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Supreme Court Receives Records on Appeal by Zamfara Governor-Elect, Others

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The Supreme Court has received the records of proceedings at the lower courts in relation to the appeal filed by Zamfara State’s governor-elect, Mukhtar Idris and 37 others, against the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Sokoto.

The compilation and transmission of records by an appellant and the receipt of such records by the Supreme Court are major requirements for a competent appeal.

The Court of Appeal in Sokoto had, in judgment some weeks ago, faulted the primary elections conducted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state prior to the last general elections.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), acting on the Appeal Court’s judgment, has failed to issue a certificate of return to Idris (the governor-elect) and others, who are also members of the APC, elected to the state’s House of Assembly.
Idris and others are, by their appeal, seeking among others, the setting aside of the judgment by the Appeal Court in Sokoto.

It was learned that, although the records of appeal have been received at the Registry of the Supreme Court, a date is yet to be set for the hearing of the appeal.

The Nation further learned that parties to the appeal are required to file, serve and exchange their various briefs of argument before a date could be set for the hearing of the appeal.

A senior court official informed The Nation that in view of the urgency involved, the case being election-related, the court could be moved to abridge time.

The official said that the court may abridge the time for parties to file and serve their processes because of the nature of the case and the urgency involved.”

Idris and others had last week, written to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, drawing his attention to the notice of appeal filed at the Supreme Court.

In the letter dated April 2, 2019, authored by their lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), Idris and others argued that the judgment by the Court of Appeal in Sokoto contained no positive or direct order.

Idris and others added that, even if there was an order arising from the judgment, they, under the law, are entitled to 21 days within which to appeal, therefore, putting the judgment in abeyance, until after the expiration of the 21days.

They argued that, as it relates to the current case, their party (APC Zamfara) still has 21days existing along with their constitutional right of appeal.

Part of the letter reads: “It is worthy of note that the purported judgment of the Court of Appeal, has no positive or direct order.

“But, assuming there is even a court order arising from the said judgment, we still have 21 days within which to appeal, thus, putting into abeyance the said judgment until after the lapse of the said 21days.

“In the case at hand, the parties still have 21days existing side by side with their constitutional right of appeal.

“Finally, we urge INEC to abide fully with the provision of Section 143 of the Electoral Act by releasing the certificate of return to Zamfara State governor-elect as well as all the state members-elect.”

They argued that it is the provision of Section 143(1) of the Electoral Act that: “If the election tribunal or the court, as the case may be, determined that a candidate returned and elected was not validly elected, then, if notice of appeal against that decision is given within 21day from the date of the decision, the candidate returned as elected shall, notwithstanding the contrary decision of the election tribunal or the court, remain in office pending the determination of the appeal.”

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Atiku, PDP Asking Us For Server That We Don’t Have, INEC Tells Tribunal

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The Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday insisted that it had no electronic server being sought to be accessed and inspected by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate in the February 23, 2019 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

The commission had earlier denied the existence of such server in its reply filed on April 10, 2019 to oppose Atiku and PDP’s petition pending before the five-man tribunal.

The petitioners are by their petition challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress at the last presidential election.

INEC, Buhari and the APC who are the respondents to the petition and to the petitioners’ application for access to the server used for the election, on Thursday, asked the Justice Mohammed Garba-led panel to dismiss the petitioners’ request.

The three respondents, through their respective counsels, reminded the tribunal that the Court of Appeal had, on May 6, 2019 (before the petition was filed on May 18), dismissed a similar application filed by the petitioners.

Represented at the Thursday’s proceedings by its lead counsel, Mr. Yunus Usman (SAN), INEC said the application by the petitioners amounted to asking the commission to produce what it did not have.

Urging the tribunal to dismiss the application, Usman said, “We attached as Exhibit 1, the enrolled order of this honourable court made on May 6, 2019 refusing all the prayers of the petitioners in this application.

“They said we should bring what we don’t have.”

INEC had declared Buhari and APC the winner of the February 23 election.

It said Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest rival, Atiku, who polled 11,262,978 votes.

But Atiku and the PDP, in their petition filed on March 18 challenging the outcome of the poll, contended that “from the data” obtained from INEC’s server, “the true, actual and correct results” showed that they polled a total of 18,356,732 votes to defeat Buhari whom they said scored 16,741,430 votes.

By calculation, Atiku and PDP claimed to have defeated Buhari by 1,615,302 votes.

The petitioners, through their lead counsel, Dr. Livy Ozoukwu, subsequently filed an application on May 8, 2019, seeking an order of the tribunal permitting them to access and inspect the INEC’s server into which results and other data were allegedly transmitted during the February 23 poll.

A senior member of the petitioners’ legal team, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), moved the application on Thursday.

Uche urged the tribunal to grant the application in the interest of justice, transparency and neutrality, saying it was necessary for his team to be able to maintain the petition.

He said, “The application in summary asks for access to and inspection of the server of the INEC and the smart card readers used in the conduct of the presidential election.

“We have addressed the issues in our counter-affidavit, written address and reply on points of law and we urge your lordships that the application be granted as prayed in the interest of justice, transparency and neutrality.

“The application is necessary for the maintenance of this petition.”

Reacting first, INEC’s lead counsel, Usman, referred the tribunal to his client’s counter-affidavit filed on May 23 in opposition to the application.

He added that the Court of Appeal having earlier refused similar application, same should not be granted again.

The leader of Buhari’s legal team, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), also urged the tribunal to dismiss the application.

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DSO Trial: Judge Threatens To Close ICPC’s Case Against NBC Boss, Others

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Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has threatened to close the case of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) against the Director General of National Broadcasting Commission, Ishaq Modibbo and three others for lack of diligent prosecution.
The threat was sequel to an oral application made by Alex Izinyon SAN, counsel to the 2nd and 3rd defendants (Dipo Onifade and Lucky Omoluwa) and supported by counsel representing the 1st and 4th defendants.

The defence counsel had expressed dissatisfaction over the way and manner the prosecution counsel was conducting the trial in piece meal.

At the last adjourned date, May 27 to be precise, the ICPC lawyer Henry Emore, had called only two witnesses, and assured Justice Giwa that he would bring all his remaining witnesses to court on June 3.

Based, on Emore’s assurance, the court directed him to bring all his witnesses to court on Monday June 3, instead of bringing them one per sitting.
However, at Monday’s proceeding, after calling the 6th witness, the prosecution counsel told the court that he could not continue the trial due to absence of two other witnesses.

The ICPC lawyer told the court that one of his witnesses travelled to Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj, while the other was bereaved.
Miffed by the prosecution counsel’s call for an adjournment, Alex Izinyon SAN, counsel to the 2nd and 3rd defendants made an oral application asking the court to close the case of the prosecution.
“We have tolerated the prosecution, if the prosecution is not prepared to proceed with this trial, my Lord, please close their case. They should put their house in order and stop wasting the time of the court.
“Today, they just served on the defence, additional proof of evidence in court.

“The court fixed today for this trial but after calling one witness, the prosecution counsel is requesting an adjournment and thereby wasting the court’s precious time” Izinyon said.
Counsel to the 4th defendant (Pinnacle Communications Ltd) Ama Etuwewe, associated himself with Izinyon’s application.
“We left out everything today just to come to court to do this case, only for the prosecution counsel to call one witness and move for an adjournment.

Similarly, counsel to the 1st defendant (Modibbo Kawu) asked the court to close the case of the prosecution.
Addressing the prosecution counsel, the Judge stated, ” You heard the applications and complaints of the defence counsel and I agree with them.

“I think it is in your own interest to put your house in order. I adjourned this case till today for you to bring all your witnesses, so that we can make progress.

“I could have fixed other cases today but the whole day is now wasted. “I will not close your case but you must bring all your witnesses in court on the next adjourned date or I will close your case” the court stated.
Justice Giwa specifically noted that the prosecution flouted the order of the court directing him to bring all his witnesses in court on Monday.

Consequently, the court ordered Emore to bring all his witnesses to court on the next adjourned date of June 26.
Earlier, the PW 6, Remigius Ugwu, a Compliance Officer with Zenith Bank had testified that Pinnacle Communication Ltd has an account with them.

After a short testimony, the prosecution counsel tendered the PCL’s bank opening package and statement of account, which were later admitted in evidence by the court. In the course of the testimony the witness admitted that the turnover of Pinnacle in the period covered by the statement of account he tendered was well over N11 Billion.

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Court Remands Woman Who Blamed Snake for Missing N35m JAMB Funds

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A high court in Maitama, Abuja has remanded Philomina Chieshe and five other officials of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB).

They were remanded on Friday over their involvement in the missing N35 million from sales of JAMB e-card in Benue state.

Chieshe was arraigned alongside Samuel Umoru, Yakubu Jekada, Daniel Agbo, Priscilla Ogunsola, and Aliyu Yakubu.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC ) arraigned her and others on eight counts bordering on refusal to account for the board’s money between 2014 to 2016.

Peter Afen, who presided over the case, ordered that the defendants be remanded in the custody of EFCC, pending the outcome of their bail application.

He then adjourned until Monday, June 3, 2019 for the hearing of their bail application.

The EFCC had alleged that Chieshe, a sales clerk with JAMB, told their registrar and his team that she could not account for N36 million she made in previous years before the abolition of scratch cards.

They alleged that she claimed that the money was swallowed by a snake in Makurdi.

She alleged that it was her housemaid that connived with another JAMB staff, to “spiritually” (through a snake) steal the money from the vault in the accounts office.

The anti-graft agency said these contravened section 139 (a) of the penal code law.

They pleaded not guilty to the allegations.

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