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Ikenga Ugochinyere Sacked by Court, as Court seeks Rerun in four Wards between APC and Labour Party.

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…orders INEC to conduct supplementary poll within 90 days

ABUJA– The Imo Sate National and State House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal has sacked a member of the House of Representatives, Ikenga Ugochinyere, who was elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

In a unanimous decision on Sunday, a three-member panel of the tribunal which conducted its proceedings in Nasarawa State, held that Ugochinyere was not validly nominated by the PDP to contest the Ideato North/South Federal Constituency election that held on February 25.

Consequently, it ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to within 90 days, conduct a supplementary election in the constituency.

The tribunal, in its lead judgement that was delivered by its Chairman, Justice Anthony Olotu Akpovi, specifically directed the electoral body to conduct the supplementary poll in 55 polling units where elections did not hold on February 25.

It held that the PDP and its candidate should be excluded from the supplementary election.

The judgement followed a petition that was lodged before the tribunal by candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Abazu Chika Benson.

Cited as 1st to 5th respondents in the petition marked: EPT/IM/HR/10/2023, were; INEC, Ugochinyere, PDP, candidate of the Labour Party, Obi Paschal Chigozie and his party, the LP.

It will be recalled that INEC had declared the PDP candidate, Ugochinyere, as winner of the election with a total of 13, 026 votes.

Whereas the candidate of the LP, Chigozie, came second with 5,696 votes, the petitioner who was sponsored by the APC, came third with a total of 2, 368 votes.

However, dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, the APC candidate filed a petition wherein he contended that Ugochinyere was not qualified to participate in the House of Reps contest.

The petitioner, among other things, argued that all the votes that were credited to the PDP candidate, amounted to wasted votes.

He told the tribunal that contrary to the express provision of the Electoral Act, the PDP, conducted its primary election in a venue that was outside the constituency.

In its judgement, the tribunal stressed that documentary and oral evidence that was laid before it, established that the primary election the PDP conducted on May 25, 2022, which produced Ugochinyere as its candidate, was held at Aladinma Shopping Mall, a location that was outside Ideato North/South Federal Constituency.

Relying on the provision of section 84 (5) (c)of the Electoral Act 2022, the tribunal held that PDP’s primary election was invalid.

It held that a valid candidate could not have emerged from an invalid primary election.

“Failure of the 3rd respondent (PDP) to abide by the sacrosanct provision of the Electoral Act invalidated its sponsorship of the 2nd respondent,” Justice Akpovi held.

The tribunal maintained that for a primary election to be valid, it must be done in compliance with section 29 (1) of the Electoral Act.

It held that in view of the fact that Ugochinyere was not validly nominated, he was, therefore, not qualified as at the time the House of Reps election held.

More so, the tribunal held that owing to the principle of margin of lead, candidate of the LP, Chigozie, could but be declared the winner of the seat, since INEC admitted that it could not hold election in 55 polling units in the constituency, owing to activities of unknown gunmen.

It, therefore, directed INEC to conduct supplementary poll in the remaining polling units with a the parties participating, except the PDP.

Other members of the panel that concurred with the lead judgement, were; Justices Usman Kudu and Ibrahim Mohammed.

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Imo State Independent Electoral Commission, ISIEC, says the 2024 Local Government Council Elections will hold on September 21st in all the 27 local government areas of the state.

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ISIEC Chairman, Charles Ejiogu, made this revelation in his address, at the Flag Off of Activities for The 2024 Imo State Council Elections, held on Wednesday at Rockview Hotel Owerri, with stakeholders, President Generals, Youth Leaders, Traditional Rulers, Sole Administrators across the State.

Ejiogu who advised all registered political parties to play the game according to the rules to ensure a free, peaceful and credible poll, noted that positions to be contested in the polls are Chairmanship, Vice Chairmanship and Councillorship.

He stated that political parties can commence politicking as the race has been officially unveiled by the Commission.

According to the ISIEC Chairman, “Pursuant to Law No 14 of 2000 as amended, the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission is charged with the task of conducting, supervising a free, transparent and credible local government council elections in Imo State.

“To this end, ISIEC has scheduled to conduct the much expected Council elections into the 305 Registration Areas/Wards and in all the 4,758 polling units in the 27 Local Government Area Councils of Imo State, come Saturday 21 September, 2024.

“Therefore, the Commission is using this opportunity to assure all critical stakeholders of its preparedness to perform its constitutional duty.

“Today’s stakeholders meeting is to release Election Guidelines and Time Table as part of the activities that will ultimately usher in the emergence of 27 democratically Council Chairmen, their Deputies, and 305 Councilors, in line with our announcement of 24th May, 2024”.he said.

Ejiogu, revealed that arrangements for the recruitment of Ad-Hoc personnel are in top gear, such as field and internal Ad-Hoc personnel.

He said the “Commission is not oblivious of the imperatives of putting in place water-tight security architecture.

“Adequate logistics and ground power will be mounted as it is key to the successful conduct of the forthcoming Council polls”.

He added that the “Commissions on-going sensitization and mobilization efforts with
critical stakeholders is on course as Traditional Rulers, Presidents General, Opinion Leaders, Women and Youth Groups, Market Associations, Trade Groups, Civil Society Organizations, Clergy and Faith Based Organization, Political Leaders are among those invited for this meeting”.

“We are liaising with other democratic institutions such as the Independent National Electoral Commission and we are satisfied with their level of support so far, even as we look forward to more of such support.

“The security agencies have also assured us of their readiness to render necessary assistance.

“The voluntary agencies are not left out in this regard and we cannot take anyone of them for granted”.“As an established strategic partner in progress, the Fourth Estate or the Realm (Media) deserve our special recognition as they have Continued to lend measurable empathy and support through their balanced reportage so far.

“We hereby appeal to the Media to remain our veritable partner as we move forward with our commitment to ensure a peaceful, transparent and credible electoral process.

“The registered political parties are hereby enjoined to play according to the rules, even as the Commission appeal to them to constructively engage their aspirants, candidates by observing to the utmost, the doctrine/principle of internal democracy.

“The Imo State Independent Electoral Commission will not shirk its mandated duty of observing the primaries as duly stipulated in Electoral Act as amended“I hereby state unequivocally that the upcoming 2024 Imo State Local Government Council Elections will be peaceful, transparent, and credible, God willing. Having come thus far, and by virtue of the powers conferred on me, as the Chief Electoral Officer of Imo State and for the purposes of contestants participating actively in forthcoming council polls, I hereby declare that all the registered political parties can now start to politick”, Ejiogu concluded

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Kano Emirate tussle: Federal, Industrial courts lack jurisdiction on chieftaincy matters – Falana

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Human Rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, on Tuesday, said the Federal High Court and the National Industrial Court have no jurisdiction to determine chieftaincy matters.

Falana, in a statement he personally signed, which was obtained by our correspondent in Abuja, accused both courts of separately conferring, “jurisdiction on themselves to determine chieftaincy matters.”

Falana described both decisions as, “highly erroneous” as they cannot be justified under sections 251 and 254(C) of the Constitution. Adding that both courts conveniently overruled the judgments of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal on the subject matter.

He said, “The intervention of the Federal High Court in the dispute arising from the deposition of Emir Ado Bayero & Co. as well as the restoration of Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is a brazen repudiation of the decision of the Supreme Court in the celebrated case of Tukur v Government of Gongola State (1987) 4 NWLR (117) 517 where it was held that “The question raised in this claim is not a fundamental right question.

“As in the first prayer, the right to be Emir is not guaranteed by the Fundamental Rights provisions of the Constitution and the Federal High Court has no jurisdiction whatever in the matter. The Court of Appeal was, therefore, not in error of law to hold that the Federal High Court has no jurisdiction to grant the two reliefs.

“Since the apex court has said that the right to be an Emir is not a fundamental right under chapter four of the Constitution, the Federal High Court sitting in Kano ought to have declined jurisdiction to continue to entertain the dispute over the chieftaincy matter in Kano. In any case, the allegation of infringement of the fundamental rights of the Applicants is an ancillary claim to the substantive reliefs emanating from the deposition and reinstatement of the embattled emirs.”

In FCMB Plc v Nyama (2014) LPELR-23973 AT 19-20, the Court of Appeal held that: “Now it is settled that where an application is made under the fundamental Right (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, a condition precedent to the exercise of the court’s jurisdiction is that the enforcement of fundamental rights of the securing of enforcement thereof should be the main claim and not the accessory claim. Where the main or principal claim is not the enforcement of fundament right, the jurisdiction of the court cannot be properly exercised under Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules.”

A Federal High Court in Kano last week ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the human rights violation case filed by the dethroned Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero, and senior councillor, Aminu Dan’agundi, following the reinstatement of Emir Muhammad Sanusi II.

The court issued an ex-parte order preventing Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano from reinstating Sanusi until a substantive suit against the reinstatement is resolved.

The order also opposed the abolishment of four emirates—Bichi, Gaya, Karaye, and Rano—under a bill previously passed by the state House of Assembly.

Ending his submission, Falana said, “I submit, with profound respect, that section 254(C)(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended has not conferred jurisdiction on the National Industrial Court to hear and determine chieftaincy matters.

“However, a traditional ruler who was deposed by a state governor without fair hearing is not without a legal redress.”

 

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Breaking: Terrorism Charge: I’m ready to negotiate with FG, Kanu tells court

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Nnamdi Kanu
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By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA–The detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, has expressed his readiness to enter into a negotiation with the Federal Government.

Kanu took the position on Wednesday, at the resumed proceeding on the seven-count terrorism and treasonable felony charge the FG entered against him before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

His team of lawyers, led by Mr. Alloy Ejimakor, noted that Section 17 of the Federal High Court Act, made provision for amicable resolution of such matters.

Ejimakor, notified the court of the decision of his team to explore the option, after he moved two applications that were filed by his client.

Whereas one of the applications, sought the committal of the Director General of the Department of State Services, DSS, Mr. Yusuf Bichi, to prison for contempt of court, the second motion challenged the jurisdiction of the court to continue with the trial.

According to Kanu’s lawyer, he would be left with no option but to activate section 17 of the FHC Act, should the court dismiss the two applications he moved on behalf of his client.

“Section 17 of Federal High Court Rules, states that in any proceedings, the court may consider reconciliation and settlement,” Ejimakor added.

On his part, FG’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, said he had earlier informed the defendant that he lacked the powers to embark on such negotiation since it was not part of the Fiat that was issued to him by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

He maintained that only the AGF has the authority to negotiate or take further steps in relation to the matter, noting that the case borders on alleged terrorism.

“If he is interested in negotiating, he knows the right place, the Attorney General of the Federation office,” Adegboyega, SAN, stated.

Reacting to the development, trial Justice Binta Nyako said the duty of the court was to hear the matter that was brought before it and not to act as a solicitor for any of the parties.

He said it was left for the parties to agree on the way they want the matter to go.

“If you want to discuss with the AGF, no problem at all,” Justice Nyako added.

It will be recalled that Kanu was first arrested in Lagos on October 14, 2015, upon his return to the country from the United Kingdom, UK.

Justice Nyako had on April 25, 2017, granted him bail on health ground, after he had spent about 18 months in detention.

Upon the perfection of the bail conditions, he was on April 28, 2017, released from the Kuje prison.

However, midway into the trial, the IPOB leader escaped from the country after soldiers invaded his country home at Afara Ukwu Ibeku in Umuahia, Abia State, an operation that led to the death of some of his followers.

Kanu was later re-arrested in Kenya on June 19, 2021 and extraordinarily renditioned back to the country by security agents on June 27, 2021.

Following the development, the trial court, on June 29, 2021, remanded him in custody of DSS, where he remained till date.

On April 8, 2022, the court struck out eight out of the 15-count charge that FG preferred against him on the premise that they lacked substance.

Likewise, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, on October 13, 2022, ordered Kanu’s immediate release from detention even as it quashed the charge against him.

Dissatisfied with the decision, FG took the matter before the Supreme Court, even as it persuaded the appellate court to suspend the execution of the judgement, pending the determination of its appeal.

While deciding the appeal, the Supreme Court, on December 15, 2023, vacated the judgement of the appellate court and gave FG the nod to try the IPOB leader on the subsisting seven-count charge.

 

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