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Atiku vs Buhari: A’Court President quits as election panel chair

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Atiku vs Buhari: A’Court President quits as election panel chair

 

  • Tribunal dismisses PDP, ex-VP’s application
  • Bulkachuwa: I’m happy the law has been tested
  • APC: Atiku, PDP engaging in cheap blackmail
  • Ex-VP: We established jurist has affinity with APC

 

 

 

 

The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja yesterday unanimously held that the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and his party, the PDP, failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the President of the Court of Appeal and the Presiding Judge of the panel, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, will be biased in handling the petition before it.

The Tribunal consequently dismissed the application for lacking in merit. However, a new twist came into the matter after the judgement, as Justice Bulkachuwa announced that she is recusing herself from presiding over and being a member of the panel on personal reasons. “I have allowed the ruling on the application urging me to recuse my membership of the tribunal to test the position of the law. “Now that the application has been dismissed on account of incompetence, I hereby announce my withdrawal from the panel.

“I decided that the matter should be heard and determined on merit so as to prevent a future occurrence, where a woman will be petitioned because of her family affiliations. “A new chairman will be appointed for the panel. But before then, the remaining four members of the panel will continue hearing the petition.”

Earlier, in his lead ruling, Justice Olabisi Ige, held that the relationship between Justice Bulkachuwa and her husband, Adamu Bulkachuwa, who is a senator-elect, and her son, Aliyu Abubakar, a governorship aspirant, both on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was not weighty enough to infer that she would be biased in her handling of the proceedings of the panel. Justice Ige also held that no inference of likelihood of bias could be inferred from the speech delivered by Justice Bulkachuwa at the inaugural sitting of the tribunal on May 8 that she had pre-judged the petitioners’ petition.

“The court has proved in ages what constitutes being bias or likelihood of bias in any given case. It is beyond the person or the personality of the judge handling the case, but in most cases what the ordinary people or the right thinking people of the society will say pertaining to whether the outcome of the case will not been seen by them whether it is bias depending on the side on which one sees it.

The petitioners’ applicant took serious exception to the speech of the presiding judge on the inauguration day. To them it means that the presiding judge as had pre-judged the election petition. I am on the solemn view that no such inference is discernable in the speech of the presiding judge. “The inaugural speech cannot be read in isolation, the entire speech should be read wholistically in order to truly discover what the content of the inaugural speech portrays. The complaint by the petitioner applicant to the effect that the affinity by the President of this court will endanger bias. “I am of the firm view that enough material have not been placed before this court to show that the presiding Justice of the court is likely to be bias against the petitioner applicant in the hearing and determination of the petition.

“I am of the view that the fact that Honourable President of this court is the wife of Honourable Adamu Mohammed Bulkachuwa and mother of Aliyu Abubakar is not weighty enough to preclude likelihood of bias against the President of the Court of Appeal. The two of them are not parties before this matter and have not been listed as witnesses.

“I have deeply ruminated on all the affidavit evidence before the court. I am of the view that the petitioner applicant have not been able to positively established that the Honourable president should recuse herself. Consequently the application failed and it hereby dismissed.” All the members of the panel, including Justice Bulkachuwa, agreed with the lead ruling. Despite that, Justice Bulkachuwa said, “I am recusing myself from the panel for personal reasons.”

She, however, expressed joy that the matter had been settled “based on facts and the law” so that “another female judge will no longer have to face what I have faced.” Earlier at the argument stage, President Muhammadu Buhari told the Tribunal that he was not aware that the biological son of Justice Bulkachuwa campaigned for his re-election.

Buhari said he only got to know that Abubakar was his supporter, after he read a copy of the motion the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku, filed to disqualify Justice Bulkachuwa from presiding over the five-man panel tribunal that is hearing petitions challenging the declaration that he won the February 23 presidential election. President Buhari, who is the 2nd Respondent in Atiku’s petition marked CA/ PEPT/02/19, said his attention was further drawn to exhibits that contained newspaper cuttings, indicating that Justice Bulkachuwa’s son canvassed for votes in his favour.

Nevertheless, in a written address he filed in support of an 11-paragraphed affidavit he lodged to counter Atiku’s motion, President Buhari insisted that the petitioners, failed to prove that Justice Bulkachuwa had, in any way, exhibited any form of bias against them, since the petition was entered before the tribunal.

In the written address, President Buhari, who was represented at the tribunal yesterday by a team of lawyers led by seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), said he had, since his emergence to power, refrained from dabbling into the membership of any judicial panel. He said he never interfered with the constitution of any tribunal, “whether the panel is adjudicating on election petitions relating to the office of President, Governor, National or State Assembly, or sitting in any civil or criminal matter howsoever.” Consequently, Buhari, though his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), maintained that Atiku and the PDP, had no reason whatsoever to be apprehensive about the involvement of the Court of Appeal President in the adjudication of their dispute with regards to the outcome of the 2019 presidential election. Buhari said: “The hon-ourable President of the Court of Appeal had not displayed any bias in favour of any or the parties, particularly the respondent.

“For the respondent, it has no reason whatsoever to complain about any of the justices sitting on the panel or any Justices of Court of Appeal for that matter. “It is not the constitutional responsibility of the respondent to appoint or nominate Justices of the Court of Appeal sitting or adjudicating on a presidential election petition.

“In other words, it is still within the constitutional prerogative of the same President to either decide whether to recuse herself and if he does, to nominate or appoint a replacement or to lead the panel of four, having regard to the clear provision of section 239(1) (a) of the Constitution.”

On its part, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which is the 1st Respondent in the matter, through its team of lawyers comprising five SANs, led by Mr. Yunuz Uztaz, urged the tribunal to dismiss Atiku and PDP’s motion, contending that it was in breach of section 42 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.INEC argued that the motion was discriminatory in the sense that it sought to disqualify Justice Bulkachuwa on the basis that she was married to a politician. Noting that many male judicial officers are equally married to politicians, INEC maintained that granting the instant application would set “a very dangerous precedent.”

“My lord, we vehemently oppose the application. And we have filed a fiveparagraphed affidavit to show that exhibit 2 to 4 that was attached by the petitioners, is of no moment. “We urge your lordship not to be lured into accepting or succumbing to the argument of the petitioners. We humbly urge your lordship to dismiss the application,” INEC’s lawyer added. Similarly, the APC, through its team of nine SANs, led by Prince Lateef Fagbemi, accused the PDP and Atiku of engaging in “cheap blackmail”. While adopting its 15-paragraphed affidavit, the APC said it was appalled that PDP was in the habit of engaging in “unpardonable and regrettable attacks” on Judges, saying it did so during a governorship election petition case that involved Osun State.

“This application is nothing but cheap blackmail. On facts and law, the application is most unmeritorious,” Fagbemi argued. Nevertheless, noting that Justice Bulkachuwa will retire by next year, Fagbemi, while concluding his argument, said, “My lord, we urge you to lead the matter.” While adopting his address, counsel to the petitioners, Dr. Levy Uzuokwu (SAN), argued that none of the respondents disputed the allegation that Justice Bulkachuwa was connected to key members of the APC which is the 3rd Respondent in the matter. Uzoukwu submitted that Justice Bulkachuwa’s husband would become an automatic member of the third respondent’s National Convention when sworn in as a full senator on June 1. According to counsel to the applicants, the likelihood of bias in favour of the APC in determining the petition against Buhari’s re-election as president is certain.

He said it was also an established fact that Justice Bulkachuwa’s son was an aspirant in the last APC governorship primary in Gombe State. He said the President of the Court had earlier made a prejudicial comment during the inauguration of the tribunal which raised suspicion of likelihood of bias.

Uzoukwu argued further that Justice Bulkachuwa’s membership of the panel was inimical to justice, adding that the petitioners were concerned how justice could be served in the circumstance. He therefore, urged the tribunal to uphold his client’s motion by praying the chairman to recuse her position as the presiding justice of the panel. After it had heard all the parties, the panel said it would reconvene by 2p.m. to deliver its ruling. It will be recalled that PDP and Atiku had, on May 15, secured leave of the tribunal to file a formal application to ask Justice Bulkachuwa to recuse herself from the panel. In a 19-paragraph affidavit to subsequently filed, the petitioners, said they were not comfortable that Justice Bulkachuwa, who they described as “a wife and mother of card carrying members of the All Progressives Congress”, nominated herself to head the panel.

Both PDP and Atiku are challenging the declaration INEC made on February 27 that President Buhari garnered a total of 15,191,847 votes to defeat Atiku who it said polled a total of 11,262,978 votes in the disputed presidential election. Dissatisfied with the result, Atiku had vowed to upturn it in court. In their joint petition, Atiku and PDP insisted that data they secured from INEC’s server revealed that they clearly defeated President Buhari with over 1.6million votes. Likewise, in one of the five grounds of the petition, Atiku and the PDP maintained that Buhari was not qualified to run for the office of the President, contending that he does not possess the constitutional minimum qualification of a school certificate. Aside asking the Tribunal to declare that he was duly and validly elected and ought to be returned as President of Nigeria, having polled the highest number of lawful votes cast at the presidential election, Atiku, in the alternative, urged the tribunal to nullify the February 23 presidential election and order a fresh poll.

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Account for the $1bn ECA security fund, PDP tells Buhari

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Account for the $1bn ECA security fund, PDP tells Buhari

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on President Muhammad Buhari to account for the $1billion drawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) in 2017 for security.

The party said this became necessary following the revelation by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Babagana Mongunu (rtd), that he is not aware of the whereabouts or disbursement of the fund.

PDP in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan that the revelation of the NSA, who coordinates the security architecture of the country, places a huge burden on President Buhari to tell Nigerians what happened to the money.

 

“The revelation by NSA further vindicates the PDP on our initial alarm that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration is overtly corrupt, deceptive and unreliable in the handling the affairs of our nation.

“It further validates the stance of the PDP that agents of the Buhari presidency and the APC were hiding under the guise of security to siphon the $1billion from the ECA.

“This, perhaps, informed the desperation by the cabal to draw from the account without recourse to statutory due process of appropriation by the National Assembly,” the party noted.

It added that from Mongunu’s revelation, Nigerians could see why the nation was daily confronted with disturbing videos and reports of fighting troops protesting their neglect and inadequate equipping, leading to their vulnerability in the fronts.

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Four Turkish nationals kidnapped in Kwara

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Four Turkish nationals kidnapped in Kwara

Four Turkish nationals have been abducted in western Nigeria, local police have told the BBC.

The four, who are construction workers, were kidnapped by gunmen at a bar in Kwara State on Saturday night.

An operation to try to rescue them is under way. No group has said it carried out the abductions.

Last week pirates attacked a cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria and kidnapped 10 Turkish sailors. Their fate remains unknown.

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, with foreigners and high-profile Nigerians frequently targeted.

In April, a prominent politician and his daughter were abducted on a highway in Kaduna State. They were released after ransom was paid.

In the same month two kidnappings targeted foreigners. In the Niger Delta region, gunmen kidnapped two senior Shell workers and killed their police guards. A British woman was shot dead in Kaduna when armed men stormed a holiday resort. They killed one other person and kidnapped three during the attack.

 

In January last year, two Americans and two Canadian citizens were abducted while travelling from the town of Kafanchan in Kaduna state to the capital Abuja. Two of their police escorts were killed.

 

The four kidnap victims were later freed unharmed in a joint military and police operation.

 

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Gambari to Buhari: Don’t ignore agitations from different sections

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Gambari to Buhari: Don’t ignore agitations from different sections

…says dialogue way forward

Nigeria’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, has warned the Federal Government against ignoring agitations from different sections of the country and groups, saying  the development was an indication that all was not well.

Gambari, who called for dialogue among agitating interests, maintained that the survival of the “Nation-State” depended largely on conflict management and unwavering commitment to building peace.

The former UN Permanent Representative and Chairman, Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, who made the position at an event in Abuja over the weekend, said the importance of building and sustaining peace in the polity, could never be overemphasised, especially in the face of the nation’s multi-ethnic configuration.

Among other prominent voices, who had called for dialogue as a way out of the tension that has literally enveloped the polity, were former President Olusegun Obasanjo, as well as ex-Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.

They contend that a national dialogue was urgently needed to address concerns of restructuring by the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, secession by pro-Buafra groups, resource control by Niger Delta activists among others.

There are also concerns that the agitations and the perceived inaction by the government, may have worsened the issue of mutual distrust among ethnic nations, hence the compelling need for dialogue.

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Special forces discover location of abducted Borno aid workers – Report

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Special forces discover location of abducted Borno aid workers – Report

…arrest informants

Emmanuel Onani, Abuja

There are indications that special forces from the military and intelligence services, may have sighted the location where some abducted aid workers were being held.

It will be recalled that suspected terrorist elements had attacked the convoy of staff of Action Against Hunger (AAH) last Thursday at Damasak, headquarters of the Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno State.

The aid workers were said to be on their way to provide humanitarian assistance to some crisis-ridden communities when they were abducted.

According to reports, some of the missing staff, who were being conveyed in a vehicle with registration No MAG 981 AA, are: Grace Taku, Ali Kayiri, Ali A Mustapha, Ali Gaya, Mallam Nuhu and Mohammed Abba Gana.

The incident was said to have happened at Zari village, less than 20 kilometres from Damasak town.

However, apart from identifying the location where the suspected fighting may be holding their captives, some persons suspected to be informants, have been arrested.

An intelligence operative told PRNigeria that the operation of the special force was being coordinated by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Maj.-Gen. Bulama Biu.

Quoting a source, the platform said: “The special force was able to detect the location of the humanitarian aid workers after some arrests were made.”

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Special forces discover location of abducted Borno aid workers – Report

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Special forces discover location of abducted Borno aid workers – Report

…arrest informants

Emmanuel Onani, Abuja

There are indications that special forces from the military and intelligence services, may have sighted the location where some abducted aid workers were being held.

It will be recalled that suspected terrorist elements had attacked the convoy of staff of Action Against Hunger (AAH) last Thursday at Damasak, headquarters of the Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno State.

The aid workers were said to be on their way to provide humanitarian assistance to some crisis-ridden communities when they were abducted.

According to reports, some of the missing staff, who were being conveyed in a vehicle with registration No MAG 981 AA, are: Grace Taku, Ali Kayiri, Ali A Mustapha, Ali Gaya, Mallam Nuhu and Mohammed Abba Gana.

The incident was said to have happened at Zari village, less than 20 kilometres from Damasak town.

However, apart from identifying the location where the suspected fighting may be holding their captives, some persons suspected to be informants, have been arrested.

An intelligence operative told PRNigeria that the operation of the special force was being coordinated by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Maj.-Gen. Bulama Biu.

Quoting a source, the platform said: “The special force was able to detect the location of the humanitarian aid workers after some arrests were made.”

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Special forces discover location of abducted Borno aid workers – Report

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By

Special forces discover location of abducted Borno aid workers – Report

…arrest informants

Emmanuel Onani, Abuja

There are indications that special forces from the military and intelligence services, may have sighted the location where some abducted aid workers were being held.

It will be recalled that suspected terrorist elements had attacked the convoy of staff of Action Against Hunger (AAH) last Thursday at Damasak, headquarters of the Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno State.

The aid workers were said to be on their way to provide humanitarian assistance to some crisis-ridden communities when they were abducted.

According to reports, some of the missing staff, who were being conveyed in a vehicle with registration No MAG 981 AA, are: Grace Taku, Ali Kayiri, Ali A Mustapha, Ali Gaya, Mallam Nuhu and Mohammed Abba Gana.

The incident was said to have happened at Zari village, less than 20 kilometres from Damasak town.

However, apart from identifying the location where the suspected fighting may be holding their captives, some persons suspected to be informants, have been arrested.

An intelligence operative told PRNigeria that the operation of the special force was being coordinated by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Maj.-Gen. Bulama Biu.

Quoting a source, the platform said: “The special force was able to detect the location of the humanitarian aid workers after some arrests were made.”

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Special forces discover location of abducted Borno aid workers – Report

Published

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By

Special forces discover location of abducted Borno aid workers – Report

…arrest informants

Emmanuel Onani, Abuja

There are indications that special forces from the military and intelligence services, may have sighted the location where some abducted aid workers were being held.

It will be recalled that suspected terrorist elements had attacked the convoy of staff of Action Against Hunger (AAH) last Thursday at Damasak, headquarters of the Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno State.

The aid workers were said to be on their way to provide humanitarian assistance to some crisis-ridden communities when they were abducted.

According to reports, some of the missing staff, who were being conveyed in a vehicle with registration No MAG 981 AA, are: Grace Taku, Ali Kayiri, Ali A Mustapha, Ali Gaya, Mallam Nuhu and Mohammed Abba Gana.

The incident was said to have happened at Zari village, less than 20 kilometres from Damasak town.

However, apart from identifying the location where the suspected fighting may be holding their captives, some persons suspected to be informants, have been arrested.

An intelligence operative told PRNigeria that the operation of the special force was being coordinated by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Maj.-Gen. Bulama Biu.

Quoting a source, the platform said: “The special force was able to detect the location of the humanitarian aid workers after some arrests were made.”

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Special forces discover location of abducted Borno aid workers – Report

Published

on

By

Special forces discover location of abducted Borno aid workers – Report

…arrest informants

Emmanuel Onani, Abuja

There are indications that special forces from the military and intelligence services, may have sighted the location where some abducted aid workers were being held.

It will be recalled that suspected terrorist elements had attacked the convoy of staff of Action Against Hunger (AAH) last Thursday at Damasak, headquarters of the Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno State.

The aid workers were said to be on their way to provide humanitarian assistance to some crisis-ridden communities when they were abducted.

According to reports, some of the missing staff, who were being conveyed in a vehicle with registration No MAG 981 AA, are: Grace Taku, Ali Kayiri, Ali A Mustapha, Ali Gaya, Mallam Nuhu and Mohammed Abba Gana.

The incident was said to have happened at Zari village, less than 20 kilometres from Damasak town.

However, apart from identifying the location where the suspected fighting may be holding their captives, some persons suspected to be informants, have been arrested.

An intelligence operative told PRNigeria that the operation of the special force was being coordinated by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Maj.-Gen. Bulama Biu.

Quoting a source, the platform said: “The special force was able to detect the location of the humanitarian aid workers after some arrests were made.”

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Four Turkish nationals abducted in Kwara

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By

Four Turkish nationals abducted in Kwara

Four Turkish nationals have been abducted in western Nigeria, local police have told the BBC.
The four, who are construction workers, were kidnapped by gunmen at a bar in Kwara State on Saturday night.
An operation to try to rescue them is under way. No group has said it carried out the abductions.
Last week pirates attacked a cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria and kidnapped 10 Turkish sailors. Their fate remains unknown.
Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, with foreigners and high-profile Nigerians frequently targeted.
In April, a prominent politician and his daughter were abducted on a highway in Kaduna State. They were released after ransom was paid.
In the same month two kidnappings targeted foreigners. In the Niger Delta region, gunmen kidnapped two senior Shell workers and killed their police guards. A British woman was shot dead in Kaduna when armed men stormed a holiday resort. They killed one other person and kidnapped three during the attack.
In January last year, two Americans and two Canadian citizens were abducted while travelling from the town of Kafanchan in Kaduna state to the capital Abuja. Two of their police escorts were killed.
The four kidnap victims were later freed unharmed in a joint military and police operation.

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News

Four Turkish nationals abducted in Kwara

Published

on

By

Four Turkish nationals abducted in Kwara

Four Turkish nationals have been abducted in western Nigeria, local police have told the BBC.
The four, who are construction workers, were kidnapped by gunmen at a bar in Kwara State on Saturday night.
An operation to try to rescue them is under way. No group has said it carried out the abductions.
Last week pirates attacked a cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria and kidnapped 10 Turkish sailors. Their fate remains unknown.
Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, with foreigners and high-profile Nigerians frequently targeted.
In April, a prominent politician and his daughter were abducted on a highway in Kaduna State. They were released after ransom was paid.
In the same month two kidnappings targeted foreigners. In the Niger Delta region, gunmen kidnapped two senior Shell workers and killed their police guards. A British woman was shot dead in Kaduna when armed men stormed a holiday resort. They killed one other person and kidnapped three during the attack.
In January last year, two Americans and two Canadian citizens were abducted while travelling from the town of Kafanchan in Kaduna state to the capital Abuja. Two of their police escorts were killed.
The four kidnap victims were later freed unharmed in a joint military and police operation.

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