The Election Petition Tribunal in Rivers State received a total of 40 Election Petitions from aggrieved parties and defeated candidates following the outcome of the April general elections in the country.
A break down of the Election Petitions showed that the Governorship Election Tribunal headed by Hon. Justice Amina Wambai, received a total of four election petitions from the candidates of All Grand Progressive Alliance (AGPA), Sir Celestine Omehia; Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Dr. Abiye Sekibo; Action Alliance (AA), Chief Aleruchi Williams; and African Political System (APS), Chief Felix Amadi, all of them challenging the declaration of Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the Governorship poll in the state.
The National/State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal received a total of 36 Petitions following the outcome of the April 9th and 26th Elections respectively in the state.
However, of these number, the National Assembly Election had 14 election Petitions challenging various candidates declared winners, while the State Assembly had 22 Election Petitions challenging the declared Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Due to the high numbers of the National/State Assembly Election Petitions in the state, the President, Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami set up two National State Assembly Election Petition Tribunals.
The reason was to enable the tribunals perform effectively and achieve maximum result within the time limit of 180 days to deliver judgement in accordance with the relevant provisions under the Electoral Act of 2010 as amended, and the Practice Directions Notice 2011.
But to the dismay of members of the Election Petition Tribunal, some aggrieved political parties and candidates had withdrawn their petitions filed before the tribunals. For instance, the petition No. EPT/GOV/PH/2/2011, filed by Golden Tamuno (Esq) for Dr. Abiye Sekibo and the ACN in the state challenging the declaration of Governor Amaechi of the ruling PDP as the winner of the April Governorship poll in the state was rather dismissed by the Tribunal, instead of the withdrawal as sought by the petitioner, Dr. Abiye Sekibo and the ACN.
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal Chairman, Hon. Justice Amina Wambai, who read the ruling, dismissed the petition as well as the motion notice seeking the withdrawal of the petitioner’s petition.
Hon. Justice Wambai said: “the Petitioner failed to apply for the pre-hearing notice within the stipulated period of 7 days under the first schedule Form TF 008 Electoral Act 2010 as amended and, therefore, in the eye of the law, the petitioner was deemed to have abandoned his petition filed before this tribunal”.
Dr, Abiye Sekibo on the contrary claimed that his petition against the declaration of Governor Amaechi as the winner of the April poll was withdrawn on personal ground and not dismissed by the Election Petition Tribunal.
Sekibo was quoted to have said that his petition at the Election Petition Tribunal was withdrawn on personal ground the reality of ACN frustration in the hands of the Electoral Umpire the INEC.
Also withdrawn was Petition No. EPT/NASE/PH/3/2011 filed by Ayo Akan, Counsel to Chief Dr. Nomate Kpea, Senatorial candidate in the National Assembly election under the umbrella of the ACN challenging Senator Magnus Abe of the Peoples PDP winner of the Rivers South-East Senatorial District.
Dr. Kpea said shortly after filing his motion on notice for the withdrawal of his Petition that “ I took the decision to withdraw my petition for the sake of unity in Ogoniland”.
Kpea further said: I seek to withdraw my petition against the election of Senator Magnus Abe for the sake of development of Ogoniland and for us collectively to tackle the menace of poverty and unemployment among our people.
The ACN Senatorial candidate rather assured the people of his constituency to work selflessly and cooperatively with Senator Magnus Abe to achieve sustainable development and economic empowerment for the people in the District.
Similarly, Chief Shadrack Akolokwu, the ACN Senatorial Candidate for Rivers West Senatorial District filed Motion on Notice for the withdrawal of his petition against the Election of Senator Wilson Ake of the PDP.
In his affidavit for discontinuance of the Petition, Chief Shadrack Akolokwu stated “personal reasons for the withdrawal of his petition”.
Also in the House of Representatives, election Opuada Inko-Tariah, candidate of the ACN withdrew his petition. He had earlier challenged the election of Dr. Dawari George, the declared winner of Asari Toru/Akuku-Toru Federal Constituency.
It was same for Pastor (Mrs) Nancy Nwankwo, candidate of the ACN for the Tai/Eleme/Oyigbo Federal Constituency in the April Polls, who also challenged the declaration of Chief Barry Mpigi of the PDP as the winner of the April poll Tai/Eleme Oyigbo Federal Constituency.
Her petition before the Tribunal was also withdrawn for what she claimed was based on her “personal conviction to discontine the case challenging the Electoral victory of Chief Mpigi”.
In the Federal House of Representative Election Petition case No. EPT/NAHR/PH/7/2011 filed by Chief Ambrose Nwuzi, candidate of ACN against the election of Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke of the PDP was withdrawn on personal ground. Chief Emma Nwanyanwu had prevailed on him to withdraw the petition against the electoral victory of Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke in the interest of unity of Etche/Omuma people.
Chief Emma Nwanyanwu said : “Chief Ambrose Nwuzi and Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke are illustrious sons of Etche Ethnic Nationality with common vision and passion for service for their people. Therefore, we, Elders and stakeholders, resolved that two of them should settle out of court.
Reacting to the syndrome of withdrawal of Petitions by various aggrieved political parties and their candidates, Mr. Lebari John, Lecturer at the State University of Education, said: “the withdrawal of some of the petitions by the petitioners are good for the political development of the state”.
He further said: “it is good for the opposition to critise where necessary and support the State Governor for the progress and development of the state”.
A constitutional lawyer, Mr. Frank Igodo said: “The withdrawals will greatly reduce the workload of the Election Petition Tribunal, and it will enable the tribunal to deliver and exhaust the load of petitions before it within the 180 days assigned to them under the Electoral Act of 2010 as amended.
Philip Wuwu Okparaji
APC, PDP Bandy Words Over Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request
The ruling All Progressives Party (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have argued over President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval to borrow $4 billion and €710 million to fund the deficit in the 2021 budget.
Recall that the president made the request in a letter he addressed to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in reaction to the development, cautioned the NASS against approving the request, saying it could set the country’s debt profile skyrocketing without a feasible repayment plan.
With the approval to borrow $8.3 billion and €490 million loans by its legislative body barely two months ago, Nigeria’s debt profile risks reaching over N40 trillion.
“More alarming is that the debts that APC is hanging on Nigerians are for nebulous projects whose scopes, utilities, locations and contractors are largely vague; a development that validates apprehensions of a huge swindle on our nation at the expense of innocent Nigerians, including generation yet unborn.
“Our party holds it as an act of wickedness that individuals who know that they will be leaving office in less than two years will be accumulating debts instead of seeking ways to reduce the liability they have brought upon our nation.
“The APC knows it will not be around after May 29, 2023. That is why it is pushing our nation into a deeper economic quagmire with foreign loans, which are largely diverted to the personal pockets of their corrupt leaders,” the opposition PDP said in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Tuesday.
But responding to the PDP’s criticism, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday, said the loans are for “the good of the country” and well-being of the citizenry.
The ruling party also accused the opposition party of looting foreign loans obtained during its 16 years rule rather than spending on infrastructure and economic growth as, according to it, Mr Buhari-led government is doing.
“It was in PDP’s era that loans to fund power generation, purchase arms and ammunition to fight a raging insurgency were misappropriated and diverted to fund PDP activities; and the borrowed money ultimately found its way to the pockets of cronies, friends and family members of administration officials. Nigeria is still servicing a $460 million loan taken from China to fund a phoney Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) contract awarded in August 2010.
“Nigerians should also reflect and recall that the PDP had in its 16 years of misrule pushed the country into a dark ditch of insolvency, and a period in which most state governments could not pay workers salaries, not even the minimum wage, or settle contractors’ bills and cater for patients in hospitals, to name a few,” the APC interim National Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, said.
A’Ibom Gov Signs Anti-Open Grazing Law
Akwa lbom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has signed into law a bill to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock and provide for the establishment of ranches in the state.
The Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, with the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Uko Udom (SAN), presented the bill for signing on Wednesday at the State Executive Chambers, in the Governor’s Office, Uyo.
The governor, after signing the bill into law, stated that the new law was no respecter of persons irrespective of status or calibre.
He instructed relevant authorities of government to ensure that the law was implemented and enforced to the letter with strict compliance, stressing that, culprits must be brought to book accordingly.
The new law will promote modern techniques in animal husbandry, prevent the destruction of farms by wandering cattle while reducing clashes and killings between herders and farmers in the state.
It will also promote international best practices in livestock administration, regulation and control in the state, among other things.
The state Assembly passed the bill on Tuesday, and the Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, directed the Clerk of the House, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to communicate the decision of the House to the Governor for his assent.
Also at the Executive Chambers, the Speaker who was accompanied by the Leader of the House, Udo Kierian Akpan, and the Clerk of the Assembly, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to the signing ceremony witnessed the inauguration of two C\committees by the Governor.
The committees are the Akwa Ibom State Gender Based Violence Management Committee, chaired by the First Lady, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, and Akwa Ibom State Road Safety Management Committee, chaired by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo.
NASS S’East Caucus Moves To Reconstruct Federal System
Members of the South East Caucus of the National Assembly have resolved to join hands with other patriotic Nigerians across regional, religious, political, and ethnic divides to reconstruct a federal system where the rights, happiness, and prosperity and those of unborn generations are guaranteed.
Making their feelings known in a communique issued at the end of an extraordinary meeting held at the Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja last Wednesday, the law makers said the topic of the meeting centered on review of developments in the South East, particularly the security situation in the region vis-à-vis the sit-at-home orders by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and the detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“We expressed solidarity with our people of the South East over the marginalisation of the region in the scheme of things within the Nigerian commonwealth. The Caucus feels the pains of our people and their quest for equity, justice, and protection of their lives and property in every part of the country. The Caucus, therefore, resolved to continue to fight for a level-playing ground and an enabling federal system where Ndigbo are able to develop their homeland at their own pace and equally pursue their happiness and actaulise their enormous potentials in every part of the country, unmolested.
Reviewing the sit-at-home orders by the IPOB and the mayhem some nefarious elements have seized the opportunity to visit on the lives, properties, and psyche of the people, the Caucus equally reviewed and rued the incalculable economic losses and hardships these have brought upon the region.
They, however, condemned in strongest terms the disruption of the ongoing Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination in some parts of the South East, particularly the incident at Comprehensive Secondary School, Nkume, Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State, where the English examination organised by the West Africa Examination Council, WAEC, on Monday, September 13, 2021, was ruthlessly scuttled by armed men, who chased away the students, teachers, and examiners before setting ablaze motorcycles belonging to the teachers.
“This is certainly not who we are as a people. On the contrary, we are a people, who have always cherished and encouraged learning from the ages. We are a people that fully appreciate the place of education in the liberation and enlightenment of the human mind and the socio-economic and political emancipation of a people”.
The South East legislators equally condemned in strongest terms the incessant killings in the South East, adding “This must stop immediately. We call on the security agencies to unravel the culprits behind these wicked acts and ensure that they are brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
“ Noted with delight that IPOB has called off the Monday sit-at-home order and resolved to ensure that nobody uses them as façades to bring ruination on Igbo land.
“ Call on our people to go about their lawful businesses and enjoin our governors and the security agencies to rebuild confidence in our people by not only ensuring the security of their lives and properties, but also ensuring that our people feel safe as they undertake their legitimate businesses.
”Elaborately discussed the issue of Mazi Nnamdi and resolved to intervene. To this end we resolved to set up a committee to constructively interface with relevant stakeholders, the Federal Government and its relevant agencies towards finding a political solution. We will keep Ndigbo abreast of developments in regard.
“Appeal to our people not to allow anyone to destroy the South East region. The post-war South East was not built through government patronage, but largely by the sheer determination and sacrifices of our people, who refused to resign to fate or bow their heads in defeat.
“It is in Igbo land that you easily find hospitals, schools, roads, and other social amenities built by individual or communal efforts of the people, home and abroad, through the instruments of the town unions and other community organisations such as the age grades, Umuada, etc.
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