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Rivers Governorship Tussle: Omehia Suit Against Amaechi Suffers Fresh Setback

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The Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Port Harcourt, Wednesday struck out some contentious paragraphs bordering on criminal allegations in the petitions filed by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship candidate, Sir Celestine Omehia against the victory of Governor Chibuike Amaechi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the April 2011 governorship elections in the state.

The APGA governorship candidate had on January 30, 2012 through his counsel, Barrister James Ejike brought an application in form of a petition alleging that the PDP used the police, the Joint Task Force (JTF), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and political thugs to rig the governorship elections in favour of Governor Chibuike Amaechi.

In an unanimous ruling on the application, at the resumption of the tribunal, the three-man panel  led by its Chairman, Justice Abdullahi Liman struck out the application for lack of merit, noting that the criminal allegation of rigging brought against the police, JTF, INEC and political agents by the petitioner could  not be sustained.

The tribunal ruled that paragraphs 10(1), 25 and 12 amounted to an infringement of fair hearing of the accused persons, adding that the accused persons were not given the opportunity to respond to the allegations as sought by the petitioner in the petition.

According to him, the petition was incompetent and offensive as the  persons mentioned therein were not originally joined in the petition before the tribunal.

Justice Abdullahi Liman, therefore, used the opportunity to announce that the period of pre-trial hearing had been closed following the ruling on the applications on the criminal allegations before the tribunal.

Before the ruling on the application, counsels to Governor Amaechi, Deputy  Governor, Engr Tele Ikuru, Barrister Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), and PDP, Barrister Nathaniel  Oke (SAN) respectively and INEC’s counsel, Barrister Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) had urged the  tribunal to strike out paragraphs 10,11, 25 and 12 as contained in the petitioner’s application.

They argued that it would be contrary to the tenets of justice and fair hearing if the accused persons were not given the opportunity to be heard, adding that in law when individuals were named in criminal matter, they must be joined as parties in the matter or such paragraphs be struck out.

The tribunal upheld this argument and prayer in its ruling. Earlier in an interview with journalists, Counsel to Governor Amaechi and  Deputy Governor, Engr Tele Ikuru, Barrister Ifedayo Adedipo said by the ruling, all the issues bordering on the criminal irregularities had been foreclosed, adding that what it meant was that the petitioners would now look for another grounds to prove their case before the tribunal.

Besides, the state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal rejected the election result sheets tendered by All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship candidate, Sir Celestine Omehia as an evidence before it.

The tribunal rejected the result sheets following an objection raised by INEC counsel, Barrister Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) who drew the attention of the  tribunal to  purported certified copies of INEC result sheets, noting that the result sheets tendered by Sir Celestine Omehia did not comply with the provisions of the law as provided in section 104 of  the Evidence Act.

He noted that the act provides that for a document to be termed as a certified document, it must have certain features which, according to him, must contain the name of the certifying officer, designation, date and a covering note from the officer.

He posited that the purported INEC result sheets tendered by Sir Celestine Omehia and his counsel did not meet the specification as stated in the Evidence Act, and urged the tribunal to reject the result sheets.

Ruling on the objection, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Abdullahi Liman sustained the objection as raised by  INEC counsel, Barrister Emmanuel Ukala and directed the counsel to Omehia to submit  fresh result sheets in line with the provisions of the Evidence Act.

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Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Sultan, Others Brainstorm On Insecurity

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Rising insecurity and agitations for secession by different ethnic groups across Nigeria has attracted the attention of elder statesmen and other national leaders to a meeting in Abuja.

The meeting was organised by Interfaith Initiatives for Peace jointly led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the National Peace Committee chaired by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).

Reporters were barred from taking part in the closed-door meeting, expected to proffer solutions to the ongoing security challenges threatening the peace and unity of the country.

It was also an exploratory meeting on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Tor Tiv, Prof Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse, Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan; President General (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Prof George Obiozor; and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo; were all in attendance.

Others sighted at the meeting are President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Etsu Nupe, Yahya Abubakar; former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, among several political and traditional rulers at the meeting.

Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, also attended the event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but could not participate in the meeting because he could not climb the staircase to the meeting room.

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Fighting Corruption Difficult In Democratic Setting, Buhari Laments

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President Muhammadu Buhari says fighting corruption in democratic setting is a difficult task to accomplish.

The president disclosed this during an interview with Arise Television which was televised, yesterday.

According to him, the war against corruption has not been easy for him since he became a democratically elected president six years ago.

He, however, stressed that his administration had succeeded in easing out corrupt public officials without making noise about it.

Buhari recalled that much was achieved in the fight against corruption when he was military Head of State in the early 80s “when a lot of people were sent to prisons before I was also booted out”.

The president frowned at the way and manner local government system was being managed, saying the local government administration was almost non-existent in the country.

He cited situation where state governors continued to starve the local governments of funds saying “in a situation where N300million is allocated to local government and they are given N100million is not fair”.

On activities of bandits and kidnappers particularly in the North-West and North-Central zones, Buhari said he had given the police and Armed Forces the instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising innocent citizens across the country.

He stated that he had told the security agencies to treat bandits and other criminals in the “the language they understand.

“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages.

“Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.

“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.

”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.

“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.

“We are already in enough trouble. So, we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference,’’ he said.

On farmers/herders clashes, the president said the problem had persisted because old cattle routes and grazing areas had been violated by development, adding that those who had taken over such traditional arrangements would be dispossessed.

On the fight against insurgency, Buhari dismissed the assertion that majority of Boko Haram members were foreigners.

According to him, the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians, saying this was further corroborated by Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum.

The president stated that his administration had done a lot to fight the terrorists and insurgents but the problem in the “North-East is very difficult.”

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Igboho Declares June 12 Day Of Protest, Warns Buhari

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Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has declared June 12 as day of protest for Yoruba nation agitators.

The self-acclaimed Yoruba activist said the agitators will hold ‘peaceful rallies’ across the South-West region on Saturday, June 12.

Igboho, who spoke through his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in a live video programme aired, last Wednesday night, called on South-West governors to cooperate with the peaceful protesters during the exercise.

He warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to attack the agitators.

He said, “Let us warn the Federal Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot.

“The Yoruba nation rally will go ahead in every part of Yoruba land and the rest of the country where it will hold.

“Red alarm will begin on Friday. People should stock up food Items from Friday night.

“We are not backing down this weekend; we are ready to take back what belongs to us.”

He also enjoined agitators to ‘fast’ on Friday.

This is coming after NANS under the leadership of its National President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, had declared June 12 as National Day of peaceful protest to call on the government to act decisively towards addressing insecurity.

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