The Supreme Court yesterday affirmed President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the valid winner of the presidential election that held in the country on February 25, 2023.
The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a seven-member panel of Justices, held that there was no merit in the petition that a former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, filed to nullify the outcome of the election.
The seven Justices also unanimously dismissed the appeal filed by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, for lack of merit.
The seven-member panel led by its chairman, Justice John Inyang Okoro, include Justices Uwani Aji, Mohammed Garba, Ibrahim Saulawa, Adamu Jauro, Abubakar Tijjani and Emmanuel Agim.
In its lead judgment that was prepared and read by Justice Okoro, the Supreme Court held that Atiku did not prove that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), did not substantially comply with provisions of the Electoral Act, in the conduct of the election.
The apex court held that section 185(1) of the Evidence Act provided that an election should not be liable to be invalidated, when alleged non compliance did not substantially affect the outcome of an election.
It held that evidence contained in the record of the appeal showed that the Appellants abandoned the duty imposed on them by the law to not only prove the alleged non compliance, but to establish that the failure of INEC to transmit results of the election through its Result Viewing Portal (IReV) influenced the outcome of the presidential poll.
The Supreme Court said it had in past judgements, made it clear that there was a difference between election result collation system and the IReV portal.
It, therefore, ruled that the failure of the INEC to transmit the election results on the IReV Portal did not affect the outcome of the election.
“Where the IReV portal fails, it does not stop the collation which up till the last election was manually done,” the court held.
It further held that the unavailability of results on INEC’s IReV portal “for whatever reason, could not be the reason for an election to be nullified”.
Okoro said, “When IReV fails, it does not stop the collation of the results. It deprives people of viewing results. The non-function will affect the trust of the electorates in the election.
“Unavailability of IReV cannot be a ground for the election to be nullified.
“The failure did not affect the outcome of the election. The issue is resolved against the appellants.”
Nevertheless, it stressed that INEC’s failure to electronically transmit results of the election denied the electorates the opportunity to follow and cross-check results that were eventually uploaded.
“Truth must be told, the non transmission of results to the IReV portal may also reduce the confidence of the voting population in the electoral process,” the Supreme Court warned.
The apex court also described as misconceived and misplaced, Atiku’s contention that Tinubu ought not have been declared winner of the presidential election, having failed to secure 25% votes in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
The apex court affirmed the position of the PEPC that the FCT does not have a status that is more special than that of the 36 States of the federation.
According to Justice Okoro, scoring 25% votes in the FCT, Abuja is not mandatory and cannot stop INEC from declaring a presidential candidate who scored the highest number of votes and 25 percent in two-thirds of the States, the winner of the election.
The presiding Justice asked, “Are you saying if someone scores 25% votes in 30 states but not in Abuja, he should not be president? Is that how you interpret the law?
“That is not the law. Supreme Court agrees with the Court of Appeal,” he added.
The apex court also supported the judgment of the tribunal for striking out witnesses of Atiku Abubakar’s testimonies on manipulation in the election, adding that most of the witnesses gave “inadmissible hearsay” evidence
Describing Atiku’s witnesses’ testimonies as “hearsay”, Okoro said, “A political party can’t appoint an octopus agent who will be at every polling unit on election day.
“Atiku’s agents can only testify in their polling units where they witnessed what they saw, but not across the country where they were not present.
“I adopt the decision of the lower court which is in line with a plethora of precedents. The witnesses’ testimonies were hearsay.
“The finding of the lower court in discountenancing the Atiku’s witnesses cannot be faulted.”
He added that “The Appellants did not present any evidence to warrant the interference of the findings of the lower court”.
On the issue that President Tinubu was involved in a drug related case in the USA that led to the forfeiture of $460, 000, the Supreme Court held that Tinubu raised the issue when the Respondents had already filed their process.
It held that the action denied the Respondents the right to fair hearing.
“The ruling of the lower court is unassailable and this court will not interfere,” it held.
The apex court also dismissed the the certificate forgery allegation pleaded against Tinubu by Atiku, saying the court cannot entertain fresh evidence that was not pleaded or presented at the Court of Appeal.
It also held that Atiku and PDP did not prove that they suffered any miscarriage of justice as a result of the dismissal of their petition by the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC).
The court held that whereas Atiku alleged that the result that was declared by INEC was not accurate, he, however, failed to put forward their perceived rightful result.
It held that the result announced by INEC was presumed as correct in the absence of “any rival or alternative result.”
“The figure before us shows that the 2nd Respondent won the highest number of votes and was duly declared winner.”
Consequently, the court, resolved all the issues that Atiku raised in his petition, against him.
“On the whole, having resolved all the issues against the Appellants, it is my view that there is no merit in this appeal and it is hereby dismissed.
“Judgement of the lower court delivered on September 6 is hereby affirmed. I shall make no order as to cost,” the Supreme Court held.
The Supreme Court also dismissed as lacking in merit, the appeal the candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, filed to nullify President Bola Tinubu’s election.
Also in a unanimous decision by a seven-member panel of Justices, the apex court held that Obi’s appeal deserved to be dismissed.
In the lead judgement that was delivered by Justice Okoro, the court held that the issues Obi raised in his case were already decided in a separate appeal that was filed by the PDP candidate, Atiku.
Justice Okoro noted that the only distinct issue that Obi raised in his appeal, was the issue that the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, had double nominations from the APC.
The court held that it had earlier decided the issue on May 26, in an appeal marked: SC/CV/501/2023.
“This court cannot allow the matter to be relitigated in this court. There must be an end to litigation. This matter ought not to have come here.
“The appeal lacks merit and it is accordingly dismissed,” the apex court held.
It will be recalled that INEC had on March 1, announced that Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, won the presidential contest, ahead of 17 other candidates that participated in the poll.
It declared that he garnered a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat his two major rivals, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, who came second with a total of 6,984,520 votes, and Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party, who came third with a total of 6,101,533 votes.
By: Boye Salau
AFRD: Fubara To Launch 2024 Emblem Appeal Fund, ’Morrow
The Rivers State Government has announced the launch of the Emblem Appeal Fund in commemoration of the 2024 Armed Forces Remembrance Day (AFRD) in the state.
A terse statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, last Friday, said that the event would take place on Tuesday, November 28, at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Port Harcourt by 11am.
The State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, is expected to be the Special Guest of Honour.
In the statement, the government invited members of the Nigerian Legion, military, police, para-military, traditional rulers, captains of industry, multi-national organisations, government officials and the general public to the event, urging them to attend the programme in the interest of the state.
The statement read in full: “The Government of Rivers State is pleased to invite members of the Nigerian Legion, Rivers State Command, the Military, the Nigeria Police, the Para-Military, Traditional Rulers, Captains of industries and multi-national organizations, Government Officials and the General public to the Emblem Appeal Fund Launching in commemoration of the 2024 Armed Forces Remembrance Day in the State”.
“Please, invited guests are requested to be seated by 10:30 am as we come to celebrate and support the veterans and their families”, the statement concluded.
Fubara, Obi Cubana Visit, Condole Oborevwori On Mother-In-Law’s Demise …Congratulate Delta Gov On Appeal Court Victory
Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, last Friday visited his Delta State counterpart, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, in his country home in Osubi, Okpe Local Government Area to condole with him on the passing of his mother-in-law.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Rivers State, Boniface Onyedi, in Government House, Port Harcourt, last Friday.
Fubara eulogised the virtues of the late Mama Agnes Avwenyotoma Tager, whom he described as a woman of virtue and substance, whose demise has come at a time her services were most needed as the mother of the state.
He urged the Delta governor and his wife, Deaconess Tobore Oborevwori, to take solace in the good life their late mother lived.
The Rivers governor also used the occasion to congratulate Oborevwori on his resounding victory at the Appeal Court which confirmed his electoral victory.
Also in Osubi with Fubara to condole Oborevwori, was popular business tycoon and socialite, Obi Cubana.
Fubara Pledges To Support, Collaborate With NDDC
The Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has promised to collaborate and support the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in its efforts to fast-track the development of the Niger Delta region.
Fubara spoke at the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt, during a courtesy visit by members of the NDDC Governing Board, led by the Chairman, Mr. Chiedu Ebie.
The NDDC team included the Managing Director, Dr Samuel Ogbuku; Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Alabo Boma Iyaye; Executive Director, Projects, Sir Victor Antai; Executive Director, Corporate Services, Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde, other members of the Board and directors of the commission.
Fubara said: “I am very happy that you have done the right thing by paying this courtesy visit. I assure you that we are ready to collaborate with all Federal Government agencies committed to the development of the Niger Delta region.
“The speech of the Chairman, Mr. Ebie, shows that NDDC has already identified more than 90 per cent of the problems facing the region and is ready to solve them.”
The governor said that the Rivers State Government would support the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to bring hope to the people of the State and Niger Delta region.
He pledged: “We are going to support you to enable you discharge your duties and I pray that your tenure will record more successes than the previous boards.”
Responding to the issue of duplication of projects as highlighted by the NDDC chairman, the governor advised the commission to avoid cases of duplication of projects, stating that it was very necessary to consult the states before embarking on projects in their respective territories.
He said that by identifying the problem, the NDDC had shown that it was ready to address the challenge, which according to him, had often caused some frictions between the states and the commission.
Fubara assured the NDDC Board members that his government was open to partnership and collaboration in the execution of projects.
He urged the commission to embark on projects that would add value to the lives of the people of the region.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the NDDC Governing Board, Mr. Chiedu Ebie, thanked the Rivers State Government for hosting the Commission since its inception in 2000.
He said: “The NDDC Board was inaugurated on November 16. As our host governor, we thought it wise to pay you this courtesy visit before holding our inaugural meeting.
“We need to create a new life in the NDDC and collaborate more with development partners, including the state governments and other stakeholders in the region to achieve our objectives. I know that we have had problems with duplication of projects.
“Henceforth, representatives of the states in the NDDC Board must be in constant touch with their state governments and ensure that projects are based on needs assessment.”
The NDDC chairman assured the governor that the new Board would work in synergy with governors in the nine states covered by the commission.
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