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General News of Saturday, 14 October 2023


Obi, LP’s appeal mere jamboree - Tinubu to Supreme Court

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Peter Obi President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Peter Obi

President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima have described the Peter Obi and Labour Party (LP) petition filed against the outcome of the last presidential election as a jamboree intended mainly for media entertainment.
They are therefore praying the Supreme Court to dismiss the Obi/LP appeal just like the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) dismissed their petition.

“In short, the entire petition was nothing but a jamboree of sort, which was prosecuted more in the media than in the courtroom and the lower court, being a court of law and not of sentiments, dutifully threw away their petition after a painstaking consideration of same,” Tinubu and Shettima said in the joint respondents’ brief filed by their team of lawyers led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN).

They called a similar appeal filed by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) challenging Shettima’s nomination to contest the February 25 election as a mere waste of the time of the court.

The APM had, in its petition before the PEPC, claimed that Shettima violated the province of the Electoral Act on the grounds that he allegedly had double nominations – as candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Borno Central Senatorial District and as vice presidential candidate.

The respondents said that the Obi/LP appeal “if considered from every angle, is lacking in merit, substance and good faith.”

They said: "Be it noted that unlike previous election petitions over which this honourable court has presided (in time past) and made far reaching pronouncements on diverse issues, including but not limited to ballot box snatching, vote buying, voters’ intimidation, interference by the military, thuggery, ballot stuffing, violence, disenfranchisement, non-recording of votes in form EC8A, which is the building block or the base of the pyramid, and such other electoral vices, this appeal arising from a dismissed petition, the main grouse of which is that, while the presidential election was peacefully conducted all over the country, and results of elections carefully and accurately recorded in the various form EC8As, some unidentified and unspecified results, even in the appellants’ brief were not uploaded electronically to the IREV portal.

“The other very remote contention is that the 2nd respondent did not score 25 per cent of the votes recorded at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“With much respect to the appellants, the petition is more of a fishing expedition; much more of evocation of thunder without dews.

“We submit that the lower court (PEPC) rightly held that the appellants (Obi and LP), as petitioners before it, failed to prove their allegations of non-compliance and corrupt practices as required by law.”

Tinubu and Shettima, who are listed as the 2nd and 3rd respondents in the appeal, argued that the PEPC was right to strike out some paragraphs of the petition and the petitioners’ replies to the respondents’ replies with which they (petitioners) had attempted to amend their case in violation of the provisions of Section 16(1)(a) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022.

They stated that the PEPC took the right decision in striking out the written statements of 10 out of the 13 witnesses called by the petitioners and expunging their evidence from the court’s records on the grounds that the statements were not filed along with the petition as required.

On the appellants’ claim that Shettima had double nomination, both respondents urged the court to reaffirm its earlier judgment on the issue in the case marked: SC/CV/502/2023 – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) v. INEC & 3 others delivered on May 26, 2023.

Their words: "In a failed attempt at distinguishing the said decision of this honourable court (in the PDP v. INEC & 3 others case), the appellants have argued that the judgment emanated from a pre-election matter and that apart from the findings on locus standi, the other points on the substance were made in the supporting judgment.

“In all fairness to them, they have not argued that the concurring judgments are not a part of the judgment or that the facts in PDP v. INEC are any different from the facts of this case.

“This honourable court has reiterated the binding nature of a concurring judgment in a plethora of its decisions.”

The respondents submitted that the whole issue about Shettima’s nomination as the vice presidential candidate is entirely an intra-party issue in respect of which the PEPC rightly held that it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain because Obi and the LP lacked the locus to validly raise.

The 2nd and 3rd respondents described the introduction of the US forfeiture case in the petition as a failed attempt to embarrass Tinubu and urged the Supreme Court to affirm the tribunal’s finding on this issue that the petitioners failed to prove their claim.

On the argument by Obi and the LP that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to comply with relevant laws by not transmitting results of the election electronically, they urged the court to also affirm the well considered position of the PEPC on the issue.

They said: "A major basis for appellants’ allegation of non-compliance with respect to the presidential election of the 25th February, 2023, is their complaint that the results of the election were not electronically transmitted to the IREV in real time (not that it was not transmitted at all) and that the 1st respondent did not ensure that the results were collated on the IREV.

“It was their submission before the lower court that the result ought to have been collated electronically on the IREV, and that omitting to do this automatically nullified the result of the election.

“We respectfully submit that by all extant relevant laws, INEC has/had the prerogative to determine the mode and manner for the transmission of election results and the lower court was perfectly in order when it so held.

“The lower court, in deciding the issue, took a painstaking consideration of the binding and unappealed judgment of the Federal High Court, per Nwite, J., in FHC/ABJ/CS/1454/2022 – Labour Party v. Independent National Electoral Commission, delivered on 23 January, 2023, which was tendered before it and admitted as Exhibit X1.

“For ease of reference, the question for determination submitted by Labour Party in the originating summons is as follows: ‘Whether having regard to combined effect of Section 47(2), 50(2), 60(5) and 62(1)(2) and other relevant provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 the Respondent can still insist on manual collation of results in the forthcoming general election.’

“Declaratory reliefs were subsequently sought in line with the main question for determination.

“After considering the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act, the Regulations and Guidelines, as well as the Manuals, the learned trial judge held as follows: ‘Now, a close reading of Section 50(2) has provided for voting and transmission of results, to be done in accordance with the procedure to be determined by the commission (INEC)…’

They called attention to how the PEPC arrived at its decision to dismiss the petition in the first instance.

“At trial, the appellants called 13 witnesses. Of the 13 witnesses, only three had their witness statements frontloaded with the petition as prescribed under and by virtue of the Electoral Act and consistent judicial authorities.

“The other 10 witnesses, who though are not adverse witnesses, were purportedly subpoenaed and their witness statements thrusted on the lower court and parties, mid-way into the proceedings.

“These compelled the counsel for the respondents to lead a line of objections, challenging the competence of the subpoenaed witnesses.

“The court deferred its determination of the said objections, while parties led evidence in support of their respective positions on the merit of the petition before the court.

“Throughout, the appellants fumed about INEC’s inability to electronically transmit and collate the results in real time on the IREV.

“They did not bother to show how this state of affairs had affected their votes or the election, whether substantially or otherwise.

“In fact, they were unable to tender even a singular copy of the polling unit result given to their polling agents, in which case, to show any form of discrepancy between the collated scores and the scores entered at the respective polling units, which had been admitted by their witnesses as bearing the correct statement of affairs at the election.

“It is also worth stating that the appellants won the election in 12 states and the FCT.

“Surprisingly, they challenged the results of the election in the states where they won, as well as 12 other states won by the presidential candidate of the PDP.

“As stated earlier, it was the presidential candidate of the PDP that came second in the election.

“Among the reliefs sought by the petitioners was/is that the 1st petitioner be declared the winner of the election; yet, he only won in 12 states, and scored 24 per cent of the votes cast in 15 states and the FCT,

“In delivering its judgment, the lower court expectedly struck out the vague and nebulous paragraphs of the petition, while also striking out the witness statements of the purportedly subpoenaed witnesses.

“Instructively, however, the lower court, appreciating that it is not a court of final instance, proceeded to determine the petition on its merit, while itemising several monumental failures of the petitioners to provide any evidence in support of their much-touted case.

“While affirming the election and declaration of the 2nd respondent at the referenced presidential election, the lower court also found that the appellants did not prove any of their allegations on the requisite standards of proof.

“After holding itself bound by the preceding decisions on the subject, the court also identified that contrary to the appellants’ campaign, there was nothing in the Electoral Act which subjects/subjected the validity of an election to the success or otherwise of an upload to the IREV portal, while reiterating the appellants’ own witnesses’ admission that the IREV is not a collation centre.

“The court also laid bare the failure of the appellants who claimed to be winners of the election to statistically demonstrate same to the court by supplying the total number of votes from which they sought a declaration from the court.

“It is against the well considered judgment of the lower court that the appellants have brought this appeal.”

APM’s challenge of Shettima’s nomination a waste of court’s time

On the APM appeal, Tinubu and Shettima urged the apex court to affirm the judgment of the PEPC decision which dismissed the appellants’ petition challenging Shettima’s nomination.

The joint respondents’ brief was filed by their team of lawyers led by Senior Advocate Olanipekun.

They said: "Exhibit XI is the judgment of this honourable court earlier referred to in this brief and it emanated from the case in FHC/ABJ/CS/1734/2022.

“The said matter challenged the qualification of the 3rd respondent (Tinubu) to contest the presidential election on account of the claim that his associate (the 4th respondent – Shettima) was invalidly nominated, as according to the plaintiff, the 4th respondent had double nominations in presumed contravention of the provision of section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

“The position failed all through to the Supreme Court, where this court made very instructive pronouncements on the subject matter of the complaint.

“Instructively, the petition leading to this appeal before this honourable court (APM’s petition), is only but a rehash of the case as contained in FHC/ABJ/CS/1734/2022, which culminated in the judgment in Exhibit XI.”

According to the respondents, Shettima was validly nominated as he lawfully withdrew from his earlier nomination as a senatorial candidate.

Continuing, they said: "As eloquently expressed in the decision of this honourable court above reproduced, it is extremely immaterial that the withdrawal was communicated to INEC on 15th July, 2022, insofar as the said communication occurs not later than 90 days before election.

“The appellant’s misconception, of course, proceeded from the premise that the withdrawal was incomplete until same is communicated to INEC.

“Having, therefore, established in consonance with the Electoral Act and the prevailing decision of this court that the appellant is grossly wrong in its hypothesis, it invariably follows that the 4th respondent’s subsequent nomination as vice-presidential candidate by the 3rd respondent on or about 14th July, 2022, does not suffer from any factual or legal impediment or malady, whatsoever.

“Same is in strict adherence with the provision of section 142(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and we urge the court to so hold.”

Tinubu and Shettima faulted the case presented before the Supreme Court by the appellant, which they noted was a departure from what they argued before the PEPC.

“From the afore-quoted lines of the appellant’s brief, its confusion, with respect, has been brought into fore, as it mixes pleadings with facts and vice-versa, by wrongly assuming that amorphous pleadings will translate to evidence.

“The entire brief itself is a departure from appellant’s presentation at the lower court. Yet, the position of our law remains that an appeal is a continuation of trial.”

They added: “At the risk of sounding repetitive, this appeal ought not to have been filed at all.

“Assuming the petition at the lower court was filed out of human error or inadvertence, prudence demanded its immediate withdrawal after sighting the judgment of the Supreme Court which settled the sole issue contained herein, assuming any triable issue is therein contained.

“Further, after the judgment of the lower court, which was very benevolent to the appellant, a higher degree of prudence demanded that this appeal should not have been filed, even under compulsion.

“Applying the language of Okoro, JSC., in PDP v. INEC supra, the appellant has only succeeded in wasting the scarce precious judicial time of this honourable court.

“On the strength of the foregoing, we respectfully urge this honourable court to dismiss the appeal as lacking in merit and substance.

“Additionally, and as earlier demonstrated in this brief, this appeal constitutes a crass abuse of the processes of this honourable court, and we urge the court to also dismiss the appeal on this score.”

In further praying the court to affirm the decision of the PEPC, Tinubu and Shettima gave a summary of the evidence led by the appellant, which informed why the lower court rejected the petition.

“The appellant (as petitioner before the lower court) called a single witness, Aisha Abubakar, who dealt very catastrophic blows to the petitioner’s/appellant’s case, through her evidence.”’Under cross examination, this witness admitted that, not being a staff of INEC, she was not in a place to know when the notice of substitution was submitted for the Borno Central Senatorial District election.

“This point exposes the witness’ limited or total lack of knowledge of the facts of the case she claimed to be making, and by the decision of this court in Emoga v. State (1997) 9 NWLR (Pt. 519) 25 at 34, it impacted on her overall credibility and further demonstrated why the lower court rightly did not take her depositions seriously.

“In any event, she also confirmed that she is only the Assistant Welfare Officer of the appellant and not a member of the APC, which again, exposes the meddlesomeness in the appellant’s charade before the court.

“Interestingly, she admitted knowledge of the decision of the Supreme Court in SC/CV/501/2023 – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) v. Independent National Electoral Commission & 3 others, delivered on 26th May, 2023, which was tendered through her and admitted as Exhibit XI.

“Not done yet, the witness also read very critical portions of the said Exhibit XI, which made very damaging remarks about the appeal, and by extension, the petition, which for all intents and purposes, is a rehash of the case which led to that appeal.

“Flowing from the foregoing, the lower court had no other option or alternative than to dismiss the very frivolous petition.

“But, in doing so, the lower court still painstakingly and meticulously considered the entire petition, holding that it was lacking in merit and substance, and concluding that it was bound by the decision of this court afore-stated.”

The APM had, in its petition before the PEPC, claimed that Shettima violated the province of the Electoral Act on the grounds that he allegedly had double nominations – as candidate of the APC for Borno Central Senatorial District and as vice presidential candidate.

It prayed the court to, among others, void the joint presidential ticket of Tinubu and Shettima, claiming that the Vice President’s alleged irregular nomination has affected the competence of the joint ticket.

In its judgment on September 6, the PEPC dismissed the petition for being without merit and held among others, that the issue of nomination was not only an internal affair of a party, it was a pre-election issue over which it lacked jurisdiction.

The PEPC also held that APM, not being a member of the APC, the party on whose platform both Tinubu and Shettima contested the election, lacked the locus standi to query Shettima’s nomination.

It further held that the question raised by the APM in its petition, about whether or not Shettima had double nominations, was resolved by the Supreme Court in SC/CV/502/2023 – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) v. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) & 3 others in a judgment delivered on May 26, 2023.

Tinubu and Shettima urged the apex court to affirm the decision by the PEPC, which relied on the apex court’s September 26 judgment in the case by the PDP against INEC and 3 others.

Tinubu certificate saga an attempt to truncate civil rule — Basiru

And addressing APC supporters in Osogbo, Osun State, the party’s National Secretary, Dr.Ajibola Basiru, described the Chicago State University certificate saga as an attempt by those he called anti-democratic forces to truncate civil rule, having been rejected by Nigerians at the polls.

He said the APC would be back in power in the state in 2026 and asked members to start mobilising ahead of that year’s governorship election.

He said: “APC will take over power in 2026. I want to urge our party members to start mobilizing ahead of the next governorship election in 2026.

“Governor Ademola Adeleke is deceiving the Osun people with an urban renewal project that has yet to manifest in the State.

“Allocation from the Federal Government to Osun has hugely increased, however the increment has not reflected neither in workers’ welfare nor tangible projects for people.

“The much-mouthed borehole per ward is a fluke. Any government built on lies and propaganda is bound to crumble. Osun workers are subjected to more hardship. What has Adeleke done with the first tranche of N2b from the Federal Government when states such as Kwara, Ekiti, Ogun, Lagos, Imo, Anambra Kano and even Kebbi with war-ravaged Borno have made workers smile in addition to their salaries?”

But responding to Basiru’s statement, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman in the state, Sunday Bisi, said the APC should stop nursing any ambition of returning to power in the state.

He said that contrary to the Basiru’s position, “for the first time in 13 years and in less than a year of PDP administration, Osun State is witnessing a semblance of responsible and empathic governance.

“Governor Adeleke has steered the state towards sustainable development in road infrastructure, upscaled healthcare, revamped education, and unprecedented water provision among many people-oriented strides. All these are being achieved in an atmosphere of transparency and accountability, away from the bossy and looting style of the past.”

“The APC faces a conspicuous lack of electoral prospects in 2026 and beyond and this is a dose of truth Basiru must take in intravenously before he wastes more of his idle calories on demented dreams of resurgence.”