Speaking at a meeting with leaders and representatives of the
Middle Belt Forum, President Jonathan said that the Federal
Government will do all within its powers to ensure that the
money goes to real victims of the violence.
Responding to concerns raised by the delegation, the
President said that although disbursements were already being
made based on the recommendations of the various
committees that examined claims for compensation, his
administration will keep a close eye on the matter with a view to
correcting any errors or omissions.
President Jonathan said that his administration will continue to
work with the leadership of the Middle Belt Forum and other
Nigerians to improve the living conditions of all citizens of the
“The Middle Belt has a key role to play in Nigeria. You have
played a crucial role in keeping us united. I urge you to
continue in that spirit,” he told members of the forum who were
led by Chief Solomon Lar, Prof. Jerry Gana and Governor
Thanking the forum and the people of the Middle Belt for their
support for his election in 2011, President Jonathan assured
them that his administration will continue to work untiringly to
justify their confidence in his leadership.
“We believe that God willing, we will make a very positive impact
on the lives of the people of the Middle Belt to show you our
appreciation,” he told the delegation which included several
notable figures from the Middle Belt such as General Zamani
Lekwot, General Joshua Dogonyaro, General Atom Kpera,
Chief Fidelis Tapgun, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, Senator
Jonathan Zwingina, Senator Ameh Ebute, Senator Joshua
Dariye, Rev. Jolly Nyame, General Ishaya Bamaiyi, Dr. Bala
Takaya, Ambassador Dan Suleiman, Hon. Margaret Ichei and
The Forum pledged its continued support for the Jonathan
Administration and asked for greater federal government
support for development in the zone especially in the areas of
water resources and solid minerals.
Kaduna State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Jonathan Adamu, said on Thursday the 45 persons were among the 380 arrested by the police in connection with the crisis.
He added that the police were still investigating some other people arrested during the violence, saying his ministry had issued legal advice on six out of the 10 case diaries presented to them by the police regarding the crisis.
“We expect that as soon as they complete this exercise, they will forward their report to us for advice and prosecution where necessary,” he said.
Adamu also said the police had been investigating the series of attacks carried out by unknown persons in some Kaduna communities, adding that three persons had been arrested in connection with the attack and killing of two women at Tabak, in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of the state.
On the local government elections in the state, the commissioner said the State House of Assembly was working on reviewing the laws establishing the state Independent Electoral Commission to make it compliant with the Electoral act.
He said, “We discovered that some sections of the state electoral law are in conflict with the Electoral Act. For example, why our law says you should give 60-day notice of election, the Electoral Act stipulates 90 days. Our law does make provision for party agents to be given copies of the results at the pulling unit. We want to correct all these before the election and I know that the Assembly is working on that law,” he said.
ABUJA – The Supreme Court, yesterday, fixed December 28 to deliver its judgment on an appeal lodged before it by the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, seeking to sack President Goodluck Jonathan from office.
Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, who led six other justices of the apex court that presided over the matter, yesterday, adjourned for judgment after all the parties exchanged and adopted their respective written arguments.
The opposition party had gone to the apex court with a view to setting aside the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that on November 1 affirmed President Jonathan as the authentic winner of the April 16 presidential election.
The tribunal which held its sittings at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal not only dismissed CPC’s petition against the results ascribed to its candidate by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, but equally held that the said election satisfied the express provisions of the Electoral Act and the 1999 constitution as amended.
However, the opposition party expressing its dissatisfaction over the decision of the tribunal, approached the apex court, praying it to set it aside by annulling the April 16 election and mandate INEC to organise a re-run election between its candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and that of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, President Jonathan.
In the alternative, it urged the apex court to remit the case-file back to the tribunal and order the Appeal Court President to constitute a fresh panel to hear the appeal de-novo (afresh).
Those that were listed as respondents in the appeal are, INEC, its Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, the Resident Electoral Commissioners in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, President Jonathan, his Vice and the Peoples Democratic Party.
At the resumed sitting on the matter yesterday, the CJN who presided over six other justices, adjourned the case for judgment after all the parties in the suit adopted their briefs of argument.
Adopting their brief of argument, yesterday, counsel to the CPC, Mr Oladipo Okpeseyi (SAN) told the panel that the tribunal wrongfully evaluated the evidence adduced before it by the witnesses the party called before it.
According to him, “ the return of the 3rd and 4th (Jonathan and Sambo) as President and Vice President by the lower court was wrong and should be upturned by this court because it was unconstitutional
The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) yesterday lost its legal battle to invalidate the April 16, 2011 presidential election that produced President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the Court of Appeal sitting.
The Presidential Election Tribunal threw out its petition as lacking in merit and substance.
But in a swift reaction, the CPC condemned the judgment and vowed to challenge it at the Supreme Court. Specifically, in a unanimous judgment, the five-man panel held that the party has failed woefully to prove that the election was marred by irregularities and not conducted in substantial compliance of the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act.
Relying substantially on the relevant provisions of the Evidence Act 2011 (as amended), Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Kumai Bang Akaahs who delivered the lead judgment, held that “the onus of non-compliance lies with the petitioner to establish. It is after it has established non-compliance that the onus will shift to the respondents.”
It was the decision of the tribunal that “a party seeking nullification of an election can only succeed on the strength of its own evidence before the court as allegations of non-compliance must be grave and substantial to affect the majority of votes cast.
“The law as it stands, the onus of proof rests on the shoulders of the petitioner to go ahead and prove that non-compliance substantially affected the outcome of the election.”
Justice Akaahs added: “The petition can only succeed if it was established by the petitioner that some people were disenfranchised or he could have secured a number of votes and won the election if the process was not manipulated against him and his supporters.”
It was the reasoning of the tribunal that “from whichever angle this petition is viewed, the petitioner did not prove his case and discharge the burden of proof even on the balance of probability.”
On allegations that President Jonathan deployed soldiers to harass opponents and restrict movement in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as a ploy to tamper with election materials to take undue advantage, the tribunal said such allegations were unfounded.
The tribunal further held that the CPC petition was replete with allegations of criminality and corruption, which it has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubts, adding, “if the allegations border on the commission of a crime, the burden falls on the petitioner to prove beyond reasonable doubts.”
Justice Akaahs noted that the CPC petition suffered a major setback when the evidence of its National Chairman, Prince Tony Momoh, which was the spectrum of the petition was expunged from the records of the court following a mix-up by his legal team.
He explained that by law, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has no powers to release its bio-metric data base, as doing so would expose the secrecy of the voters.
The tribunal also expunged the allegations made against military officers and other security personnel by the CPC on the grounds that they were not parties before the tribunal.
On allegations that excess ballot papers were printed by Tulip Press, a local company and distributed to Bayelsa, Zamfara, Kwara, Sokoto and other states to inflate votes in favour of Jonathan, the tribunal said the allegations amounted to hear-say evidence as there was no iota of evidence to support it.
The tribunal further held that no evidence were laid before the court to establish allegations of substantial non-compliance with the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act in all the 14 states where the petitioner is contesting the result of the presidential election.
The states are Abia, Enugu, Imo, Ebonyi, Akwa-Ibom, Cross Rivers, Rivers, Jigawa, Nasarawa, Katsina, Taraba, Zamfara, FCT and Kaduna respectively.
Overall, it was the decision of the tribunal that “the result of the April 16, 2011 presidential election is not successfully challenged.Consequently, President Goodluck Jonathan and Architect Namadi Sambo won the election and are returned as duly elected president and vice president.
Justices Mohammed Garba, M.A Owoade; Igwe Agube and Obande Ogbuinya all agreed with the lead judgment to the effect that the entire petition lacked merit and it was accordingly dismissed.
Those in court for the judgment on the side of the CPC were Prince Tony Momoh, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai (ex- FCT Minister), Alhaji Buba Galadinma, Osita Nwachukwu and other chieftains of the party.
The ruling PDP was represented in court by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali, National Publicity Secretary of the PDP and Senator Isiah Balat, the Chief of Staff to the vice president among others.
Speaking after the judgment the National Chairman of CPC, Tony Momoh who condemned the findings of the tribunal expressed the readiness of the party to challenge the decision at the Supreme Court.
According to Momoh, “There are three judgments, the judgment of conscience, the judgment of the people and the judgment of God. We will appeal against this judgment at the Supreme Court.”
However, an elated Professor Alkali said the tribunal has done justice on the petition. “Today is a great day as the tribunal has dismissed the CPC petition by an unanimous decision. The Tribunal held that the burden of proof lies with the CPC to prove that the election was invalid. We are very happy because we went round the entire country during our campaign and we got our reward for it…Today, we have been vindicated that we won the election and we have a solid case to win even at the Supreme Court.”
Meanwhile, the validity or otherwise of the election that produced President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo would be determined today as the Court of Appeal sitting as the Presidential Election Tribunal will deliver judgment in the petition brought by the CPC against the outcome of the April 16 polls.
The tribunal, which concluded public hearing of the petition on October 20, 2011 had reserved its judgment till today.
According to the notice issued to all counsel in the appeal, the tribunal would deliver its final judgment on the matter today at 9am.
The two appeals challenging the competence of the CPC petition were thrown out by the apex court on the grounds that the statutory 60 days allowed by the Electoral Act to determine interlocutory issues had since elapsed.
President Jonathan and the PDP had prayed the Supreme Court fervently to declare the CPC petition as incompetent because it was filed on a Sunday deemed to be a public holiday.
However, the five-man panel held that itwould not delve into the matter in view of the fact that the 60 days allowed by the Electoral Act to hear the appeals had elapsed and accordingly, directed all parties to the petition to go back to the tribunal for the determination of the case.
In the appeals, Jonathan and the PDP had, through their counsel, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN) and Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) contended that the lower court erred in law when it held “that the CPC petition, which was filed on a Sunday is competent and proper in law.
PDP said the provisions of Order 46 Rule 4 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009 left no room for the discretion of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court or the President of the Court of Appeal to direct the filing of a court process on a Sunday.
It also argued that Paragraph 26 (2) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended) did not in any way envisage the opening of the registry on a Sunday or a public holiday.
Jonathan on his part had contended that since the petition was filed on a public holiday, it should be declared null and void and held that there was nothing to adjudicate upon by the tribunal. He stressed CPC had slept off on its rights as far as the petition was concerned by not filing it during a working day recognized by law.
The tribunal, in its ruling on the objection, stood its ground that it would not act on technicality to dismiss the petition at the preliminary stage without looking into its merit.
The then chairman of the tribunal and President of Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, who gave the ruling said the president, PDP and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to disclose injustice or damages they stood to suffer if the petition was heard.
Citing section 150 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010, the tribunal said there was a presumption of regularity and that the Public Holiday Act relied heavily upon by the three applicants did not apply to the case at hand.
The tribunal held that the respondents would have nothing to lose by the petitioner filing its petition on a Sunday, adding that notwithstanding the provision of the Public Holiday Act, the permanent secretary might, in the interest of the public, request any person to perform official functions on a Saturday, Sunday or public holidays.
“If it is in public interest, public servants can work on weekends. Public interest means, that election petition should be dealt with expeditiously. Even the Electoral Act reflected on this”, Justice Salami stated and resolved the issue in favour CPC.
When the matter was mentioned yesterday, the five-member panel of Justices of the apex court, headed by Justice Walter Onnonghen asked PDP’s counsel to address the court whether the appeal was still alive in view of the constitutional provisions that an appeal must be decided within 60 days of a ruling.
Gadzama told the court the appeal is still alive, not withstanding Section 285 of the constitution, since the 60 days as provided for in the aforesaid section will exclude the entire vacation period of the Supreme Court as well as the Court of Appeal and maintained that there were eight Saturdays, eight Sundays between 6th September 6 and October 27, 2011 when the vacation ended.
Notwithstanding the fact that judgment in the CPC petition at the Tribunal had been reserved, PDP, he said is ready to go ahead with the appeal, adding that the aforesaid section was meant to only punish litigants who were seen to cause unnecessary delay in a suit.
CPC’s counsel, Oladipo Opeseyi (SAN) told the Court that the appeal brought before it by the PDP is dead because the 60 days period within which to decide an appeal had elapsed.
The Court then adjourned till Monday 31, 2011 to rule whether the appeal is alive or dead.
Olanipekun on his part said the Supreme Court, being a creation of the constitution cannot bend provisions of the same constitution.
He submitted that the consolidated appeal is dead, adding that, “If your Lordships are inclined to striking out the appeals, there should be a recommendation for amendment of the contentious section to the National Assembly wherein, the 60 days will not be inclusive of the days of vacation.
The Tribunal had since concluded public sittings on the substantive appeal and has reserved its judgment indefinitely.
President Jonathan and the PDP had last week expressed divergent views on whether the appeal filed against hearing of the petition of the CPC should be heard or not.
While the PDP, which filed the appeal stood its grounds that the case was still alive, the president said that it was dead and should not be heard, having been filed outside the mandatory 60 days provided by the constitution.
The appeal arose from the July 14 ruling by the suspended president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, to the effect that the CPC petition was in order, even though it was filed on a Sunday, a non-official working day.
The PDP had asked that the petition be thrown out by the tribunal on the grounds that it was filed on a non-official working day but the tribunal ruled against the party.
However, with its appeal coming after the stipulated 60 days, the PDP is asking the apex court to hear the appeal by removing the vacation period and the public holidays from the statutory 60 days.
A panel of the apex court headed by Justice Walter Onnoghen had, on October 20, consolidated the three appeals, paving the way for the ruling slated for today.
The chairman of the panel said the relevant question is, “is this appeal alive which has stayed more than 60 days contrary to Section 285 (7) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. If it is dead, there is no need to adjourn for further hearing.
“We have drawn your attention to section 285 (7) that mandated this appeal to be determined within 60 days.”
Kajuru on the other hand also urged the tribunal to uphold all his prayers and declare him winner in the case, even as the tribunal Chairman, Garba Kwajafa reserved judgment till a later date.
Leading counsel to Yakowa, Joseph B Daudu (SAN), represented by Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN), having adopted their written addresses which were filled on September 15, 2011, and a reply on point of law filed on September 27, 2011 decided to, according to him, ‘amplify’ issues of criminal allegation and evaluation of dumped documents by the petitioners.
Usman argued on the issue of criminal allegation that, “the petitioners themselves have admitted that they have not proved the issue of corrupt practices, as contained on page 8, paragraph 4.01 and page 10, paragraph 4.07 of the petitioners written addresses, and we urge your Lordship to so hold.”
He also submitted on the issue of evaluation of dumping of documents that, “the law is consistence to the effect that the documents the party intends to rely on must be demonstrated by witnesses who must tie each aspect of the documents to the petitioners aspect of the addresses by the witnesses, but not from the back.”
Yakowa’s counsel further noted that as long as the documents were tendered and a voters register pleaded by the petitioners, the next step for the petitioners was to call Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s witnesses which they failed to do, “and therefore we urge your Lordship to dismiss this case.”
Counsel to the INEC, the second respondent, Emmanuel Toro (SAN) said the Commission would rely on its two written addresses, “and fortify ourselves in respect of our submission on pages six and seven of our final address that the entire criminal allegation must be proved by the petitioners.”
This is after the electoral body had closed its defence before the tribunal, maintaining that the election was credible, free and fair. Daily Sun learnt that the president had lined up about 100 witnesses to defend his victory.
Meanwhile, the attempt by the CPC to compel the appearance of INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega at the presidential tribunal failed as the court struck out its subpoena order earlier issued against the chairman to appear before it on the ground that the petitioner had abandoned the issues relating to the subpoena.
In a swift reaction, the party, which described the ruling as a charade had vowed to challenge it at the Supreme Court. The tribunal had earlier issued a subpoena order for the INEC chairman to appear before it on Tuesday, September20, 2011 at 9am.
He was expected to tender before the tribunal the following documents; National Biometric Data Bank containing the national register of voters; a certified true copy of the Independent National Electoral Commission manual used in the conduct of the general election of 2011; certified true copy (hard copy) and electronic copy of voters’ register used in the presidential election evidencing accreditation of the registered voters in all polling units of the federation; certified true copies of all Forms EC8A, EC8B, EC8C, EC8D and EC8E used for the conduct of the presidential elections held on April 16, 2011 evidencing the return of the result declared at the polling units, wards, local government areas, state and federal constituency declaration respectively and certified true copy of list of accredited local and international observers for the purpose of the monitoring the presidential elections held on April 16, 2011.
The rest include certified list of local contractors (indigenous) engaged by INEC (first respondent) to print ballot papers used in the presidential elections and copies of contract papers executed by INEC evidencing the award of contracts to them; a certified true copy of the tabulation of ballot papers distribution evidencing the serial numbers of the ballot papers shared across the country on polling units, wards, local government areas and states basis including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; certified true copy of delineation of polling units by their codes on the basis of states, constituencies, local government areas, wards, and polling units; excel application used in computer summation of the result for the presidential election used across the nation in the presidential election; down loaded result declared by the first respondent (INEC) for the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja held on April 16, 2011; original copy of letter to the chairman of the first respondent (INEC) from the Congress of Progressive Change dated March 30, 2011 and original copy of letter dated 18, 2011 by the Congress for Progressive Change to the chairman of the first respondent (INEC).
Before the subpoena was struck out, counsel to INEC, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, brought an application seeking a variation of the order; invariably seeking appearance of the INEC chairman without any of the aforementioned documents. But the CPC vehemently opposed the application. The subpoena on the INEC boss was struck out following arguments canvassed by counsel to President Goodluck Jonathan, the PDP, INEC and other respondents to the effect that it had been spent and abandoned by the petitioner who had closed its case without pursuing the presence of Prof. Jega.
Led by Chief Wole Olanikpekun, the respondent counsel including Chief Awomolo, Ikpeazu, Damien Dodo and Paul Erokoro collectively argued that as far as the proceedings of the tribunal were concerned; the subpoena had become an academic exercise since the petitioner had already closed his case. Concerted efforts by counsel to the petitioner, Mallam Abubakar Malami, to persuade the court with legal authorities to discountenance the arguments by the respondents counsel failed.
In the said petition, the petitioner was seeking the nullification of the polls alleging that the election was rigged and manipulated in favour of President Jonathan amongst other sundry allegations bordering on acts of malpractices and ballot stuffing.
CPC is also asking the tribunal to order a fresh election between its presidential candidate, Major General Mohammadu Buhari (retd) and Dr Jonathan.
However, the electoral body had through its witnesses maintained that the election was credible, free and fair while urging the court to dismiss the petition and upheld the result of the election.
One of its witness who testified yesterday, Professor Enoch Akobundu, a Deputy Vice Chancellor of Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike Abia State and the Collation Officer for Imo State adduced to the credibility of the polls in Imo State.
Counsel to the petitioner, Abubakar Malami (SAN) had asked the University Professor to take a careful look at Form EC8E (final result sheet containing results from the 21 Local Government Areas of the state) and tell the court whether or not the alterations made therein were duly counter-signed by him and the respective agents, in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
In his response, the witness confirmed the cancellation on the form, but quickly explained that the changes in some figures were done in the full glare of all stakeholders in the election, including agents of some political parties who waited till the result was declared.
He said, “The alteration on the exhibit EPT 14 occurred before all the agents signed; the agents did not countersign the result sheet because, most of them did not wait till the final result was declared.”
Agreeing with INEC that the presidential poll in Imo was free and fair, Professor Akobundu said, “There was no shortage of election materials and no Presiding Officer or agent in the state was arrested throughout Imo state on the day of election as being alleged; all agents of political parties have free access to the collation centre where I was collation officer.”
In addition, he told the court that his appointment as collation officer for Imo was sequel to the criticism which greeted the initial appointment of the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Onwuliri, whose wife was the deputy governorship candidate of the PDP in the state.
So far, INEC had called three out of the 16 witnesses it intended to call to defend the outcome of the presidential election and the Commission from every indication would close its defence today.
The electoral body told the five-man panel of Justices led by Justice Kumas Akaahs that the election that produced President Jonathan was adjudged to be free and fair by both local and international observers as well as majority of Nigerians.
Giving evidence on the credibility of the poll, the Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof. Boniface Egboka, who was the Collation Officer for Anambra State, said there was no case of manipulation of results as alleged by the petitioner in favour of President Jonathan.
Egboka, who was led in evidence by INEC’s counsel, Chief Onyechi Ikepeazu (SAN), said: “All accredited agents of the political parties, had free access to me at the designated centre, but none of the agents lodged any complaint to me of any malpractice with regards to the results of the elections. In addition, available and willing agents endorsed the final result sheet and copies were given to them.
“I know that there was no case of manipulation of results of any sort, whether physical or through electronic means from the polling units to the Collation Centre at the state level where the final results were eventually collated and were subsequently submitted to the Chief Returning Officer.
He said: “All the allegations of multiple voting, manipulation of results, ballot box stuffing or any malpractice in the polling units did not come to my attention.”
Prof. Egboka denied allegations by the CPC that collation of the election result in Anambra State was done at Barnhill Hotel.
“I categorically state that the Collation Centre for Anambra State was the INEC head quarters, Awka. I collated the result from the Local Government Areas of Anambra State only at the legally-designated centre, which was the INEC headquarters. I did not at any time proceed to Barnhill Hotel for that purpose or for any purpose connected with the presidential election of April 16, 2011. I know that what I collated at the state level was the true and accurate reflection of the votes cast and recorded in the respective polling units and collated at the wards and local government area collation centres.
Another witness, Amadi Chukwunolum Chinyere, also testified to the authenticity of Anambra result.
The witness, who participated in the election as a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, denied allegations by the petitioner that she was arrested with thump-printed ballot papers in favour of President Jonathan during the election.
They were both cross-examined by counsel to the petitioner and Director of Legal Services, Abubakar Malami (SAN), even as they maintained their positions on the matter.
After their submissions, Chief Ikepeazu prayed the tribunal for an adjournment to call other witnesses today. The request was granted and the tribunal adjourned proceedings for today.
INEC is to call 16 witnesses to prove that the election was free, and fair in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 [as amended].
The five-man panel was led by Justice Kumas Akaahs
Meanwhile, the PDP has expressed confidence that the petition would be thrown out at the end of the day because the election that produced its candidate as President was free and fair.
Speaking through its National Secretary, Prof. Rufai Akali, the party said that although the CPC had the right to challenge the result of the election in court, it is 100 per cent sure that victory will come the way of President Jonathan “because he won convincingly and there is absolutely nothing in the CPC’s petition that can sway the minds of the court to invalidate the election.
Prof Akali, who was in court with the National Legal Adviser, Chief Olusola Oke to observe the proceedings, appealed to opposition parties and all Nigerians to rally round the President and give him the maximum support to implement his transformation agenda.