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Aggrieved aspirants reject INEC lists, begin multiple court cases

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The lists of candidates contesting the 2023 elections have sparked multiple court cases by aggrieved aspirants in many states.

States, where aggrieved aspirants are challenging the lists include Ogun, Gombe, Plateau, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Kano, and Taraba.

Some of the aspirants, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, faulted the lists submitted by parties and published by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Political parties had on June 17 submitted to the commission the lists of their candidates contesting the 2023 elections.

 

The electoral commission on Friday released lists of candidates vying for various positions at the federal level in the 2023 general elections.

In Ogun State, Sanya Akindele, the Media Aide to Senator Tolu Odebiyi, who lost the Ogun West senatorial primary to the incumbent senator representing the Lagos West, Olamilekan Adeola, said his principal was challenging Adeola’s nomination.

Akindele said “Yes, Senator Odebiyi is challenging the case in court. There was an injunction before the primary election stopping Yayi (Adeola) from partaking in the primary.

“It is an absurd holding mandate in two different states simultaneously or representing two wards. It makes a mockery of our democracy.”

But the Media Aide to Adeola, Kayode Odunaro, faulted Odebiyi for taking his boss to court.

Odebiyi said the senator was suffering from self-delusion for taking the move after he had lost at the appeal committee set up by the party.

The member representing the Ado-Odo/Ota in the House of Representatives, Jimoh Ojugbele, is challenging a former Commissioner for Forestry, Tunji Akinosi, whose name is on the INEC list.

Both Senator Odebiyi and Ojugbele filed their suit at the Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta.

In the Akwa Ibom North-West, a former Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Udom Okpoudum, through his media director, Mr Peter Idiong, threatened that he would go to court if his name was not on the INEC list as the senatorial candidate.

Idiong, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “ Ex-DIG Okpoudum is the authentic candidate for Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial district. We are not bothered about the list because we believe that INEC will do the right thing and give the ticket to our principal. And if they fail, we are going to take some measures, and we are likely going to court to challenge the process because INEC monitored the election. It would be a great disservice for INEC to monitor an election and at the end of it nothing is done.”

But the Chief Press Secretary to Akpabio, Mr Jackson Udom, said there was no cause for alarm.

In an interview with The PUNCH, Udom stated, “I don’t know what action my boss is going to take yet. He has not told me what action he is going to take and I cannot pre-empt anything. But we believe that Senator Akpabio’s name will be there.’’

A member of the House of Representatives on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party in Benue State Francis Ottah-Agbo, it was learnt, had gone to court to challenge the victory of Aida Ogwuche

The lawmaker who filed a case at the Federal High Court against the winner also joined the PDP and INEC that the candidate who worked at Federal Inland Revenue Service before her secondment to the Benue State government where she served as the principal assistant to the governor.

Agbo, who declined to comment on the case when contacted, is praying the court to nullify the election and retrieve the certificate of return.

Although INEC has yet to release the list of candidates, contesting elections at the state level, 18 aggrieved APC governorship aspirants in Plateau State kicked against the nomination of Dr Nentawe Yilwatda as the party’s governorship candidate in the state.

Chairman of the aspirants’ forum, Amos Gizo, who spoke on behalf of others in an interview with The PUNCH in Jos on Sunday, stated that the aspirants had not changed their position to challenge Yilwatda’s nomination.

The governorship candidate in Plateau State is not acceptable to us and we have not changed our position on that because the primary that produced him was a sham.

“If his name is on the INEC list as the party’s candidate, it will make no difference because his emergence is a product of fraud and we will not accept it. Some delegates have gone to court to challenge his emergence. We have also gone to the court to seek redress and we will not give up the fight until the right thing is done.”

But the APC Publicity Secretary in the state, Sylvanus Namang, questioned the credibility of the Gizo-led group.

He stated, “This is somebody (Gizo) who never participated in our party primaries. As far as the party is concerned, they were four persons that participated during the primary and Amos Gizo was not one of them. If he is still a member of the APC, he should understand that as a family member, you can disagree but once the primaries are over, you join hands with others to forge ahead to enable the party to win the main elections.”

In Gombe State, Bilyaminu Babadidi has instituted a case against the candidate of the APC for Gombe South Senatorial district, Joshua Lidani.

A source close to Babadidi said the case was filed at the Federal High Court Gombe.

In Taraba State, some APC governorship aspirants have dragged the party and Senator Emmanuel Bwacha to court seeking to stop him (Bwacha) from parading himself as the party governorship candidate in the state.

Former Head of Service of the Federation, Danladi Kifasi, approached the Federal High Court in Jalingo asking the court to stop the party from submitting the name of Bwacha.

Calls by one of our correspondents and a text message sent to the APC state Chairman, Ibrahim Tukur-Elsudi, did not elicit any response as of the time of filing this report.

The Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Badaru Abubakar, in a statement by his media aide, (Print Media) Ahmed Danyaro, on Sunday appealed to aggrieved members of the APC to sheathe their swords, so that the party could emerge victorious in 2023.

REC advises aspirants

But INEC resident electoral commissioner, who spoke to The PUNCH on condition of anonymity, told aggrieved aspirants to seek redress in court if they felt their names had been wrongly omitted.

The REC stated, “There is no institution that has the power to subsitute a political party. In terms of selecting their candidates, it is not an INEC issue; the only thing is that political parties have to follow this law and that is why INEC has to be there to monitor and confirm that primaries held and people contested. But in the end, the authority to submit list of candidates is the parties’, not INEC.”

Asked what happens in a situation where INEC would submit a name of a candidate whose primary the commission had not supervised, he said, “This is not an issue because those who feel aggrieved will go to court and the court is the final authority to determined the validity of candidate.”

Meanwhile, The PUNCH on Sunday got a copy of the list of the APC candidates for Akwa Ibom.

The state has three senatorial districts and ten House of Representatives constituency slots.

The documents have the following Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District (Ukpong Emayak Nkangha); Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District (No candidate’s name was published) and Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District (Udo Inyang Martyns Denis).

A governorship aspirant of the APC in the last election primaries, Bernard Mikko has filed a suit at a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt against, the party’s governorship candidate, Tonye Cole and the APC over alleged non- compliance with electoral act.

Mikko is seeking the leave of the court, order restraining Cole from parading himself as the governorship candidate of APC.

He is also seeking Cole’s disqualification for alleged questionable character as contained in a white paper report of the Rivers State commission of inquiry.

PUNCH

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SANWO-OLU PRESENTS SCORECARD AT RE-ELECTION RALLY

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…APC Flags Off Governorship Campaign In Lagos

A mammoth crowd of Lagos State residents, on Saturday, converged on Onikan – a cultured neighbourhood in the heart of Lagos Island – for an All Progressives Congress (APC) rally.

Clad in branded yellow shirts and Ankara brocade, the crowd dominated the city centre with pockets of political carnival. Thousands of ordinary citizens and party stalwarts trooped to Mobolaji Johnson Pavilion, the venue of the inaugural rally flagging off the party’s governorship campaign in Lagos.

The 10,000-capacity stadium brimmed with APC supporters. They carried banners and chanted slogans to receive the party chieftains and members of the Governorship Campaign Council.

APC standard bearer, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, made a grand entry into the venue, animating the crowd, which chorused: “Greater Lagos Rising” – the Governor’s re-election campaign slogan.

Reacting to the massive turnout, Sanwo-Olu said the vast attendance further confirmed the strength of APC as the only party of choice in Lagos.

The Governor mounted the rostrum to seek the mandate of Lagosians for another term in office, saying the “Greater Lagos” he promised at the inception of his government could now be visualised, given the achievements recorded during his first term.

Sanwo-Olu said the last three and half years had been challenging for his administration, pointing out that his Government traversed difficult terrains to deliver on its development objectives.

He said: “It has been an interesting and challenging journey for us in the last three and half years. Our administration has traversed difficult terrains and witnessed major disruption occasioned by global pandemic. Lagos had its fair share in the attendant socio-economic meltdown, but we provided strong leadership that protected the people and made the State come out better and stronger.

“Now, we can say ‘Greater Lagos Rising’ because our State is rising on all of our modest achievements through the THEMES agenda. In Transportation and Traffic Management, Lagosians are now living with the reality of the delivery of two intracity Rail Mass Transit projects that are on the verge of completion. These projects will be handed over in the coming weeks.

“We have also scaled up infrastructure in public transportation services by improving BRT services, injecting new taxi scheme and energizing traffic management agency for efficiency. People have seen the construction and commission of Lekki Deep Seaport, and massive road construction projects in the Eti Osa and Epe corridors. We have delivered and are still constructing more new roads in Ikorodu, Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Alimosho, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Somolu and other areas.”

Sanwo-Olu said activities of his administration, since inception, had been about purposeful governance. He added that his Government had delivered new hospitals in Badagry, Epe, and Eti-Osa, pointing out that construction of new hospitals were currently being undertaken in Ikorodu, Ojo and Lagos Island.

In the environment, the Governor said the State was currently constructing 210 new drainage channels to address the issue of flooding in vulnerable communities. He said his Government had also raised the level of infrastructure in emergency response agencies, mentioning the recently completed four fire stations, recruitment of new fire fighters and provision of fire fighting equipment.

The Governor said: “Lagosians can testify to our feats in education. Over 1,000 new classrooms have been added to public schools and we completed over 1,097 projects in schools. We trained our teachers in modern teaching techniques through Eko EXCEL and handed over tablets to them for teaching. Overall performance of Lagos students in WAEC has improved from 42 per cent to over 83 per cent.”

Sanwo-Olu said there had been laudable progress recorded across his Government’s development blueprint, noting that the State had become a model for good governance and development.

The Governor thanked residents for standing by his administration, pledging that he would not take their support for granted.

He urged party members to take back the Government’s achievements back to their communities and engage in door-to-door campaign to ensure APC candidates are elected in the general elections.

Director General of Lagos APC Campaign Council, Sen. Ganiyu Solomon, said the party would have no problem taking its campaign to the electorate, given the “exceptional” performance of the party’s governorship candidate.

Solomon said the second coming of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat would bring the State to new heights of development and prosperity.

Leader of the Governance Advisory Council (GAC), Prince Tajudeen Olusi, said: “The combination of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat are the best a democratic society can get in delivering results of good governance. Anyone who wants the development of Lagos to continue, Sanwo-Olu must be allowed to continue the good work he started.”

Sanwo-Olu, assisted by APC chairman, Hon. Cornelius Ojelabi, presented flags to party candidates running for legislative seats in the House of Assembly and National Assembly.

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Osun Tribunal Admits Adeleke’s Certificates as Exhibits

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Ademola Adeleke

— As Oyetola, APC Close Case

The Osun State Election Petition Tribunal on Saturday admitted in evidence the file with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) containing the secondary school certificate and testimonial of Governor Ademola Adeleke of the State.

This is just as the Petitioners, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola and the All Progressives Congress (APC), closed the prosecution of the matter, leaving respondents to state their defence.

The admission of the documents followed the appearance of INEC representative, Mrs. Joan Arabs, who brought Adeleke’s original files containing the certificate he submitted to the Commission in 2018.

It will be recalled that during the last sitting of the panel, the Commission had submitted blank document as the secondary school certificate of the governor, a situation that compelled the panel to order that the original file be brought, and to threaten to invoke Coercive Power if it fails to do so.

At the resumed hearing of the petition on Saturday, Counsel for Oyetola, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said the hearing for the day was basically meant for the appearance of INEC representative to produce the Adeleke’s file in line with the court order.

Counsel for INEC, in his response, said that INEC representative was already in court with the files containing a clearer and legible certificate and testimonial in question, saying he would be willing to apply for the return of the documents to INEC, when the tribunal is done looking at it.

After the production of the documents, the tribunal, while discharging the INEC official, said, “You can now go if you wish to. No policeman will accost you again.”

Subsequently, Oyetola’s counsel sought to tender the documents which contain form CFO01 and its attachments, including Adeleke’s credentials, saying the original file brought to court is a primary evidence and he was comfortable with it.

Counsel for INEC, Chief Henry Agunedo (SAN), said he would be objecting to the admissibility of the documents on the ground that the basis for the production of the whole file was because only two pages of the earlier-produced Certified True Copies were in contention, saying tendering the whole documents was out of place.

Counsel for Adeleke and PDP, Niyi Owolade and Alex Izinyon (SAN) respectively, said they have objection to the tendering of the said documents, but they would reserve their objections till final address stage.

Izinyon also observed that the only documents in contention were only two pages which are Adeleke’s certificate and testimonial, saying the CTC earlier produced has not been tendered before the court.

Responding, Fagbemi said the practice everywhere is that INEC can only apply and get back the files after the dispensation of the cases, saying, “We asked for CTC and now that they brought this. We are fine, we will take it”.

Ruling on the documents tendered, the tribunal led by Tertsea Kume admitted the credentials and the Adeleke’s nomination form as exhibit ‘FILE D’ and taken as read.

It was after the tribunal admitted the documents that Fagbemi informed the panel that he had decided to close his case, saying, “My Lord, we rest our case”.

When the tribunal asked INEC to open his defence, Chief Agunedo said, it would be difficult for him to open his case on Monday, saying non-availability of his witnesses would make it practically impossible.

The panel then asked the counsel to meet and agree on adjournment date after which Counsel for INEC briefed the panel the outcome of the meeting.

Subsequently, the tribunal adjourned the case till December 20 for the respondents to open their defence, saying the adjournment was based on another engagement by the tribunal somewhere else between 12th and 19th December 2022.

Earlier, Oyetola’s counsel had informed the panel that the Court of Appeal in Abuja had reverted the judgement of a Federal High Court which disqualified Oyetola from contesting the election.

Meanwhile, the outcome of the sitting excited the members of the APC who witnessed the hearing, as jubilations erupted after the sitting of the panel. They chanted songs to eulogise Oyetola and the APC.

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TINUBU WON’T SUCCUMB TO ARISE NEWS BLACKMAIL

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We find it shocking and downright anomalous that Arise News continues to broadcast the participation of All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in its Presidential Town Hall meeting scheduled to hold on 4 December, 2022 despite our earlier statement that our candidate will not be available.

We noticed that Arise News has also been running a campaign on the so-called constitutional duty of the presidential candidates to participate in its debate by dubiously citing section 22 of the Constitution of Nigeria on the obligation of the Mass Media.

While it is trite that the media has clear constitutional duty to hold public office holders accountable to the citizens and its role as the watchdog of the society, there is no part of the Constitution and the section 22 that says a presidential candidate of any political party and least of all, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu must participate in Arise News Town Hall event or any media organised event at all.

The same Constitution grants all citizens of Nigeria including, Asiwaju Tinubu the right and freedom of choice and association. The APC Presidential candidate has a right to decide where he goes and events to participate in as he seeks the mandate of Nigerians to be elected as the next President of our country.

We want to make it abundantly clear again that Asiwaju Tinubu will not participate and will not attend the Arise News Town Hall meeting slated for Sunday, 4 December, 2022 and any other ones it may plan before the February 2023 presidential election.

The APC Presidential candidate has his own schedule of campaign activities and other engagements within and outside Nigeria. One of such events is his scheduled event for Monday , December 5, 2022 at Chatham House in London where he will speak on Security, Economy and Foreign Policy.

Asiwaju Tinubu travelled to United Kingdom early today (Saturday) for this earlier scheduled engagement. We want to reiterate for the umpteenth time that no amount of blackmail, intimidation and media bully and innuendos by the owner and management of Arise News will change the position our campaign has taken on this matter.

Bayo Onanuga
Director, Media & Publicity
APC Presidential Campaign Council
December 3, 2022

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