC official was caught. Lafia local government collation centre was where it happened.”

When Usman asked him if the INEC official was alive, he responded saying: “He should be alive.”

The witness said he reported the matter to the security agencies in the area and the official was arrested and transferred to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) office in Lafia.

When asked by Mike Igbokwe, a counsel to Muhammadu Buhari, if he kept a copy of the statement to police, Ali said “no.”

He added that he visited all the 24 polling units in his ward.

Diezani Bribe: INEC deputy director bags six years, another gets 7-yr jail term

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC Kano zonal office on Friday, June 28, 2019 secured the conviction of a Deputy Director of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Auwal Jibrin and one Garba Ismaila, before Justice Yusuf Birnin-Kudu of the Jigawa State High Court sitting in Gumel, on a six-count charge bordering on unlawful enrichment and gratification.

The journey to prison for them started after the Commission received intelligence report that they benefited from the $115,010,000 largesse of a former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.

Investigations showed that they benefitted the sum of N45,000,000 (Forty Five Million Naira) out of the N250,000,000 disbursed in Jigawa State to influence the outcome of the election.

Upon arraignment, they pleaded “not guilty” to the charges thereby setting the stage for full trial.

During the course of trial, the prosecution presented five witnesses and tendered 20 exhibits to prove the case against them.

One of the charges reads: “That you, Auwal Jibrin, while being a public Servant (Deputy Director with Independent National Electoral Commission, Dutse) sometime in 2015, at Dutse within the Judicial Division of this Honourable court dishonestly received the sum of ₦45,000,000 (Forty Five Million Naira) from Garba Ismail, which you were not authorized to receive and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 122 of the Penal Code.”

Delivering judgement, Justice Birnin-Kudu held that: “The prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt, all the elements and facts of the case as contained in the charge and the testimonies of prosecution witnesses and exhibits tendered.”

The court added that the defence team failed to counter the evidence presented by the prosecution through its witnesses.

Thus, the court found the first defendant guilty as charged on count two, while the second defendant was found guilty on counts one and three.

The court, however, discharged them on counts four, five and six.

Consequently, counsel for the EFCC, Mohammed Gambo, urged the court to sentence them accordingly.

Counsel representing the second defendant, Jonathan Methezidie, who also held the brief for counsel representing the first defendant pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing the defendants.

After listening to the plea of the defence for mercy, the trial judge sentenced the first defendant to seven years imprisonment without an option of fine on count one, while the second defendant who was the INEC Deputy Director was sentenced to six years each on counts one and three.

The court further ordered the final forfeiture of the recovered monies and properties attached to the investigation with the exception of a three-bedroom flat attached at No. 1 Hadeja Road, Birnin kudu, Jigawa State.

INEC promises automatic employment for ad-hoc NYSC staff

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has promised automatic employment to corps members who performed exceptionally well as ad hoc staff during the 2019 General Elections.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the promise on Monday in Abuja at the presentation of kits with laptops and phones by the European Union (EU) to outstanding corps members who participated in the 2019 Elections.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that EU donated the kits to 75 outstanding corps members for their excellent performance as INEC ad hoc staff during the 2019 elections.

They were selected as recipients following a public announcement on March 27.

Yakubu, who stressed the important role corps members played during the conduct of election, said that there could be no successful elections in Nigeria without the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

He said that the recognition of the hard work of corps members by the commission and the EU was apt as they had continually over the years put their lives at risk to ensure the peaceful and successful conduct of elections in the country.

The INEC Chairman praised corps members’ resilience, patriotism, dedication and commitment to the electoral process, adding that the commission would continue to reward them for their hard work.

“In addition to what the EU is giving you today, the commission has embarked on the review of the 2019 General elections.

“There are many of you who did very well during the elections. We will identify you and reward those who performed excellently well in the election with automatic employment.

“By doing so, we hope that those of you who have done excellently well will form a group of conscientious election duty staff going on to the next general elections,” he said.

He thanked the EU and the Director-General of the NYSC, Brig.-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim and also the youth corps members stressing “there cannot be any election in Nigeria without the NYSC’’.

“I have said this before and I will say it again that the youth corps members are the most dedicated, the most educated, most patriotic, the most willing, the most able, the most greatly available, and the most committed election duty personnel.

“It is not just about the election but the entire electoral process. You are available for voter education, voter registration and also available on Election Day,” Yakubu said.

The INEC chairman said that the automatic employment being granted by the commission would also be extended to corps members who would perform exceptionally well during the conduct of the Kogi and Bayelsa Governorship elections holding in November 2019.

Yakubu said that the commission planned to utilise the services of corps members for the entire elections.

Amb. Ketil Karlsen, the Head of EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, while presenting the laptops and phones to the corps members said that the gesture was a way of thanking them for their participation in the elections.

Karlsen, said that the EU recognised the important work corps members carry out during elections, adding that the youths were the backbone of democracy.

The ambassador also announced that the 75 corps members had been coopted as ambassadors of the EU, assuring them of the unions support in the future.

He said that each recipient was carefully selected by a panel of the NYSC and the EU delegation in Abuja.

According to him, 292,000 corps members participated in the general elections and it could not have been possible without their participation, “so we sat down to think what we could possibly do to thank them.’’

“We will have loved to reach out to every single one of the corps members who participated all over the country, unfortunately that is not possible but we tried to convince Brussels and the European Parliament to do something that has never been done before.

“They agreed to directly pass down the equipment that was used during the EU observation mission to 75 corps members who participated.

“I have seen the hardships you have had to endure; the journey has just begun I want you to count on the EU to accompany you on that journey onwards to ensure the full actualisation of democracy in Nigeria.’’

The NYSC Director-General, Brig.-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim said that the scheme was not surprised by the appreciation accorded corps members by the EU as they had continued to play major roles in ensuring peaceful and successful conduct of elections.

Ibrahim said that with over 300,000 corps members mobilised every year, the scheme had created opportunities for corps members to discover and harness their potential for personal and national development.

He therefore called on the EU to support the scheme in its effort to provide entrepreneurial skills and start-up capital to enable corps members establish businesses for self-employment after the service year.

The NYSC boss said that this support would go a long way to contributing to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

We don’t have a server, INEC replies Atiku

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it does not have a server where results of the presidential election were uploaded.

The electoral commission was reacting to the request of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The PDP and Atiku had asked the tribunal to compel INEC to allow them inspect smart card readers and the server.

The opposition party and its candidate are challenging the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the presidential election that held in February.

At the tribunal on Thursday, Yunus Usman, counsel to INEC, said the party was asking something they did not have.

“They are asking us to bring something we do not have,” the lawyer said.

Usman asked the tribunal to strike out the application.

Also, counsels of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Buhari asked the tribunal to strike out the application of the PDP.

They argued that they could not prove the existence of a server.

The electoral commission said Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat the former vice-president who secured 11, 262,978.

But Atiku in his application claimed that he polled 18,356,732 votes while Buhari secured 16,741,430, citing INEC’s server.

Court orders INEC to issue certificate of return to Okorocha

The federal high court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue certificate of return to Rochas Okorocha, former governor of Imo state.

Okon Abang, the presiding judge, held that having been declared winner of the February 23 senatorial election in Imo west district, INEC has no reason not to issue him certificate of return.

He ruled that the decision to deprive Okorocha of the certificate falls outside the provisions of the law.

“Once the declaration is made under section 68(c) of the Electoral Act, INEC has become functus officio and INEC has no lawful authority to withhold the certificate of return for any reason whatsoever,” the judge held.

“Therefore the issue of duress is unknown to both the Electoral Act and the Constitution.”

The court ruled that Okorocha remained elected subject to the outcome of the ongoing proceedings of the election petition tribunal.

He, therefore, ordered, INEC to publish and circulate the name of the Okorocha as the senator-elect representing Orlu Imo west senatorial district.

The judge awarded the cost of N200,000 payable by INEC to the plaintiff, and awarded N100,000 payable to the plaintiff by each of the other seven defendants to the plaintiff.

The judge ordered the defendants to pay the costs personally to Okorocha before taking any further steps in the case.

INEC had delisted Okorocha among senators-elect, saying Francis Ibeawuchi, returning officer for the election, declared the former governor winner of the election under duress.

INEC issues certificates of return to Zamfara PDP candidates

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has issued certificates of return to Bello Matawalle as governor-elect of Zamfara state.

Matawalle and Mahdi Gusau, deputy governor-elect, both of whom are of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), were presented their certificates of return at the Electoral Institute in Abuja on Monday.

Also presented with their certificates of return were the three senators-elect and seven members-elect of the house of representatives from Zamfara — also of the PDP.

The supreme court had on Friday voided votes of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates in the state in the last elections. It ruled the party did not hold valid primaries.

Speaking before the presentation of the certificates, Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, reiterated the importance of party primaries ahead of elections.

He said there were over 800 suits in court challenging outcome of various primaries.

“I want to reiterate the importance of conducting proper primaries before elections in order to reduce the spate of litigation associated with them,” he said.

“At the moment, there are 809 pre-election cases pending in various courts across the country challenging the conduct of primaries by political parties for the 2019 general election.

“This is clearly more than the total number of petitions currently before the various election petition tribunals nationwide challenging the outcome of the main elections.

“In our last update, the commission reported that 25 certificates of return had been withdrawn and issued to persons declared winners by courts of law. Since then, three more certificates have been withdrawn by court order. With the Zamfara case, the figure has now risen to 64.

“In addition, the commission is studying nine more judgements we were served in the last one week in which primary elections conducted by different political parties were upturned by the courts.”

Zamfara: How we arrived at our decision – INEC

INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood’s Statement on Zamfara Supreme Court ruling.

TEXT OF PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE HON. CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC), PROFESSOR MAHMOOD YAKUBU, ON THE SUPREME COURT DECISION ON CANDIDATES OF THE ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC) IN THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS IN ZAMFARA STATE HELD AT THE CONFERENCE ROOM, INEC HEADQUARTERS, ABUJA, ON SATURDAY 25TH MAY 2019

Ladies and Gentlemen

1.​First, let me welcome all of you to this Press Conference. The reason for addressing you today is to provide an update on the recent decision of the Supreme Court regarding the candidates fielded by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State for the 2019 general elections.

2.​It is important to provide a background to the legal process that culminated in the Supreme Court decision on 24th May 2019. You may all recall that the Commission issued the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 general elections on 9th January 2018, over one year in advance. Among other activities, the conduct of party primaries was scheduled to take place between 18th August and 7th October 2018. Unfortunately, the APC did not conduct its primaries in Zamfara State within this stipulated time and the Commission duly informed the party that it would not be in a position to present candidates for elections in the State. Subsequently, various interested parties, including the APC itself, approached the court over the decision of the Commission. Just before the election, the subsisting court judgment at the time ordered the Commission to include the APC on the ballot for the Governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections, which the Commission complied with.

3.​However, since the elections were completed, a Court of Appeal judgment and now a Supreme Court judgment have determined that the APC did not conduct valid primaries for the elections in question. In its judgment delivered on 24th May 2019, the Supreme Court, having determined that the APC did not conduct valid primaries, said that the votes cast for the party in all the elections in question were “wasted” and ordered the Commission to recognize the runners-up as the winners. This judgment affects the positions of Governor and Deputy-Governor, three Senatorial, seven Federal and twenty-four State Assembly Constituencies.

4.​Following the judgment of the Supreme Court, the Commission has met in two emergency sessions and taken briefings from our lawyers and staff on the implementation of the Supreme Court judgment. While the legislative elections (Senatorial, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly elections) are straight forward to deal with because they entail first-past-the-post or simple majority of votes, the Governorship election is determined not just by majority votes but also spread in accordance with Section 179 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). This means that we had to first discount the votes cast for the APC at the elections and then carefully rework the spread by Local Government Areas based on the new valid votes.

5.​In compliance with the Supreme Court judgment, the Commission has now determined the winners of the elections in Zamfara State as follows:

Governorship
S/N
POSITION
NAME OF ELECTED CANDIDATE
GENDER
PARTY
1
GOVERNOR
BELLO MOHAMMED MATAWALLE
MALE
PDP
2
DEPUTY GOVERNOR
MAHDI ALIYU GUSAU
MALE
PDP

Senatorial
S/N
NAME OF SENATORIAL DISTRICT
NAME OF ELECTED CANDIDATE
GENDER
PARTY
1
ZAMFARA NORTH
ALHAJI YA’U SAHABI
MALE
PDP
2
ZAMFARA CENTRAL
MOHAMMED HASSAN
MALE
PDP
3
ZAMFARA WEST
LAWALI HASSAN ANKA
MALE
PDP

House of Representatives
S/N
NAME OF FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY
NAME OF ELECTED CANDIDATE
GENDER
PARTY
1
KAURAN NAMODA/BIRNIN MAGAJI
UMAR SANI DAN-GALADIMA
MALE
PDP
2
SHINKAFI/ZURMI
BELLO HASSAN SHINKAFI
MALE
PDP
3
GUSAU/TSAFE
KABIRU AMADU
MALE
PDP
4
BUNGUDU/MARU
SHEHU AHMED
MALE
PDP
5
ANKA/TALATA MAFARA
KABIRU YAHAYA
MALE
PDP
6
BAKURA/MARADUN
AHMED MUHAMMAD BAKURA
MALE
PDP
7
GUMMI/BUKKUYUM
SULAIMAN ABUBAKAR GUMI
MALE
PDP

State House of Assembly
S/N
NAME OF STATE CONSTITUENCY
NAME OF ELECTED CANDIDATE
GENDER
PARTY
1
KAURA NAMODA NORTH
ZAHARADEEN M. SADA
MALE
PDP
2
KAURA NAMODA SOUTH
ANAS SARKIN FADA
MALE
PDP
3
BIRNIN MAGAJI
NURA DAHIRU
MALE
PDP
4
ZURMI EAST
SALIHU USMAN ZURMI
MALE
PDP
5
ZURMI WEST
NASIRU MU’AZU
MALE
PDP
6
SHINKAFI
MUHAMMAD G. AHMAD
MALE
PDP
7
TSAFE EAST
MUSA BAWA MUSA
MALE
PDP
8
TSAFE WEST
ALIYU NA-MAIGORA
MALE
PDP
9
GUSAU EAST
IBRAHIM NAIDA
MALE
PDP
10
GUSAU WEST
SHAFI’U DAMA
MALE
PDP
11
BUNGUDU EAST
KABIRU MAGAJI
MALE
PDP
12
BUNGUDU WEST
NASIRU BELLO LAWAL
MALE
PDP
13
MARU NORTH
YUSUF ALHASSAN MUHAMMAD
MALE
PDP
14
MARU SOUTH
KABIRU HASHIMU
MALE
NRM
15
ANKA
YUSUF MUHAMMAD
MALE
PDP
16
TALATA MAFARA NORTH
SHAMSUDEEN HASSAN
MALE
PDP
17
TALATA MAFARA SOUTH
AMINU YUSUF JANGEBE
MALE
PDP
18
BAKURA
TUKUR JEKADA BIRNIN TUDU
MALE
PDP
19
MARADUN I
FARUK MUSA DOSARA
MALE
PDP
20
MARADUN II
NASIRU ATIKU
MALE
PDP
21
GUMMI I
ABDULNASIR IBRAHIM
MALE
PDP
22
GUMMI II
MANSUR MOHAMMED
MALE
PDP
23
BUKKUYUM NORTH
IBRAHIM MOHAMMED NA’IDDA
MALE
PDP
24
BUKKUYUM SOUTH
SANI DAHIRU
MALE
PDP

6.​The Commission will issue Certificates of Return to the new winners as follows:

i. Governor and Deputy Governor-elect, Senators-elect and Members of the House of Representatives-elect will receive their certificates on Monday 27th May 2019 at the Commission’s Electoral Institute at 2.00pm.

ii. Members of the State House of Assembly-elect will receive their certificates from the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Zamfara State at the INEC State Office in Gusau on Friday 31st May 2019 at 10.00am.

7.​I wish to seize this opportunity to draw the attention of all stakeholders, but particularly the political parties, to the implications of the Supreme Court judgment on the Zamfara matter. It is clear that properly conducted party primaries are cardinal to the proper internal functioning of political parties, the electoral process and our democratic system at large. Therefore, political parties must take very seriously the conduct of primaries according to all extant rules, including the monitoring of the processes by INEC to avoid a repeat of the Zamfara experience. I want therefore to remind us that the Commission has since 9th April 2019 issued the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship elections by which party primaries are scheduled to hold between the 2nd and 29th August 2019. I appeal to political parties intending to field candidates in the elections to adhere strictly to this and other timelines in the Timetable and Schedule of activities.

8.​I thank you very much and I will now take some questions.

BREAKING: INEC declares PDP winner of Zamfara elections

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared Bello Matawalle of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of Zamfara state governorship election.

Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, announced this during a press conference in Abuja on Saturday.

He also said  the party won all but one of the elective positions in the state. Kabiru Hassan of the National Rescue Movement (NRM) won the election in Maru south state constituency.

Yakubu said this followed the supreme court decision sacking all candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the general election.

The apex court had ruled the party did not hold a valid primary election and subsequently voided its votes.

Matawalle had scored 189,452 to emerge second in the governorship election.

Yakubu said that Certificates of Return would be given to the governor-elect, Deputy-governor-elect, three Senators and seven House of Representatives members-elect by 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

BREAKING: INEC meets over Zamfara Supreme Court ruling

The Independent National Electoral Commission, on Friday, held a meeting over the Supreme Court judgement on the general elections held in Zamfara State.

In a statement signed by Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, the electoral body is meeting to determine the next course of action following the ruling.

Part of the statement read, “Following the Supreme Court’s Judgement delivered today 24th May 2019 on the Governorship, National and State Assembly Elections held in Zamfara State, INEC held an emergency meeting to consider the Court’s decision.”

The statement revealed that the meeting would continue on Saturday and an outcome would be revealed on Monday.

See tweet:

INEC Nigeria

@inecnigeria

Press Release
Following the Supreme Court’s Judgement delivered today 24th May 2019 on the Governorship, National and State Assembly Elections held in Zamfara State, INEC held an emergency meeting to consider the Court’s decision…..

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Court orders INEC to withdraw 25 Certificates-of-Return

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has withdrawn 25 Certificates-of-Return issued to some candidates that won during the 2019 general elections, following court orders.

The Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Mr Festus Okoye, said this at a `Forum on Media Coverage of 2019 General Elections’ held in Enugu on Monday.

Okoye noted that 20 of the 25 certificates-of-return were withdrawn from All Progressive Congress (APC) members to other APC members; while two from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members were withdrawn and issued to other PDP members.

He said that the other three were withdrawn from APC and PDP; and given to other political parties.

“Before we left INEC national headquarters on Friday; the commission has withdrawn 25 certificates-of-return from the first owners to their new owners following court orders to do that,’’ he said.

Okoye, however, lauded the media for its openness and robust engagement with the commission before, during and after the election, adding that the media had become critical stakeholders for the success of future elections.

He noted that the media had become the first line of reach of the masses as well as platform for explanation of INEC political and electoral decisions.

Okoye, therefore, called on the media and its practitioners to dig deep into the Electoral Act to ensure that the import of the recent amended sections are made known to the public.

“The media should also centre on the aspect of using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve electoral issues especially at the party levels instead of going to the court,’’ he advised.

Speaking, President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr Chris Isigozu, said that the media and its practitioners enjoyed a vast and robust relationship with INEC before, during and after the elections.

Isigozu said that INEC performed creditebly well given the resources and length of co-operation from other stakeholders involved in the electoral processes.
“However, we are here to evaluate the entire process and see where we can strengthen our engagement and better the electoral system.

“We would be open and say it as it; so that the electoral and democratic processes can be better even as we go into off season elections,’’ he said.

Enugu State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Emeka Ononamadu, noted that evaluation of processes of the elections would help better the electoral processes as well as strengthen institutions and stakeholders involved in the entire processes.

“INEC wants to hear from the media, security agencies, civil society organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations etc on how the election fared. Whether there are avenues to improve on what we have.

“So, INEC is open to receive your objective deliberations and its outcome and we definitely take a critical look at your outcomes in order to better the electoral processes,’’ Ononamadu assured.

INEC recognises Sowore as AAC chairman, faults his suspension

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says Omoyele Sowore remains the substantive national chairman of the African Action Congress (AAC).

In a letter dated May 14, Rose Oriaran-Anthony, the commission’s secretary, said Sowore’s purported suspension by the party cannot hold.

She said there is no evidence of the meeting in which Sowore was suspended, as some of the party leaders had claimed.

Mazi Okwy, a member of the AAC national executive committee (NEC), had announced the suspension of Sowore, adding that one Leonard Nzenwa had been appointed acting chairman.

Okwe based the action on “failure to convene national executive council (NEC) meeting, financial misappropriation and other anti-party activities”.

Sowore dismissed the suspension and subsequently expelled Nzenwa while he suspended top members of the party.

The INEC secretary said the commission will continue to relate with Sowore as the national chairman of the party.

The letter read: “There is no documentary evidence that a meeting of the AAC National Executive Committee was convened by the National Chairman as required by chapter 9 section 59(a) of the AAC constitution.

“The party did not provide a 21-day notice of the NEC meeting as required by section 85(1) of the Electoral Act 2010.

“There are no minutes or evidence of attendance of the AAC National Executive Committee meeting where the National Chairman and eight others were purportedly suspended.

“Accordingly, the Commission shall continue to recognise and relate with Mr. Sowore Omoyele as the substantive National Chairman of the AAC.”