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BREAKING: Atiku Asks Tribunal To Sack Buhari, Declare Him Winner; Lines Up 400 Witnesses, 20 SANs

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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.

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8 Nigerian ATM Robbers Sentenced To Death In UAE

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Eight Nigerians, all men, have been sentenced to death in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates(UAE) for a string of robberies at money exchanges and cash machines(ATMs) across the emirate in December 2016.

The ninth Nigerian, found guilty for possession of stolen money was sentenced to six months imprisonment.

He will be deported after serving his prison term.

The Gulf News reported that the Nigerian denied the charge against him and said that one of the accused’s brothers asked him to transfer Dh60,000 to an account in Nigeria.

All the convicted Nigerians were not identified by both the Gulf News and Khaleej Times, all local newspapers, which reported the trial.

A total of 20 suspects were initially held for attacking security guards in four violent attacks at ATMs and money exchanges across Sharjah in late 2016. Out of 20 suspects, nine were convicted.

Some of the accused confessed to their crimes while others denied the charges levelled against them.

The verdict was handed down by Judge Majid Al Muhairi of Sharjah Criminal Court on Wednesday.

The eight-member gang attacked security trucks and entered establishments by force and threatened and assaulted staff and members of the public with bladed weapons in a spate of robberies, three of which were carried out on the same day on December 18, 2016.

The gang — who were all in the UAE on visit visas — were said to be highly organised and plotted a string of orchestrated attacks to ambush security trucks that were transporting money boxes to and from ATMs, and at least one money exchange in Sharjah.

The first robbery took place at a Dubai Commercial Bank ATM on King Abdul Aziz Street where Dh340,000 was stolen, then two days later they attacked an ATM in Al Safeer Mall in Al Nahda fleeing with Dh700,000, and an ATM in Muweilah where they stole Dh710,000. A fourth attack at a money exchange office near National Paints was foiled by police.

The gang of 20 was arrested in record time but police confirmed that only a portion of the stolen money — almost Dh1.8 million — had been recovered, as the gang members had divided the money among themselves and transferred it to their home country.

Suspects were taken into custody in cooperation with police in Dubai, Ajman and Fujairah.

The gang committed the heists at the busiest times of day when streets were crowded, which added to the confusion and enabled them to escape, said police.

In each robbery the assailants struck quickly before police could arrive, the attackers however could not evade security cameras and police were able to recognise the suspects through surveillance footage captured at the exchange house in the mall.

Video footage showed the suspects attacking security guards, making off with cash, and in one of the robberies slashing the hands of a security guard with a knife before running away with money boxes.

Police believe the suspects had monitored and tracked the security trucks used to transport money for a period of time before launching the attacks took place.

A prosecutor told Gulf News on Thursday that as per the law, a group of people who threaten the life of others while committing robbery are subject to the death sentence, however an appeal is expected to be launched and the sentences could get downgraded to life imprisonment.

The trial appeared unconnected with the arrest of five Nigerians in March this year, who robbed a Bureau de Change operator of Dh2.3 million (N225.4 million) in Sharjai, Dubai.

The suspects were identified as Chimuanya Emmanuel Ozoh, Benjamin Nwachukwu Ajah, Kingsley Ikenna Ngoka, Tochukwu Leonard Alisi and Chile Micah Ndunagu.

The five Nigerians reportedly barged into the BDC on March 20 and smashed the glass barrier between the customers and the staff, stole the money in multiple currencies and fled.

Two employees at the exchange were injured as they resisted the robbers. One of them managed to notify the police. The Sharjah Police coordinated with forces from Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman to nab the suspects from four emirates within 48 hours after the robbery was committed.

A top police official said the suspects came to the UAE on visit visas on March 18.

(NAN)

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Sanwo-Olu Unveils Inauguration Committee Ahead Of Swearing-In

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Lagos State Governor-elect, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Thursday unveiled an inauguration committee that will usher in his administration on May 29th this year.
Mr Sanwo-Olu, who was in the company of his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, presented the committee members at his campaign office on Awolowo Road in Ikoyi.

A statement signed by media officer to the Governor-elect, Gboyega Akosile said the committee is chaired by the Director-General of Babajide Sanwo-Olu Independent Campaign Group (ICG), Mr Tayo Ayinde, while the Lagos State APC Women Leader, Honourable Mrs. Jumoke Okoya-Thomas and Mr. George Osifeko will serve as Vice Chairmen respectively and Mrs. Titi Oshodi will act as secretary.

While unveiling the inauguration team, the governor-elect said the committee is mandated with a responsibility of organizing a smooth programmes that will usher in his administration. The committee is also billed to reach out to Nigerians in corporate and political sectors, stakeholders and various interest groups locally and internationally to grace the swearing-in.

Sanwo-Olu urged members of the committee to co-operate and work diligently in achieving their mandate. He also tasked the team members to streamline their activities with the plans of the outgoing government and work with security agencies in order to have smooth transition.

Mr Ayinde assured the governor-elect and his deputy of the committee’s readiness to organize a seamless swearing-in programme.

He pledged the committee members’ readiness to work assiduously towards achieving an inauguration ceremony that will become a reference point in annals of political events in Nigeria.

”I want to assure your Excellencies that sitting before you are highly experienced men and women who have contributed tremendously to various industries. I can attest to their individual capacity to deliver on the terms of reference of a smooth inauguration ceremony.” Ayinde State.

Other members of the committee include:
Mrs. Obiageli Onu
Mrs. Funke Bucknor Obruthe
Alhaji Abdullahi Enilolobo
Mr. Kamal Salau-Bashua
Mr. Olatunji Disu
Mr. Kappo Emmanuel
Mr. Bolaji Durojaiye
Mrs. Olabopo Odiachi
Mr. Bimbo Onabanjo
Mr. Ajala Rasaq
Mrs. Taiwo Abiodun
Ayiri Oladunmoye
Mr. Gboyega Akosile
Mr. Lanre Adeyinka
Mr. Sesan Daini

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Atiku Should Produce His Academic Credentials, I’m Far More Qualified – Buhari Tells Tribunal

Gbemileke Ajayi

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President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to produce his academic credentials before the Presidential Election Tribunal.

Buhari said this in his response to allegations contained in the petition by Atiku and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, before the tribunal.

Buhari, in a response filed on April 16 by a team of lawyers led by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said that the claim by Atiku and the PDP that he was not qualified to stand for election to the office of the President was a lie.

Buhari told the Tribunal that he was far more qualified to stand for the election than Atiku.

The President insisted that it was Atiku who was not qualified for the election.

President Buhari insisted that he never “at any time, provided any false information in Form CF00] submitted to the lst respondent, either in 2014 or 2018.

“The affidavit of compliance to the 2019 Form CF001 was correct in every material particular.

“In filling Form CF001 in 2014 and 2019, respondent was not oblivious of the constitutional qualifications stipulated in Section 131 of the Constitution and interpreted in Section 318 of the same Constitution.

“Petitioners themselves are also not oblivious of the fact that respondent possesses far more than the constitutional threshold expected for a candidate contesting for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The respondent avers that he is far more qualified, both constitutionally and educationally, to contest and occupy the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria than the 1st petitioner (Atiku); and that in terms of educational qualifications, trainings and courses attended, both within and outside Nigeria, he is head and shoulder above the 1st petitioner in terms of acquisition of knowledge, certificates, laurels, medals, and experience.

“Respondent states further that it is the 1st petitioner, who is not qualified to contest the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and challenges the educational credentials and certificates of the 1st petitioner.

“1st petitioner is hereby given notice to produce and tender his educational certificates, indicating the schools attended by him, with dates.”

The President gave his educational resume as: “Elementary School, Daura and Maid’adua (1948 – 1952), Middle School, Katsina (1953-1956, Katsina Provincial Secondary School (now Government College, Katsina (1956-1961).”

Buhari condemned the entire petition filed by the PDP and Atiku, and told the Tribunal that they are more about pre-election issues, which the Court of Appeal, sitting as a tribunal lacked jurisdiction.

He also argued that the petitioners told lies against themselves in the petition and made conflicting claims which the tribunal cannot grant.

For instance, Buhari noted that while the petitioners claimed to have won the last presidential election and also won elections in many states in the south-south and south-eastern part of the country, they also urged the court to nullify the election and order a fresh presidential election.

Burari argued that by virtue of Section of 137of the Electoral Act, petitioners cannot question the results of elections in states where they claim to have won and still retain themselves as petitioners.

Buhari faulted the petitioners’ claim that the election was marred by corrupt practices and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

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