The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has fixed 2pm on Wednesday to rule on an application filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, asking the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to withdraw her membership of the five-man panel.
The panel fixed the time for ruling shortly after parties to the petition filed by Atiku and PDP presented brief oral arguments on the petitioner’s application on Wednesday.
Through their application filed through their lead counsel, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, on May 16, the petitioners urged Bulkachuwa to disqualify herself from further participating in the proceedings of the tribunal on the basis of alleged likelihood of bias.
The application was premised on the family ties which Bulkachuwa has with top members of the All Progressives Congress, the party whose victory is being challenged in the petition filed before the tribunal by both Atiku and the PDP.
They claimed that her husband, Adamu Bulkachuwa, being a senator-elect on the platform of the APC in Bauchi State, and her biological son, Aliyu Abubakar, being a governorship aspirant on the platform of the same party during the last electioneering in Gombe State, she would be biased against the petitioners in her handling of the proceedings.
In the course of the Wednesday’s hearing, the separate legal teams of the Independent National Electoral Commission, President Muhammadu Buhari, and the APC, filed counter-affidavits to oppose the application which they described as unmeritorious.
But in what appeared to be candid advice from the lawyer representing the APC, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), urged Bulkachuwa to “leave the matter” for the sake of her name with her retirement from the bench only barely a year away.
He said, “As it is fast becoming the norm and regrettably so, this is another havoc wreaked on the finest Nigerian jury.
“This is not the first time this is happening. Just recently, Justice Oyewole, whose immortal contribution was acknowledged by the counsel for the applicants a while ago, was written against not to be allowed to sit on the appeal panel on the Osun State governorship election petition.
“Nebulous as ‘likelihood of bias’ is, it has its own boundaries.
“The exhortation in all the authorities that have been cited, recognise that each case will have to be dealt with on its own merit.
“The matter before the court has nothing to do with governorship or National Assembly elections.
“Whatever the Constitution of a political party is, it is the Constitution of the country that is supreme.
“And nowhere in the Nigerian Constitution that the President is allowed to remove a governor or a member of the National Assembly.
“My conclusion, with respect, is that the application is blackmail. On the facts and the law, the application is most unmeritorious.
“But, with respect, next year, your lordship, the President of the Court of Appeal, will be bowing out gloriously by God’s grace.
“Your name, either the one you acquired before you got married or the one you acquired after you got married, none is for you alone. You hold them in trust and you have been blessed – being the first female President of the Court of Appeal in Nigeria.
“My lord, your youthful look may confuse one. You are old enough to be my mother. My lord, you standing in as my parent, I will say, ‘Mum, leave the matter’.”
The PDP and Atiku had filed their petition before the tribunal to challenge the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives at the February 23.
PDP National Leaders, Orji Kalu Hold Closed-Door Meeting
The Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Kalu, on Thursday afternoon received newly elected officials of the People’s Democratic Party in his Aso Rock, Abuja residence.
The team was led by the National Secretary of the PDP, Senator Samuel Anyanwu alongside other newly elected officials of the party.
Anyanwu, a former Senator and other newly elected officials of the PDP arrived at the residence of the Senator representing Abia North Senatorial District at precisely 12.28pm.
Anyanwu who wore a navy blue native attire was welcomed by Kalu’s associates and then led straight with his executives to meet the principal officer of the upper chamber.
On sighting one another, both men engaged in pleasantries and embraced each other then proceeded for an indoor meeting.
As the meeting progressed, other executives of the party arrived in turns at Kalu’s residence to join the meeting.
The visit comes amidst strong talks that the former Abia State governor was being positioned for the 2023 presidency to succeed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)
Kalu, a founding member of the PDP, formally joined the ruling All Progressives Congress, In 2016
He contested and won the 2019 Senatorial election.
Stanbic IBTC Bank Appoints Sola David-Borha As Board Chairman
The Board of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC (“the Bank”) has announced the appointment of Mrs. Sola David-Borha as Chairman of the Board, effective 26 November 2021.
Sola recently retired as Chief Executive, Standard Bank, Africa Regions. She was previously Chief Executive of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC and prior to that, was also Chief Executive of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC.
Mrs. David-Borha has had an extensive career in the financial services industry which has spanned over three decades. Her executive educational experience includes the Advanced Management Program of Harvard Business School and the Global CEO Program of CEIBS, Wharton and IESE. She is an Honorary Senior Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria and winner of the CNBC African Woman of the Year Award for 2016.
While commenting on the appointment, Mr. Wole Adeniyi, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, stated, “Mrs. David-Borha has held several leadership roles over the years in the group and once again, we are privileged to have her as the Chairman of the Board of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC. The Bank will definitely benefit from her wealth of experience as she brings to bear her decades of experience and wealth of knowledge in the financial services industry”.
Mrs. Sola David-Borha takes over from Mr. Barend Kruger who resigned as Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Bank on 21 October 2021. Kruger, however, remains on the Board of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC as a Non-Executive Director.
Another Peter: Lauretta Onochie Denies APC Membership Three Times
The Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday screened President Muhammadu Buhari’s Personal Assistant on Social Media, Ms. Lauretta Onochie, for the position of national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
However, there was a disagreement among members of the Senate Committee on INEC over the nomination.
Onochie, whose nomination has raised controversy over her alleged partisanship and for being a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), denied her membership of the ruling party three times before the Senate committee.
This was despite the fact that she deposed to an affidavit in an Abuja High court in June 2021 affirming her membership of APC.
The Senate Committee on INEC, headed by Senator Kabiru Gaya, screened Onochie along with five other nominees whose names were sent to the Senate for confirmation on October 12, 2020, by Buhari.
Nominees screened along with Onochie were Prof. Muhammad Kallah (Katsina), Prof. Kunle Ajayi (Ekiti), Mr. Saidu Ahmad (Jigawa), Prof. Sani Adam (North-central) and Dr. Baba Bila (North-east).
Addressing the committee, Onochie initially admitted to being a card-carrying member of APC, adding that she ceased being a member after Buhari was re-elected in 2019.
She said: “I have learned over the years to stand with the constitution and due process but not on partisanship or sentiments. Since 2019, I have not had anything to do with any political organisation, including Buhari support groups. When APC was doing re-validation of party members, I did not take part in that exercise.
“As I’m sitting down here, I’m not a member of any political party in this country. I’ve no partisanship in my blood. I have seen many petitions against my nomination not only from the PDP but also from some APC members. I’m not partisan. They know. It is about the law. No one has any reason to fear for my nomination as INEC commissioner representing Delta.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m madam due process. That’s why all the attacks. I follow due process; I follow the law.”
However, an affidavit dated 30th June 2021, she swore to at an FCT High Court, attached to one of the petitions against her, contradicted her claims.
She deposed to the affidavit at the court in a case involving her as plaintiff and Emeka Ugwuonye (defendant).
Onochie in her witness statement on oath said: “That I am also engaged in active politics and a member of Neighbourhood Watch and has also contested the local government elections under the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom. I am also a member of the All Progressives Congress and a volunteer at the Buhari Support Organisation.”
Onochie told the committee that Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, a serving INEC National Commissioner from Delta State is actually representing Cross River on the board of the electoral body.
Senators Ifeanyi Ubah, Seriake Dickson, Istifanus Gyang, and Ike Ekweremadu, in their separate questions, asked Onochie again to confirm her membership of the APC, but three times, she disavowed the ruling party.
However, a suggestion by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central) that Onochie be placed on oath after she denied her APC membership was supported by Senator Lawal Gumau (Bauchi South).
But two PDP senators, Ekweremadu and Dickson, who objected on the ground that doing so will breach Senate rules that do not allow any nominee to be put on oath during screening.
Gaya upheld their objections, saying Onochie would not be placed on oath so as not to run afoul of the Senate rules.
Gaya subsequently adjourned the proceedings and said the report of his panel would be submitted to the Senate next week.