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Challenges Before Election Petition Tribunals



The April 2011 general elections have come and gone with the good people of  Rivers State looking forward to a successful inauguration of Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi on May 29.

The political and electoral ripples from the elections are yet to settle down as opposition political parties’ candidates are challenging and ventilating their electoral grievances  over the unsatisfactory conduct and outcome of the April general elections before Election Petition Tribunals in the state.

However,  defeated candidates of the opposition political parties are challenging the declaration of the (PDP) candidates declared winners in the April 9th National Assembly Election and April 26th Governorship/House of Assembly elections.

On the Governorship, four opposition political parties candidates of All Grand Progressive Alliance (APGA), Sir Celestine Omehia, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Dr. Abiye Sekibo, Action Alliance (AA) Chief Hon. Aleruchi William, and African Political System (APS) Chief Hon. Felix Amadi are challenging the election of Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi of the PDP.

In Election Petition No. EPT/Gov./PH/27/2011 filed by legal counsel C.O. Ejezie Esq. of J.C. Ezike & Co. c/o Omehia & Associates 2A Ikwerre Road for Sir Celestine Omehia & APGA as Petitioners against Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi and three others as respondents, APGA and its candidate’s  grounds for their Petition are that contrary to S.182 (1) (g) of the 1999 (CFRN) & the Electoral Act S.138 (a) 2010 as amended, the first and second respondents being Governor Amaechi & Deputy Governor  Tele Ikuru are not qualified being  persons employed in the public service of Rivers State and therefore did not resign or withdraw or retire from the said employment thirty days to the date of the Governorship election held on April 26th, 2011.

Secondly, that by Provison of the S.138 (b) (c) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, that the election of Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi is invalid by reason of corrupt practices or non compliance with the provision of this Act and that the 1st and 2nd respondents were not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election.

In Election petition No. EPT/GOV/PH/21/2011 filed by G.O. Tamuno Esq. for Dr. Abiye Sekibo and ACN as the petitioners against election of Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, PDP and INEC as respondents, are challenging the Election based on S. 138 (b) & (c) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.

Dr. Abiye Sekibo further averred that there were widespread irregularities and malpractices that substantially affected the outcome of the election in his favour, coupled with the fact that Ad-hoc staff of INEC were substituted for supporters of the respondents.

In the election petitions No. EPT/GOV/PH/37/2011, Chief Hon. Felix Amadi, candidate of the African Political System (APS) filed by Ahameke Ejelam Esq. of Principles law Partnership and Chief Hon. Aleruchi William, candidate of Action Alliance in Election Petition No. EPT/GOV/PH/39/2011, filed by M.N. Nnamani Esq c/o St. Michael Solicitors, they are separately challenging their unlawful exclusion from the Governorship Election of April 26th in the State in accordance with S. 138 (d) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.

Chief Hon. Felix Amadi and Chief Hon. Alurechi Williams and their political parties respectively are seeking for the nullification of the April 26th Governorship election by reason of unlawful exclusion, an order for bye-election or re-run, or fresh Governorship election, an order canceling or withdrawing the certificate of Return issued to the Governor-elect and an order restraining the Governor-elect from being sworn in or acting as Governor or performing the functions of Governor of Rivers State.

Awanen Jas Esq, legal practitioner said, “the Petitioners having presented their petitions and grounds of the facts of the petition, the legal fireworks have started and behold their respected Justices of the Tribunal are to sip through the facts and arrive at their findings”.

However, Rivers State like other states of the Federation has two Election Petition Tribunals. The Governorship Election  Petition Tribunal and the National/State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal.

The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal was formally inaugurated on Friday, 20th May 2011 in High Court 16 Port Harcourt with Justice (Mrs) A.A. Wambai (Chairman), Justice O.N. Anyachelelu and Justice A.B. Abdul Kareem as members.

Justice A.A. Wambai promised that the tribunal shall be transparent and honest in all their dealings and advised counsel to always conduct themselves with utmost decorum while appearing before the tribunal without unnecessary delay.

Prior to the formal inauguration in Port Harcourt, having been sworn in, in  Abuja, the Assistant Secretary of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Rivers Abubakar  Mohammed, said that the Tribunal had entertained two Ex Parte Motions brought by two defeated Governorship candidates in the state and the Ex parte motions were granted for the inspection of the Electoral materials used by the INEC for the April 26th Governorship Election in the state.

Mr. Sulieman, Assistant Secretary, National/State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal said “that the Tribunal is yet to be inaugurated in Port Harcourt and therefore the names of the Tribunal chairman and members are not yet available”.

Mr. Sulieman further said that in accordance with S.285 (5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended for election Petition to be filed within 21 days after the date of declaration of result of the election, the National/State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in the State received (9) nine House of Representatives and  five Senate Election Petitions, challenging the winners of the Elections of the National Assembly conducted on 9th April 2011. while out of the 32 seats in the state Assembly, election of 22 members are being challenged before the Tribunal with only 10 members having their election not being challenged.

Meanwhile, Emmanuel C. Ukala (SAN) Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) section on Legal Practice said “Election Petitions are regarded in law as “Sui generis” in nature, meaning they are neither civil proceedings nor criminal proceedings strict sensu but are rather in a class of their own with special regulator regimes which requires strict compliance”.

The Tribunals are generally ad-hoc in nature and are to be constituted not later than 14 days before the election and when constituted, open their registries for business 7 days before the election per section 133 (2) (a) & (b) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.

In view of the past controversies that had trailed several Election Petition Tribunals and their judgements, members of the various Election Petition Tribunals have been enjoined to ensure transparency in the midst of the mounting challenges.

Awanen Jas Esq., legal practitioner, said Justices of the Election Petition Tribunals should hold high the integrity of the bench by discharging their responsibilities in a way, that will restore confidence and credibility to the Judiciary.

Abbiye Suku Esq., legal practitioner based in Port Harcourt and a law lecturer, said justices of the various Election Petition Tribunals should ensure that judgements are dispensed with a sense of justice.

They must work within the limit of the timelines to ensure justice is done without unnecessary legal technicalities by counsel.

However, members of the tribunal must ensure that Justice is not only seen to be done but must be done based on facts by the petitioners and Respondents, only then can the Judiciary be the last hope of the common man to restore confidence in the Electoral processes.

Philip-Wuwu Okparaji

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Presidency Lists Beneficiaries Of External Borrowing Plan



The Presidency has said that a total of 15 projects, spread across the six geo-political zones of the country, are to be financed with more than $4 billion from multilateral institutions, under the 2018-2021 medium-term (rolling) external borrowing plan.
President Muhammadu Buhari had requested the Senate to approve sovereign loans of $4.054 billion and €710 million as well as grant components of $125 million for the proposed projects.
According to the letter by the President, the sovereign loans will be sourced from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China-Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE).
The President’s request to the Senate listed 15 proposed pipeline projects, the objectives, the implementation period, benefiting States, as well as the implementing Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said a breakdown of the ‘‘Addendum to the Proposed Pipeline Projects for the 2018-2021 Medium Term (rolling) External Borrowing Plan,’’ shows that the World Bank is expected to finance seven projects including the $125 million grant for ‘‘Better Education Services Delivery for All’’.
According to the statement, the Global Partnership for Education grant is expected to increase equitable access for out-of-school children and improve literacy in focus states.
It further stated that the grant, which will be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Education and the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), will strengthen accountability for results in basic Education in Katsina, Oyo and Adamawa States.
Other projects to be financed by the World Bank are, the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme for Results as well as the Agro-Processing, Productivity, Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project.
The statement said, “The benefiting States for the agro-processing project are, Kogi, Kaduna, Kano, Cross River, Enugu and Lagos with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as the implementing ministry.
“The objective of the project is to enhance agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improve value addition along priority value chains in the participating states.
“Similarly, the World Bank is also financing the Nigeria Sustainable Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project in Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Kaduna, Katsina, Imo and Plateau States, for the next five years.
“The project, when completed, is expected to improve rural water supply, sanitation and hygiene nationwide towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for water supply and sanitation by 2030.
“Under the external borrowing plan, the World Bank-supported projects also include Nigeria’s Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Project (COPREP), under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“The project, which has an implementation period of 5 years, will respond to threats posed by Covid-19 through the procurement of vaccines.
“Furthermore, no fewer than 29 states are listed as beneficiaries of the Agro-Climatic Resilience in Arid Zone Landscape project, which is expected to reduce natural resource management conflicts in dry and semi-arid ecosystems in Nigeria.
“The benefiting states for the project to be co-financed by World Bank and European Investment Bank (EIB) are Akwa Ibom, Borno, Oyo, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, Edo, Plateau, Abia, Nasarawa, Delta, Niger, Gombe, Imo, Enugu, Kogi, Anambra, Niger, Ebonyi, Cross River, Ondo, Kaduna, Kebbi, Jigawa, Bauchi, Ekiti, Ogun, Benue, Yobe and Kwara.”
Continuing, it said, “The World Bank is also funding the Livestock Productivity and Resilience project in no fewer than 19 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).
“The China EXIM Bank is expected to finance the construction of the branch line of Apapa-Tin Can Island Port, under the Lagos-Ibadan Railway modernisation project.
“The French Development Agency will finance two projects, which include the National Digital Identity Management project and the Kaduna Bus Rapid Transport Project.
“The digital identity project will be co- financed with World Bank and EIB.
“The Value Chain Development Programme to be financed by IFAD and implemented in Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun, Taraba, Nasarawa, Enugu and Kogi States will empower 100,000 farmers, including over 6,000 and 3,000 processors and traders respectively.
“The loan facility to be provided by European ECA/KfW/IPEX/APC will be spent on the construction of the Standard Gauge Rail (SGR) linking Nigeria with the Niger Republic from Kano-Katsina-Daura-Jibiya-Maradi with a branch to Dutse.
“The specific project title, Kano-Maradi SGR with a branch to Dutse, has an implementation period of 30 months and will be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Transport.
“The Chinese African Development Fund through the Bank of China is expected to provide a loan facility of $325 million for the establishment of three power and renewable energy projects including solar cells production facility Phase 1 & II , electric power transformer production, Plants 1, II, III and high voltage testing laboratory.

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Fintiri Commences Work On PDP Nat’l Convention



The Chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Fintiri, has commenced work.
Fintiri, who is also the Adamawa State Governor, assumed his new office at the PDP headquarters in Abuja, on Saturday, with a pledge to ensure a smooth convention for the party.
Fintiri’s Press Secretary, Humwashi Wonosikou, said in a statement that Fintiri had hit the ground running towards ensuring a flawless convention for the main opposition party.
According to him, he assumed duty at the PDP Legacy House Abuja, which is to serve as the secretariat of the Convention Committee.
He said the 2021 convention organising committee chairman expressed satisfaction with the state of facilities at the Legacy House and reiterated the determination of his committee to deliver a process that would produce an acceptable National Working Committee to lead the party to victory in 2023.
The Convention Committee, which has Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, as deputy chairman, was inaugurated on Friday.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP had earlier, on September 9, 2021, announced Fintiri as the party’s convention planning committee chairman, with Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde as Secretary.

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2023: Group Warns Against Corruptible Candidates



The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) in Collaboration with the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has taken its ongoing voter education to Epe, Lagos State, in the move to ensure a free and fair election in 2023.
The anti-graft group, in a statement made available to newsmen on Saturday, said that it had organised a one-day consultative meeting with residents of Epe division during which it warned them to guard their votes jealously in the 2023 elections and ensure that corruptible candidates would not be voted into power.
Presenting a paper titled, ‘Prioritising Anti-Corruption And Accountability Issues During The Upcoming 2023 General Elections In Lagos State’ at the chamber of Epe Local Government Area, CACOL chairman, Comrade Debo Adeniran, lamented that corruption had flourished so much in Nigeria and eaten deep into the country’s economy, hence the hardship and sufferings in the land. 
He said the solution that Nigerian citizens could proffer to the menace was to ensure that frontline contestants for the office of the Governor and State House of Assembly would be to articulate their anti-corruption stance and plans to tackle corruption, improve transparency and citizens’ involvement and other governance challenges.
Adeniran said since the Nigerian constitution did not permit independent candidates to run for elective offices, the voters should vote for the political party, whose candidates would be accountable, transparent and genuinely fight corruption.
He condemned the rate at which lawlessness had been thriving in the country generally due to high levels of corruption.
He lamented the high level of youth’s involvement in cybercrime, popularly known as Yahoo-Yahoo, even as he described as worrisome the situation where many parents had been seeing the crime as legitimate work, noting that such parents encouraged and supported their children to succeed in the illegal work.
Adeniran maintained that if care was not taken, the soonest, corruption would be viewed and accepted as a normal way of life, and the future generation might not see anything bad in corruption.
He opined that the negative effects of that would destroy things far beyond the current hardship being experienced across the country.
Mr Adeniran also frowned at the rate at which kidnapping was fast becoming a money-making venture in Nigeria.
He pointed out that both the rich and the poor had become vulnerable to kidnapping, because some  people kidnapped for ritual or to harvest organs, or to get the ransom and some others kidnapped for fun.
He said if the poor had known before now that they would be victims of kidnapping when the rich were the only targets, they would have taken necessary steps to end the illicit act.
He advised the people to be proactive in fighting corruption, stressing, “You need to take community action against anyone who wants to use your own lives to over-fatten his own.
“You have the right to demand your entitlements from your representatives in government. If you don’t speak against their reckless spending and corruptible acts now, they will eat up all your entitlements with theirs. Your power is your vote and by voting them into offices, you have given them all their needs.
“It is, therefore, their duty to serve you well; and not embezzle our general wealth.”
The CACOL chairman advised that in order not to be incorruptible, everyone must acquire skill as means of legitimate livelihood, explaining that since no religious book taught and encouraged people to get involved in corruption, it must be shunned by all Nigerians.

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