The election tribunal petition will deliver its verdict about the results of the February 2019 presidential election, the trial commenced after the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar filed to petition the results of the election.
Major Nigerian Newspapers have more on these stories:
Punch Newspaper: Buhari vs Atiku: Tribunal rules today, APC, PDP confident of victory
The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja will on Wednesday (today) deliver judgment in the case instituted by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, challenging the outcome of the February 23, 2019 presidential election.
The petitioners asked the five-man tribunal, led by Justice Mohammed Garba, to nullify President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the poll and either declare them the winner or order the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct a rerun.
A senior member of the petitioners’ legal team, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), confirmed to one of our correspondents that the hearing notice for the judgment was served on lawyers representing the parties to the case on Tuesday. “I can confirm to you that the judgment will be delivered 9am tomorrow (Wednesday),” he said.
Ozekhome (SAN) expressed hope that his clients’ case would succeed. He said, “My expectation, like the majority of Nigerians and international observers, is that the petition will succeed. This is because the petitioners have proved their case. The evidence was overwhelming and it was clear to everyone that the respondents had no defence. The judiciary will be courageous and bold to deliver justice.”
When contacted, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the party was expecting victory because the PDP’s petition lacked substance. He said, “We are expecting nothing short of victory. The PDP only helped us to prove our case beyond reasonable doubt. Their petition turned out to be a noise and lacks substance. “We presented certificate from Cambridge and WAEC which they could not fault. They couldn’t bring anything from Cambridge and WAEC to say what we presented was fake. “The results they submitted upon which they wanted the court to award them victory were contradictory. They simply don’t have a case.”
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Diran Odeyemi, on Tuesday said the party members were of high hopes that the tribunal would declare Atiku as the winner of the election. Odeyemi said, “We expect the judiciary as the last hope of the common man to dispense justice more so as Atiku has proved his case beyond any reasonable doubt and declare him the winner of the election.”
Sun Newspaper: Judgment Day for Buhari, Atiku
After six months of mounting anxiety, the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal will today, in Abuja, deliver judgment in the petition of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, challenging the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the February 23 presidential poll.
The tribunal had in a notice of hearing conveyed to parties in the petition through text messages and telephone calls, announced its resolution to make its findings and final decision on the petition public today.
The Court of Appeal’s public relations officer, Mrs. Sadiat Kachalla, confirmed it in a notice of judgment in Abuja. The tribunal had on August 21 reserved judgment on the appeal after parties adopted their addresses.
Justice Mohammed Garba, chairman of the five-man panel of justices, had stated that the judgment date would be communicated to parties. The tribunal would have to rule on all pending interlocutory applications filed by parties before delivering judgment on the main appeal.
Buhari was declared winner of the election after scoring 15,191,847 votes, as against Atiku’s 11,262,978 votes. Atiku and the PDP had, on March 18, dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) before the tribunal, praying for the nullification of Buhari’s election on various grounds, ranging from Buhari’s ineligibilty to stand for the election, election malpractices, alteration of election results and violence, among others.
To establish his petition, Atiku, during the hearing, called 62 witnesses and tendered over 4,000 documents and video clips before the tribunal, while Buhari, on the other hand, called seven witnesses and also tendered documents to prove that he won the election.
The APC and INEC did not call any witness but chose to use the evidence of the petitioners’ witnesses to support their defense. The petitioners had, in the last stage of the hearing, alleged Buhari used fundamental falsehood to secure clearance from INEC to participate in the poll.
Atiku, in his final address, insisted that Buhari, as candidate of APC, lied on oath in his form CF001 presented to INEC before standing for the presidential election.
In the final address presented on his behalf by his lead counsel, Dr. Levy Uzuokwu, SAN, Atiku drew the attention of the tribunal to a portion of the INEC form where Buhari claimed to have three different certificates: primary school leaving certificate, WAEC certifcate and officer’s cadet certifcate.
The petitioners said it was shocking that, “No provisional certificate, no certified true copy of the certificates, no photocopy of certificates and, in fact, no electronic version of any of the certificates was presented by Buhari throughout the hearing of the petition to dispute the claim of the petitioners.
“More worrisome is the fact that Buhari’s own witness, Major General Paul Tafa (retd), who joined the Nigerian Army with him in 1962, told the tribunal that they were never asked to submit their certificates to the Nigerian Army Board, as claimed by Buhari in his form CF001.
“At any rate, the secretary of the Nigerian Army Board, Olatunde Olaleye, had in a statement clarified that Buhari had no single certificate in his personal file with the Nigerian Army.”
Atiku, therefore, urged the tribunal to nullify the participation of Buhari in the election on the grounds that he lied on oath to deceive Nigerians and to secure qualification for the election. The former Vice President informed the tribunal that Buhari’s claims that he could read and write in English language as enough qualification for him was of no significance because ordinary artisans on the streets of Nigeria could also do so, adding that a grave allegation bordering on certificate infractions was not addressed by Buhari as required by law.
The PDP presidential candidate also faulted INEC’s claim that it had no central server, adding that the server was a storage facility, including computers, where database of registered voters, number of permanent voter cards and election results, among others, were stored for reference.
He said the claim that INEC had no device like a server to store information was “laughable, tragic and a story for the dogs.”
Atiku’s lawyer, in the final address, debunked the claim of INEC that collation and transmission of results electronically was prohibited by law in Nigeria.
He asserted that, by the Electoral Amendment Act of March 26, 2015, the use of electronics became law and was officially gazetted for the country, and Section 9 of the Act, which made provision for electronic collation of results, replaced Section 52, which hitherto prohibited the use of electronics and on which INEC erroneously held that electronic results transmission was prohibited.
He, therefore, urged the tribunal to uphold the petition and nullify the participation of Buhari in the election on the grounds that he was not qualified to have stood for the election in the first place, in addition to malpractices that prompted his declaration as winner of the election.
However, INEC, represented by Yunus Usman, SAN, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial cost because the electoral body conducted the election in total compliance with the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act, 2010.
Usman insisted that INEC did not transmit election results electronically because doing so was prohibited by law and the commission did not call any witness because there was no need to do so.
Meanwhile, both the APC and PDP have expressed confidence that the ruling will be in their favour. APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the opposition helped the ruling party to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubts.
“We have reason to doubt that it will go in our favour because the PDP were not able to put up any legal resistance. We have to thank the PDP for helping us to prove our case beyond all reasonable doubts. “We are hopeful that since we didn’t have to waste our time and they have nothing to contradict our claims like the issue of certificate by the President, which they could not bring anything to show that it is not genuine either from WAEC or Cambridge, they did us favour.’
But the candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, who spoke through his media aide, Paul Ibe, said having proved his case before the tribunal, his expectation is that the tribunal will render justice. “We are hopeful. We are expectant. We are hopeful that the tribunal will render justice. But let us remember that this was never about Atiku Abubakar. This is about Nigeria and Nigerians. And about an opportunity to reset this country, to chart a better future for our people. This is what it is about. It is not about Atiku.”
A group under the auspices of Democracy Vanguard of Nigerians in Diaspora urged the tribunal to be “courageous, firm, just and equitable” in delivering its verdict on the 2019 presidential election. In an open letter made available to newsmen in Abuja and signed by its President, Timothy Sule, the group specifically advised the judges to toe the path of integrity, honour, good conscience and equity.
At the time of this report security has been beefed up within the vicinity of the Court of Appeal Headquarters, serving as venue for the tribunal.
Guardian Newspaper: Shiites, police squabble over alleged killing of 12
The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) yesterday accused the police of initiating violence against its members, alleging that 12 persons were killed during its yearly Ashura procession. The president of the group’s media forum, Ibrahim Musa, said the march was held in Abuja, Jos, Kebbi, Minna, Lafia, Yola, Gusau, Zaria, Kano, Jalingo, Damaturu, Hadejia, and Potiskum.
According to him, “That the mourning procession ended peacefully in places where (members) were not attacked by the police is sufficient evidence as to who the instigators of violence are whenever we are carrying out legitimate religious activities.” In a statement, Musa said: “The casualty figures may rise due to the gunshot wounds sustained by some of the mourners.”
Ashura is the tenth day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar. It marks the day that Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, was killed in the Battle of Karbala.
One of IMN’s leaders in Katsina State, Sheik Yahaya, challenged security agencies to confront bandits and kidnappers operating in parts of the state rather than harass citizens observing their religious obligation. “Our base was invaded by policemen. I told my members to come out of their houses and observe the procession in their areas, which they did. We did not plan to disrupt peace in the state. We only went out to observe our procession and pray for peace to reign in the country. But unknown to us, they (security agencies) had a plan against us,” he told reporters.
The procession in Abuja began as early as 8:00 a.m. at Wuse Market and ended shortly afterward at Berger Roundabout before the arrival of heavily armed security officers. Speaking on the brevity of the event, the secretary of IMN’s Academic Forum, Abdullahi Musa, said the motive was to avoid a clash with the police. “Our plan was just to March from Wuse Market to Berger and we have done just that. But the reports we are getting from Kaduna, Gombe, and Bauchi are not so good. Our people are telling us that security forces are teargasing them and shooting live ammunition at them.”
One eyewitness told The Guardian that the sect’s members dispersed before getting to Berger after sighting heavily armed security personnel approaching them in trucks. “They were marching towards the bus stop, though in a peaceful manner. Suddenly, they started running in different directions as they saw policemen coming towards them. One of the police trucks was even carrying drums of hot water,” he said.
Also, residents of the city were forced to endure hours of traffic gridlock as security operatives mounted checkpoints along the Abuja-Keffi Road. The police in Kaduna State, meanwhile, dismissed the allegation that its personnel killed some IMN members.
Responding to the claim, the spokesman, Yakubu Rabo, said the command had not “received any report of death casualties.” He said though the members “became violent and unruly,” officers deployed “minimum force” in dispersing them. He accused the group of “blocking public highways, causing traffic jams and molesting commuters.” Rabo also claimed IMN members threw stones at the police and hit them with iron bolts hurled from catapults.
The Federal Government had in July proscribed the group, with Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu warning that all forms of processions or protests by the sect were banned forthwith. Rabo disclosed that four persons were arrested in connection with the breach. This was as the Katsina State command confirmed the arrest of 36 IMN members. According to the spokesman, Gambo Isah, the command “will not fold its arms and watch violent protest being carried out by the group with impunity, infringing on the rights of other citizens of the state.”
Isaiah, who disclosed that a policeman was “seriously injured” without elaborating further, stated: “In compliance with the Federal Government’s directives on the proscription of IMN, the Katsina State police command has put in place stringent security measures to deal decisively with the defiant members of the proscribed group. The (arrested) suspects will be arraigned in court immediately investigation is completed.”
Yesterday, Police Public Relations Officer Frank Mba released a statement clarifying that the ban on processions was only applicable to the IMN. The statement, however, warned members of the Muslim community to carry out the yearly ritual within the confines of the law and guard against infiltration by unscrupulous elements.
It reads: “The Inspector-General has directed all commissioners of police and their respective supervisory assistant inspectors-general of police in commands and zones to give full effect to the above clarifications and ensure that non-IMN Muslims are not in any way restricted from exercising their freedom of religion, worship, and peaceful assembly.”