From: The Nation Published on: Thursday, January 17, 2008
For the second time in three days, the Ekiti State Election Petitions Tribunal yesterday failed to sit at the newly-refurbished High Court 1 of the State Judiciary Complex.
The five-man panel of justices led by Justice Usman Bukar Bwala was to resume sitting on Monday after the Christmas and New Year break but it failed to sit and all the petitions were adjourned till yesterday.
The failure of the tribunal to sit on Monday heightened fears in certain quarters that the judges might have stayed away over the rumours that the venue had been laced with charms.
Lawyers, petitioners, party chieftains and the public, who thronged the High Court to witness proceedings, again went home disappointed yesterday.
Security agents had taken different positions at the High Court premises in anticipation of the arrival of the tribunal members.
The main door of the High Court 1 was manned by operatives of the State Security Service (SSS), Civil Defence corps and the Police.
Lawyers, journalists and politicians chatted endlessly believing that the tribunal would sit but they dispersed one after the other after waiting for about two hours.
From: The Nation Published on: Wednesday, January 16, 2008
From Sola Adeyemo, Ibadan
The Justice Sidi Bage-led Oyo State election petition tribunal yesterday dismissed the petition filed by Mr Azeez Jimoh Adeniyi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the election of Kareem Tajudeen Bisodun of the Action Congress (AC).
Bisodun represents the Saki West/East/Atisbo federal constituency of the Oke Ogun area of the House.
The PDP candidate, who lost out in the election filed a petition challenging Bisodun’s election. He said he won the lawful majority votes.
He said the elections in the eight wards of the constituency were marred by violence, disenfranchisement, ballot stuffing, ballot boxes hijack and burning, and multiple thumb-printing.
He also claimed that no election took place in seven of the 15 wards in the area, adding that Bisodun was not qualified to have stood the election in the first place.
Adeniyi urged the tribunal to either nullify the election or deduct the disputed votes from the total votes, leaving the lawful votes..
Chief Richard Ogunwale, who represented the petitioner, told the tribunal during trial that voters were intimidated and harrassed by the AC loyalists to the point of setting ablaze some ballot materials.
Bisodun countered the petitioner’s claims, saying that the election was peacefully conducted. He said it was even the petitioner that caused violence. The respondent told the court that of the eight units complained about, the petitioner won one. The remaining seven, he said were won by him. He alleged that the thugs of the petitioner only were even the ones that set ablaze election materials and beat up his loyalists at the areas where election did not take place.
He insisted that the election was freely and validly won by him.
Replying, the AC counsel argued that the petitioner failed to prove that he was the one that hired thugs that disrupted the election. He urged the tribunal to make the petitioner prove his allegation beyond reasonable doubt since the allegation was criminal in nature.
He prayed the tribunal to disregard the petition as he was sure of winning the election if reconducted.. He said it was inconceivable for the petitioner, who claimed he won, to have asked for the nullification of the election he participated in.
In their 1 hour 16 minutes ruling, the Judges summed the prayers of the petitioner into two, viz: that the election in the eight wards was marred by violence; and that there was no election at all at the remaining seven wards.
The Judges unanimously held that the testimonies of the two electoral officers in the area showed that there were no electoral malpractices. "There was no changing of results and this is considered to be at variance with the facts pleaded by the petitioner."
On the allegation that the results were forcibly changed on the way by supporters of the AC candidate, the tribunal held that "the defence witnesses unfortunately could not recollect the number of votes allegedly changed.
The duplicates of the results could not even be produced to affirm their claim. There must be two results: one genuine and the other fake. In the body of the petition, no complaint of ballot snatching was given contrary to the claims of the petitioner’s witnesses. There were variations between the facts pleaded and the testimony given.. The evidence of both witnesses represented a drama script seen as an arranged coincidence only available in the world of make-believe.".
The Judges said since the petitioner said he did not go to ward 4, his evidence does not stand as whatever he said amounted to hearsay adding: "The issue is therefore resolved in favour of the respondent".
On the allegation that there was no election in seven wards, the tribunal said that if given that election did not take place there, "how will such have affected the results in the eight wards where it took place?".
They argued that disenfranchisement allegation of the petitioner ought to have been proved beyond reasonable doubt. But that no witness was called to substantiate the claim . "The petitioner must show in his pleadings how an action affected him but not that the counsel would be the one to aver such in his argument."
The tribunal said: "The petition has failed and it is hereby held as such. The election of Kareem Tajudeen Bisodun as a member of the House of Representatives for Saki West/East/Atisbo is hereby affirmed. The petition of Azeez Jimoh Adeniyi is hereby dismissed."
From: This Day Published on: Tuesday, December 18, 2007
From Okon Bassey in Uyo, A’Ibom
The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state Capital has nullified the election of the Chairman, Business and Rules Committee of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ita Enang over non compliance with the Electoral Act of 2006 in the conduct of the April 28, 2007, House of Representatives elections in the state.
The 5-man Tribunal nullified the election of Hon. Enang Friday while ruling on the application filed by the candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Dr. Henry Okon Archibong challenging the declaration of Hon. Enang by INEC as the duly elected candidate to represent the people of Ibiono Ibom/Itu Federal Constituency of the state in the National Assembly.
It would be recalled that Hon. Enang who was a strong supporter of the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Patricia Etteh during the N628 million Contract scam in the National Assembly was declared the winner of the House of Assembly election in his area having scored 22,445 votes against 18,730 votes scored be the candidate of AC in the election.
From: Vanguard Published on: Sunday, December 16, 2007
Written by Dayo Johnson
AKURE—THE Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Akure, Ondo State yesterday dismissed two different petitions filed by the Action Congress (AC) against one Senatorial candidate and a House of Representatives' member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state for lack of competence.
The two Peoples Democratic Party PDP candidates are Senator Gbenga Ogunniya representing Ondo Central and Mr. Jones Akinyuwa, a member of the House of Representatives representing idanre/ Ifedore constituency.
The first petitioner, Mr. Bola Ilori of the Action Congress had challenged the purported return of Ogunniya by the
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the second time at the Upper House while the second petitioner Mr. Omolade Owoseni challenged the victory of Akinyuwa.
Counsel of the two petitioners, Dr. Tunji Abayomi had prayed the tribunal to cancel the elections in some areas over allegations of irregularities such as manipulation, rigging, violent attack, threat to lives of electorates, using of policemen and soldiers and hijacking of ballot boxes and papers during the election.
The chairman of the tribunal, Justice Garba Nabaruma who delivered the second judgment of Owoseni petition, had earlier in the day deferred judgment on the petition filed by Mr. Victor Akinwe of the Labour Party who is challenging the victory of the Deputy Speaker, Ondo State House of Assembly Mayowa Akinfolarin till January 10, 2008.
Delivering judgment on the two petitions filed by the Action Congress, the tribunal upheld the victory of the two PDP candidates saying that the petitioners counsel, Dr. Tunji Abayomi failed to file relevant documents or provide any evidence to support the case that irregularies marred the polls.
From: Daily Independent Published on: Sunday, December 16, 2007
By Clifford Thomas, Correspondent, Uyo
Akwa Ibom State literally came to a standstill on Saturday afternoon as the Akwa Ibom Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Uyo denied the governorship candidate of the Action Congress (AC), James Iniama, the three prayers brought before it.
Delivering ruling on the matter, which had dragged on for about six months, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Nasir Ajanah, observed that the prayers could not be granted in the light of the arguments on the matter.
Iniama, had sought for a nullification of the elections on grounds of unlawful exclusion, indictment of the first respondent (Godswill Akpabio) by an administrative panel of enquiry set up by the Abia State government, and allocation of votes.
But the tribunal noted that the allegations could not be substantially proved beyond all reasonable doubts, and as such were denied, leading to the striking out of the case.
Registered as EPT/AKS/02/07 and filed on the 14th of May 14, the petitioner had urged the tribunal to nullify the election and order for a fresh one on grounds that Akpabio was not qualified to contest, having been indicted by a commission of enquiry set up by the Abia State Government. Other reasons he adduced were that his photograph was not embossed on the ballot papers, and a claim that there were irregularities during the election.
Noting that no specific indictment was mentioned in the White Paper from the Abia State Government, the tribunal dismissed the issue, insisting that the petitioner failed to establish that there was any specific business transaction Akpabio had with the state that warranted the indictment.
Speaking more specifically on the indictment allegation, Ajanah observed that the verdict of the panel was not enough to disqualify the first respondent because the panel was a judicial panel of enquiry and did not have a judicial officer as the head of the panel, as stipulated by the 1999 Constitution.
Noting that ‘indictment’ was too serious a thing to be handed down anyhow, the tribunal observed that "nothing short of the law can disqualify anybody from contesting elections."
Ajanah said the tribunal, could not nullify an election on the ground that the petitioner’s photograph was not embossed because there was no specific mandatory requirement in this respect, and that it does not amount to an exclusion of the petitioner from the elections.
The tribunal also cited the non-inclusion of the presiding officers and other agents of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the petition as weakening the petition itself.
In dismissing the allegation of irregularities, the tribunal insisted that the election was conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act 2006 as electoral officials including presiding officers, returning officers and polling clerks took part in the conduct of the election.
From: The Nation Published on: Wednesday, December 12, 2007
A Senator, Ayogu Eze, lost his seat yesterday following the nullification of his election by the Enugu State Election Tribunal.
Eze, the chairman, Senate Committee on Information and Media represents Enugu North.
There was jubilation in Enugu as the tribunal annulled Eze’s election. He was elected on the crest of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In his judgment, the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Samuel Otta, said the petitioner, Brig. Gen. Jerome Okoloagu of the Action Congress had proved his petition beyond reasonable doubt.
Okoloagu alleged that the election was marred by irregularities and did not comply with the 2006 Electoral Act.
"It is our humble view that the election in Enugu North senatorial district was not done in compliance with the Electoral Law. The said election is hereby nullified," Justice Otta said.
The tribunal ordered INEC to conduct fresh election in the district within three months.
Justice Otta said the petitioner was able to prove that votes were allocated to parties like Fresh Party, United Peoples Party and others, that did not field candidates in the election.
He said Okoloagu was able to prove that INEC used two members of the PDP to preside over the elections in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area.
According to the judge, the 1st respondent’s inability to rebut some of the allegations raised by the petitioner was enough grounds to show that the outcome of the polls was substantially affected by the malpractices factually proven by the petitioner.
The tribunal awarded N10, 000 against Eze and INEC.
Okoloagu’s counsel thanked the tribunal for its industry in the case.
As soon as the news of the judgment filtered into town, there was jubilation in Nsukka (Enugu North) area by Okoloagu’s supporters.
Okoloagu said the election was not a do-or-die affair for him, but added that he decided to pursue the matter to leave a legacy of democracy for his children.
The petitioner had through his counsel, Mr Anthony Mogboh (SAN) prayed the tribunal to nullify the election because of irregularities and malpractices.
On the other hand, counsel to the respondent, Mr Anthony Ani, prayed the tribunal to strike out the petition for lack of merit.
Okoloagu described the judgment of the tribunal as "a dividend of democracy".
Eze has indicated that he might appeal the judgment.
Eze, a first time senator, however, said in Abuja that he would reserve further comments on the issue until he had received adequate briefing from his lawyer.
He said his counsel was in a better position to react to the judgment.
The elections of some Senators, including Sen. Hosea Ehinlanwo (PDP-Ondo) and Sen. Usman Wowo (ANPP-FCT) were recently nullified by Election Tribunals in their states.
Delivering judgment on another case yesterday, the tribunal also nullified the election of Dr Patrick Asadu, representing Nsukka Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
Justice Otta said Asadu’s election was nullified because of malpractices and irregularities.
He also directed INEC to conduct fresh elections for the seat within 90 days.
From: Nigerian Tribune Published on: Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Jude Ossai, Enugu
THE election of two Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) federal lawmakers in Enugu State, that of the chairman of the Senate Committee on Information, Senator Ayogu Eze, and Dr. Patrick Asadu of the House of Representatives has been nullified by the election petition tribunal sitting in Enugu.
Chief Eze is representing Enugu North senatorial zone while Dr. Asadu is representing Nsukka/Igboeze South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives
Also, the election of the Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Mr. Taseer Tsuma, was on Tuesday nullified by the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi..
Chief Eze was a Commissioner for Information and Culture in Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani’s administration. The chairman of the tribunal, Mr. Justice Samuel Otta, said that the petitioner, Brigadier General J.O.J Okoloagu of the Action Congress (AC) had proved his petition beyond reasonable doubt that the April 21 election in Enugu North senatorial district was marred by irregularities and was not in compliance with the electoral Act of 2006.
According to the chairman, “It is our humble view that election in Enugu North senatorial district was not done in compliance with the electoral law. The said election is hereby nullified.”
The tribunal, however, ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in the district within three months. The petitioner had through his counsel, Mr. Anthony Mogboh (SAN), prayed the tribunal to nullify the election because of alleged irregularities and malpractices.
The counsel for the respondent, Mr. Anthony Ani, had in his submissions prayed the tribunal to strike out the petition for lack of merit.
Speaking to reporters shortly after the ruling, the petitioner, Brigadier General Okoloagu said that the judgment of the tribunal was “a dividend of democracy.”
The tribunal while nullifying the election of Dr. Asadu said it was due to malpractices and irregularities that characterised the election and directed the INEC to conduct a fresh election in the constituency within 90 days.
Dr. Asadu was also a commissioner and a member of Dr. Nnamani’s kitchen cabinet during the two terms of the immediate past governor now a senator.
Senator Eze’s lawyer, while speaking after the judgment said he observed some flaws in the ruling, pointing out that the judgment would be challenged at the Court of Appeal.
From: Vanguard Published on: Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Written by Tony Edike & Chinwendu Ifionu
THE Enugu State Election Petition Tribunal, yesterday, nullified the elections of the Senator representing Enugu North Senatorial district, Chief Ayogu Eze for massive irregularities. The tribunal presided over by Justice Samuel Otta also nullified the election of the House of Representatives member for Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South federal constituency, Dr Patrick Asadu for failing to comply with the electoral laws.
Delivering judgement in the petition filed by the Action Congress (AC)S senatorial candidate, Major-Gen. Joseph Okoloagu (rtd.) who challenged the election of Senator Eze of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the tribunal chairman, Justice Ottah said Eze’s purported election was not in consonance with the principles of electoral laws as it was characterized with malpractices, voters intimidation, threat of violence and cancellation of opponents votes.
The tribunal therefore ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct fresh elections in the senatorial district within three months from the date of the judgment.
Okoloagu had gone to the tribunal to contest the declaration of Eze as winner of the April 24, 2007 senatorial election praying the tribunal to nullify the polls and to order for fresh elections in the senatorial district since according to him the declaration of Eze was fraudulent.
In the judgment, Justice Otta held that the petitioner was able to prove that votes were allocated to parties like Fresh Party, United peoples Party and others that did not field candidates in the election.
He said that Okoloagu also prove beyond reasonable doubt that INEC used two members of the PDP to preside over the elections in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area as against the provisions of the electoral act.
When contacted over the telephone, Eze, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Information, declined comment, directing that his lawyer should be contacted.
From: The PM News Published on: Tuesday, December 11, 2007
By Sunday Orinya/Makurdi
The election petition tribunal on Benue State this morning nullified the election of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Kerseer Tsumba. Delivering judgement on a petition filed by Mr. Osbert Kwangba of the Action Congress, Justice A.O. Odusola said the petitioner has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the April 14 state assembly election did not hold in Maruku State constituency as claimed by the defendant.
He, therefore, nullified the election in all the polling units in the constituency and ordered INEC to conduct fresh elections within 60 days.
Mr. Tsumba was not available for comments on the decision of the tribunal as he was said to have travelled to Abuja earlier in the day.
From: Nigerian Tribune Published on: Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Olayinka Olukoya, Abeokuta
A petition filed by an Action Congress (AC) candidate, Chief Remilekun Bakare, against Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, over the April 28 National Assembly election, was dismissed by the Ogun State Election Petition Tribunal on Monday.
Justice C.O. Onyeabo, while delivering the judgment said that the election was conducted in compliance with the Electoral Act. The tribunal added, however, that substantial compliance did not mean absolute compliance.
He said that the petitioner in his evidence failed to prove the allegations levelled against Senator Obasanjo-Bello beyond reasonable doubt and that vague evidence could not be admitted by the tribunal.
The tribunal member said that the AC candidate’s question on whether the respondent was qualified to contest the election could not be proved and also that the allegation that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) intentionally manipulated election results was criminal and should be proved.
The tribunal said “the burden is on the petitioner to advance enough evidence to prove his case but have failed to establish the allegation.” Meanwhile, the tribunal has adjourned further hearing in the petition filed by the AC governorship candidate, Chief Dipo Dina, against the election of Governor Gbenga Daniel to January 8, 2008.
This was because all state election petition tribunals in the country will be on break from Thursday, December 13 to January 7, 2008.