APC VS PDP: AMAECHI: APC IS GLORIFYING CORRUPTION – PDP

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AMAECHI: APC IS GLORIFYING CORRUPTION – PDP

 

The Rivers State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has described the defense of former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaech’s ministerial nomination by the All Progressives Congress, APC as baseless.

 

The PDP State Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah said the APC in an attempt to protect the embattled former Governor amounts to glorifying corruption.

 

According to Bro Obuah, with the historic woeful defeat of the APC in the State, which it ran to total bankruptcy and near collapse notwithstanding the huge internally generated revenue and accruements from the federal allocations, it is commonsense to fathom why they insist in remaining in office to cover up their loots.

 

Failure to do so explains why the APC in the State and those strangers who assisted in the looting spree, are wrapped in total confusion that is ravaging the party, leaving their members disorientated as being expressed in hollow press statements and ranting.

 

“Amaechi wouldn’t in anyway be an asset to President Muhammadu Buhari and lacks the integrity and morality to speak for Rivers people”, Obuah revealed.

 

According to the State Chairman of the PDP, Amaechi’s record of betrayal is evident and available and need not be repeated that he cannot in anyway be an asset to President Buhari.

WHY I WAS QUIZZED BY EFCC — EX-GOVERNOR AKPABIO

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WHY I WAS QUIZZED BY EFCC — EX-GOVERNOR AKPABIO

 

A former Governor of Akwa Ibom state, Godswill Akpabio, has given insight into why he was interrogated for several hours on Friday by operatives of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

 

Speaking with a PREMIUM TIMES reporter shortly after he left the EFCC headquarters late on Friday night, Mr. Akpabio admitted that he was summoned by the anti-graft body to respond to several allegations of corruption against him.

 

He however said he was not arrested, but that he honoured the commission’s invitation voluntarily.

 

“A young lawyer from my state has been petitioning the EFCC accusing me of corruption,” the former governor said. “So shortly before I got involved in an accident in August, the EFCC summoned me to come and respond to the allegations.

 

“But following the accident, I wasn’t well enough to honour the EFCC summon. And I let them know.

 

“So today, since I’m now well, and the Senate did not sit, I decided to honour the EFCC so as to answer questions concerning the allegations against me.

 

“I wasn’t arrested. I walked in there myself and now I’m back at home. The EFCC operatives were professional. They asked questions, and I answered.”

 

Mr. Akpabio insisted the allegations against him were false, saying “those making the allegations do not understand how government works”.

 

The former governor, who is now Senate Minority Leader, said the lawyer who dragged him to the EFCC submitted at least four different petitions, and that it would take a while for him to respond to each of the allegations.

 

“So I will return to the EFCC again as necessary,” he said.

 

Mr. Akpabio added, “I am a law-abiding citizen, and whenever I’m summoned to answer questions about how I served my people, I will always respond.

 

“I urge everyone who has served in public office not to be afraid to explain what they did and how they served.”

 

BACKGROUND

 

The EFCC had begun investigation into alleged theft of N108.1billion of Akwa Ibom funds by the former governor in June.

 

The action followed a petition forwarded to the commission by an Abuja-based lawyer and activist, Leo Ekpenyong.

 

Mr. Ekpenyong had on June 8 petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the EFCC, calling for Mr. Akpabio’s probe and accusing him of looting Akwa Ibom state treasury.

 

Investigations by PREMIUM TIMES showed that several other indigenes of the state, who are demanding the investigation of the former governor, have been invited by the EFCC to adopt their petitions.

 

On his part, Mr. Ekpenyong was summoned on Wednesday, June 17, to adopt his petition and provide more details to some of the allegations he made against Mr. Akpabio.

 

The former governor, now senator, was elected in 2007, at a time the nation enjoyed robust oil revenue.

 

Akwa Ibom and Rivers States are Nigeria’s largest oil-producing states. The two states alternate as first and second top producers periodically.

 

The two states receive the highest funds allocation from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC, monthly.

 

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation indicate that under Mr. Akpabio, known for ostentatious spending, Akwa Ibom received a staggering N1. 6 trillion from FAAC between June 2007 and May 2014.

 

At the time he vacated office on May 29, the state received more, excluding other revenues like Ecological Funds, internally generated revenue etc.

 

In a new petition to the EFCC dated June 22, and copied to Mr. Buhari and the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, Mr. Ekpenyong gave details of some of Mr. Akpabio’s alleged financial recklessness.

 

He alleged that between January and December 2014, the ex-governor colluded with two of his top aides to steal a whopping N108.1 billion from the state’s treasury.

 

Mr. Ekpenyong told the EFCC that the former Government House Permanent Secretary, Etekamba Umoren, and the former Accountant General of the state, Udo Isobara, colluded with Mr. Akpabio to steal the funds.

 

“Between January –December 2014, it is on record that the trio of Godswill Akpabio, Mr. Etekamba Umoren and Mr. Udo Isobara, made illegal but substantial withdrawals of cash from a designated state government-owned account with Zenith Bank with account number: 1010375881 amounting to N22.1 billion,” he stated in the petition.

 

“It is worthy of note that reasons for such ungodly cash withdrawals against financial regulations and due process laws range between sundry use and unjustifiable expenditures by Godswill Akpabio and his numerous surrogates and proxies.

 

“For example, a whopping N18 billion was withdrawn fraudulently from the state FAAC account with the United Bank for Africa in trenches of N10 million and above by Mr. Isobara in a surreptitious manner to conceal their dishonest intention.”

 

For assisting Mr. Akpabio retire billions of the stolen funds, Mr. Ekpenyong said Mr. Umoren was rewarded with an appointment as Government House chief of staff and now secretary to the state government under Udom Emmanuel’s administration.

 

The legal practitioner went on to state that over N50 billion of Akwa Ibom funds were spent by the former governor during the last general elections.

 

During the period under review, he said Mr. Akpabio also withdrew a whopping N18 billion from the state coffers under the guise of special services, reception of very important guests and sundry items.

 

“The cumulative aggregate of these monies stolen by Godswill Akpabio from the coffers of government as pocket money is the annual budget of some states in Nigeria put together,” the petition reads.

 

He listed the bouquet of assets acquired by the former governor through surrogates to include a multi-billion naira mansion at Plot 5 Okogosi Spring Close, off Katsina-Ala Crescent, Maitama-Abuja, a multi-billion naira mansionette at Plot 28 Colorado Close, Maitama, Abuja and another multi-billion naira mansion at 22 Probyn Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.

 

Others include a multi-billion naira mansionette at Plot 23 Olusegun Aina Street, Parkview, Lagos and a multi-billion naira 25 storey building at Akin Adesola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

 

“As earlier promised, more details of assets and graft-related funds illegally and fraudulently siphoned from Akwa Ibom State treasury and laundered to foreign destinations are in the offing. As usual, we will do the needful.”

 

ALLEGATIONS, COMPLETE FALSEHOOD

 

The commissioner of information during the administration of Mr. Akpabio, Aniekan Umana, has however described the contents of the petition by Mr. Ekpenyong as falsehood taken too far.

 

He said the petition betrayed a lack of understanding of the workings of government.

 

“Every sum withdrawn from a government account is tied to a subhead and there must be a budgetary provision. To attribute fraud to withdrawals which had the full sanction of Government and was accommodated in the budget is strange, mischievous and untenable. More so, when one understands that there are checks and balances which guide all aspects of government financial administration,” he said.

 

He also said the allegation that the State Government spent N50 billion on the March General Elections falls flat on its face based on his explanations of the workings of government as regards financial transactions.

 

“There was no such provision in the budget of this year and such an amount could not have been paid as an extra-budgetary expenditure and yet salaries and other commitments were met. We challenge the petitioners to provide proof to support this wild allegation. Who was it paid to? How was it paid? Where was it paid? And when was it paid?

 

“Senator Akpabio does not own a 25-storey building in Victoria Island or in any part of the world, as alleged by the petitioner. It is also a patent falsehood that the house at 22 Probyn Road, Ikoyi belongs to Senator Akpabio.

 

It is a rented building which ownership can be verified from the Lagos State Lands Registry.

 

“Senator Akpabio does not own the properties mentioned in the petition to belong to him. You can verify the ownership of the properties (5 Okokosi Close, Maitama and Plot 28 Colorado Close, Maitama) from the land registry in Abuja,” he said.

 

He also denied that the state received over N2 trillion as oil allocation.

 

“Please do note that the idea that the Akwa Ibom State Government received over N2.5 trillion in the eight years of the Akpabio administration is an outrageous lie. What this suggests is that the State Government received an average of N26 billion monthly for the period. What a lie! From published accounts of disbursement from the Federation Accounts, Akwa Ibom State never received up to N26 billion in any month throughout the period.

 

“Note that in some months like the April and May, 2015, Akwa Ibom State received about N8 billion.”

AMAECHI FIGHTS BACK AT SARAKI: IGNORE PETITIONS, WHITE PAPER AGAINST ME

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AMAECHI FIGHTS BACK AT SARAKI: IGNORE PETITIONS, WHITE PAPER AGAINST ME

 

 

FORMER Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, has written Senate President Bukola Saraki, asking him not to take any action on the White Paper issued by Governor Nyesom Wike against him and his administration and the petition sent to the Senate by Livingstone Wechie accusing him of corruption.

 

Amaechi, who is a ministerial nominee from Rivers State have been having a running battle with the State government and its lawmakers, who are opposed to his nomination and appointment by President Muhamadu Buhari.

 

The state and the lawmakers want Amaechi to be dropped, accusing him of having made the state to lose huge revenue when he was governor for eight years. The opposition against him informed the postponement of his screening twice last week when 18 other nominees were cleared by the upper legislative chamber.

 

But Amaechi through his lawyer, Edward E. Pepple of Edward and Williams and Co, in the letter made available to Saturday Vanguard,  yesterday, said the entirety of the so-called petition and white paper ran foul of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and should not be acted upon pending the hearing and determination of the suits on the matters.

 

The governor pointed out that while he would not be forced to speak on a matter that is already before a court of competent jurisdiction, the petitioner, Livingstone Wechie and Governor Wike’s White paper were deliberately intended to smear him and expose him to ridicule before the public and should therefore be discarded.

 

Amaechi contended that the Supreme Court had made adequate pronouncements concerning the constitution of a judicial commission of enquiry and the fact that such pronouncements do not have the effect of a court verdict and asked the Senate to take note of how the Rivers State government was trying to subvert the law.

 

Quoting copiously from decided cases, the governor said: “This position of the law has been upheld and reaffirmed severally by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. In the case of DOHERTY V. BALEWA (1961-1962) NSCC (page 248) at 257, lines 35-50, the Supreme Court in a similar situation with the instant case held as follows:

 

“The power of the commission to impose imprisonment is clearly contrary to the provisions of Section 20, and this was not disputed by the Attorney-General. This must also apply to the power to impose a fine, which is enforceable by imprisonment.

 

In these circumstances we would hold that Sections 8, 15 and 18 are invalid to the extent that they purport to empower a Commissioner to inflict a punishment of a fine or imprisonment that the Sections should be “read down” accordingly.”

 

“Similarly, in the celebrated case in which our client was declared the elected Governor of Rivers State [AMAECHI vs. INEC & ORS (2008) 5 NWLR (PT 1080), page 227, at 306, para E-F], some political interests acting with the intention of preventing our client from pursuing his Governorship mandate which was in dispute at the time, did set up an Administrative Panel of Inquiry and purported to have indicted him, as is been repeated at the moment, the Supreme Court held that:

 

“A Judicial Commission of Inquiry or an Administrative Panel is not the same thing as a Court of law or its equivalent. Because a Court of Law operates within a judicial hierarchy any person wrongly convicted is enabled to contest his conviction to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. This is a right granted by the Constitution of Nigeria”

 

“In the case of EGBUNIWE V. FGN (2010), 2 NWLR (PT 1178), page 348, at 368, para C-D, the Court held that:

 

“The Constitution is clear as to who should perform judicial acts.  And since it is the exclusive function of the judiciary to exercise judicial function, any member of the executive who interferes with those functions must be prepared to face the consequences of such interloping conduct by way of an action by a person aggrieved”.

I WILL NOT RESIGN IF WE FAIL TO DEFEAT BOKO HARAM – Buhari

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I WILL NOT RESIGN IF WE FAIL TO DEFEAT BOKO HARAM – Buhari

 

In a wide-ranging and exclusive interview with Al Jazeera English’s flagship current affairs show, ‘UpFront’, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari pledged to defeat Boko Haram by December but also acknowledged he would be willing to negotiate with the group to secure the release of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls.

 

“They have to prove to us that they are alive, they are well, and then we can…negotiate with them,” President Buhari told ‘UpFront’ host Mehdi Hasan. “We said it and we meant it. If we are satisfied that the girls are alive.”

 

When asked whether he would offer financial payments, or a prisoner release, to Boko Haram in return for the girls, Buhari did not rule out either option. “Well it depends on the negotiations with the leadership of Boko Haram.”

 

The president has pledged to defeat Boko Haram by the end of 2015 and told Hasan: “As soon as the rainy season comes, which is by the end of the year […] Boko Haram will virtually be out of their main stronghold and that will be the end of it [….] Attacks by Boko Haram on townships, on military installations, will certainly stop.”

 

If Boko Haram isn’t defeated by December, however, Buhari said he “will not resign”.

 

“I will be determined to stay and fight it out.”

 

The president claimed not to have seen the Amnesty International report from June 2015,‘Nigeria: Stars on their shoulders: Blood on their hands’, in which the human-rights group documented abuses, torture and unlawful killings by the Nigerian armed forces and urged the government to prosecute a group of officers and senior commanders. “I haven’t received that report personally,” said Buhari. “If I get those documents… I assure you that I will take action as Commander in Chief.”

 

In the past, Buhari has been quoted as saying he supports “thetotal implementation of the sharia in the country” but he told ‘UpFront’ that “Nigerian law does not allow for” so-called sharia punishments, such as stonings and amputations, adding: “I cannot change it. I haven’t been voted by [a] majority of Nigerians to change Nigerian constitution.”

 

Asked about his record as a military dictator in the mid-1980s, and the alleged human-rights abuses which occurred on his watch, Buhari said: “If there is any injustice that can be proved against me when I was there, I will gladly apologize.” The president refused, however, to concede that his now-notorious ‘war against indiscipline’ in the 1980s featured any such “injustice”.

EFCC VS AKPABIO: I’VE NOTHING TO HIDE ABOUT MY TENURE AS AKWA IBOM GOV – AKPABIO

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EFCC INVITATION: I’VE NOTHING TO HIDE ABOUT MY TENURE AS AKWA IBOM GOV – AKPABIO

 

* Says I was only invited, not arrested

 

Following his Friday’s arrest and and eventual release by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,  former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, has returned to his Abuja residence, affirming that he has nothing to hide about his term in office as the governor of Akwa Ibom State.

 

Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, arriving his Abuja residence after honouring an invitation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday, 16/10/2015

 

Akpabio who served two terms, as governor of the state between 2007 and 2015, was invited, yesterday, at about 5. 20pm to the Abuja Headquarters of the EFCC, over a petition dated June 22, 2015 and addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the EFCC.

 

The petitioner, Leo Ekpenyong alleged that Akpabio, fraudulently converted N108.1 billion belonging to Akwa Ibom State during his tenure as governor.

 

Akpabio, who honoured the anti-graft agency’s invitation, accompanied by a few aides and his lawyer, Ricky Tarfa (SAN), said via his Twitter handle, @SenAkpabio managed by his social media team, that he has arrived home some hours after.

 

The tweets read: “His Excellency, Senator Akpabio is back to the house. We want to reaffirm that he has nothing whatsoever to hide about his term in office in Akwa Ibom.”

 

Earlier, @SenAkpabio had tweeted: “Senator Akpabio was never arrested. He simply obliged an invitation to come and answer some questions at the EFCC headquarters.

 

“Senator Akpabio has nothing to hide that’s why he walked into EFCC himself this evening to answer questions about his tenure in Akwa Ibom.

 

“Those who are playing politics with the decision of Senator Akpabio to honour the EFCC invitation must be acting a known script.

 

“Senator Akpabio was called from EFCC to come for explanations and he drove there himself 50 minutes later. So, why all the news of arrest?”

WITHOUT ALAMIEYESEIGHA NOBODY WOULD HAVE KNOWN ME – JONATHAN

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WITHOUT ALAMIEYESEIGHA NOBODY WOULD HAVE KNOWN ME – Jonathan

 

Former President Goodluck Jonathan almost broke down in tears on Friday over the death of a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.

 

Jonathan in an emotional voice said he remained indebted to Alamieyeseigha, noting that without the former governor nobody would have known him in the world.

 

Lamenting the sudden demise of Alamieyeseigha, the ex-president said he had lost an elder brother.

 

Jonathan, who started his political journey by serving as Alamieyeseigha’s deputy from 1999 to 2005, said he was saddened by the unexpected demise of his former boss.

 

The former president spoke when he paid a condolence visit to the family of Alamieyeseigha at their residence in Opolo, Yenagoa.

 

In his entourage were the Governor of the state, Mr. Seriake Dickson, his deputy, John Jonah, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Edmund Allison-Oguru, other officials of government and elder statesmen.

 

Alamieyeseigha’s widow, Margaret, on sighting Jonathan broke down in tears and wept uncontrollably.

 

Jonathan said his relationship with Alamieyeseigha was not that of a governor and a deputy governor but that of an elder brother and a younger brother.

 

He said: “It is sad. I directly worked as a deputy governor to Alamieyeseigha. I knew Alamieyeseigha during the UNCP days when we were working for him.

 

“I never knew I was going to be his deputy because that was not my interest then. From that time, the political evolution in the country and the state brought me to work with him.

 

“And from 1999, we have been together. He always took me as his younger brother. Our relationship was not that of a governor and a deputy but it was that of a younger brother and an elder brother.”

 

EFCC ARRESTS FORMER GOVERNOR AKPABIO OVER ALLEGED FRAUD

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BREAKING: EFCC ARRESTS FORMER GOVERNOR, AKPABIO OVER ALLEGED FRAUD

Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, was reportedly arrested on Friday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

According to the findings of an online news site, Premium Times, Akpabio was said to have been taken in by EFCC operatives at about 5.20 pm.

He was said to have been accompanied by a few aides and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Ricky Tarfa.

The report states that an aide to the former governor, who cannot be named because he is not authorised to speak on the matter revealed that Mr. Akpabio is currently being interrogated by top officials of the EFCC.

An EFCC source also stated to have confirmed the development

“He was brought in at about 5.20 pm accompanied by a few aides and Mr. Rickey Tarfa,” source said

Details soon

DELTA GUBER POLLS: OKOWA WINNING OGBORU: TRIBUNAL SET FOR RULING, AS IKPEAZU TACKLES ADESINA ON SUBSTANTIAL NON COMPLIANCE, CARD READER ROLE IN DELTA GUBER ELECTION

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Delta Guber Polls: TRIBUNAL SET FOR RULING, AS IKPEAZU TACKLES ADESINA ON SUBSTANTIAL NON COMPLIANCE, CARD READER ROLE IN DELTA GUBER ELECTION

 

Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, is without doubt one of Nigeria’s most distinguished and cerebral legal scholars traversing the trial and litigation circuit, with great authority, in the country today.

 

Soft spoke, calm, confident, composed, always smiling with a twinkling glint in his clear eyes and disarmingly simple for a man of such exceptional brilliance, those who have listened to him in open court have often marvelled at the sharpness, articulation, poignancy of thought and potency of argument he brings to bear on every of his submissions.

 

The pin-drop silence which envelopes and sits in the court-room ambience once he begins to speak and through the duration of his submissions, is a massive testimony to the reverence, respect, awe and deference, which even those encountering him for the first time, experience.

 

The situation was not different, when the sophisticated          Damien Dodo, SAN co-lead counsel to INEC, in the Delta state governorship elections petitions tribunal sitting in Asaba, introduced Dr. Ikepeazu, SAN to deliver the 3rd respondent’s final address, in response to the petition filed by the Labour Party, LP and its governorship candidate, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru, challenging the declaration of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa (1st respondent) by INEC (3rd Respondent) as the winner of the April 11, 2015, Delta State governorship election.

 

Representing the Labour Party/Chief Great Ogboru as lead counsel on the other side of the divide, was the ebullient, aristocratic, charismatic and fearlessly robust Femi Adesina, SAN, whose impeccable legal credentials are sometimes laced with a mastery of court room sophistry, dished out in intimidating doses, sometimes humorously and sometimes with audacious authority, to score crucial psychological and case defining victories on arguments and points of law, when the need arises.

 

Proceeding s for the adoption of final written addresses in this particular matter commenced with Dr. Alex Iziyon, SAN, lead counsel to the 1st respondent (Okowa) making the first presentation and as to be expected, he filed and adopted his written address, including the three outstanding motions already collapsed into the trial proper, as well as the replies to the petitioners address and while filing further submissions to buttress his arguments as earlier indicated during trial, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition with substantial costs.

 

Citing the Court of Appeal of APC vs Agbaje in the Lagos State governorship elections petition tribunal matter, Dr. Iziyon noted that paragraph 4.22 of the petitioners address located the petitioners argument as anchored on the card reader usage and processes, and argued that if the argument of the petition had been on non compliance and irregularities then it would have been okay, but to masquerade under section 138 of the electoral act, which deals with that issue and then base their facts on the card reader, had already defeated their case since if the relevance of the card reader is removed, as has already been proved in the course of the trial, then the petition has nothing to fall on.

 

Iziyon averred emphatically that the case of the petitioners had crumbled ab-initio and from their own mouths, when their own star witness, PW15, (Turner Ogboru), disowned his own witness statement and claimed that the deposition had been done in error, even as he had urged the tribunal to expunge paragraphs 60 and 61 of the said witness statement from the deposition on oath as calculations done in error.

 

The 1st respondent’s counsel, who also raised the issue of pre-hearing, citing latest Court of Appeal judgments to buttress his argument, equally noted all the arguments on the pending motions on jurisdiction and eligibility of the Labour party candidate to even contest the governorship elections, had been referred back to the tribunal by the higher court and when the coast was becoming clearer and the pendulum was swinging against them, it became imperative for the petitioners to throw-in the towel admirably.

 

According to him, the petitioners quickly abandoned their argument on the card reader and went back to the issue of voter register, and contrived all kinds of calculations without any pleadings or applications, adding and with reference to the cases of CPC vs INEC and Yusuf vs Obasanjo, that despite what they termed as ‘little discrepancies’ on the figures, the petitioners were already bound by their own pleadings.

 

Dr. Iziyon concluded by telling the tribunal that the petitioners cannot rely on admission of respondents or unchallenged evidence but prove their own case, which they have failed to do.

 

“The people of Delta State, in their wisdom, have spoken and demonstrated their choice of who to govern them, through the ballot box and that person is Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa”, Iziyon concluded with great aplomb.  

 

In his own submissions, A.T Kehinde, lead counsel to the PDP (2nd Respondent), after adopting his final written address and all the pending motions and further submissions to buttress his case, quickly told the tribunal that the petition, having not been initiated by due process, by filing an unsigned petition, has no jurisdiction in law.

 

Citing the case of Balogun vs Akpatason to drive his point home, Kehinde averred that the petition is invalid if not signed at all, pointing out the prayers in the petition ended on a separate unsigned page, while the page containing the signatures was a different accompanying document titled ;Documents to be relied upon at trial’, a situation which has already been settled in the case of Uboh vs Nwokolo, adding that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to determine a matter in an unsigned petition.

 

While arguing further on the issue of the lawful nomination of the Labour Party candidate as the eligibly qualified candidate of the party to contest the elections, Kehinde told the tribunal that the onus on the petitioners to prove their case is so strict that they must either swim or sink by providing cogent, compelling, convincing evidence, which they have failed to do in their case, even as he added that while the petitioners presented only 16 witnesses to make a case for about 3, 624 polling units in Delta state, most of the witnesses merely provided hear-say evidence since they were not even voters on the field.

 

“This petition deserves nothing more than dismissal with costs and i urge the honourable tribunal to dismiss the petition and declare our client, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, the winner of the April 11, 2015 governorship election in Delta State”, Kehinde concluded emphatically.      

 

And then it was the turn of Dr, Onyechi Ikpeazu, lead counsel to INEC (3rd respondent) and after adopting his final written address and he replies to the petitioners address on points of law, proceeded to compartmentalize the onus of the petitioner’s case into four sub-headings viz: (i) Non-compliance in substantially all the polling units, (ii) The        Card Reader, (iii) Multiple swiping and/or scanning into the Care Reader, i.e information entered into the card reader that enabled the reading process and, (iv) Over voting.

 

Addressing the issues one by one, Dr. Ikpeazu, SAN told the tribunal that for the petitioners to establish substantial non-compliance, they must prove two things, namely, that there was substantial non-compliance in the 3, 623/4 polling units in Delta state, which it has failed to do in its case and secondly that it must be categorical in establishing substantial non-compliance polling unit by polling unit, ward by ward, Local Government by local government.

 

Citing the cases of S.C Ucha vs Elechi, and Adewale vs Olaifa, Dr. Ikpeazu further told the tribunal that the only witnesses, whose evidence will be seen as more credible in this matter, will either be any accredited field agents, accredited electoral officials and other agents representing candidates or political parties in the field. Otherwise, any evidence given by someone not in the field is heresay evidence, Ikpeazu said, adding that the petitioners only used 3 polling units out of the 3,624 polling units to try to establish substantial non-compliance, which according to him was grossly inadequate.

 

On the issue of the Card reader, Dr. Ikpeazu, pointed out that the petitioners had overlooked one important section in their argument and citing the Supreme Court ruling on the case of Buhari vs Obasanjo, told the tribunal that the issue was not whether INEC has the right to issue the directive as contained in their press release on the April 11 governorship election, but that such a directive must be in conformity with the electoral act.

 

According to Ikpeazu and citing Section 40 any directive or regulation, which precludes verification in the voters register, will be acting mandatorily and any provision in contradiction to the electoral act will be contrary to section 49 (I&2) which links accreditation to the manual register.

 

Placing the prescription and interpretation of section 138(2) of the electoral act in context, Dr. Ikpeazu averred that if non-compliance did not infringe on section 49 of the electoral act, then it cannot be a basis for questioning an election, even as he added that INEC’s instructions such as press statements, manuals and guidelines, must be made in strict compliance with the intention of the law as stipulated in the electoral act.

 

“Any regulation or directive made by INEC which precludes the use of voters’ register is contrary to section 49 (1and2) of the Electoral Act. Section 49 (1and 2) prescribes the use of the voters’ register. Accreditation done in excess of the card reader report but done in compliance with the Electoral Act in Section 49 (1and 2) is therefore good, valid and lawful accreditation,” he said.

 

Arguing further, Dr. Ikpeazu told the tribunal that the petitioners witness PW1 had already deposed that it was impossible to scan or swipe information into the card reader and so the basis for the determination of over-voting on card reader alone was contrary to the law, which says that over-voting can only be determined by the register of voters and ballot papers.

 

In conclusion, the learned Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN told the tribunal that all or even parts of the instructions and directives, including the press statements of INEC, cannot be found in the electoral act, as they were simply mere instructions from the electoral body, and while emphasising that the petitioners, merely dumped exhibits on the tribunal as demonstrated by the front-loading of one exhibit after the other, urged the tribunal to dismiss the Labour Party, LP, and Chief Ogboru’s petition.

 

Responding to all the respondents, Femi Adesina, SAN, the lead counsel to the petitioners, started by adopting his written address and all other processes and while adopting his motion on notice on June 26, requesting for certain paragraphs of his response to 1st and 2ndrespondents to be struck out, attacked the issues raised in the final addresses of the respondents frontally.

 

On the issue of signing the petition, Femi Adesina, SAN told the tribunal that the issue of signature was an issue of fact not argument, even as he stated categorically that the page (68) where the said signature was signed was perfectly in accordance and compliance with paragraph 4 of the 1st Schedule and the reason was to prevent an anonymous petition, since the petitioners or their solicitors were at liberty to sign the petition.

 

Adesina averred further that it was incorrect to say that paragraph 19 was not an integral part of the petition, and then went on to express his opinion that it was shocking that technicality could be carried to such an extreme, especially given the convention that Nigerian jurisprudence abhors extreme technicalities, especially on issues of locus standi, which the Supreme Court had already addressed and stipulated clearly that questioning the locus of petitioners, requires a cross petition by the respondents.

 

According to Adesina, if the petitioners had been elected then they would not be in the tribunal as petitioners and in any case, the qualification of the petitioner cannot be challenged by the respondents, and citing the case of Akpore vs Mariere in the 2015 Delta State House of Assembly elections, affirmed that all locus standi requirements had been fulfilled, as contained in the letter of December 21, 2014 informing INEC of the change of name.

 

Arguing further, Adesina said the card reader did not offend any of the provisions of the Electoral Act, adding that Section 49 did not prohibit the use of the card reader. “If the Card Reader is illegal, then the election of Dr. Okowa is illegal too. Section 52 of the Electoral Act prohibited electronic voting and not electronic accreditation” he said authoritatively.

 

The Petitioners counsel then informed the tribunal that the assertion by the respondents that exhibits P6 – P26 was dumped on the tribunal was not correct in fact and in law, stating that Petitioners witnesses PW3 and PW15 had specifically referred to all Polling units the petition had complained about and the witnesses statements represented the Evidence-in-chief of the petitioners.

 

Femi Adesina then argued that the statutory forms not only contained specific information on points, which the witnesses wished to be made but also constitute evidence in themselves and once they are duly admitted, represent the the first evidence of polling units by polling units.

 

In conclusion, Femi Adesina, SAN passionately appealed to the tribunal that as Ministers in the temple of justice, they should not sacrifice justice of expediency on sentiment, adding that on the grounds of public policy, the voter must be governed by those he voted for and as a result, urged the tribunal to read his written address with great attention, nullify the election of Dr. Okowa and order a fresh election to give the people an opportunity to freely vote for those who will govern them.

 

Having once again listened with great patience to all the final addresses by the respondents and petitioners and intervened with great diplomacy and brinkmanship, but this time in fewer instances, when and where necessary, the three-man Delta election petition panel, headed by Justice Nasiru Gunmi, assured all parties that it would devote ample time to the final written addresses already adopted.

 

Justice Gunmi also expressed the sincere apology of the tribunal to the junior counsels in the legal teams of all the parties, with special reference to Kehinde Ogunwumiju Esquire (PDP) and Onyinye Anumonye Esquire (INEC), especially in instances where they may have appeared to have been a little bit stricter in addressing the juniors in arguments with senior counsel.

 

The tribunal chairman then thanked the press and the audience for exhibiting good conduct all through the proceedings, and while promising that they would communicate the date for the final ruling to all parties, which should be before October 28, adjourned the sitting until the date of the final ruling.

 

BY David Diai FLASHPOINTNEWS ⋅

 

BE RESOURCEFUL AND SELF RELIANT” OGIDI-GBEBAJE CHARGES CORPS MEMBERS

Ossai Ovie Success Blog

"BE RESOURCEFUL AND SELF RELIANT" OGIDI-GBEBAJE CHARGES CORPS MEMBERS

 

 The Permanent Secretary, Directorate of Government House and Protocol, Mr. Eddy Ogidi-Gbebaje has charged the out gone 2015 Batch B Corps members to be resourceful and self reliant rather than wait for white collar jobs.

 

The Permanent Secretary gave the charge (16/10/15) during the send forth ceremony organized by the Directorate in Asaba.

 

He explained that "even though there are few jobs available in this difficult time it is not wise to rely on government to provide jobs instead you have to be self-reliant and be employers of labour rather than waiting for white collar jobs".

 

Mr. Ogidi-Gbebaje harped on the importance of determination as a key to achieving success and advised that they remain resolute and determined as they pursue their individual goals, stressing that "It is important that you remain resolute and determined as you face life but it is also important that you do not succumb to desperate acts to achieve success because you will bring shame to your family, your state and to yourself" he said.

 

He commended the corps members for their blemish free service year in the Directorate stressing that they should remain good ambassadors of the state.

 

Speaking briefly the Chief Protocol Officer Mr. Tetsola commended the corps  members for their selfless service in the Directorate and charged them to put God first in all their endeavours.

 

Responding on behalf of the out gone corps members Miss. Umoh Aniebiet Bassey expressed their profound gratitude for the support they received in the Directorate.

 

High point of the occasion was the presentation of souvenirs to the out gone corps members by the Permanent Secretary and other officials in the Directorate.

 

CAPTIONS:

Pix 1. The Permanent Secretary Government House, Mr. Eddy Ogidi-gbebaje (right) presenting a gift to one of the 2014 Batch “C” Corps Members, Miss Okonofua Angela Obehi, during the Sent-Forth Party in Honour of the 2014 Batch “C” Corps Members, in Government House, Asaba.

 

pix 2. The Permanent Secretary Government House, Mr. Eddy Ogidi-gbebaje (right) presenting a gift to one of the 2014 Batch “C” Corps Members, Miss Okonofua Angela Obehi, during the Sent-Forth Party in Honour of the 2014 Batch “C” Corps Members, in Government House, Asaba.

 

pix 3. The Permanent Secretary Government House, Mr. Eddy Ogidi-gbebaje (right) addressing the 2014 Batch “C” Corps Members, during the Sent-Forth Party in Honour of the 2014 Batch “C” Corps Members, in Government House, Asaba.

 

pix 4. Cross section of 2014 Batch “C” Corps Members

 

pix 5. The Permanent Secretary Government House, Mr. Eddy Ogidi-gbebaje (3rd left) in group photograph with the 2014 Batch “C” Corps Members

 

pix 6. Group Photograph

 

PRESS UNIT

GOVERNMENT HOUSE, ASABA

 

OCTOBER 16, 2015

DELTA: TRIBUNAL ADOPTS OKOWA, EMERHOR’S FINAL ADDRESSES, AS IZIYON, KEHINDE, DODO TACKLE OKPOKO ON ELECTION CLAIMS

Ossai Ovie Success Blog

Delta Guber Polls: TRIBUNAL ADOPTS OKOWA, EMERHOR’S FINAL ADDRESSES, AS IZIYON, KEHINDE, DODO TACKLE OKPOKO ON ELECTION CLAIMS

Dr. Alex Iziyon, SAN is not just an outstanding legal luminary, his knowledge and handling of the law is phenomenal. He combines authority, experience, a stimulated confidence shaped and honed from his superlative victories in several landmark cases both nationally and internationally and of course an impressive silo of election tribunal matters.

 

Pitched against his wizened, elderly teacher, Chief Thomson Okpoko, SAN, who himself, is a legal colossus in his own right, having mentored and is still mentoring several generations of Nigeria’s finest Lawyers, the titanic battle of final addresses was always going to be quite robust and laced with an under-current of a simmering confrontation that had spiced their previous encounters during the trial.

 

For the records, trial proceedings at the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Asaba, the Delta State capital, formally ended on Tuesday, October 12, 2015, when counsels to the petitioners and respondents filed and adopted their final addresses, before the Justice Nasiru Gunmi led three-man election petition panel.

 

As to be expected, the respondents counsels, Dr. Alex Iziyon, SAN, (Okowa, 1ST Respondent), Chief A.T Kehinde, SAN,( PDP 2ND Respondent) and Damien Dodo, SAN, (INEC, 3RD Respondent), submitted strongly that the petition, filed by the All Progressives Congress, APC and its governorship candidate, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, represented by its lead counsel, Chief Thomson Okpoko, SAN, challenging the declaration of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, PDP, as the governor of Delta State, by INEC, after the April 11, 2015, Delta State governor elections, be dismissed and substantial costs awarded against the petitioners.

 

The tone of the day’s proceeding was set when Chief Okpoko, SAN, sensing a legal backlash from his opponents, quickly informed the tribunal before the commencement of the process, that his final address was more than the 40pages, stipulated by the law, but the fact that the respondents had all replied to the address, indicated that they had accepted it and he was thus making an application to the court to allow him file the address for adoption as it is.

 

The Tribunal Chairman, Justice Nasiru Gunmi, indicated that Chief Okpoko can go ahead to file and adopt his final address but the issue of the excess number of pages will be determined at the appropriate time.

 

Dr. Alex Iziyon, SAN, lead counsel to 1st respondent, Governor Okowa, opened his presentation by filing and adopting his written final address, the replies on points of law to the petitioners own written final addresses, the three pending motions which the tribunal had earlier rules will be collapsed into the substantive trial, namely the issues of jurisdiction and the filing of pre-trial hearing application amongst others.

 

Iziyon equally adopted and relied on all the motions already before the tribunal and tendered the further authorities which he had pre-informed the tribunal during trial, including relevant sections of the Evidence Act, the Electoral Act, cited Supreme Court judgments like Yakowa vs Saidi, and Omisore (supra) and CPC vs INEC, to buttress earlier arguments on pre-trial hearing application.

 

According to Iziyon, and with special reference to Paragraph 45 of the Electoral Act, the need for pre-trial application and the trial proper “is like the famous statue of Madonna and Child. If you remove one then the other has no relevance and is a mere skeleton,” adding that the petitioner has not only graciously abandoned paragraph 6A of their petition, but has also failed to prove paragraph 6B of the petition and so cannot rely on the admission of the respondents.

 

stressing the point, the 1st Repondent’s counsel further argued that the abandoned paragraph 6A of their petition, was central to the petition, pointing out that since the paragraph is rooted in the petition, abandoning it would mean that all the other paragraphs in the petition cannot stand and having themselves admitted to abandoning the paragraph 6A, “then this petition is bound to fail by their own admission”, as the onus is on the petitioners to prove their case, he said.

 

Dr. Iziyon, SAN told the tribunal, amongst other points, that the Supreme had already ruled on the number of pages for the final written addresses to be not more than 40 pages, in order to avoid the situation where counsel would write hundreds of pages and waste the time of the court; a rule which Chief Okpoko is well aware of, and on this ground alone, “there is no process before your Lordships, so no oral application can be made to correct it,” he said.

 

On the card reader issue, Iziyion while submitting that he was adopting his written address and reply on the card reader issue, told the tribunal that the petitioners were masquerading under the paragraph of the Electoral Act, which deals with substantial irregularities as the ground of their submissions, when their entire case is based on the card reader.

 

In concluding his presentation, Dr. Alex Iziyon averred that the petitioners have not even crossed the threshold of their case, that their star witness had crumbled during cross examination, and while emphasizing that the application on the over pagination of the petitioners final written address be disregarded, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition as very unmeritorious and with substantial costs awarded, describing it as a “judicial time wasting of tax payers money.”

 

In his presentation, the PDP counsel, A.T Kehinde (SAN), while adopting the tribunal’s ruling of 30th June, 2015, and his preliminary objection and their processes are hereby, affirmed that he had also filed an additional written address, as had been earlier indicated during trial, in support of the adopted processes.

 

Citing several authorities, including Buhari vs Obasanjo, as well as the latest Court of Appeal decision in Bankole Balogun vs Akpatasson, Kehinde challenged the petition on the grounds of pre-trial hearing application, card reader issues.

 

“We submit that this particular process before your lordships are flawed and refuse to be persuaded by the petitioners’ submissions. We urge the tribunal to stick by their decision and refuse to be persuaded by the petitioners as this would amount to judicial rascality and swimming against the tide,” Kehinde said.

 

While pointing out that the petitioners case was based strictly on the card reader accreditation, which according to him is the magic word of the petition, Kehinde told the tribunal that he (2nd respondent) has proved in his address that the records of the card reader accreditation “is most unreliable, speculative and more importantly, not provided for in the Electoral Act, and that was why Section 49 of the Electoral Act says that the voters register is the only document to confirm over voting”, adding that “the conscious refusal of the petitioners to rely on the voters’ register has confirmed the unassailable fact of the 2nd respondent, that the petition is doomed to fail,” Kehinde submitted.

 

The PDP counsel also objected to APC and Emerhor’s final written address which he said was over 60 pages combined, and urged the tribunal to strike out the petition for incompetence and lacking particulars, even as he noted this over-pagination was done, after all parties had argued profusely in line with issues formulated for the trial and after holistic considerations by the tribunal.

 

According to him, what the petitioner has done was contrary to the practice directives and consequently the petitioner has not responded. “We urge your lordships to discountenance that address and hold that the petitioners have no competent address and have not addressed the tribunal. There is no room for sentiments especially since this case is sui-generis. Once a petitioner runs afoul of any directive it must not be allowed. Every party must open their eyes wide and keep strictly to the provisions of the law,” Kehinde averred.

 

On the issue of the card reader, Kehinde, citing the rulings on the case of APC vs Agbaje in the recently concluded Lagos State Governorship election petition, both at the tribunal and Court of Appeal, submitted that the card reader is an orphan that cannot trace its paternity to the Electoral Act and it should be cast out.

 

In his own presentation, Mr. Damien .D Dodo, SAN, and co-lead consel to INEC (3rd respondent), while also adopting his final address and replies to petitioners addresses on points of law, urged the tribunal dismiss the APC-Emerhor petition. “The petitioners have made a desperate attempt to get out of the grips of the Balogun v Akpatason case by arguing strenuously that where there are two conflicting decisions of the Court of Appeal, your lordships are at liberty to pick and choose. That is incorrect and not the position of the law. The law with respect to conflicting decisions of the Court of Appeal is that the tribunal is bound to follow the latest in time and it is in that regard that this tribunal is bound to follow the latest decisions in the Balogun v Akpatason case”. Dodo also cited the cases of Mkpedem v Udo; Osakwe vs Federal Technical College of Education and Nwangwu vs Ukachukwu to buttress his points.

 

Still challenging the petition filed by APC/Olorogun Emerhor, Dodo equally raised the issues of signing the petition, stating that the petition must fail on that score. “The failure of one party to sign the petition should not affect the party that signed according to the law. When they signed a joint petition, they took a covenant to swim or sink together. They must now embrace their defeat which is total annihilation by a catastrophic on the part of the law,” he said.

 

Dodo also averred that the petitioners anchored and concluded their case deliberately and consciously on the card reader, without fully appreciating the challenges associated with it, adding that they took a calculated risk on the card reader without appreciating the process involved and the 3rd respondent has proved that the card reader has not availed them of the case they had intended to establish with it.

 

In his final argument of address, Damien Dodo, SAN, who also told the tribunal that he had 3 motions pending before the tribunal which he has tendered for adoption, pointed out categorically that the Relief of Paragraph 17 of the petition was un-grantable because the petitioners did not ask specifically for fresh elections.

 

“The relief of paragraph 17 of the petition is un-grantable. The petitioners did not ask for fresh elections and they must ask for it specifically because the law abhors a vacuum. There cannot be anarchy in Delta State. The Supreme Court has already ruled that the relief for fresh elections cannot be granted consequentially. This petition has committed judicial suicide. If you don’t ask for it, it cannot be given to you. Delta State must move forward”, Dodo concluded.

 

Responding to all the addresses by the respondents, Chief Thomson Okpoko (SAN), lead counsel to the APC and its governorship candidate Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, argued against all their submissions and urged the tribunal to discountenance their prayers and uphold the petition challenging the declaration of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa as governor by INEC, and calling for a re-run election in Delta State.

 

Chief Okpoko, SAN, in responding to the issue of the over 40 pages final written address told the tribunal that since the respondents addresses and replies to his own address have already been adopted, he was applying that same be done to his own, irrespective of the number of pages, adding that it is the function of the tribunal to do justice and that since none of the respondents had said in their addresses that the over pagination would injure or affect their presentations, he was appealing for it to be adopted, in addition to all the counter affidavits to each of the motions and affidavits in support of the applications.

 

Okpoko, who referred to Paragraph 5 of the Practice Directives, avered that the tribunal has the power to act on its own discretion in conflicting Court of Appeal decisions, and while dismissing the case of Osakwe vs Federal College of Education, said that the rule of being bound by the latest rulings in conflicting decision was only applicable to the supreme court case. “It does not apply to conflicting cases of the Court of Appeal, because they are intermediate courts they cannot over rule themselves,” Okpoko argued.

 

With specific reference to the case of APC vs Agbaje, and citing Section 138 A&B of the Electoral Act, Okpoko, while responding to the argument that the petitioners cannot project the card reader as grounds for validating an election, said that the view of the Court of Appeal was that, you cannot question the improper use of the card reader as ground for validating an election, but if you have a proper case of non compliance then you can use the card reader to your case. “The card reader can be used to prove or support an existing ground of irregularities in an election”, he said.

 

Despite the fact that Dr. Iziyon quickly challenged this assertion by pointing out that it was not contained the petitioners final written address but was only an oral submission, Chief Okpoko went on to tackle the issue of jurisdiction and the signing of the petition, and citing the cases of Omisore vs Aregbesola, Belgore vs Ahmed and Yakowa vs Said, ultimately submitted that one petitioner can sign for all the petitioners in a joint petition.

 

Chief Okpoko then went on to definitively buttress the argument of his petition by citing Section 140 (2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended, which states that when a tribunal nullifies an election on the ground of irregularity and non compliance, the tribunal shall grant a re-run or fresh election.

 

On the issue of the use of the card reader by INEC for the election, Chief Okpoko went to great lengths to show that the card reader was not an orphan that should be ‘bulldozed’ out of the way as suggested by the respondents but that the card reader is accommodated by the electoral Act, adding that INEC was established by the constitution (section 153), which prescribes its duties in Paragraph 15 of the third schedule, to undertake, organize and supervise elections of public officers in the state and INEC , as the body with that power made rules, which he admonished the respondents for describing as ‘ultra vires’, when it indeed conforms with INEC’s duties.

 

Chief Okpoko noted that the Electoral Act conferred on INEC the power to make regulations for the conduct of the election and this gave rise to the Approved Guidelines for the 2015 elections, the Manual for election officials for the conduct of the 2015 elections and indeed the Press Release on Card Reader issued by INEC for the April 11 elections across the country, none of which have not been disputed or invalidated by the respondents.

 

In rounding up, Chief Okpoko, SAN said, “The old order has passed and we are at the threshold of our freedom and salvation in this state”.

 

Having listened patiently to all the final addresses by the respondents and petitioners and intervened with great diplomacy and brinkmanship when and where necessary, the three-man Delta election petition panel, headed by Justice Nasiru Gunmi, assured all parties that it would devote ample time to the final written addresses already adopted.

 

The tribunal chairman then promised that they would communicate the date for the final ruling to all parties, which should be before October 28, adjourned the sitting until the date of the final ruling.

BY David DiaiFLASHPOINTNEWS