The Supreme Court on Monday strikes out a motion seeking to determine the authentic candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the 2019 governorship election in Rivers State.
A seven-member panel of the Court struck out the request after ruling that the manner in which the applicants brought their prayer was incompatible with the laid down procedure for such applications. The judgment was delivered by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mohammad Tanko.
The applicants are members of the APC in the Magnus Abe faction of the party. The court also said they were wrong in including people who were not part of the matter before the case arrived the Supreme Court.
The court added that the time allowed for such applications was 14 days after the date the case was determined at the lower court.
Mr Tanko added that the decision of the parties to amend their request after 14 days, rendered their application defective.
Consequently, the apex court ruled that the application was lacking in merit and struck it out.
Mr Abe had approached the court to determine whether the candidate produced by his faction or that produced by the Tonye Cole-led faction was the authentic candidate in the election.
His application followed an initial decision of the Supreme Court which affirmed the nullification of the primaries conducted by a faction of the APC.
According to Premium Times, the Rivers APC has two factions, one loyal to the serving senator, Mr Abe, and another to Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi. While Mr Amaechi’s faction produced Mr Cole as governorship candidate, Mr Abe’s faction produced him as the candidate.
On May 11, 2018, a high court in Rivers presided by Chinwendu Nwogu gave an injunction barring the APC from conducting its congress scheduled for the next day.
The party, from the faction loyal to Mr Cole, ignored the injunction and proceeded with the congress on May 12. The party also conducted other congresses where party representatives loyal to Mr Ameachi emerged as candidates for the state elections.
In addition, the factional members challenged the decision in a motion brought before the Appeal Court on May 15.
Following that request, on June 21, 2018, the Court of Appeal affirmed the congresses conducted by the APC and nullified the injunction issued by the High Court.
Dissatisfied, Mr Abe’s faction challenged the June 21 decision at the Supreme Court.
Consequently, on October 22, the Supreme Court nullified the judgment of the Court of Appeal and questioned the lower court for allowing a request by “applicants in breach of an existing court order.”
But the APC members led by Mr Cole approached the court with yet another request. Subsequently, on February 4, the Court of Appeal affirmed the candidate of the faction led by Mr Cole as the authentic candidate of APC for the state governorship election.
However, following a further appeal on February 8, Mr Abe’s faction secured another victory which saw the apex court nullifying the decision of the Court of Appeal on February 4.
The apex court viewed that the appeal court was wrong in its actions and evoked section 22 of the Supreme Court rules which allowed it to revoke decisions termed wrongful by the lower court.
Subsequently, Mr Abe again returned to the Supreme Court with a request for the court to make a final pronouncement on who is the rightful candidate of the party is, in the general elections.
The Court has, however, struck out the request for lacking in merit.
Speaking during an interview with journalists after the ruling, Mr Abe’s lawyer, Henry Bello, said the Supreme Court decision has taken away their opportunity to determine the authentic candidate of the party in the recent election. He, however, said the applicants are bound by the final decision.
INEC continues to deny existence of server
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday insisted that the results of the 2019 general election were not transmitted electronically to its server, stressing that the commission only experimented with the technology during some staggered elections held in 2018.
The commission said that the clarification was necessary because of rising controversy on the transmission of 2019 presidential election results from states to the INEC server.
Speaking during the post-election retreat organized by the commission for its staff and ad hoc staff engaged for the last general elections in Osun State, INEC National Commissioner, Mr. Solomon Soyebi, explained that many factors forced the commission to drop the idea of electronic transmission of the results to a central server.
Soyebi added that INEC experimented with electronic transmission of results during Anambra, Sokoto and Osun States’ elections held before 2019 elections but the commission did not sustain the use of the technology during the 2019 general election.
He maintained that the late release of INEC’s budget for the 2019 elections and controversy over the Electoral Act, among other reasons, forced the commission to jettison the idea of using the technology to transmit results to the central server.
He explained: “We piloted the use of transmission of election results electronically in Sokoto, in Anambra, even in Osun. What happened was that we were trying to pilot to see the desirability of such technology in our electoral process.
“First, our budget came out very late; there was also issue (with) the Electoral Act. For these and some other reasons, the commission did not adopt that option. 2019 elections were conducted according to law.
“We used the Constitution of the Federal Republic; we used the Electoral Act and our guidelines for 2019 elections. If you look at the three instruments carefully, the issue of the server was not highlighted.
“Once in a while, you will see an experiment going on but we have to pilot it before we will deploy wholesale for election.
More foreign observers knock 2019 general elections
Two United States’ institutes that monitored the 2019 general elections said yesterday that the election did not meet previous standards and the expectations of Nigerians. In their Joint report, presented in Abuja, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) said that 2019 elections were marred by irregularities, such as intimidation of voters/electoral officials, vote buying and election-related violence.
They also condemned the suspension of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, saying the judiciary plays a crucial role in post-election matters.
“Although many new political parties nominated candidates for the 2019 elections, the polls were largely a contest between the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); the APC hoped to renew the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari and consolidate its majority in the National Assembly and of governorship. However, the party faced internal wrangling and defections of some key figures in the months to the polls.
“The PDP fielded former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as its standard bearer and, entering the process for the first time as an opposition party, challenged the APC: record, claiming the ruling party not kept its campaign promises to fight corruption, improve security and boost the economy’’, the report said.
The IRI/NDI observation mission said that the 2019 elections did not meet the expectations of many Nigerians.
On security and elections related-violence, the report said, “Ahead of the 2019 polls, the poor security situation in Nigeria, mainly attributed to Boko Haram’s resurgence in the North-east, inter-communal violence in the Middle Belt and widespread crime and banditry, raised concerns about the safety of voters and candidates.
“Increased politically-motivated violence and conflict in the pre-election period was also a concern, especially around political party primaries in some areas.’’
The report further stated that for many Nigerians, the 2019 elections-the sixth since the country’s 1999 transition back to civilian democratic rule, were an opportunity to consolidate democratic gains and build on sound electoral practices.
‘’Significant improvements in the administration of the 2011 and 2015 elections boosted expectations in the 2019 electoral process. Moreover, Nigeria’s first peaceful transfer of power between political parties following the 2015 elections underscored for Nigerians that credible elections matter,” the report said.
The joint report further said that the last-minute postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 16 showed that INEC had underestimated challenges associated with the administration of the elections.
According to the report, “the commission did not communicate sufficiently with political parties and the public about election preparations. Such a late postponement likely depressed voter turnout and created confusion about the duration of candidate and party.
‘’Most significantly, the delay also undermined public confidence in INEC. After the one-week postponement, it increased its public outreach and communications through regular press briefings. Since the polls, however INEC has been slow to release information, including detailed results.’’
The report said that the last-minute postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections on the morning of February 16, and delays in opening some polling units and other administrative challenges on February 23 undermined public confidence in INEC.
Ex-minister’s son abducted at gunpoint
Some unknown gunmen on Tuesday evening abducted Dayo Adewole, who is the son of the immediate past Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole. The military, the police, security agents and local hunters were already on the trail of the kidnappers as at press time.
The ex-minister has, however, been forced to cut short his trip abroad.
The abductors were yet to contact the family on their motive and the condition of their victim.
According to a source, Dayo was ambushed at gunpoint on his farm in Iroko, near Fiditi in Afijio Local Government Area of Oyo State at about 6 pm.
Although there were some employees with Dayo, the abductors went for him as a prime target.
It was gathered that the kidnappers later took Dayo away to an unknown destination.
A source said: “The villagers were alerted by the staff who survived the ordeal. Local hunters were mobilized by the Oniroko of Iroko.
“The hunters were said to have located the car of the abductors along the road to Iware village near Iroko
“But they are yet to locate Dayo’s whereabouts. It was suspected that the kidnappers might have changed their vehicle following persistent announcement on the radio after Oniroko had raised the alarm on air.”
Findings confirmed that the military, the police, and security agencies have joined forces with the villagers to search for Dayo.
A top official of the Federal Ministry of Health said: “We are in sad mood over the abduction. Dayo was a graduate of agriculture and he opted for farming.
“He has been managing his farm peacefully in Iroko until he was abducted by some gunmen on Tuesday.”
Responding to a question, the official said: “The ex-minister left for abroad last Thursday for recess but he is on his way back. He has cut short his trip.
“The military, the police, and other security agencies are on top of the situation.”
Imo Governor suspends LG chairmen
Imo State Governor Emeka Ihedioha has suspended chairmen, vice chairmen, councilors and political appointees of the local governments for six months. The suspension is contained in the instrument signed by the Governor, pursuant to the recommendation made to him by the Imo State House of Assembly.
This is in pursuant also, to the provisions of Sections 4, 5, and 6 of the Local Government Administration (Amendment) law, 2019 and S.73(3) of Imo State Local Government Administration Law No 15 of 2000 (as amended) and all other laws enabling him.
He set up Interim Management Committees to manage the affairs of each Local Government.
Consequently, the Directors of Administration and General Services(DAGS) of each Local Government have been directed to take over management, pending the confirmation of Interim Management Committees by the State Assembly.
He also removed the chairman and members of the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission (ISIEC).
This is following a resolution supported by a two-thirds majority of the State Assembly rendered on 6th June 2019 seeking their removal from office.
The action is also in accordance with the provisions of S.7(1) of the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission Law and all other extant laws of the State.
The Commission will be reconstituted in due course to put in place the machinery for conducting a credible election into the local governments.
The Governor further directed that these officers handover to the most senior civil servant in the Commission.
The governor also dissolved all statutory boards, corporations, agencies, and parastatals. This is in line with relevant enabling laws of the state.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary Chibuike Onyeukwu directed the chairmen and sacked to handover to the most senior civil servant in their various establishments.