The senatorial ambitions of former Minister of Niger Delta Godswill Akpabio and Senate President Ahmed Lawan in 2023 may have irrevocably failed.
This is because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday denied altering electoral documents in favour of Lawan and Akpabio.
Names of the duo were missing from the list of successfully nominated candidates submitted to INEC by the 18 political parties in June.
Having lost out in their quest for the 2023 presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Messrs Lawan and Akpabio have been making efforts to claim the senatorial tickets of the party for the Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial Districts, respectively.
While Bashir Machina and Udom Ekpoudom had emerged as candidates in the primaries supervised by INEC officials in their respective senatorial zones, the names of Messrs Lawan and Akpabio, who did not participate in the elections were instead forwarded to the commission as candidates.
The acceptance of names was justified by the Akwa-Ibom INEC REC, Mike Igini, but the ultimate decision currently rests with the court.
“INEC has no powers to reject names sent by political parties. Primaries are the sole prerogatives of parties. INEC’s responsibility is merely to monitor the primaries and make sure they abide by their own regulations, the Electoral Act & the Constitution,” Mr Igini said in a report.
However, a media report on Tuesday said INEC had backdated Certified True Copies of reports of the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries “to accommodate” Messrs Lawan and Akpabio..
Although Akpabio had won a rerun held in the zone, there is no report of a similar election held in Yobe where Machina in Yobe emerged the winner.
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In a statement by its spokesperson, Festus Okoye, on Tuesday, INEC denied doctoring or certifying any document in favour of either of the two APC chieftains.
The commission said it had followed through its timetable and there was no point in its schedules where the names of the persons in question were published.
“The forms of the two personalities in question were not published by the commission. The decision of the commission triggered legal actions which are still ongoing. It therefore defies logic and common sense to go around and submit doctored documents purportedly recognising the duo as candidates when the matter is clearly sub-judice,” the statement said.
Okoye said the copy of the form uploaded on the online news platform as evidence, was not properly fact-checked and had thereby encouraged misinformation.
“As part of the ongoing case in court, a law firm requested the commission for a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Form EC9 submitted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as its candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District which we are duty bound to oblige them under the law. The Form was certified on 15th July 2022. If minimum care had been exercised by the promoters of the story, they would have seen the two stamps of the commission bearing different dates on the form. It is this form that is now misconstrued as INEC’ s endorsement.
“For the record, the commission has not recognised either of the two personalities as a senatorial candidate,” Okoye further explained.
He called for responsible reporting of the development just as he described the story by the online platform as an unwarranted attack on the electoral body.
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Thousands Dump Amosun, Re-Align With Abiodun
Thousands of loyalists of former governor Ibikunle Amosun from the 20 local government areas of Ogun State have rejoined the mainstream of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by the State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun.
Receiving the returnees led by the factional Chairman of the Amosun-led party Executive at the Presidential Lodge, Abeokuta, the State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun commended them for their loyalty and being steadfast with what they believed in.
The governor said: “I want to congratulate your sense of loyalty to leadership, which I will say is not only commendable, it is enviable.
“This is a culture that we must promote and entrench. It is a culture that is fast eroding; it is a culture that we are fast losing. Loyalty is 100 per cent.
“For some others, they move once things are not working well, but for you, you stay put. This sense of loyalty is worthy of emulation. We must appreciate the fact that there can only be one leader in a party at a time.
“Even when we have ambitions and desires, we must subordinate ourselves 100% to leadership and believe that it is in that subordination that will allow us to flourish and achieve our objectives, our dreams, our desires and aspirations, not by forming factions or by breaking away.
“Because by so doing, it only weakens the fabric of that collective union that we call our party. You must appreciate that there can be only one leader of the party at a time in the state, and that leader is the governor.
“As the leader of the party, I appreciate the task bestowed on me and it is my duty to work towards individual and collective welfare of our members,” the governor noted.
The governor urged all members to put the past behind them and work towards repositioning the party to achieve its aims and work for the socio-economic development of the state.
“Let us put the past behind us. Let us promote what unites us as a family. I welcome you back. The future of Ogun State is in your hands and it is for us for the taking. The same joy with which the father of the prodigal son received his lost son back home, the same way I receive you today.
“To those who did not leave, please let us receive our brothers and sisters back. To those who are joining us, please let us display a sense of loyalty. I can assure you, you will be fully integrated. ”
The Chairman of the State All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Yemi Sanusi, said in every human relationship, there is bound to be disagreement, adding that even in time of war, there is always a place for peaceful settlement of conflict, calling the returnees to fully integrate themselves with other members of the party.
Leader of the returnees, Chief Derin Adebiyi, said they had all agreed to return to the mainstream to contribute to the development of the party and the state in general, thanking the governor and the party members for receiving them back.
BREAKING: Atiku Rejects Tribunal’s Judgement, Set For Supreme Court
The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election Atiku Abubakar has rejected the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal judgement .
The judgement affirmed the victory of President Bola Tinubu in the February 25, 2023, presidential election.
Atiku said the tribunal judgement failed to restore confidence.
“Though the judgement of yesterday is respected, it is a judgement I refused to accept. I refused to accept the judgement because I believe it is bereft of substantial justice,” Atiku said while addressing a press conference at the PDP headquarters in Abuja.
The tribunal threw out the case of Atiku, who is the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, and upheld the victory of Tinubu.
Both Atiku and Obi rejected Wednesday’s judgment of the tribunal affirming the election of Tinubu. The Legal Adviser to the Labour Party, Kehinde Edun, vowed to challenge the judgment at the Supreme Court.
Also, Atiku’s Lead Counsel, Chris Uche, SAN, said he had received instructions from his client to file an appeal at the Supreme Court.
He said “The judgment has been delivered but we have not received justice. Luckily, the law has given us leverage to go on appeal to the Supreme Court. We have instructions from our clients to go to the Supreme Court. The struggle continues.”
The PEPT which began sitting at 9.40am at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, ruled that the petition filed by Atiku and Obi and their parties had no merit and unanimously upheld Tinubu’s electoral victory in the February 25 presidential election.
The five-member panel took turns to dismiss the petitions presented by Atiku and Obi against the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission on March 1, 2023.
The judgment was delivered by the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Haruna Tsammani, assisted by other members of the panel-Justices Stephen Adah, Monsurat Bolaji-Yusuf, Moses Ugo, and Abba Mohammed.
But addressing a press conference on Thursday, Atiku said he was not new to legal battle and he would continue to explore the judiciary for respite.
“However, the disappointment in the verdict of the court can never destroy my confidence in the judiciary.
“Consequently, I have asked my lawyers to activate my constitutionally guaranteed rights of appeal to the higher court, which in this instance, is the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”
He added, “My decision to go to court is anchored in my belief that the court is the sanctuary of justice. The journey of my political career, as you know, holds so much to the courage and fearless decisions of our judiciary.
“Indeed, I am no stranger to legal battles, and I can say that I have a fair idea of how the court system works. All through my career as a politician, I have been a fighter, and I must say that I have found the judiciary as a worthy pillar to rest on in the pursuit of justice.
“The last presidential election in our country and the way it was managed by the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, leaves behind unenviable precedents, which I believe the courts have a duty to redress.
“Our gains in ensuring transparent elections through the deployment of technology was heavily compromised by INEC in the way it managed the last presidential election, and I am afraid that the judgement of the court as rendered by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal yesterday, failed to restore confidence in our dreams of free and fair elections devoid of human manipulations.
“Like I did say at the beginning of this legal battle when I instructed my lawyers to file my petition challenging the outcome of the presidential election, my ultimate goal in this pursuit is to ensure that democracy is further strengthened through the principles and processes of fair hearing.”
NNPP Suspends Kwankwaso Over Alleged Anti-party Activties
Irked by alleged Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso’s hobnobbing with President Bola Tinubu, the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) has suspended the presidential candidate in the last election.
The party’s BoT also accused Kwankwaso of anti-party activities with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, without the board’s authorisation.
The board also strips Kwankwaso of the title as the NNPP’s national and state leader, respectively.
It equally dissolved the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), and constituted a new one led by Dr. Agbo Major as the acting National Chairman, Comrade Ogini Olaposi as the acting National Secretary, and 18 other national officers.
The former NWC was dissolved for incompetence and failure of its members to follow the constitution and due process in filling the vacant positions.
The board also described as flagrant violation of the party’s constitution, the purported suspension of the Founder, Chief Boniface Okechukwu Aniebonam, saying it amounted to recklessness and irresponsibility on the part of the incompetent NWC.
“The BoT Chairman Dr. Boniface Aniebonam resigned and a new BoT Chairman, Chief Tope Aluko was elected with Babayo Muhammed Abdulahi as new BOT Secretary, while High Chief Tony Obioha was elected as BoT spokesperson,” the board stated.
Part of the communique signed by the BoT’s Chairman, Temitope Aluko, and ratified by members at the party’s general assembly meeting on Tuesday in Apapa, Lagos, read:
“NNPP constitution has been amended severally without following due process and procedure by a clique of individuals within the system.
“The MoU document has been infringed upon and violated by the NWC members.
“About eight states chapters of the old NNPP were unceremoniously dissolved by the incompetent NWC.
“The letters of reinstatement of the suspended executive chairmen of the various states issued by the BoT chairman in accordance with the Board’s inherent power to call to order, stands valid.”
The board also warned Alhaji Buba Galadima to stop parading himself as the BoT’s Secretary, describing his conduct as a violation of the composition of the members of the BoT in accordance with the party’s constitution.
The former NWC was dissolved due to incompetence and failure of the members to follow the constitution and due process in filling the vacant positions.
While stressing that its Abuja office remains at plot 511, Herbert Marcaulay Way, Suite A1 to A3, Willian’s Plaza, Zone 4, Wuse, Abuja, the Board said the party had also withdrawn its earlier partnership with the Kwankwasia, The National Movement (TNM) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF).
In his acceptance speech after the NWC was inaugurated, the acting National Chairman, Dr. Major promised that the new NWC under his leadership would not disappoint the Board and Nigerians.
He said: “We will extend the olive branch to all aggrieved members. We want them back in the party. We won’t shut anybody out. We want to prove to Nigerians that NNPP remains the party with the most people-friendly manifestoes in Nigeria.”