In a rush to beat the 21 days deadline provided by the Electoral Act, lawyers to the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Monday evening, stormed the tribunal to lodge a petition against President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had on February 27, declared President Buhari who was the flag-bearer of the All Progressives Congress, APC, winner of the presidential election.
Under section 134 of the Electoral Act, 2010, any candidate that was dissatisfied with the outcome of the presidential contest, was mandated to approach the tribunal with a petition, not later than 21 days after the result was announced, a deadline that will expire on Tuesday.
While the tribunal must deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the date the petition was filed. As at the time of filing this report, 7:50pm, Atiku’s team of lawyers led by Mr. Chukwuma Machukwu Ume, SAN, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, and Mr. Emeka Etiaba, SAN, are perfecting the filing process at the Central Registry of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, PEPT.
The tribunal will be conducting its proceedings at the Court of Appeal headquarters in Abuja.
Though Atiku had yet to arrive at the tribunal where he is expected to personally depose to an affidavit, however, some chieftains of the PDP, including its spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan and Alhaji Buba Galadima, accompanied the lawyers to the tribunal. Addressing newsmen, National Legal Adviser of the PDP, Mr. Emmanuel Enoidem, revealed that Atiku would be seeking two principal reliefs at the tribunal.
He said the first relief was for an order declaring him as the bona-fide winner of the 2019 presidential election.
In the alternative, Atiku and the PDP, are urging the tribunal to nullify the February 23 presidential election on the premise that it was marred by irregularities.
“We asked that our candidate who won the election massively across the country be declared the winner.
“In the alternative, we also asked that the election be set aside on the ground of irregularity which was apparent across the country.
“We have a pool of 20 SANs who are tested in election petition matters and other senior lawyers who are also working with them. So we are confident.
“We have also lined up more than 400 witnesses that are going to testify in this petition.
“Nigerians are at home with what happened on February 23, the sham they called election. We are going to re-present those facts to Nigerians, we are not going to manufacture facts”, he added.
Similarly, a member of the legal team, Chief Ozekhome, SAN, told journalists that the petitioners encountered serious challenges in the hands of INEC which is said was reluctant to grant them access to the electoral materials.
“Our petition is quite solid, very strong and unassailable. We believe that by the grace of God, the original winner will regain his mandate”, Ozekhome added.
It will be recalled that the tribunal had on March 6, ordered INEC to grant Atiku and PDP access to all the electoral materials that were used for the presidential poll.
The tribunal however declined to allow Atiku and PDP to conduct forensic analysis on any of the electoral materials on the premise that such request was outside the scope of the Electoral Act, as amended.
Justice Abdul Aboki who delivered the lead ruling of the tribunal, held that Atiku’s request for experts to be permitted to conduct forensic audit on the materials, could not be regarded as “inspection” that was allowed in section 151 of the Electoral Act.
He held that a decided case-law in Hope Uzodinma Vs Osita Izunaso, which Atiku and the PDP relied upon to make the application, wherein a tribunal ordered INEC to allow the petitioner to scan and conduct forensic audit on all the election materials, had since been set-aside by the Court of Appeal.
Nevertheless, the tribunal directed INEC to allow the Applicants access to the ballot papers and voters register.
Specifically, Atiku and his party, told the tribunal that the essence of the request was to establish that the presidential election was fraught with manifest irregularities they said included multiple thumbprinting of ballot papers. They indicated their determination to engage forensic experts to scritinze all materials that INEC deployed for the election.
In a counter-move, President Buhari and the APC, on March 14, also approached the tribunal and secured an order for INEC to equally grant them access to all the electoral materials.
The Tribunal, in two separate rulings, ordered the electoral body to forthwith, make available to President Buhari and the APC, both used and unused ballot papers it deployed across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, for the purpose of the presidential poll. Among other documents the tribunal granted the Applicants leave to inspect included all the voters registers.
It held that the Applicants should also be allowed to obtain Certified True Copies of all the documents that were used at the polling units, wards, local governments and state levels.
The tribunal said it was inclined to grant the request pursuant to section 6(6) (a) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, section 137(2) and 151(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act and 47(1) of the Third Schedule to Electoral Act.
President Buhari and the APC had through their lawyers, Adelani Ajibade and Thomas Ojo, prayed the tribunal to order INEC to release the materials to enable them to prepare their defence to a petition the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar intends to lodge against the outcome of the presidential poll.
Ex-Gov. Abubakar Spent N2.3bn To Buy Burial Materials, Bauchi Governor Alleges
As the blame game continues in Bauchi State, Governor Bala Mohammed has alleged that his predecessor, Mohammed Abubakar spent a whopping sum of N2.3 billion to buy materials for burying dead bodies in the state.
The governor who spoke through his spokesperson, Dr. Ladan Salihu, in an interview with newsmen in Bauchi over the weekend, alleged that the said funds were spent between January and May 2019.
Ladan Salihu explained that over N900 million of the money was spent in buying white cloth materials used for wrapping dead bodies while over N1.4 billion was used to buy the wood for lacing the graves for the burial.
According to him, the government discovered various issues of corruption, venality, daylight robbery of the commonwealth of Bauchi State where billions of Naira were syphoned illegally.
The spokesperson further alleged that: “These monies which ought to have been appropriated by the Assembly before expenditure, all of a sudden emanated from our treasury books.
How could you imagine that a state government, within five months that is between January and May, 2019, spent well over N2.3 billion on funeral materials, the clothes that are used in wrapping dead bodies and the woods that you lace the graveyards with?
“The immediate past government spent N2.3 billion, that government did not spend a quarter of that amount in our own hospitals and clinics. They have the temerity to want to put up a show of shame,” he lamented.
When asked if the government has any proof to substantiate its claim, he said that there is no iota of doubt on the matter saying that there are documental evidence to prove it.
“All these are captured in the report of the Transition Committee and these were gathered from documents and vouchers and payments made from our treasury books. There is the Freedom of Information law, go there and find out for yourself from those documents.
“We are talking about the principle behind it. You have bought these materials for funerals in graveyards, what have you done to the Christian cemetery? But we are saying that it is wrong completely, it is not the duty of government to buy burial materials for anybody.
“It is the responsibility of the family, the community and people of goodwill. It has never existed in our history books that the government bought those materials in the first place.
“So, you know that these things were bought for a reason, you would not see the materials, because they have disappeared into or out of ballot boxes,” he alleged.
Ladan Salihu further vowed that: “Government will take very, very stern measures, we will recover every kobo that has been looted or stolen by the immediate past administration and in fact, the administration before it. Where it is established that there is a clear case of misappropriation or outright stealing of public funds. It is an obligation, you don’t allow criminality to run roughshod on the rest of us because these are public funds.
“We must take steps, there’s no factor of fear or favour or ill will, it is just the way the business of government must be conducted. We will take every measure, we use every institution and go after everyone that has stolen Bauchi State’s money.
“We will pursue this case in the relevant institutions of recovery whether it is EFCC, ICPC, the constitution of a Special Recovery Mechanism within the state, I can assure you, we will pursue these issues vigorously, rigorously and without let,” he added.
When our correspondent contacted the Special Adviser to the former Governor Abubakar on Media and Strategy, Ali M. Ali, on phone, he simply said, “that is very ridiculous, I cannot make further comments on the issue because I am not aware of such allegation.
“I’ve not heard of anything like that, so I will speak on it when I make my findings but this is laughable. I will get back to you on that when I have done my findings from my principal,” he added.
Presidents of Rwanda, Senegal And DRC To Speak At The Largest Annual Gathering Of African Entrepreneurs
The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Africa’s champion of entrepreneurship, has announced the line-up of speakers and activities for the 5th Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum — the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurs and the African entrepreneurship ecosystem.
For the Forum’s Presidential Dialogue, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), H.E Félix Tshisekedi will join previously announced President of Rwanda, H.E Paul Kagame and President of Senegal, H.E Macky Sall, in an interactive, charged plenary session that opens Day 2 of the Forum. The Presidential Dialogue will be moderated by TEF Founder, Tony O. Elumelu, CON, and will feature all three presidents engaging directly with an audience of 5,000, comprising of entrepreneurs, policymakers, investors and business leaders, with thousands of people interacting live online, through TEFConnect.
The Forum presents the largest single annual opportunity for entrepreneurs and policy makers to interact directly and all sessions at the Forum have private sector and public sector leaders anchor panel discussions, masterclasses, and a dynamic pitching competition that will engage an audience of start-up entrepreneurs, development institutions, and policymakers.
The speakers expected for this year’s Forum include Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of African Export-Import (AFREXIMBANK); Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank (AFDB); Dr. Awele Elumelu, Trustee, Tony Elumelu Foundation and Founder, Avon Medical; Kennedy Uzoka, Group CEO, UBA Group Plc; Mrs. Djene Kaba Conde, First Lady, Guinea; amongst other notable global business leaders.
Every year, the Tony Elumelu Foundation hosts the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs, policymakers and business leaders in one location. This year’s Forum, themed “Empowering African Entrepreneurs”, will take place at the iconic Transcorp Hilton Hotel, in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja. The Forum will also include the UBA Marketplace, where UBA, Africa’s global bank, brings together businesses from across the continent.
At the 2018 forum, TEFConnect, the largest digital platform for African entrepreneurs was launched to connect entrepreneurs to the opportunities they need for business success. TEFConnect will take centre stage at this year’s Forum as global debates move to technology as a key driver of economic development in Africa.
For more information: https://www.tonyelumelufoundation.org/forum2019
Jim Ovia Advocates For Disruptive Technology To Scale Businesses In Africa
According to Zenith Bank Founder/Chairman, Jim Ovia, businesses stand a chance to triple growth rate and earnings through innovation and technology.
The options are to “innovate and transform or die”, he said. It is the technology age and businesses operating out of Africa should continually adopt technology to experience exponential scale in their business development.
He made this statement while chairing the launch of the PwC Experience Centre. Mr. Ovia added that the Experience Centre is a forward-thinking way to disrupt the over $1tn consultancy service industry yet to be digitized.
Therefore, the Experience Centre is an effective move towards expanding PwC’s innovative solution services across West Africa.