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Presidential Election: Controversies persist as Tribunal decides Tinubu, Atiku, Obi’s fate Wednesday

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…NLC shuns FG’s meeting, to proceed on strike

…Politicians mobilising students, ethnic groups, others for protest — DSS alleges

By Moses Adeniyi

Declaration of the determination date set for Wednesday to draw the curtain on the petitions over the last presidential election which produced Sen. Bola Tinubu as President, as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has generated controversies.

The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) will on Wednesday give its verdict on the petitions by the  opposition parties of the Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party and their candidates, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi respectively.

The PEPC after a long contest by the opposition parties in contention with the outcome of the February presidential election decide the fate of all contending sides in the suit.

Meanwhile, the development has been surrounded with controversies as it is coinciding with plans by the organised labour to embark on a nationwide strike, an action argued from some quarters to be politically inspired.

…Politicians mobilising students, ethnic groups, others for protest — DSS

For instance, on Monday, barely two days to the delivery of its verdict, the Department of State Services (DSS), said it uncovered moves by some politicians mobilising student leaders, ethic groups and associations, among others, for a violent protest.

DSS made the revelation in a statement by its spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, adding that the objective of the protest was to rubbish the Federal Government and security agencies over “socio-economic matters.”

DSS said those plotting the protests had been identified and were being monitored.

According DSS, they have uncovered “plans by some elements in parts of the country to stage violent protests in order to discredit the Federal Government and security agencies over sundry socio-economic matters.

“Intelligence reports have indicated that the plotters include certain politicians who are desperately mobilising unsuspecting student leaders, ethnic-based associations, youth, and disgruntled groups for the planned action.

“Meanwhile, the Service has identified the ring leaders of the plot as well as sustained monitoring around them in order to deter them from plunging the country into anarchy.

“In view of this development, University Vice-Chancellors and Heads of Tertiary Institutions are advised to discourage their students from engaging in acts capable of derailing public peace.

“Also, parents and guardians are enjoined to admonish their children and wards respectively to shun the lure of participating in inimical behaviours or conduct against law and order.

“While the DSS is aware of the government’s efforts and determination to resolve some of the challenges confronting the nation, it warns those desirous of subverting national security to retrace their steps.

“This is more so that it will not hesitate to legally come against persons and groups behind the devious plans.”

This is premised around fresh plans by the organised labour to embark on another strike to protest dissatisfaction over new econonic realities occasioned by the policies of the new government.

The warning of the DSS coincided with the planned two-day anti-fuel subsidy removal protests called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday this week and the decision of the PEPC to deliver its verdict on the petition filed by the opposition parties against the election of President Tinubu.

The PEPC Tribunal sitting in Abuja, will on Wednesday, deliver judgment on petitions seeking to nullify President Tinubu’s election.

The two petitions, marked CA/PEPC/05/2023 and CA/PEPC/03/2023, were brought before the court by a former Vice President and candidate of the PDP, Atiku, as well as the candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Obi, respectively.

The Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel of the court had on August 1, okayed the cases for judgment, after all the parties adopted their final written addresses.

While adopting their final written address, Atiku and the PDP, through their team of lawyers led by Chief Chris Uche, SAN, urged the court to declare that President Tinubu was not qualified to contest the presidential poll that was held on February 25.

They prayed the presidential election tribunal to nullify the entire outcome of the presidential election and order a re-run or fresh contest.

Atiku and his party alleged that INEC, despite receiving over N355 billion for the conduct of the election, deliberately bypassed all the technological innovations it introduced for the purpose of the 2023 general elections, stating the electoral umpire owes the Country and the Court an explanation.

They contended before the presidential tribunal that INEC acted in breach of the amended Electoral Act, when it refused to electronically transmit the results of the presidential election.

“On the issue of transmission of election results based on new provisions in the Electoral Act, we are all in agreement, including the INEC, that there is a new regime in election management.

“The essence of the innovation was to enhance transparency in the collation of results, which was an area that we usually had problems and not the actual election, and secondly, to enhance the integrity of result declared.

“We agree that INEC had an option and we brought video evidence by the INEC Chairman showing that the electoral body indeed chose an option.

“It is our contention and it is here in evidence that witnesses admitted that results from the National Assembly election were transmitted but that of the presidential election was not.

“A whopping N355billion was deployed for the election, therefore, INEC owes this court and the nation an explanation.

“It is our submission that there was no technical glitch on the election day, rather, there was a deliberate bypass of the technology in order to create room for the manipulation that eventually took place.

“Until the court makes a judicial pronouncement, there may not be compliance to express provisions of the new regime of the Electoral Act.

“My lords, in a situation like this, the burden shifts on INEC to explain. It is not on the Petitioner to explain why there was such a technical glitch.

“We urge this court to hold that there was a deliberate non-compliance. The substantiality of the non-compliance lies in the national spread of the non-transmission of results. It was national and not limited to certain polling units,” they argued.

Atiku and the PDP further argued that the forfeiture proceeding that involved Tinubu in the USA, was still subsisting.

“It is our position that time does not run against crime. Even if there is forgiveness in the Constitution, there will always be consequences for sin.

“We urge my lords to adopt the modern trend by leaning towards substantial justice and not technical justice.

“Let this case be the precedent. Let justice be done, the heaven will not fall. We rest our case,” they submitted.

On their part, while adopting their own final address, Obi and the LP, through their lawyer, Mr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, argued that there was no glitch during the election but an intentional act to sabotage the outcome of the poll.

While calling for the removal of President Tinubu, they insisted that “an election where over 18,088 blurred results were uploaded to INEC’s IReV portal, is certainly a flawed election.”

They told the court that some of the documents that INEC certified for his clients, included blank copies of A4 papers and pictures.

“That explains their inability to produce original copies of results that they certified,” they added.

They argued: “It is not in doubt that the 2nd Respondent, Tinubu, forfeited the sum of $460,000 in the United States of America, being the proceed of narcotic trafficking and money laundering.

“Our case is hinged on Section 137 (1) (d) of the Constitution, as amended, which clearly provided for disqualification based on fine for offence of dishonesty.”

Meanwhile, on their part, all the Respondents in the two cases – INEC, President Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima and the All Progressives Congress (APC) through their respective lawyers, prayed the court to dismiss the petitions as grossly lacking in merit.

INEC’s legal team, led by Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, maintained before the Presidential Tribunal that the presidential election was not only validly conducted, but was done in substantial compliance with all the relevant laws.

The electoral body argued that the petitioners misconstrued and totally misunderstood the purpose of the technology it introduced for the 2023 general elections.

It told the court that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) device was introduced for the authentication and verification of voters and for transmission of results from the polling units to the IReV portal.

INEC’s lawyer said there was evidence to show that the Commission went to great lengths to ensure that the technology functioned as designed.

“The applications used on the BVAS device were developed in-house and tested again and again, both for performance and reliability.

“The intention of the 1st Respondent to conduct a world-class election is clear from the evidence that was placed before this court,” he insisted

He argued that no evidence was presented to establish the allegation that INEC made use of an electronic collation system in any election that was conducted in the Country, adding that such a system did not exist.

Mahmoud, SAN, told the court that INEC made use of “manual collation system,” admitting however that the Commission experienced a technical glitch that lasted over four hours on the day the presidential poll was held.

He said it was not true that the glitch was contrived to create an avenue for the results of the election to be manipulated.

“The petitioners have failed to establish that there was human interference that led to the said glitch and they have also been unable to prove how the failure to upload results in real time, affected the outcome of the election.

“The contention of the petitioners on the alleged 18, 088 blurred results goes to no issue because the results uploaded to the IReV did not in any way suggest that the original copies were also blurred.

“They have not tendered original copies of the Form EC8A that was made available to their agents,” Mahmoud submitted.

He argued the allegation by Obi and the LP was for “mere dramatisation as nothing concrete was adduced to prove that the said blurred results on the IReV portal was the same with the original copies.”

On the issue of Tinubu’s alleged failure to secure 25 per cent votes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), INEC’s lawyer accused the petitioners of inviting the court to “adopt an interpretation that will result in absurdity.”

INEC told the court that it was illogical for the Petitioners to claim that a candidate must secure 25 per cent votes in the FCT to be declared winner of a presidential election.

It argued that such an argument would run contrary to the spirit and intendment of the drafters of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, adding that FCT ought to be regarded as the 37th state of the federation that is without a special status during elections.

Similarly, President Tinubu and VP Shettima, while adopting their written address, urged the presidential tribunal to dismiss all the petitions.

Addressing the court through their team of lawyers led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, the duo, said it would not be in the public interest for the court to set aside the decision of the electorates that led to their victory at the poll.

Arguing that the petitioners completely failed to discharge the burden of proof that was required of them by the law, they accused both Atiku and Obi of merely dumping documents before the court.

He told the presidential tribunal that his clients won one-third of the votes in the FCT, adding that Obi had no locus to challenge the outcome of the election since his name was not found on the register of the LP.

On the issue of the forfeiture proceeding that led to the imposition of a fine against Tinubu, Olanipekun, SAN, relied on section 137 (1) (e) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, to argue that his client could not be disqualified since over 20 years had elapsed since the case was decided.

“Even if there was a sentence before, it is no longer to be reckoned with,” adding, “My lords, may we submit that the 2nd Respondent is not under any fine.”

Besides, they argued that should the court order a rerun election, Obi and the LP would be precluded from participating in it, going by the provision of section 134 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which he said allowed only the winner of the annulled election and the second runner-up, to participate in such poll.

On his part, counsel to the APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, urged the court to hold that Tinubu scored over 25 per cent in about 29 states, adding that “to do otherwise will amount to constitutional absurdity.”

He argued that Obi was over-ambitious in his petition when he requested for a rerun poll, notwithstanding that he would not be legally qualified to participate.

Fagbemi, SAN, stressed that all the issues the petitioners raised against President Tinubu have all been decided by various courts.

On the issue of the forfeiture order by the court in the USA,  Fagbemi, SAN, argued that it was not an indictment that was capable of disqualifying Tinubu from contesting the presidential election.

“Assuming without conceding that he was indicted, it happened over 20 years ago and the Nigerian Constitution is a forgiving one that does not breed hatred,” he submitted.

He argued that the Petitioners failed to establish that Tinubu had dual citizenship, adding that the Nigerian Constitution recognised that a citizen by birth could not be disqualified from contesting an election.

The presidential tribunal had also reserved judgment on a third petition that was lodged against President Tinubu by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM).

Specifically, APM, in its petition, contended that the withdrawal of Mr. Masari, who was initially nominated as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC, invalidated Tinubu’s candidacy in view of Section 131(c) and 142 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

The party argued that there was a gap of about three weeks between the period that Masari, who was listed as the 5th Respondent in the petition, expressed intention to withdraw, the actual withdrawal of his purported nomination, and the time Tinubu purportedly replaced him with Senator Shettima.

It further argued that Tinubu’s candidature had elapsed at the time he nominated Shettima as Masari’s replacement.

According to the petitioner, at the time Tinubu announced Shettima as the Vice Presidential candidate, “he was no longer in a position, constitutionally, to nominate a running mate since he had ceased to be a presidential candidate of the 2nd Respondent having regards to the provisions of section 142 of the 1999 Constitution.”

More so, APM, contended that Masari’s initial nomination activated the joint ticket principle enshrined in the Constitution, stressing that his subsequent withdrawal invalidated the said joint ticket.

The party, therefore, prayed the Presidential Tribunal to declare that Shettima was not qualified to contest as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC as of February 25 when the election was conducted by INEC having violated the provisions of Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

The party sought an order nullifying and voiding all the votes scored by Tinubu in the presidential election in view of his non-qualification as a candidate of the APC as well as an order to set aside the Certificate of Return that was issued to the President by INEC.

…NLC shuns FG’s meeting, to proceed on strike

The national leadership of the NLC on Monday shunned last-minute reconciliatory meeting convened by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, to avert the two-day warning strike already declared by the labour union.

It was gathered that only the leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), led by its President, Festus Osifo, showed up for the meeting slated for 3:00p.m. but which started at exactly 5:32p.m.

Recall that on Friday, the NLC in a communique jointly signed by its National President, Joe Ajaero and Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, said it decided to embark on a two-day warning strike following what was described as the failure of the Tinubu-led Federal Government to dialogue and engage stakeholders within the organised labour on efforts to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal on Premium Motor Spirit, popular known as petrol, on the “poor masses.”

While listing other reasons why it would mobilise its members for the nationwide shutdown, the NLC had accused the Police of laying siege at the national headquarters of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW); alleged exploitation of the rights of workers in Imo State; interference in trade union matters by the Abia State government and proposed demolition by the new minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, among others.

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35,496 suspects arrested, 1,907 rescued from kidnappers in one year — IGP

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The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Kayode Adeolu Egbetokun, Ph.D., NPM, says the Nigeria Police Force in the past one year has arrested  35,496 suspects and rescued 1,907 people from kidnappers.

He disclosed this on Thursday during the monthly Conference with Senior Police Officers, which coincided with a significant milestone in the current administration, its 365 days in office.

The IGP, while addressing senior officers and members of the press, highlighted the progress made and the challenges faced over the past year since he assumed office as the 22nd Indigenous Inspector-General of Police taking time to reflect, evaluate, and plan for the future.

The IGP noted that during the past twelve months, the Force has faced considerable challenges, including terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, and armed robbery.

In a statement made available by Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, he said, “Despite these threats, the Nigeria Police Force has remained resilient and dedicated to its mandate.” The IGP commended officers for their hard work and dedication, emphasising the positive results achieved through capacity building, service improvements, and strengthened relationships with sister services and the public.

Reflecting on the year’s accomplishments, the IGP acknowledged the vital achievements of his administration in one year including “the presentation of a total of N9.85 billion to families of deceased officers under the Group Life Assurance Scheme and the IGP Family Welfare Scheme, the declaration of April 7 as National Police Day by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the promotion of inaugural Police Commendation and Awards Ceremony, the promotion of 33,867 officers based on merit, competence, and available vacancies.”

“Also is the advancement of infrastructural development which will culminate in the commissioning of some projects such as the Nigeria Police Resource Centre, the International Conference Centre, the Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Centre (NPF-NCCC), the Force Intelligence Building, the Force Public Relations School, the Police Intelligence School located in Share, Kwara State, Evidence/Exhibits Storage facilities, and newly acquired operational assets including vehicles, APCs, Drones, Gun trucks etc.

“In the past one year, the Nigeria Police Force has arrested 35,496 suspects for their participation in various crimes, rescued 1,907 kidnapped victims, and recovered 2,750 firearms, 22,569 ammunition, and 1,540 vehicles nationwide, while the Legal/Prosecutions Section has successfully prosecuted 29,052 criminal cases, securing 16,200 convictions.”

The conference also focused on the upcoming gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo States, with the IGP outlining security plans to support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in ensuring smooth elections.

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OML58: NNPC Ltd, TotalEnergies announce $550m investment deal on Ubeta project

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By Esther Agbo and Opeyemi Abdulsalam

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited signed an agreement with TotalEnergies for the final investment decision (FID) on the Ubeta Field Development Project.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on Thursday in Abuja.

This project is expected to have a significant impact on Nigeria’s energy sector and contribute to the country’s efforts to develop its oil and gas resources.

Speaking at the event, Mele Kyari, group chief executive officer (GCEO) of NNPC, said on stream, the Ubeta project will produce about 350 million standard cubic feet (MMScf) per day of gas and 10,000 barrels per day of associated liquids.

This, Kyari said, is an opportunity to tap into the vast gas reserves and contribute towards securing gas supply to Nigeria’s liquified natural gas (LNG).

Kyari said, “I’m very convinced that many more projects will come alongside this as we progress.”

“And maybe not the right moment to make those announcements, but I know that a number of projects have been enabled by the executive order of Mr. President.

“No doubt, this project will create opportunities, jobs, and everything that you can imagine, including making our energy investment much more productive.

“I know for sure that the engagements with our other partners will ensure delivery of gas sufficient to keep our train 1 to 7 active and at full capacity, and also realise our ambitions for train 7.”

While appreciating the support from stakeholders, Kyari highlighted the continuous support of President Bola Tinubu’s administration in facilitating a conducive operational environment, which he said is a major driver of the deal.

He also said the presidential executive order was instrumental to achieving the milestone and the impact of the policy is being seen.

Also speaking at the event the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), Rt. Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo, delivered a keynote address at the Final Investment Decision (FID) Ceremony for the OML58 Ubeta Field Development Project.

The Ubeta Project is projected to produce 350 million standard cubic feet per day (MMScf/d) of gas at its peak. This initiative is a testament to TotalEnergies’ commitment to Nigeria and plays a crucial role in ensuring a stable gas supply for Nigeria LNG.

Minister Ekpo emphasised the project’s alignment with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s strategic objectives and the Presidential Executive Orders of March 2024. These directives aim to transform Nigeria into a major gas hub, providing cleaner energy, creating jobs, and fostering economic growth.

The Decade of Gas Initiative has laid the groundwork for ambitious projects like Ubeta, focusing on leveraging Nigeria’s abundant gas resources to drive industrialisation, reduce environmental impact, and offer affordable energy to millions of Nigerians.

The Ubeta Field Development Project is a prime example of investments that bring technological advancements, foster local content, and generate sustainable economic benefits.

Minister Ekpo commended TotalEnergies for their continued partnership and investment in Nigeria, acknowledging their role in boosting gas production capabilities.

He said, “I want to take this opportunity to commend TotalEnergies for their continued partnership and investment in Nigeria. Your efforts not only boost our gas production capabilities but also contribute to our shared goals of energy security and economic prosperity.

“We value your commitment to employing innovative technologies and practices that ensure the efficiency and safety of your operations.”

He also highlighted the effectiveness of Nigeria’s policies in creating a conducive environment for investment in the gas sector, attributing the project’s fruition to supportive government policies and regulatory frameworks.

Looking ahead, Minister Ekpo urged for continued collaboration to harness Nigeria’s vast gas potential.

He stressed that the success of the Ubeta Project would be measured not only by gas production volumes but also by its positive impact on the economy, communities, and environment.

In conclusion, Minister Ekpo congratulated all contributors to the project, praising their dedication and hard work.

He called for ongoing cooperation to ensure the successful implementation and operation of the Ubeta Field Development Project, setting a benchmark for future projects in Nigeria’s gas sector.

The event concluded with a call for continued efforts to leverage Nigeria’s gas resources for the nation’s economic and environmental benefit.

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Federal High Court affirms Bayero’s deposition as Emir of Kano

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…Upholds validity of Kano Emirate Repeal Law 2024

The ruling of the Federal High Court sitting in Kano presided over by Justice A.M. Liman today has brought to an end, the argument on the deposition of former Emir Aminu Ado Bayero as the court ruled that the new Kano Emirate Repeal Law 2024 remains valid.

According to the ruling, all five Emirates of Gaya, Rano, Karaye, Kano and Bichi remained abolished.

While delivering the ruling, Justice A.M. Liman held that the Kano Emirate Repeal Law 2024 remains the law and its validity is intact but actions taken after assenting the law when an order from the court was issued are voided.

Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf has assented to the new law and reinstated the 14th Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi as the 16th Emir of one united Kan at the same time (23rd May, 2024 by 5.10pm).

“Law is still the law, but actions carried out in the execution of the law are set aside.”

Justice Liman also granted a stay of proceeding and transferred the case to his learned brother of court three, Justice Amobeda. This bars all parties from taking any step to enforce the ruling till after determination of the appeal.

By this decision of the Federal High Court, the five former Emirs including that of Kano with 8 Local Government areas remained deposed and the defunct Emirates remained abolished.

It is therefore ascertained that the 16th Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II remains on throne and Aminu Ado Bayero remains deposed while the legal tussle continues.

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