The Borno National and State House of Assembly election petitions’ tribunal sitting in Abuja, yesterday dismissed a petition filed by Malam Kudla Satumari, challenging the election of Senator Mohammed Ndume.
Satumari and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on March 15, filed a petition with number; EPT/BO/SEN/1/2019 before the tribunal.
They are challenging the declaration of Ndume of All Progressive Congress (APC) as winner of the Borno South senatorial district election conducted on February 23, 2019.
APC and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were also joined in the suit.
Delivering judgement yesterday, Justice Peter Kekemeke, chairman of the tribunal, held that the petitioners failed to proof their allegations beyond reasonable doubt.
Kekemeke held that the proof of allegations laid solely on the petitioners, in this instance; the petitioners must provide the register of registered voters to show that the numbers were conflicting with the number of votes cast and counted.
He held that all allegations of electoral malpractice and irregularities must be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Kekemeke added that the petitioners did not demonstrate before the court the procedures for accreditation, neither the difference between the numbers of votes shown in the evidence and the alterations made, nor evidence linking to the allegations of malpractice.
“In totality, the petitioners have failed to prove their case in the preponderance of evidence and balance of probability so that they will be entitled for the judgement; neither any case of malpractice was proven beyond reasonable doubt.”
“The petition therefore fails and is accordingly dismissed, he said.
The tribunal further held that there was no proof of evidence in the allegations of either unlawful votes or witnesses called to testify that they were disfranchised.
The tribunal added that there were no evidence suggesting that there were alteration and how it affected the results of the election, which of the polling units were altered and what the results were before the alteration.
“No evidence linking the exhibits to the case of the petitioners, the results that were not stamped or signed were not avail to the tribunal.
“The petitioners merely tendered nine sacks, representing the nine local government areas of the district; none of them were given evidence linking them to the case in the petitioner’s demonstration of evidence.
“We went through them, we observed that some names in the register were not indicating that they did not vote, we also did not notice any thumb print infliction we could not go beyond that, the attention of the tribunal was not drawn to what the petitioners wanted demonstrate with the documents,” Kekemeke said.
ASUU Strike, Naira Marley,Reginal Daniels, others top most searched on Google in 2019
Popular search engine, Google on Wednesday announced the results of its ‘2019 Year in Search’ with Academic Staff Union of Universities’ (ASUU) strike topping this year’s trending news search.
Mr Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Google Communications Officer, said that ASUU strike was followed by `AFCON 2019’, ‘Naira Marley’ and the ‘Women’s World Cup 2019’.
Kola-Ogunlade said that the results of the ‘Year in Search’ offered a unique perspective on the year’s major moments and top trends based on searches conducted in Nigeria.
“This year’s top trending news search is `ASUU Strike’, which took the highest place over other trending news topics like ‘AFCON 2019’, ‘Naira Marley’ and the ‘Women’s World Cup 2019’.
“Naira Marley’, leads the list as the most searched person over ‘Atiku’ (Abubakar), Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party at the 2019 Nigerian general election.
“Neymar’, Brazilian professional footballer. ‘Neymar’ made the lists as the top trending sports person searched by Nigerians in 2019,’’ Kola-Ogunlade said in a statement.
According to him, Regina Daniels was the most searched actor, ranking over other actors like Genevieve Nnaji, Tonto Dikeh, Hadiza Gabon, among others, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
He said that Wizkid, “Joro” was the most searched song this year; ‘what is xenophobia?’ the most asked question; while Big Brother Naija and Mehek were the most searched movies and TV shows.
Uber, Bolt, others not banned at airports – FAAN
The Management of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said it did not ban Uber, Bolt and others at Lagos and other airports in the country.
Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, the General Manager, Corporate Affairs of FAAN, said in a statement in Lagos on Wednesday that the attention of FAAN was drawn to an online report, which she said was false.
Yakubu said: “We will like to state with all emphasis that passengers and the general public are free to use whatever means or mode convenient to transport themselves to the Lagos and other airports in Nigeria.
“We will, therefore, like to use this medium to inform the general public that the said signpost did not emanate from FAAN.
“Our security personnel have been instructed to remove the signpost and investigate the issue.”
Kogi, Bayelsa elections peaceful, IG insists
Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police (IGP), says the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states were peaceful.
Adamu said this while speaking at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) inter-agency consultative committee on election security (ICCES) meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
The elections, conducted on November 16, were marred by cases of violence, thuggery, ballot box snatching and intimidation of voters and electoral officials.
At least four persons were reported dead in separate attacks in the two states.
But speaking at the meeting which was held at the INEC headquarters, Adamu, who was represented by Bashir Makama, an Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), said the polls were “relatively peaceful”.
He, however, admitted that there is a need to improve election security.
“In the whole, despite the related infractions or some sort of thuggery observed and other challenges that were faced, the election could be said to be relatively peaceful,” he said, adding that “there is still room for improvements.”
He said the police arrested at least 43 suspects in connection with violence and violation of electoral laws during the elections in the two states.
In his remarks, Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, asked for proper identification of all police officers deployed in polling units “so that they will be held responsible for the conduct of elections in those locations”.
“The commission believes that the purpose of security deployment during elections is to protect the voters, election officials and materials, accredited observers, the media and to safeguard the integrity of the processes generally, including the polling units and collation centres,” he said.
“Therefore, the deployment of security personnel in all future elections should be tied to specific locations and activities.
“All security personnel deployed to polling units and collation centres should be identified by name as is the case with INEC officials.
“This will not only enhance transparency, but the commission and security agencies will know who to contact in specific locations during elections when the need arises.”
Greta Thunberg is TIME’s 2019 Person of the Year
Greta Thunberg, the soft-spoken Swedish teenager who became a global conscience for climate change and environmental activism, has been named Time’s Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.
The magazine announced 16-year old Thunberg as its choice Wednesday exclusively on “TODAY.”
“She became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement,” Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal told “TODAY,” adding that Thunberg is the magazine’s youngest choice ever to be named Person of the Year, reports NBC News.
Thunberg quickly bloomed into one of the world’s most notable and youngest climate change activists, sparking a collective movement to fight climate change after protesting alone outside the Swedish parliament during school hours on Fridays when she was 15. The teen held up a now universally recognized hand-painted sign that read “skolstrejk för klimatet,” which translates to “School strike for the climate.”
Thunberg’s initiative to strike galvanized students to protest against climate change throughout Europe and that momentum quickly fanned across the globe, becoming the “Fridays For Future” movement.
Her solo protest, Fensenthal noted, eventually prompted millions of people in 150 countries “to act on behalf of the planet.”
He also said that Thunberg “represents a broader generational shift in the culture,” with youth standing up for what they believe in — from Hong Kong to Chile.
“Young people are demanding change, and urgently,” Felsenthal said. “She embodies youth activism.”
Thunberg’s signature no-nonsense blunt style of speaking made her a force that could not be ignored by world leaders and she was asked to speak in front of several high-profile entities, including the United Nations and the United States Congress.
Thunberg, who has Asperger’s syndrome, first learned about climate change at 8 years old and said she became instantly concerned to the point that she plunged into depression over it.
“I remember thinking that it was very strange that humans that are an animal species, among others, could be capable of changing the Earth’s climate,” she said during a 2018 Ted Talk.
She gave up eating meat and traveling via airplane, among other things, to reduce her carbon footprint.
In October, Thunberg was the recipient of another honor — an environmental award at a Stockholm ceremony held by the Nordic Council. But she declined it, explaining in an Instagram post, “The climate movement does not need any more awards.”
“What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science,” she wrote.
Turkey says will retaliate against any sanctions ahead of US vote
Turkey said on Wednesday it would retaliate against any U.S. sanctions over its purchase of Russian defense systems, adding that with Britain it had agreed to speed up a joint fighter jet program to meet Turkish defense needs.
U.S. lawmakers will vote – and likely pass – a defense bill later on Wednesday that calls for sanctions against Turkey over Ankara’s decision to procure the S-400 defenses.
Turkey and the United States, NATO allies, have been at odds over the purchase, reports Reuters.
Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and cannot be integrated into NATO defenses. In response, it has suspended Turkey from the F-35 jet program, where it was a manufacturer and buyer, and threatened sanctions.
In an interview with Turkish broadcaster A Haber, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said any U.S. sanctions would harm U.S.-Turkish ties and repeated a threat of retaliation.
“U.S. lawmakers must understand they will get nowhere with impositions. If the United States approaches us positively, we will also react positively. But, if they take negative towards us, then we will retaliate these,” Cavusoglu said.
Ties between Ankara and Washington have been strained over a host of issues in recent years. Turkey has been enraged with the U.S. support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Cavusoglu called the “financing of terrorism” on Wednesday.
He added that Turkey was open to alternatives to buying the F-35 jets, including from Russia. He said President Tayyip Erdogan and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had discussed speeding up work on the TF-X joint fighter jet project to meet Turkey’s defense needs.
“We bought the S-400s because the most suitable offer on air defense systems came from Russia. Until we produce it ourselves, the alternative to the F-35 could be the Russian market, but we are open to other alternatives too,” Cavusoglu said.
Turkey and Britain agreed a 100 million pound ($133 million) deal in 2017 to develop Turkish fighter jets, and Turkey’s Kale Group said it was setting up a joint venture with Rolls-Royce to work on the project. In March Rolls-Royce said it had scaled back efforts to join the program.
A Turkish source said the disagreement with Rolls-Royce stemmed from licensing issues, which are “critical and indispensible” for Turkey. But the source said talks had been revived and added Turkey expected the project to advance after a solution was reached.
Reps summon Power, Labour ministers over planned strike by electricity workers
The House of Representatives has summoned the Minister of Labour and Employment and the Minister of Power as well as the Director-General of the National Pension Commission to appear before it on Thursday to brief the leadership on the planned strike by electricity workers in the country.
The House expressed displeasure that the 21-day ultimatum issued by the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) was allowed to elapse without any effort to nip the planned strike in the bud.
The summon arose as a result of a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Hon. Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) on the need for the House to intervene and ensure that the strike is not allowed to take place.
Okechukwu said that if the strike is allowed to take place, it is capable of creating untold economic hardship in the country as several business outfits, especially the small scale businesses will suffer.
He said it was not in the interest of the nation to allow the strike to go ahead, adding that as representatives of the people, the lawmakers must find solution by inviting the relevant stakeholders to dialogue with a view to finding lasting solution to the problem.
He said it is not economically wise to allow the unions go ahead with the planned strike, pointing out that the Union should be prevailed upon to back down on their threat while the leadership find a lasting solution.
He said if the strike is allowed to take place, the consequence will be more than what the workers are being owed, stressing the fact that the House has already resolved to come down hard in issues of casualisation.
In his contribution, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu said one of the critical issues on the legislative agenda of the House was the issue of power reform, adding that there is presently no guarantee that the nation can effectively distribute 100 megawatts of electricity daily.
House Deputy Leader, Hon. Peter Akpatason said if the Parliament is not decisive enough, the Union members will embark on strike, pointing out that this is worrisome enough to attract House intervention.
Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila directed the Clerk of the House to write and invite the two Ministers of Power and Labour, the DG PENCOM, the Union leadership and other stakeholders to a meeting with the House leadership by 2.00pm on Thursday, while efforts should be made to get the Union not to commence the planned strike action.
Trump blasts impeachment at rally hours after Democrats unveil charges
Hours after House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, he blasted the charges at a packed campaign rally in the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania.
The president specifically lashed out at House Democrats for announcing articles of impeachment just before also announcing they had struck a deal with the White House on the modified trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, reports ABC News.
“(Democrats) announced impeachment, then an hour later she announced that she is going to do USMCA,” Trump said. “Because you know why, it’s a huge deal and it plays out impeachment because they are embarrassed by the impeachment.”
“These people are crooked,” Trump said, now just the fourth president in American history to face impeachment charges, adding that Democrats were trying to “overthrow our democracy.”
Trump blasted the two articles of impeachment “flimsy” and “pathetic,” adding Democrats were “are impeaching me and there are no crimes. This has to be a first in history.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler announced on Tuesday morning that Democrats were going forward with charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
“The president’s continuing abuse of power has left us no choice,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said. “To do nothing would make ourselves complicit in the president’s abuse of his high office, the public trust and our national security.”
And while Democrats have moved forward with impeachment at a breakneck pace, Senate Republicans on Tuesday signaled a potential impeachment trial would wait until after holiday recess. Also, they may not call up live witnesses to testify despite Trump’s public push.
“I think the prospect of calling witnesses, in my view, seems unlikely, as much as some people might like to complete the incomplete record,” Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., told reporters on Tuesday. “The premise of the whole impeachment process is so warped that completing a bad record just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.”
On the ground in Pennsylvania, a state that was crucial to Trump’s win in 2016, Trump’s supporters remained confident the Democratic push would end up helping his reelection efforts next year.
“I think it helps the president. I wouldn’t worry about it,” Mario Girardi, a supporter wearing an NRA hat told ABC News. “I think it’s all a crock.”
Chris Bishop, who said the economy is his top voting issue, echoed a key sentiment that the president and the campaign have used to push back against impeachment: Democrats are trying to impeach Trump because they can’t win in 2020.
“Well, this is their election,” he said. “They don’t have a candidate that can run against the president so they are trying to pull this stunt.”
The president won the Keystone state in 2016 by less than 1 percentage point in 2016 and Tuesday’s rally marks just the second time in 2019 Trump rallied in Pennsylvania.
US Attorney General Barr says FBI may have acted in ‘bad faith’ on Russia probe
U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Tuesday he is still not fully convinced that the FBI acted without bias when it opened its 2016 investigation into possible links between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.
In his first interview since a report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz faulting the FBI for missteps in how it sought to put a former Trump campaign adviser under surveillance, Barr said he still has doubts about the FBI’s motives to pursue what he called a “baseless” investigation.
The internal watchdog’s report here on Monday also concluded that the FBI had opened a legal, authorized probe, and it found no evidence of political bias, reports Reuters.
Barr, in an interview with NBC News, however, cast doubt on the findings.
He said Horowitz used a standard that was “deferential” to the FBI when he investigated the claims of bias, and suggested that a final judgment cannot be made until federal prosecutor John Durham has completed his own separate investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation.
“I think our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by a completely irresponsible press,” Barr said.
“I think that leaves open the possibility that there was bad faith.”
Barr also said he was disturbed by the FBI’s reliance on a dossier penned by former British spy Christopher Steele in order to obtain a wiretap to monitor the campaign adviser Carter Page, saying the dossier was “complete rubbish” and a “complete sham.”
Barr has come under withering criticism from Democrats, who have accused him of acting more like Trump’s personal attorney and not like the Attorney General of the United States.
Earlier this year, Barr tapped Durham, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, to look into the origins of the investigation into Trump’s campaign.
Durham’s probe is broader than Horowitz’s mandate because it involves talking to multiple U.S. intelligence agencies, such as the CIA, and foreign powers.
Durham, unlike Horowitz, also has the power to subpoena non-government witnesses and talk to people who are not Justice Department employees.
Barr told NBC that while he is not sure when Durham will complete his investigation, he expects it to reach an important “watershed” in the late spring or early summer.
US judge blocks $3.6bn transfer to Mexican border wall
A federal judge on Tuesday issued a permanent injunction barring President Donald Trump’s attempt to transfer $3.6 billion in military construction funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Judge David Briones, of U.S. District Court in El Paso, Texas, issued the injunction in a 21-page ruling.
The ruling is a setback for Trump, whose administration has vowed to build at least 450 miles of wall along the border by November 2020, when the U.S. presidential election will take place. Trump has argued the wall will deter illegal border crossings, a major focus of his presidency, reports Reuters.
A Justice Department spokesman said the administration would appeal the ruling.
Trump declared a national emergency last February in order to transfer funds from the Pentagon to build the wall after Congress refused to provide the level of funding he sought.
Top Democrats in Congress have criticized the project as wasteful and ineffective.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs, El Paso County and the Border Network for Human Rights, an El Paso-based immigration reform group, argued that Trump exceeded his authority when he declared the emergency and sought to redirect the funds.
Kristy Parker, counsel for Protect Democracy, an organisation that represented plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement that the order “affirms that the president is not a king and that our courts are willing to check him when he oversteps his bounds.”
Briones ruled in October that the proclamation was unlawful and then asked the plaintiffs to file a proposed preliminary injunction. He said in that ruling that the transfer of the military funds was unlawful because it went against the intent outlined by Congress in the spending bill it passed in January 2019.
Trump had pressed Congress in December 2018 for $5.7 billion in funds to build a border wall, which led to 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government when Congress. When lawmakers provided only a quarter of that amount, Trump declared immigration a national emergency as part of a plan to use a similar amount from the Defense Department and Treasury Department for wall construction.
The Supreme Court ruled in July that the Trump administration could access a separate pot of $2.5 billion from a Pentagon counter-narcotics fund to pay for wall construction pending a related appeal – a major victory for Trump.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said at news conference in El Paso last month that 83 miles of border wall had been built under Trump and that another 153 miles of border wall was under construction.
“President Trump has been clear,” Wolf said. “We will build the wall, and he is following through on his promise.”
Police officer, five others killed in New Jersey gunbattle
Six people, including a police officer and three bystanders, were killed in a furious gunbattle Tuesday that filled the streets of Jersey City with the sound of heavy gunfire for hours, authorities said.
The dead included two suspects, Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly said.
The shooting took place at two scenes, starting at a cemetery, where the officer was gunned down, and continuing at a kosher supermarket, where five more bodies were found, Kelly said.
“Our officers were under fire for hours,” the chief said.
He would not say exactly what set off the shooting but that he believes the officer who was killed was trying to stop some “bad guys.”
City Public Safety Director James Shea said that authorities believe the bloodshed was not an act of terrorism but that it was still under investigation, reports The Associated Press.
Two other officers were wounded but were later released from the hospital, authorities said.
The bullets started flying early in the afternoon in the city of about 270,000 people, situated across the Hudson River from the Statue of Liberty.
The shooting spread fear through the neighborhood, and the nearby Sacred Heart School was put on lockdown as a precaution.
SWAT teams, state police and federal agents converged on the scene, and police blocked off the area, which in addition to the school and supermarket included a hair salon and other shops. Dozens of bystanders pressed against the police barrier to capture the action on their cellphones, some whooping when bursts of fire could be heard.
Video shot by residents recorded loud volleys of gunfire reverberating along one of the city’s main streets and showed a long line of law enforcement officers pointing guns as they advanced, yelling to bystanders, “Clear the street! Get out of the way!”
“ It’s like firecrackers going off,” said Andy Patel, who works at a liquor store about three blocks away. “They were shooting like crazy. … The cops were clearing everyone off the streets.”
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