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Rivers Guber: Set Aside Tribunal Judgement, Wike, INEC Urge Court

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has filed an appeal at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, asking the court to set aside the judgment of the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which nullified his election on October 24, 2015.
In a notice of appeal dated November 3, 2015, and filed same day by his lawyer, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), the governor raised 26 grounds of appeal upon which he sought to set aside the tribunal judgment.
The governor is challenging the entire judgment.
He joined the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate in Rivers State, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), as respondents.
He asked the court to allow the appeal and to make an order setting aside the judgment/decision of the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal.
He further urged the Court of Appeal to make an “order striking out or dismissing the petition filed on May 3, 2015 by Peterside and the APC.”
The governor  in his notice of appeal stated: “Take notice that the appellant  being dissatisfied with  the  decision of the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal for Rivers State sitting in Abuja,  contained in the judgment of the  tribunal led by Justice Suleiman Ambrosa (chairman), Justice Wesley Ibrahim Leha (member) and Hon. Justice Bayo Taiwo (member ) sitting in Court No. 23 of the FCT High  Court dated October 24, 2015, doth hereby appeal to the Court of Appeal upon the grounds set out in paragraph 3, and will at the hearing, seek the reliefs set out in paragraph 4.”
Wike, among other grounds, noted that the tribunal erred in law when it relied on hearsay and inadmissible evidence to nullify his election.
He added that the finding and conclusion of the tribunal was not supported by evidence before the court.
The governor  stated in his notice of  appeal: “The Governorship  Election Petitions Tribunal for Rivers State erred in law when it refused to follow the decision of the Supreme Court  in the  case of Kakih  vs PDP (2014) 5 NWLR which was duly cited to it to the effect that a party who makes non-voting or misconduct  of an election  the pivot of his case must call at least one disenfranchised  voter from each of the polling booths or units or stations in the constituency.”
Wike also faulted the tribunal’s decision nullifying his election on the basis of card reader accreditation even though the Electoral Act recognised manual accreditation.
According to him, the proof of accreditation of voters under the law is by the production of the register of voters bearing the indications of the presiding officer as to the persons accredited to vote and not by card reader report.
The governor said:  “The tribunal wrongly  neglected, failed  and refused to  abide by and follow  the binding decision of the Court of Appeal in APC vs Olujimi Agbaje : Appeal No: CA/L/EP/GOV./751A/2015 (unreported ) delivered on 26th August,  which was duly cited to it and thereby came to  a wrong conclusion.”
He added that the petitioners at the tribunal  failed to disclose  any reasonable cause of  action  against  the respondents and the tribunal failed to  conduct a  pre-trial conference  after the removal of  the  first  chairman,  hence the  tribunal  erred in  its judgment.
The governor  stated: “The tribunal  wrongly countenanced the testimony of delegates  of subpoenaed witnesses which  basically constitutes an indirect alteration of or addition to  the statement  of  facts of the petition without  the  leave of the court. The testimonies of these witnesses run counter to the pleaded case of the petitioners and contradict the rest of the evidence of the petitioners’ witnesses in several material particulars.”
Similarly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has also filed an appeal against the judgment of the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal nullifying the election of Governor Nyesom Wike.
The electoral body filed her appeal dated 4th of November, 2015, at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Judicial Division on 5th November, 2015.
In a 12-ground appeal filed on behalf of INEC by her counsel, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, the electoral body challenged the entirety of the tribunal’s judgment.
The reliefs sought by INEC in her appeal include: “an order allowing the appeal, an order setting aside the decision of the tribunal and an order dismissing the petition as lacking in merit”.
According to INEC, the learned justices of the tribunal erred in law when it failed to evaluate the evidence of each of the witnesses called by the petitioners before reaching its decision.
INEC stated that: “The tribunal was obligated to making findings as to where elections were said to have held on the one part and where they were alleged not to have held on the other part”.
The electoral body further stated that the tribunal erred when it resorted to generic declaration like “many instances”, when the justices were obligated to specify where the evidence elicited under cross examination enhanced the case of the first and second respondents.
The INEC further stated that the tribunal erred when it used the testimonies of witnesses who were not at polling stations to nullify the Rivers State governorship election.
INEC, in her appeal, stated that: “Evidence of reports at an election by persons who did not make them and who did not observe the proceedings, the subject matter of the reports cannot be substitute for evidence of witnesses in the polling units of Rivers State.
“Exhibits A303-A305, A307 and A2 are documentary hearsay, which ought not to be relied upon as proof of the allegations of non-conduct and improper conduct of election in the polling units in Rivers State”.
INEC stated that the tribunal disregarded Section 49 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, which is a statutory provision binding on it, and further added that the decision of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal on the law, were duly cited to the tribunal, but it ignored same.
According to INEC, there was no due evaluation of the 56 witnesses called by the petitioners, pointing out that the witnesses who testified did not link their testimonies to the documents tendered.
INEC added that the tribunal erred in law when it failed to indicate that the petitioners failed to prove their case on a polling unit by polling unit basis as required by law.
The electoral body added that the tribunal erred when it failed to demonstrate the reasons why it rejected the evidences professed by witnesses of INEC, PDP and Wike.

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UBEC, RSUBEB Begin Digital School Construction In Rivers

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As part of government’s efforts to realize its dream of making the nation’s educational system a global digital community, the Federal Government, through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the Rivers State Universal Basic Education Board (RSUBEB), have commenced the construction of a modern digital Smart Basic School in the state, with 14-month completion schedule.
The school, which is a pilot modern basic education facility, is designed by UBEC in collaboration with RSUBEB to entrench digitization of ICT-driven basic education system across the 36 states and FCT, Abuja.
Speaking with journalists at a brief handover ceremony of the proposed smart school site to UBEC by RSUBEB at the Community Primary School, Uzuoba in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state, over the weekend, the National Consultant, UBEC Smart School Project, Prof Masud Abdulkarim, said the school was designed to incorporate digital technology into the basic education system in the country, which he said, has been in practice in advanced countries for years.
Abdulkarim stated that the desire of the Federal Government was to ensure that Nigerian children were not left out in the digital space, saying that the school would have great impact on the youth and give them equal opportunity to compete globally in the technology world.
He described the school as the first of its kind in the history of the country, adding that the school would have four categories that would take care of the nursery, handicapped, primary as well as junior secondary students with a maximum of 35 persons per class of two streams.
Abdulkarim noted that with the strategy, no fewer than 700 children would be enrolled into the school.
According to him, the school would afford the children the opportunity to become robotic engineers, artificial intelligence (AI) engineers and ICT engineers, and added that as future leaders, they need to be equipped and encouraged.
The UBEC consultant commended the state government for the provision of the school for the construction of the smart school, and described the site as the most suitable across the 23 states so far visited.
“Let me thank the RSUBEB for the site, in fact, it is the best and most suitable site among the 23 states we have so far visited. Because it has an existing school structure with a fence to protect our equipment and infrastructure. Moreso, the project will impact on the schools around because they will benefit from our Wi-Fi”, he stated.
Abdulkarim called on the host community to jealously guard the project as a growing child, till its maturity to adult stage, saying that they were important stakeholders in the project.
Also speaking on behalf of the Chairman of Rivers State Universal Basic Education Board (RSUBEB), Ven Fyneface Akah, a commissioner in the board, Chief Faith Amaso, called for synergy between the contractors and host community in other to remove every impediment that may affect the delivery of the project on schedule.
Akah opined that the project, when completed, would improve basic education in the state, and expressed happiness over the commencement of the project in the state.

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Rivers United Beat Young Africans Of Tanzania 1-0

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Rivers United Football Club of Port Harcourt, yesterday, at the Adokiye Amasiemaka Football Stadium, trounced the Young Africans Football Club of Tanzania 1-0 in a return leg match of the ongoing Confederation of African Football Club Champions League competition.
The stadium, which was filled to capacity, witnessed a trilling encounter, which saw the crowd craving for more.
It would be recalled that Rivers United had defeated the Young Africans of Tanzania 1-0 in the first leg of the championship at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, last Sunday.
Reacting to the feat, the Chairman of Degema Local Government Area, Hon. Michael John Williams, expressed joy over the victory of the Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt against the Young Africans of Tanzania in the ongoing Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League.
The match, which ended 1-0 in favour of the Rivers United FC, took place at the Adokiye Amiesimaka International Stadium in Rivers State, yesterday.
Top government officials in the state, including Rivers Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo; LG council chairmen and commissioners, amongst other sports enthusiasts, graced the event.
Speaking on the outcome of the match, Williams stated that the Rivers United players exhibited the Rivers team spirit, which culminated in their victory.
The political heavyweight in Degema LGA, noted that nothing would be impossible for Rivers people to achieve when they work together in unison and firm determination.
He added that the massive support and huge investment in the sports sector by the Governor Nyesom Wike administration, also motivated the Rivers team, who worked hard to secure a back-to-back victory.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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NJC Okays Six Chief Judges, 30 Others For Appointment

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The National Judicial Council (NJC), has recommended the appointment of chief judges and 30 others as judicial officers to beef up judicial functions in some states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
At its 95th meeting held on September 15 and 16, 2021, the council considered the list of candidates presented by its Interview Committee, and recommended the 36 successful candidates to their respective state governors for appointment as heads of courts and other judicial officers in Nigeria.
They are Hon. Justice Richard O. Olorunfemi as chief judge, Kogi State, Hon. Justice Joe Itsebaga Acha for Edo, Hon. Justice Akintoroye Williams Akin for Ondo, Hon. Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf for FCT, Hon. Justice Ekaette Francesca Fabian-Obot for Akwa Ibom, and Hon. Justice J. O. Adeyeye for Ekiti State.
Others are Hon. Kadi Baba Gana Mahdi as Grand Kadi, Yobe; Umaru Ahmad Liman as Grand Kadi, Bauchi; Hon. Justice Osagede Osado Emmanuel as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Nasarawa; Hon. Justice Mashud Akintunde Akinfemi Abass as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Oyo State; and Siyaka Momoh Jimoh Usman as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Kogi State.
Three judges are recommended for High Court of Gombe, and they are Zainab Abdulkadir Rasheed, Abdussalam Muhammad, and Daurabo Suleiman Sikka.
Akwa Ibom has Effiong Asukwo Effiong; Bauchi has Nana Fatima Jibril; while Kaduna High Court has Abdulkarim Mahmud.
The three candidates recommended for Katsina State are Kabir Shuaibu, Ibrahim Ishaku Mashi, and Ibrahim Abubakar Mande, while Prof Alero Akeredolu was recommended for Ondo State.
Four successful candidates for Oyo State are Olusola Adebisi Adetujoye, Folabimpe Beatrice Segun Olakojo, Prof Taiwo Elijah Adewale, and Kareem Adeyimika Adedokun.
Kogi State has three candidates, and they are Abubakar Sule Ibrahim, Abdullah Sulyman, as well as Aminu Ali Eri.
Two Kadis for Sharia Court of Appeal are Adamu Kuna Jibril and Ahmed Baba Bala, while the four for Bauchi are Musa Sani Abubakar, Mahdi Manga, Khamis Al-Hamidallah Muhammad and Sani Musa with Ondo State having one in the person of Orimisan James Okorisa and Oyo Customary Court of Appeal having Ajadi Olubukola Omolayo.
A statement by the NJC Director of Information, Mr Soji Oye, and released in Abuja, yesterday, said that all the recommended candidates are expected to be sworn-in after approval by President Muhammadu Buhari, and their respective state governors, and confirmation by the respective state Houses of Assembly.

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