National chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Edozie Njoku has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to accord him full recognition, following the judgement of the Supreme Court on the party’s leadership tussle.
Njoku who petitioned the Supreme Court to revisit what he called “the error” it its earlier ruling on the matter, noted that apex court did the needful on May 9 this year, lamenting however, that that INEC is yet to obey the judgment 34 days after it was given.
In a letter addressed to the chairman of the commission and copied President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila among others, Njoku wondered why the electoral umpire appears reluctant to obey the judgment of the highest court in the land.
Titled, “Ignoring Supreme Court Judgment: A threat to democracy,” Njoku stated: “Prior to the Anambra governorship election, the two APGA factions under the leadership of Dr. Victor Ike Oye and myself were locked in keen competition, as to who was the authentic National Chairman of APGA, and which Convention of the two factions conducted in Owerri and in Awka was legitimate.
“However, before any of us could submit names of candidates to INEC, Chief Jude Okeke rushed to Birnin Kudu in Jigawa State and filed a suit, in Suit No: JDU/022/2021. The suit was between Alhaji Garba Aliyu and Chief Jude Okeke and two others.
“Clearly, the Jigawa judgement affirmed the Owerri Convention and my suspension as National Chairman of APGA. Instantly, INEC obeyed the Jigawa Judgement declaring Jude Okeke as the National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Kindly note that Chief Victor Oye was neither a party to the suit nor was he mentioned in the entire matter.
“Surprisingly, at the Kano Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, the APGA leadership tussle was erroneously resolved in favour of Dr. Victor Ike Oye on October 14, 2021. In less than 24 hours, in total reverence to the Supreme Court Judgement, INEC replaced Jude Okeke’s name with that of Dr. Victor Ike Oye as the rightful National Chairman of APGA.
“Seven months later, our legal team discovered that Oye’s name was wrongly inserted where Njoku’s name ought to have been. On May 6, 2022, APGA as a Party called the attention of the Supreme Court to this fundamental error through a letter to Hon. Justice Mary Peter- Odili and other four Justices on that panel; requesting the Justices of the Panel to revisit the matter in line with the extant law.
“The Supreme Court Panel headed by Justice Mary Peter Odili committed time and energy to understudy the case and afterwards, the lead Judgement containing the error was rectified on May 9, 2022.
“Sir, for the purposes of clarity, Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court of Nigeria states: ‘the Supreme Court can Suo Motu or by a letter (application), review any judgment once given and delivered by it save to correct any clerical mistake or some error arising from any accidental slip or omission, or to vary the judgment or order so as to give effect to its meaning or intention’. This was what the Supreme Court relied on in this instance.”
The letter further read: “Now that the Supreme Court Judgement is in my favour, INEC has continued to prevaricate for over 34 ( Thirty Four Days now)! This is very unfortunate and seriously worrisome as it is a great threat to Nigerian democracy and rule of law! It is very insensitive and a very terrible precedence for your office to fail to or continue to delay the implementation of the judgement of Nigeria Supreme Court.
“Honourable Chairman, in spite of the two letters that we have written to your office requesting the Commission’s compliance with the said Supreme Court judgement, thirty four days (34) has gone and the Commission has continued to play a very dangerous and debilitative mind game on a matter that bothers on the survival or otherwise of the Party.
“I am as curious as any other Nigerian as to why it has taken this long for a Supreme Court judgment to be obeyed. It has never taken this long for the Commission to acknowledge Court judgements, considering the fact this is the same Suit that gave Jude Okeke the National Chairmanship of APGA at the Lower Court, which was swiftly complied with by INEC. When the Supreme Court erroneously gave Oye victory, INEC still obliged him.
“Few days ago, INEC resolved the issue of who is the authentic Presidential candidate of Labour Party. We are not unaware of the pressures and sensations that the APGA leadership tussle has attracted, but, doing the right thing would be walking the path less traveled by many and that would make all the difference.
“Permit me to digress a bit. Our journey in APGA since 2019, was simply to infuse and advance discipline and mainstream the APGA ideology which maintains that political parties are platforms for people to converge, congregate, ventilate and actualize their dreams of how they want their country to be; it is not a platform for primordial, parochial and ulterior pursuits.
“Finally, given your sterling performance and legacies in INEC, it is instructive to state that ‘the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stand in moments of comfort and convenience. Rather, where he stand in moments of challenge and controversy.’
“As posterity beckons, we look forward to your office’s immediate formal recognition as the lawful leadership of APGA in line with the extant laws upon which INEC was created and the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.”
Analysts Downplay Tinubu, Atiku Educational Certificates Controversy
The controversies surrounding the educational certificates of some presidential candidates who will be contesting the 2023 presidential election, have been described as a non-issue by some lawmakers and activists.
Those who spoke with The Tide over the issue, noted that such controversy was not new to the political system of Nigeria.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had claimed in the forms he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that his primary and secondary school certificates were stolen by unknown persons, who invaded his home during the military junta of the ‘90s when he fled the country over his support for the revalidation of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
For that, many Nigerians who had raised concerns over the development called for the disqualification and prosecution of the former Lagos State governor, whom they alleged lied under oath over academic qualifications.
A non-governmental organisation, Centre for Reform and Public Advocacy recently issued an ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector General of Police to arrest and prosecute Tinubu for allegedly supplying false information to INEC.
Legal Adviser of the group, Mr Kalu Agu, at a press briefing in Abuja, said that the alleged offence committed by the former Lagos State governor breached both the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
In the same vein, Tinubu’s running mate, Kabiru Masari told INEC that his original certificates are missing.
Reports had it that Masari in particulars submitted to INEC deposed to an affidavit on the loss of his primary and secondary schools certificates.
He, however, said that he attended Masari Primary school, Katsina State between 1972 and 1978 and obtained a Grade 2 Certificate from Katsina Teachers College in 1982 and a Higher Certificate in 1995.
Masari in the sworn affidavit for ‘Loss of Some Original Documents’, obtained from Divisional Police Headquarter, Wuse Zone 3, Abuja attached to the particulars he submitted to INEC, said, in January 2021, that, while on transit within Wuse, Area FCT, Abuja, he lost his Certificate of Grade 2 Certificate from Katsina Teachers College and First Leaving Primary School Certificate issued by Masari Primary School, Katsina State, (1972-78).
He also said that all efforts made to trace the items proved abortive.
On his part, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, had a few questions raised about his academic credentials.
Atiku, who served as the country’s Vice President from 1999 to 2007, was said to have not provided information on his primary education.
The 1965 West Africa School Certificate (WASC) result presented by him, allegedly identified the student as Siddiq Abubakar.
While reacting to the issue, a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Olanrewaju Oshun said the issue of certificates as far as he was concerned, is a non-issue and unfounded.
Oshun, the member representing Lagos Mainland Constituency 2, said, “This is a man that worked with Mobil and he was recruited from his school. If he didn’t have that qualification, how was he recruited from the school? Are we saying Mobil didn’t check his qualification?
”He was a Senator and he was governor of Lagos State for eight years. All these shouts about him not having certificates are mere political gimmicks.
“If you say he doesn’t have primary and secondary school certificates, how was he able to attend a prestigious university abroad.
“You can’t be admitted into any university in Nigeria without a secondary school certificate not to talk of attending a university abroad. This is not new. They said the same thing in 2015 about Buhari.”
A United States based public affairs analyst, Prof. John Oshodi said, “At no point did Tinubu say he had no primary or secondary school education.
Even if he is not able to show the concrete certificates, whether due to being lost or accidentally damaged, how does that show he has no basic educational background?
“One thing is certain: He is a Nigerian-educated person who earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business and Administration with a major in accounting from Chicago State University in 1979.
“In past election seasons, through media hysteria, President Buhari, also an American trained military scientist with post-secondary education, was said not to have a WAEC certificate and, so, he is not eligible to vie for any elective position.
“Let’s say that Buhari’s basic educational certificates were with the military, like he said, or they could not be located, what cannot be denied by the American government is that Buhari holds a diploma from the United States Army War College.
“On the part of Atiku Abubakar, the media has it that he holds a secondary school education, although not of the highest level.
“He has post-secondary education in hygiene science and a diploma in law, and in recent times, he has worked hard and now has a master’s degree in International Relations from the United Kingdom.
“What is most stunning about the current uproar is that a basic education such as a primary or secondary school certificate is required to be president, as in the case of Tinubu.
”In 2019, it became a settled matter when the Supreme Court held that Buhari, per the constitution, is not required to possess a secondary school certificate to be qualified to run for the presidency and does not have to submit it to INEC to run for the presidency.
“Yet in a society where lawlessness and lack of respect for operating laws are rampant, you in the media and the people should be asking the presidential candidates about how they will handle monumental problems like crime and security, poverty, unemployment, poor electricity, infrastructure and road hassles, illegal substitution of candidates’ names, and human rights abuses,” Oshodi added.
INEC Laments Poor Turnout For CVR In Katsina
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says some newly registered polling units in Katsina State have not recorded any registered voter. In July 2021, INEC upgraded 1,750 voting points to polling units in Katsina State.
Speaking in an interview with journalists on Friday, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Jibril Zarewa, said there has been low turnout for the continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise across more than 60 percent of the new polling units.
He, however, said one of the reasons for the poor turnout could be the suspension of telecommunication services in some LGAs of the state due to insecurity.
“In May 2022, when we did analysis, we realised that out of the 1,750 newly established polling units, about 1,200 units did not have more than 50 people who registered in each of them,” The Tide source quoted him as saying.
“This registration involved transfers. Some of the polling units have zero registration; some have only one; some five, while some have not more than 50 people who registered.
“Although this can be attributed to the suspension of telecommunication networks in 17 of the 34 LGAs for about five months due to the security problem.
“Since the resumption of the exercise in March, out of the 1,750 polling units created, about 1,200 don’t have up to 50 people that registered in each of them.
“We are appealing to the people of those areas where the new polling units were created, to go and register, as INEC is always ready for them.”
Zarewa said initially, there were 4,902 polling units in Katsina, but with the creation of new ones, there are now 6,652 polling units in the state.
“The reasons for the creation of additional polling units are to serve the areas and decongest the congested polling units,” he added.
My WAEC Certificate Is Missing, Okowa Tells INEC
The Vice Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general elections and Governor of Delta State, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, has told the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that his WAEC certificate is missing.
Okowa, in an affidavit, said he enrolled and sat for the West African School Certificate (WASC) examinations in the year 1974 but the original certificate issued can no more be found.
The affidavit of loss of original certificate was obtained from the High Court of Justice, Delta State, in the Asaba Judicial Division on October 3, 2006.
Okowa, however, attached a Higher School Certificate obtained in 1976. According to the certificate, obtained at Edo College, Benin City, in 1976, the governor sat for four subjects, namely, General Papers (Grade B,) Physics (Grade B), Chemistry (A) and Biology (B).
The affidavit read in part, “I, Ifeanyichukwu Arthur Okowa, adult, male, Christian, medical doctor and Nigerian citizen of House No. 4, Commissioners’ Quarters, Asaba, Delta State, do hereby make oath and state as follows:
“I personally enrolled and sat for the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) West African School Certificate (WASC) examinations in the year 1974 at Edo College, Benin City, in now Edo State.
“That I passed the said examinations and was subsequently issued the said certificate therefore. That the original of the said certificate issued to me is now missing, lost and cannot be found.
“That I make this oath for the records and do so knowing and believing the same to be true and in accordance with the Oaths Law of the Bendel State as applicable to Delta state” according to a document sighted by The Tide source.
Okowa will be the fourth politician running for the 2023 presidential election that could not present his WAEC certificate to the electoral umpire for verification and eligibility.
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