The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja on Wednesday dismissed the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the February 23, 2019 election.
The five-man bench led by Justice Mohammed Garba unanimously dismissed the case for lacking in merit after resolving all the five issues raised in the case against the petitioners.
Justice Garba, who read the lead judgment, resolved all the five broad issues raised by the petitioners in favour of the respondents.He held that none of the grounds on which the petition was anchored was proved.
Comparing the evidence led by the petitioners to the quantum of their allegations, Justice Garba said, “It is like a drop in the ocean”.
He ruled, “In the final result, I have come to the conclusion, which is inevitable and unavoidable, that the petitioners have not discharged the burden of proof required of any of the grounds of the petition in paragraph 15 of the petition.This petition is accordingly and hereby dismissed in its entirety.”
The tribunal held, among others, that contrary to the contention of the petitioners, Buhari had the educational qualification to contest the presidential election.
It held that the petitioners failed to provide any proof that Buhari did not attend the Provincial Secondary School, Katsina and obtained his West African School Certificate from there in 1961.
“It is established that a candidate is not required under the Electoral Act to attach his certificate to Form CF001 before the candidate is adjudged to have the requisite qualification to contest the election,” Justice Garba said.
Citing a previous Supreme Court judgment, the tribunal said, “Submission of educational certificate is not a requirement to contest election.
“In effect, the 2nd defendant (Buhari) went through secondary education and then proceeded to military school. The military school is higher than secondary education.”
Justice Garba also referred to a statement issued in 2015 by the then Director of Army’s Public Relations, Brigadier-General Olajide Laleye, denying that Buhari’s certificate was with the Army’s board.
According to the judge, the denial by Laleye was only to the effect that Buhari’s certificate was not in his personal file but not to the effect that he did not have a certificate.
He pointed out that from Laleye’s statement the Army had verified Buhari’s results at the point of his enrolment into the Army in 1961.
He said Laleye admitted that Buhari possessed some credits and a pass in his West African School Certificate which qualified him to be commissioned into the Nigerian Army.
He said Buhari’s results mentioned in Laleye’s statement must have been copied from Buhari’s Form 99A submitted to the Army Board at the point of his enrolment into the Nigerian Army in 1962.
Justice Garba held, “The 2nd defendant is not only qualified, but also eminently qualified to contest the February 23, 2019 presidential election,” adding, “The fact that he did not attach his certificate cannot lead to the conclusion that he is not educated up to secondary education.”
The tribunal also dismissed the claim of the petitioners that Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, was not in existence as of 1961 when Buhari claimed to have obtained his West African School Certificate from there.
He ruled, “There is no scintilla of evidence that the school stated in Form CF001 submitted to INEC was not in existence as of that time.
“They have failed to discharge the burden of proof of the allegations of non-qualification or submission of false information which is fundamental in the aid of the qualification of the 2nd defendant to contest the election.”
Justice Garba added, “The onus rests squarely on the petitioners to prove their assertion that the 2nd respondent does not possess the educational qualification to contest the election or that he submitted false information which is fundamental in nature to aid his qualification. This, I have mentioned, that the petitioners failed to prove. The petitioners cannot therefore rely on any failure in the case of the respondents.
“I also have no doubt in my mind that the petitioners have failed to prove that the 2nd respondent does not possess the qualification to contest the election into the office of the President as stipulated in sections 131, 137, 138 of the Constitution.
“I am also of the firm view that the petitioners have failed to prove that the 2nd respondent submitted false information which is fundamental in nature to aid his qualification to contest the election into the Office of the President as prescribed in section 35(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011.”
The tribunal also ruled that the election manual issued by INEC for the conduct of the 2019 presidential election did not provide for electronic transmission of results of the election.
It added that the petitioners failed to prove that election results were transmitted electronically.
It added that petitioners’ Witness 59, David Njorga, from Kenya, did not qualify to be referred to as an expert witness, as he only relied on third party information to make a case for the existence of a server into which the results of the election were allegedly transmitted.
The tribunal held that Njorga relied on hearsay information posted on a website, www.factsdontlie.com, by a purported whistleblower who was never known.
It added that card reader was not used to transmit results during the election but was for mere authentication of ownership of voter cards.
It added that the petitioners merely dumped documents particularly result sheets and voter register on the tribunal without demonstrating them by attaching the evidence of any of their 62 witnesses to the documents in their bid to prove the allegations in their petition.
It held that none of the documents tendered by the petitioners was utilised to prove the allegations, such as over-voting or non-accreditation of voters.
Other members of the panel, Justices Abdul Aboki, Joseph Ikyegh, Samuel Oseji and Peter Ige concurred with the ruling.
The judgment, which lasted over eight hours on Wednesday, started at 9.30am and ended at about 5.58pm when the other members of the panel delivered their supporting opinions.
Gbajabiamila Threatens to Report Service Chiefs to Buhari for Shunning Security Meeting
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday, berated the nation’s military Service Chiefs for allegedly refusing to appear before the House to offer explanations on the security situation in the country.
A visibly disappointed Gbajabiamila, who described their action as an insult to the National Assembly, promised to report the matter to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Gbajabiamila noted with dismay that the act of shunning the invitation of the National Assembly by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and the Chief of the Air Staff (CAF), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, was uncalled for.
The Speaker, who declined to meet with representatives of the Service Chiefs, directed the affected military officers to appear before the House on Monday morning.
He commended the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar Adamu; the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi and the Comptroller General (CG) of Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, who were present at the meeting.
Gbajabiamila described the conduct of the Service Chiefs as a sad development since all arms of government were supposed to work in unison for the development of the country and the benefit of Nigerians.
He said: “Let me first of all commend Mr President for the commitment he has shown in trying to stem the spate of insecurity in the country. Mr President has to have people he would delegate those powers to as the Commander-in-Chief as dictated by our constitution.
“Mr President has delegated those powers to the Service Chiefs, so we decided to call this meeting, as representatives of the people. Let me commend the Inspector General of Police for being here personally. Let me also commend the DG DSS and the CG Nigerian immigration for being here.
“Let me say, as a House, as an institution, I cannot understate my disappointment or our disappointment that the rest of the Service Chiefs are not here.
“Again, like I said, we called this meeting because it was inevitable. It was important. You can see members from Borno State here. There is a crisis in Borno State right now.
“We wanted to hear from the Service Chiefs to know what was going on, how the House can help and what the problems are as well as what are the challenges; to talk about strategy, to talk about what we need to do.
“I’m sure you really didn’t expect the House to fold its arms while people in Maiduguri and other parts are being killed. There is migration now from local councils in Borno State to Maiduguri. Here we are, we called the Armed Forces coordinated by the CDS, who is not here with Service Chiefs being represented. I’m actually at a loss.
“For me, I believe my colleagues are in tandem with this. The Service Chiefs — the CDS, the COAS, the CNS and the CAS — are not represented as far as we are concerned. I’m sorry, when I said not represented, as far as I’m concerned, the heads are not here, the Service Chiefs are not here. I know one or two of these Service Chiefs were somewhere yesterday night. I am aware of that.
“I can almost say it shows a disdain for this institution. The budget is on its way. Yes, we need to talk about that. What do you need? What is required? I’m almost embarrassed. To tell you the truth. I’m almost embarrassed.”
The Speaker added: “There was no call placed to my office to explain why. I’m just seeing accountants and representatives. So, I’m not sure how to handle this, because I don’t think this is happening anywhere in any Parliament that I know of in the world, where the head of parliament will call the Service Chiefs for a nagging problem, how to resolve it and you have what we have here as representations.
“So, I think it’s important that we might need to postpone this meeting to Monday morning. I will personally see the President myself. We are supposed to work together as a body, but it shows lack of seriousness apart from the disdain on Parliament. It shows that this is not as serious to the level that we believe it is. Unfortunately, this meeting can no longer hold.”
In his terse remarks, the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, described the development as an insult to his person and the institution of the legislature.
“In strong terms, I condemn those who have deemed it fit not to be here. As far as I’m concerned, as the Chairman of a Committee, I never attended to any agency in the absence of the chief executives and the accounting officers, and I know that these Service Chiefs are the accounting officers in their various agencies. It is our practice, tradition and I am insulted.”
After the remarks, the Speaker postponed the meeting to Monday morning. Present at the session were some principal officers of the House and chairmen of relevant security committees.
FG Slams Sowore with Treason Charges, Accuses Him of Insulting Buhari
The Federal Government on Friday filed seven counts of treasonable felony and money laundering against the Convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore.
Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters and a presidential candidate in the February 2019 presidential election, is charged along with Olawale Bakare, also known as Mandate.
The charges were signed on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), by Aminu Alilu, a Chief State Counsel in the Department of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The charges were filed a day before the expiration of the detention order of the Federal High Court in Abuja permitting the Department of State Service to keep the activist for 45 days.
The detention order elapses on September 21.
In the charges instituted against the defendants, the prosecution accused Sowore and his co-defendant of committing conspiracy to commit treasonable felony in breach of section 516 of the Criminal Code Act by allegedly staging “a revolution campaign on September 5, 2019 aimed at removing the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
The prosecution also accused them of committing the actual offence of reasonable felony in breach of section, 4(1)(c) of the Criminal Code Act, by using the platform of Coalition for Revolution, in August 2019 in Abuja, Lagos and other parts of Nigeria, to stage the #RevolutionNow protest allegedly aimed at removing the President.
It also accused Sowore of cybercrime offences in violation of section 24(1)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act, by “knowingly” sending “messages by means of press interview granted on Arise Television network which you knew to be false for the purpose of causing insult, enmity, hatred and ill-will on the person of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
It also accused Sowore of money laundering offences in breach of section 15(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 by alleged transferring by means of swift wire.
The sums of money he was said to have been involved in the alleged transfers were the sums of $19,975 on April 2, 2019; $20,475 on May 21, 2019, $16,975 on June 27, 2019, and another $16,975 on July 16, 2019.
The DSS arrested Sowore in Lagos on August 2, 2019, following his call for revolution in a protest he organised to take place in some major cities on August 5.
Atiku Breaks Silence, Gives Reasons for Heading to Supreme Court
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 23, 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar, on Friday said he would appeal at the Supreme Court the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to ensure that votes of Nigerians count.
In his first official statement after President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress defeated him at the tribunal, he also said he believed he would get justice at the Supreme Court.
Atiku said, “Nothing good comes easy; and hard as the task to rid Nigeria of the forces of fascism and be an instrument for the full restoration of the rule of law and democracy in Nigeria is, your support makes the struggle worthwhile.
“I owe so much to this great land of Nigeria that took me from the streets of Jada, where I sold firewood to the heights I have attained, by God’s benevolence, in the civil service, in corporate Nigeria and in public service.
“If I do not play my part in making it possible for other orphaned children, indigent youths and the less privileged, to replicate and even surpass my path to significance, I would have failed my maker. If I do not ensure that the ladder I climbed remains accessible to those at the bottom, middle and top tiers of society, I would not have fulfilled my purpose.
He added, “And only by ensuring that democracy is not just done but seen to be done can Nigeria and Nigerians have a sense that this dear land is indeed a land where unity, faith, peace and progress reside.
“Yes, those who do not want this as Nigeria’s reality will use every trick in the book to undermine, discourage, misinform and mislead, but with God’s help and the support of Nigerians, we will ensure that Nigeria makes a course correction away from tyranny and towards democracy.
“We must return to being Africa’s bastion of democracy, where the rights to freedom of speech and freedom after the speech are guaranteed. We must stand together to pursue this just cause all the way, so that our judiciary is not afraid to do its job and has to be wary of blackmail, intimidation and victimisation.”