The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) sitting in Abuja, yesterday, reserved ruling on the application filed by Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for access to inspect the server and data of smart card readers used by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the conduct of the February 23 presidential election.
The presiding justice of the five-man panel, Justice Mohammed Garba, reserved date for ruling in the application shortly after the counsel in the matter adopted and argued their brief of arguments in the suit.
Garba said the panel would communicate the date of the ruling to the parties’ lead counsel once they are ready.
In moving the motion for inspection of the INEC server and other electoral materials, one of the lead counsel to Atiku and the PDP, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), said the request is essential to their petition challenging the return of President Muhammadu Buhari at the election.
The petitioners had in their petition stated that by the figures obtained from INEC’s server, they and not Buhari and the third respondent, All Progressives Congress (APC), won the presidential election held on February, 23 this year.
According to the figures allegedly obtained from the server, Atiku said he scored 18,356,732 votes as against that of Buhari, whom he said polled 16,741,430.
Uche told the tribunal that the inspection of the server and data is necessary in the interest of justice, transparency and neutrality on the part of the first respondent, INEC.
Responding, the lawyer to INEC, Yunus Usman (SAN), vehemently opposed the application for inspection on the grounds that the Court of Appeal had on March 6 refused the prayers of the petitioners to inspect INEC server and smart card readers.
He maintained that the court having refused the prayers lacked jurisdiction to revisit the same application.
Usman therefore urged the tribunal to dismiss the application, adding that: “We do not have server.”
The lead counsel to Buhari, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and that of the APC, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), also made similar argument in opposing the application for inspection.
Olanipekun told the tribunal that it lacks jurisdiction to overule itself, while Fagbemi urged the tribunal to be wary of making an order which it is not capable of enforcing, because INEC has said it has no server.
Consequently, Justice Garba announced that the ruling in the application is reserved to a date to be communicated to parties and adjourned the pre-hearing of Atiku and PDP’s petition till June 24.
Earlier, the tribunal heard the motions filed by INEC, President Buhari and APC urging it to dismiss the petition of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its presidential candidate, Chief Ambrose Oworu, for being incompetent and abuse of court processes.
Olanipekun, in his argument, said that there was no petition filed by the party before the tribunal because what was served on the respondents is a petition against referendum which the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain.
The tribunal however reserved ruling to a date to be communicated to parties in the suit and adjourned the pre-hearing of the HDP’s petition till June 23.
Atiku, who is the presidential candidate of the PDP in the February 23 presidential election and his party are among the three other political parties and their presidential candidates currently seeking the nullification of President Buhari’s victory at the presidential poll.
The forth petitioner, Geff Ojinaka and his party, Coalition for Change (C4C), had without reason on June 10, applied to withdraw their petition against the election of Buhari.
The application, which was not objected to by the respondents in the suit, was accordingly dismissed, leaving that of the PDP, Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and the Peoples Democratic Movement and that of their candidates.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday prayed the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to strike out Atiku Abubakar’s petition against President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election because the former vice president “is not a Nigerian by birth.”
Mr Abubakar, a former vice president, contested the February 23 general election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The presidential candidate of the PDP and his party approached the tribunal seeking his declaration as the rightful winner of the election.
Lateef Fagbemi, Counsel to the APC made the call while responding to the petitioners’ motion seeking the striking out of APC’s reply to the petition.
“My Lord, I am opposing this application on the qualification of the first petitioner (Abubakar). I am standing by the proof we have supplied in our reply.
“The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the Feb.23 presidential election was not qualified to contest the election in the first place.
“I therefore, pray the tribunal to strike out the petitioners’ application for lacking in competence and merit,’’ Mr Fagbemi said.
The third respondent (APC) insisted that Mr Abubakar was not a citizen of Nigeria by birth and ought not to have even been allowed in the first place to contest the election.
Counsel for the petitioners, Chris Uche, argued that historic records showed that the former vice president was a citizen of Nigeria by birth.
Mr Uche, therefore, urged the panel to discountenance Mr Fagbemi’s submission by granting the application.
The motion filed by the petitioners seeking access to inspect the server and other election materials used by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was also heard.
Mr Uche had told the tribunal to grant the application as doing so would be in the interest of justice and transparency.
Our source reports that the application was vehemently objected to by all the counsel to the respondents.
On his part, Yunus Usman, SAN, counsel for INEC, said the application was dead before arrival, adding that the electoral body did not collect the results of the election through a server.
“My Lord, the commission did not deploy such technology infrastructure in the last general election,’’ he said.
Wole Olanipekun, counsel for Mr Buhari said the application was laughable, adding that the Court of Appeal in Abuja had ruled against similar application brought to it by the same parties.
“We also wanted such information if the technology was used, but our application demanding access to the server was dismissed. We have attached the enrolled order in our reply,’’ Mr Olanipekun said.
Similarly, Mr Fabgemi, counsel for APC aligned himself to the argument advanced by Messrs Usman and Olanipekun, adding, however, that no provisions in the country’s statute books allowed the request made by the petitioners.
The APC had particularly faulted the claim by the petitioners that they obtained the authentic results of the election from a server maintained by INEC showing that they won.
The electoral body on February 27 announced the second respondent (Buhari) of the APC winner of the election scoring 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest rival, Atiku, with 11,262,978 votes.
However, the PDP in an affidavit claimed that its candidate instead polled a total of 18,356,732 votes defeating Buhari who scored 16,741,430 votes.
Justice Mohammed Garba reserved ruling on the motions.
The judge went ahead to adjourn further proceedings on the petition until June 24.
In another development, nine motions and counter affidavits were adopted and argued in the petition by the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its presidential candidate, Albert Owuru, instituted against Mr Buhari’s re-election.
Oliver Eya, Counsel for the petitioners had urged the tribunal to cancel the February 23 presidential election on account of alleged deceit by INEC.
Mr Eya explained that shift in the date of the election from February 16 was a clear ploy by the commission to encourage electoral fraud.
He also submitted that the petitioners had conducted a nationwide referendum on February 16 and won the election.
Mr Eya, therefore, prayed the tribunal to grant the motion and go ahead to also declare his clients as winners of the election.
The application came under heavy fire by counsel to the respondents.
Mr Usman, counsel to INEC said the motion was incompetent for failing to include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as a party to the suit.
Mr Usman also said that the reasons for the shift in the date of the election was discussed with all stakeholders and approved by them before the commission went ahead to announce it.
Justice Garba adjourned hearing in the petition until June 20.
Also, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has said that an administration that cannot deliver on its promises of change and has rendered the country almost comatose cannot be a true friend of June 12 struggle.
In a statement issued in Abuja to mark Democracy Day, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February election said it is not enough to declare June 12 Democracy Day.
He noted that the significance of the celebration of June 12, 1993, Presidential Election is a reminder of the nation’s history to becoming a democratic country.
His statement added: “On this day twenty-six years ago, Nigeria voted for democracy against the jackboot notion of oppressive totalitarianism.
“The collective decision by Nigerians to elect democracy on that day was not to aggrandize the political elite or to replace the military dictatorship with civilian autocracy. No! The choice of democracy was to restore power to the people.
“Suffice it to state that the idea of June 12 is not merely to declare it as a Democracy Day – much as celebratory and commendable it might seem. The idea behind the event of June 12, 1993, embodies something much more bigger than that.
“It was a threshold moment in our national life that demands of us as democrats to do a soul searching and ask the salient question of all time: how better off are Nigerians?
“It is not enough to declare June 12 a Democracy Day when the government of the day is disrespectful of the rule of law and wantonly disregards court orders on issues that border on fundamental human rights.
RIVERS Approves Review Of 2020 Budget
COVID-19 Decisions Are Taken By State Security Council – Governor Wike
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has stated that the State Security Council takes all decisions in the prosecution of the COVID-19 pandemic in the State.
Governor Wike who stated this on Tuesday when the Executive of the Nigeria Hotel Association, Rivers State Chapter paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt pointed out that he has never taken any unilateral decision.
The State Chief Executive noted that all decisions taken by the State Government are for the overall good and interest of the Rivers people as no right thinking government would deliberately take decisions that would negatively affect the lives of the people.
“I don’t take decisions alone in the fight against COVID-19. All decisions are taken by the State Security Council and they are for the overall interest of Rivers people.
” You know people applaud government decisions when it suits them but when it does not favour them they say it is politically motivated.
“Rivers State Government does not have anything against hoteliers in the state, but decided to shutdown their activities because some cases of COVID-19 were recorded in hotels,” he stated.
Governor Wike also blamed the hoteliers for failing to assist government in providing relevant information regarding those that test positive of the coronavirus in their hotels.
According to him, adequate information would have helped the State Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies to carry out proper contact tracing.
“Its not possible that the State Government will intentionally close down hotels. But what I see is that people play politics with everything.
“The demolition of Prodest Hotel and Etemeteh Hotel in Eleme Local Government Area by the State Government became necessary because the owners failed to comply with Executive Order 7,” he said.
The State Chief Executive stated that he is more pained than any other person in the state that churches and mosques are not holding their full religious activities because of COVID-19.
“I can’t believe that I will be sitting here as a Governor and take a painful decision that will make churches and mosques not to hold full religious activities, ” he said.
The Governor lauded members of the State Chapter of Nigeria Hotel Association for identifying with government efforts in the fight against COVID- 19.
Earlier, the State Chairman, Nigeria Hotel Association, Mr. Eugene Nwauzi commended Governor Wike for leading the fight against coronavirus in the country.
Mr. Nwauzi noted that but for the efforts put in place by the Governor, the spread of COVID-19 would have taken a dangerous dimension in the state.
RSG Cancels Lockdown Of Obio/Akpor, Port Harcourt Local Government
? Imposes state-wide curfew 8p.m to 6a.m from June 2, 2020 till further notice
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? Investigating alleged outbreak of coronavirus in Bonny LGA
Rivers State Government has cancelled the proposed lockdown of Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas scheduled to resume tomorrow.
Governor Nyesom Wike who stated this in a state-wide broadcast also announced the imposition of 8p.m to 6am curfew in the 23 Local Government Areas of the State with effect from June 2,2020 till further notice.
The Governor also revealed that government has uncovered plans by some criminal elements led by one Bobosky to cause security breaches in Khana, Eleme,Gokana, Tai, Oyigbo and Ikwerre Local Government Areas.
“After a comprehensive review of the measures taken and further considerations placed before us by well-meaning members of the public, the State Security Council has decided to cancel the proposed lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas of the State.
“In essence, no part of Rivers State is or will be under any lockdown from this moment and this will be so, except where it becomes necessary again.
“As we all know, the regular washing of hands, religious wearing of face masks, keeping effective physical and social distance of between 1.5 to 2 meters from other people, completely avoiding touching of faces with unwashed hands, and cleaning of surfaces we regularly touch have been identified as some of the most effective measures against contracting this virus in the absence of vaccine, ” he said.
According to the Governor, government would re-enforce the decisions on the continuous implementation of the following measures throughout the State:
(i) All land borders, including all exit and entry routes into Rivers State shall remain closed to human and vehicular traffic, except those on essential services and duly exempted.
(ii) All residents must wear face masks or covering into any public space, including our roads, banks, shopping malls, shops, hotels and in any lawful social gathering.
(iii) The State task force and the security agencies have been directed to arrest and summarily prosecute any person seen on our streets or any other public place without wearing face masks.
(iv) All banks, motor parks, hotels, restaurants, shops, business centres, shopping malls, and offices must maintain social distancing and enforce the wearing of face masks in their premises.
(v) The State task force and security agencies have been directed to seal up, prosecute and confiscate to the State any bank, shopping mall, restaurant, shop, business place or office that fails to enforce social distancing and the wearing of face masks in its premises.
(vi) In addition to providing daily guest list to the Police and the Department of State Security, hoteliers must not host large gatherings, including parties and receptions. Defaulting hotels will be sealed-up and the owners summarily prosecuted.
(vii) All bars, beer palours, or drinking joints, night-clubs, viewing centres, open markets and cinemas shall remain closed until further notice;
(viii) Oil mill market in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area shall remain closed until further notice;
(ix) Oginigba Slaughter market in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area shall similarly remain closed until further notice.
(x) Mbiama market in Ahoada West Local Government Area shall also remain closed until further notice;
(xi) All public weddings, burials and large social gatherings shall remain banned.
(xii) Churches and other religious gatherings should continue to comply with the existing advisory on social distancing, initiate temperature checks and enforce the wearing of face masks during their activities;
(xiii) Dealers in Ikoku Spare Parts markets are warned for the last time to stop converting public roads to mechanic workshops or risk final closure.
(xiv) Similarly, no mechanic workshop should be found along Ikwerre road as Government will prosecute defaulters and confiscate any vehicle being repaired on any public road.
(xv) Private and commercial vehicles, including tricycles must continue to limit their passengers to the number earlier established and enforce the wearing of face masks by all passengers. Defaulters will be prosecuted and their vehicles confiscated by the Task force.
These measures, he said, are in the best interest of our State, to protect our lives, businesses, and jobs as well as, to prevent our troubled economy from suffering irreparable damage.
“This also means that, residents now bear much greater responsibility to stop and prevent our State from suffering the exponential and potentially devastating spread of the virus being experienced across the
“As 60% of the positive cases recorded in the State are connected with oil company workers, we have initiated a meeting with all the major oil companies to work out strategies on how we can stop this trend and stop the risk this category of workers now pose to the State.
“Government is also investigating the rumored or suspected outbreak of the coronavirus at Bonny Island.
“Our team of medical personnel led by the Commissioner for Health has visited Bonny Island and collected samples from suspected cases for analysis and immediate intervention should the results indicate the outbreak of the virus in the area, “the governor said.
The State Chief Executive also revealed that intelligence has intercepted a clandestine plan by some criminal elements led by Bobosky to cause security breaches in the State by instigating violence and burning down churches in Khana, Eleme, Gokana, Tai and Oyigbo Local Government Areas of the State.
He assured all residents that the State Government is fully ready and prepared to deal with the situation and continue to guarantee the protection of lives and property throughout the State.
The Governor implored all residents to be vigilant and report all suspicious characters and movements in their neighbourhoods to security agencies.
“Leaders and vigilante groups in our communities are to work with the security agencies to enforce curfew in their localities and arrest and prosecute anyone that violates the curfew order.
“We urge our people to stop the fake news on social media; stop the baseless bickering, the needless blame game, and the seditious rumours that does no good to our image or provide any solution to the common challenges that we face.
“Rather, we should all come together, put our fate in our own hands and work for the common good of all, whether as individuals, families or as communities,” he stated.
The Governor commended all health workers who have continued to put their lives at risk in the forefront in the battle against COVID-19.
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