Obi, LP’s Petition Frivolous, Lacks Merit, APC Tells Tribunal
The All Progressives Congress (APC), on Monday, asked the presidential election petition tribunal to dismiss the Labour Party and its presidential candidate Peter Obi’s petition against President-elect, Bola Tinubu.
The APC, the fourth respondent, urged the tribunal to reject the petition in its notice of preliminary objection marked CA/PEPC/03/2023 and filed at the tribunal’s secretariat Monday night by Thomas Ojo, a member of the party’s legal team led by Lateef Fagbemi, in Abuja.
The party asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost because it lacked merit and was frivolous.
Mr Obi, the first petitioner, and Labour Party, the second petitioner, had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Tinubu, Vice-President-elect Kashim Shettima and APC as first to fourth respondents, respectively.
The petitioners are seeking the nullification of the election victory of Messrs Tinubu and Shettima in the February 25 presidential election.
While former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came second with 6,984,520 votes in the election, Mr Obi came third with 6,101,533 votes.
Alhaji Abubakar and PDP are also challenging the outcome of the poll.
However, in the petition marked CA/PEPC/03/2023 filed by Mr Obi and Labour Party’s lead counsel, Livy Ozoukwu, they contended that Mr Tinubu “was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast at the time of the election.” The petitioners claimed there was rigging in 11 states.
Mr Obi and his party claimed that INEC violated its regulations when it announced the results even though the total polling unit results had not been fully scanned, uploaded and transmitted electronically as required by the Electoral Act.
Among other prayers, the petitioners urged the tribunal to “determine that, at the time of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023, the second and third respondents (Messrs Tinubu and Shettima) were not qualified to contest the election.
“That it be determined that all the votes recorded for the second respondent in the election are wasted votes, owing to the non-qualification of the second and third respondents. That it be determined that on the basis of the remaining votes (after discountenancing the votes credited to the second respondent), the first petitioner (Mr Obi) scored a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election and had not less than 25 per cent of the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of the states of the federation and the FCT and satisfied the constitutional requirements to be declared the winner of the February 25 presidential election,” stated the petition.
It asked the tribunal to determine that Mr Tinubu, “having failed to score one-quarter of the votes cast at the presidential election in the FCT, was not entitled to be declared and returned as the winner of the presidential election held on February 25.”
Responding, the APC urged the court to dismiss the suit on the ground that Mr Obi, the first petitioner, lacked requisite locus standi to institute the petition because he was not a member of the Labour Party at least 30 days to the party’s presidential primary to be validly sponsored by the party.
“The first petitioner (Mr Obi) was a member of PDP until May 24, 2022. The first petitioner was screened as a presidential aspirant of the PDP in April 2022. The first petitioner participated and was cleared to contest the presidential election while being a member of the PDP,” APC argued.
“First petitioner purportedly resigned his membership of PDP on May 24, 2022, to purportedly join the 2nd petitioner (Labour Party) on May 27, 2022.”
It alleged that Labour Party, the second petitioner, “conducted its presidential primary on May 30, 2022, which purportedly produced the first petitioner as its candidate, which time contravened Section 77(3) of the Electoral Act for him to contest the primary election as a member of the second petitioner.”
APC argued that Mr Obi was not a member of the Labour Party as of the time of his alleged sponsorship, arguing that “by the mandatory provisions of Section 77 (1) (2) and (3) of the Electoral Act 2022, a political party shall maintain a register and shall make such register available to INEC not later than 30 days before the date fixed for the party primaries, congresses and convention.”
It stated further that all the PDP’s presidential candidates were screened on April 29, 2022, an exercise in which Mr Obi participated and was cleared to contest while a party member.
According to APC, Mr Obi and Labour’s petition was incompetent since Mr Obi’s name could not have been in the party’s register made available to INEC when he joined the party.
The APC argued that the petition was improperly constituted, having failed to join Mr Abubakar and PDP.
“By Paragraph 17 of the petition, the petitioners, on their own, stated that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar came second in the presidential election with 6,984,520 votes as against the petitioners who came third with 6,101,533 votes; at Paragraph 102 (iti) of the petition, the petitioners urged the tribunal to determine that 1st petitioner scored the majority of lawful votes without joining Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the petition,” the APC stated.
It added, “For the tribunal to grant prayer (iii) of the petitioners, the tribunal must have set aside the scores and election of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar must be heard before his votes can be discountenanced by the tribunal.”
The party said the petition and the identified paragraphs were in breach of the mandatory provisions of Paragraph 4(1)(D) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022.
According to APC, paragraphs 60 — 77 of the petition are non-specific, vague and/or nebulous and thereby incompetent contrary to paragraph 4(1)(d) of the Ist Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022.
It said the allegations of non-compliance must be made distinctly and proved on a polling unit basis, but none was specified or provided in any of the paragraphs of the petition.
“Paragraphs 59-60 of the petition disclose no identity or particulars of scores and polling units supplied in 18,088 units mentioned therein,” it added.
The party, therefore, argued that the tribunal lacked the requisite jurisdiction to entertain pre-election complaints embedded in the petition as presently constituted, among other arguments. The APC urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost as it is devoid of any merit and founded on frivolity.
EU Recommits To Strengthening Nigeria’s Democratic Governance
The European Union (EU) has restated its commitment towards engendering and strengthening Nigeria’s democratic governance.
The EU stated this at the end of a two-day retreat for Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria, EU-SDGN, partners in Lagos, pledging to further deepen its engagement with youngsters, women, and persons with disabilities, through its partners.
Remarking further, the EU noted that while there were some positives and good achievements in the just concluded general elections, there were also some issues that needed to be addressed henceforth.
The six EU-SDGN component areas include Support to INEC; Support to the National Assembly and the Judiciary; Support to Political Parties; Support to Media; Support to Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and Support to Civil Society Organisations.
In his remarks, the European Union’s Programme Manager for Democracy and Rule of Law, Laolu Olawumi, elucidated that the retreat considered the interventions of the partners in the last 12 months with a view to understanding what worked and what didn’t work, identified the challenges encountered, and charted better ways to address them.
Olawumi, while underlining the importance of introspection on the just concluded elections, also urged the EU-SDGN partners not to lose sight of states such as Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo who will be having elections in just over 100 days.
She stated that “Over the last 12 months, we have had an intense work plan where different members of the EU-SDGN cohort have been delivering several activities and technical support to critical stakeholders that we have jointly identified.
“The retreat, therefore, sought to see whether the interventions that we have planned for the next couple of months would help us address the challenges that we have seen in the period leading to the elections, and the immediate aftermath of the election.”
Elucidating further she pointed out that the retreat developed an opportunity for all the partners to discuss their intervention areas, the precise actions they undertook during the elections and what the cohort considers the critical issues that needed to be addressed moving forward.
“In terms of what we are doing around capacity building, one thing to really highlight is the fact that the EU-SDGN programme is Nigerian-led and is mainly implemented by civil society organizations. And that in itself, is our way of contributing and building the civil society space in Nigeria.
“How do we provide a platform with which civil society can better engage with the government and build capacity to ensure that they are focusing on the issues, and they are operating within an environment that helps them properly harness the voices of ordinary Nigerians, and better serve the needs and the will of Nigerian people?
“Within the government, we are working with the electoral management body, trying to provide technical assistance. We are also working with the judiciary through our training and our engagements with Judges, as well as other officers of the court.
“We are also working with the media to promote a conducive legal environment for media to operate and for the Broadcasting Commission to also efficiently promote pluralism in the media and civic space.
“Of course, I think it’s very important to stress here that we have Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo state elections in just over 100 days from now. And so, the priority is to build trust with the Nigerian public by ensuring that those elections are conducted in a way and manner that further instils confidence in the electoral process in Nigeria,” she added.
Group Tasks Tinubu On Inclusive Government
A group, Team New Nigeria (TNN), which has former military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida as its patron, has urged President Bola Tinubu to form an inclusive government and restore Nigeria’s standing in the world.
The group further stated that the Tinubu administration has all it takes to realize its renewed hope in having a progressive Nigeria.
TNN stated this while commending the appointment of Senator George Akume as the secretary to the government of the federation of Nigeria by Tinubu.
In his message on behalf of the National Executive Committee of the TNN, President of the organisation, Dr. Modibbo Yakubu Farakwai, described Akume as an inspiring, thoughtful and strategic thinker who will bring his trademark skill, talent and judgment to bear on his new assignment.
“In this context, the leadership of Team New Nigeria conveyed the commitment of the Organisation to working closely with the Federal Government in the areas of common Interests, including good governance and democratic values.
“The TNN leadership has also underscored the need of forming an inclusive government, take steps to restore Nigeria’s standing in the world, strengthening the country’s national security workforce, rebuilding democratic alliances across the world, championing Nigeria’s values and human rights, and equipping the Nigerian people to succeed in a Global economy”, Dr Farakwai said.
He described Akume’s appointment as an assurance of first class leadership to work on the recovery Nigeria needs and the shared prosperity Nigerians are expecting from the Tinubu administration.
“We pray that God guide and protect him on this delicate national assignment and to not stop his blessings and protection for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu whose administration promises to impact positively in the lives of the masses”, Farakwai added.
Makinde To Review Minimum Wage For Oyo Workers
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has shown commitment to review salaries of civil servants in the state, as part of efforts to cushion the effect of the oil subsidy removal by the Federal Government.
The development came barely 48 hours to the commencement of the proposed nationwide strike by labour unions across the country.
Consequently, the governor has set up a committee comprising both representatives of the labour unions and the state government.
They include, the Head of Service, HoS, Permanent Secretary, Service Matters; Permanent Secretary, Establishment; Director Service Matters, Director, Establishment; Accountant General of the state, and Permanent Secretary, Finance.
On the side of the organised labour are, the Nigeria Labor Congress NLC, Nigeria Union of Teachers NUT, Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, Nigeria Union of Pensioners NUP, Joint Health Sector Union JOHESU and Joint Negotiating Council, JNC and the Chairman, Association of Senior Staff.
The governor, while meeting with leadership of the unions in the state at the Executive Council Chambers, Monday, gave the Committee eight weeks to come up with a workable minimum wage.
Makinde said: “For this administration, with all sincerity, we think it’s time to engage and ensure that we are proactive irrespective of what is happening or coming at the national level, we already prepared for it here and we can run our programme.
“If you all remember, I said there is nothing stopping Oyo State from paying more than the national minimum wage if we had the resources, if we can expand our economy to that extent and I still believe we can do it.
“We can pay in Oyo State beyond the national minimum wage and we have to expand our economy and ensure that the relationship between the leadership of the labour unions and government remains cordial.”
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