Barely 48 hours to the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections, Chairman of Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, Philemon Kingoli has raised an alarm over alleged plans by a faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the area to disrupt Saturday’s election.
Kingoli who disclose this to newsmen said part of the plot is to come up with an unsubstantiated allegations against him in order to pave the way for hoodlums to unleash mayhem in Okrika.
He further alleged that a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the area, David Okumgba had led some security operatives to hijack election materials in Okrika, saying people saw him doing that openly and that he has started again.
Meanwhile, Okumgba had earlier accused Hon. Kingoli (Okrika LG chairman) of threatening members of the APC not to come out for this Saturday’s polls in the area.
But Kingoli described the allegations of the APC chieftain as a cheap blackmail, pointing out that it was the same approach the APC adopted to bring soldiers into the area in the guise of receiving information of hired thugs coming into the area with weapons to cause havoc there.
He stated, “Those are cheap blackmails. Before the Presidential elections they came up with the same patterns claiming that they had information about hired thugs and weapons being sent to Okrika. They use that pattern to bring in the Army which they use to hijack electoral materials in Okrika. Now again they have started with this same pattern.
“In the last election David Okumgba led the troops to hijack those materials. We all saw him. Okrika people are aware of that. He has started again,” he alleged.
The LG chairman claimed that some chieftains of the APC intends to use security agencies to scare away voters from exercising their franchise during the elections.
“Again I ask the public. Do I have to threaten the APC that do not have a state in this particular election? They are not part of the election. Why would I threaten them in an election that I know I will win comfortably?
“I know Okrika is PDP so why should I threaten them to spoil my own elections. I cannot threaten them. But they should come out and vote for the candidate of their choice but not to use the Army as they did in the last elections,” he said.
Taraba Guber Poll: Tension Mounts As Appeal Court Decides, Today
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal will today deliver its verdict in the appeal brought by the All Progressive Congress (APC) seeking to reverse the judgment of the Taraba State Governorship Election Tribunal, which affirmed the re-election of Governor Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party in the March 9, 2019 governorship poll in the state.
Already, there is mounting tension in the state among supporters of the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, ahead of the judgment.
This is demonstrated by their large turn up in Abuja where the judgment will be delivered.
A three-man panel of the tribunal led by Justice M.O. Adewara had in a unanimous judgment of September 20, 2019, dismissed the petition by the APC and its candidate, Abubakar Danladi on the grounds that the petitioners failed to prove their claims that the election was marred by irregularities and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
The tribunal further held that Danladi was not qualified to contest the March 9 governorship election.
It would be recalled that before the March 9, 2019 governorship election, the Federal High Court sitting in Jalingo, Taraba State, had disqualfied Danladi and equally restrained his political party, the APC from Fielding him as a governorship candidate.
Attempts by Danladi to overturn the order of the Federal High Court that disqualified him were unsuccessful at Court of Appeal and Supreme Court respectively.
Following the above development, the petitioners had on July 10, 2019, withdrew the petition on ground of the disqualification of Abubakar Danladi by the Supreme Court and the petition was accordingly disimissed.
However, on July 13, 2019, the petitioners filed a motion and prayed for an order setting aside the order of dismissal and asked that the petition be relisted.
The tribunal on August 9, 2019 granted the petitioners motion, set aside the order of dismissal of the petition and same was relisted, thereafter, Danladi ceased to participate in the proceedings.
Delivering its judgement after close of hearing, the tribunal held that a Federal High Court in Taraba State had given a judgment on March 6, 2019, in a suit marked FHC/JAL/CS/01/2019, disqualifying Danladi from contesting the election.
It noted that the affirmation of the judgment by the Supreme Court implied that the APC had no valid candidate in the election.
Besides, the tribunal explained further that even if the petition was to be considered on the merits, the petitioners failed to lead sufficient evidence to establish their claims that the governor was not validly elected by a majority of lawful votes.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the tribunal, the All Progressive Congress, without its candidate, Danladi, approached the Court of Appeal marked CA/A/EPT/934/2019, on October 3, 2019, in petition No: EPT/TR/GOV/01/2019, for an order setting aside the decision of the tribunal.
In the said notice of appeal, the party contended that the tribunal erred in law and occasion a miscarriage of Justice in arriving at its decision dismissing the petition.
Meantime, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the Court of Appeal to dismiss the appeal with punitive cost as same is frivolous and unmeriterious.
The party in its brief of argument filed by its counsel, Chief Solo Akuma (SAN) noted that the appeal by the APC did not include the name of its candidate, Danladi as a person who would be directly affected by the outcome of the appeal.
Citing several case laws, Akuma argued technically, that a party to a suit is not allowed to unilaterally alter a case as constituted from the trial court and that names of parties must be maintained on appeal except as may be ordered by the court.
He submitted that, the unilateral alteration of the parties in the petition, as shown on the face of the notice of appeal, without the name of Danladi, who was the first petitioner at the tribunal renders the said notice of appeal incompetent and liable to be struck out.
Akuma specifically drew the attention of the Court of Appeal to its decision wherein it held thus: “It is now trite law that an appellant or a party seeking to appeal as an interested party cannot rearrange or reconstitute the parties to an action as constituted in the lower court at appellate court. The parties on record at the lower court must be retained at appellate level…the structure of the parties cannot by unilaterally changed or amended by any of the parties to an appeal.”
On the merit of the appeal, the PDP urged the Court of Appeal to hold that the appeal lacks merit and should be accordingly struck out.
The Court of Appeal is expected to give judgment today after the adoption of briefs of arguments by counsel to parties in the appeal.
Cleric Tasks Leaders On Citizens’ Welfare
A High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State capital, presided over by Hon. Justice E. Ita has ordered Governor Ben Ayade to conduct local government elections in the State.
The Court in a Suit No: HC/514/2018 filed by the APC through their Lawyer, Chief (Barr.) Utum Eteng against Governor Ben Ayade and the State Attorney-General, frowned seriously on the action of the defendants and stated that there was no alternative to obeying the constitution and the law in the matter of this nature.
The Court held that it is a breach of section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution for Gov. Ayade not to conduct election to usher in a democratically elected Local Government as stipulated by section 7(1) of the constitution and section 2(1) of the CRS Local Govt. Law 2007. The Court said that more than three years after the expiration in December, 2018 of the democratically Local Government Councils put in place in December, 2015 by the Gov. Liyel Imoke led State Government the Ayade Government had not found it proper to do the needful by conducting Local Government elections into the 18 Local Government Councils in the State.
The Court also held that the representation put in place by APC members, Engr. Obono Onen, Ekaha Effiom, Hon. Polycab Effiom, Rt. Hon. Mkpanam Obo Ekpo and Benedict Lukpata, representing other APC Chairmanship candidates to the 18 Local Government Councils was in order pursuant to the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2008.
The APC had stated that Gov. Ayade and the CRSG had no constitutional power to stop conducting local government elections in the eighteen local government areas in the state. The APC was represented by Chief Utum Eteng, who led two other lawyers from his chambers, Barrister Jude Otakpor and Ihua-Maduenyi.
They commended the Court for being on the side of the clear and unambiguous provision of section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution.
By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar
Polls: SERAP Wants ICPC To Probe APC, PDP, Security Officials
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate whether the persistent crimes of corruption, violence and killings during elections in Nigeria, most recently in Bayelsa and Kogi states, and the repeated failure of the Nigerian authorities to address the crimes amount to violence against Nigerians and crimes against humanity.
The petition dated 16 November, 2019 was sent to Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor, ICC.
The organization urged Ms Bensouda: “to push for those suspected to be responsible for these crimes, mostly security officials, officials of the two main political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and other actors who contributed to the corruption, violence and killings during the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, and are therefore complicit in the crimes, to be tried by the ICC.”
In the petition signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The events in the Bayelsa and Kogi elections suggest criminal conduct within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
“The incidents of bribery and corruption, intimidation and violence witnessed in Bayelsa and Kogi states also strike at the integrity of the democratic process and seriously undermine President Muhammadu Buhari’s oft-expressed commitment to fight corruption and end impunity of perpetrators.
“The desire for power at all costs by politicians undermines Nigerians’ rights to open, transparent and accountable government that respects human rights and observe the rule of law. Election-related corruption and violence make public officials susceptible to corrupt incentives.
“The Nigerian authorities over the years have been unwilling and/or unable to prosecute suspected perpetrators of election-related corruption, violence and killings, which in turn has promoted the sense of impunity and emboldened those politicians and their accomplices who continue to commit these crimes against the Nigerian people during election periods.
“The violent events witnessed in the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states suggest the lack of political will by the authorities and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to respect the sanctity and integrity of the electoral system and to apply criminal sanctions to perpetrators of corruption, violence and killings during elections.
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