A Federal High Court in Abuja has struck suit that sought to prevent the removal of the leaders of the Senate in ways other than as provided in the Constitution.
In a judgment on Monday, Justice John Tsoho said the plaintiff – the Civil Society Observatory for Constitutional and Legal Compliance (CSOCLC), failed to establish its claim of plot to unlawfully remove the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu
The plaintiff had on August 29, 2018 after some security personnel laid to the residences of Saraki and Ekweremadu last year in an alleged attempt to prevent them from accessing the Senate chamber.
CSOCLC had claimed the incident was a plot by the All Progressives Congress (APC) members in the Senate, the executive arm of government and security agencies to harass Saraki and Ekweremadu with the aim of illegally removing them from office.
The plaintiff argued under Section 50(2) (c) of the Constitution, Saraki and Ekweremadu cannot be removed from office unless by a resolution of the Senate supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of the Senate.
Justice Tsoho, in the judgment on Monday, declined to grant any of the many reliefs sought by the plaintiff, including the one for an order of perpetual injunction stopping any plan to remove Saraki and Ekweremadu except by resolution backed by two-third majority votes of the Senate.
The judge noted that although not all the 110 respondents contested the suit, but stated that e plaintiff failed to prove the case with cogent and credible evidence.
Justice Tsoho said: “The plaintiff’s suit must succeed on the strength of its evidence and not on the weakness of the defence of the respondents.”
The judge was of the view that the newspaper reports presented before the court as the evidence of alleged threats of attempts to remove both Saraki and Ekweremadu through unconstitutional means in August 2018 lacked probative/evidential value.
“In law, newspaper reports are not generally admissible as the fact of what is recorded in them by virtue of section 37 of the Evidence Act,” the judge ruled.
Justice Tsoho stated that newspaper reports could be admissible as evidence of publication of a particular piece but not as the truth of the fact recorded in them.
He noted that relying on newspaper reports as evidence of the truth of an event amounted to relying on hearsay evidence which lacked evidential value.
The judge added that, although the prayers sought by the plaintiff were declaratory in nature, the plaintiff must establish its entitlement to them by adducing credible evidence.
“Applying the laws aforestated, it is crystal clear that in its bid to establish its case, the plaintiff has not shown any credible evidence in its affidavit to persuade this court in anyway,” Justice Tsoho said.
He added that “the burden” on the plaintiff “is quite heavy in view of the fact that declaratory relief is not granted even on admission by the respondents where the plaintiffs fail to establish its claims.
“Accordingly, all the prayers sought cannot be granted for want of credible evidence. They are hereby refused and the plaintiff’s suit is struck out,” the judge said.
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.