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Osun Tribunal: They can run, lie but law, truth shall prevail

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By Ismail Omipidan

Barring any die-minute change, the Osun Election Petitions Tribunal will this Friday, January 13, see the parties in the governorship election litigation adopt their final written addresses.

Since 1999, outcomes of Election Petitions Tribunal sittings have in no small way helped to deepen the country’s electoral system. I am persuaded that this particular case will not be an exception.

Like I predicted before the tribunal began sitting, the revelations that came out from the Tribunal were indeed stunning, with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), witness admitting under oath that there were “seeming” overvoting in the July 16 governorship election. Even the Governor Ademola Adeleke’s Forensic Examiner also confirmed that there were overvoting in Osun Governorship Election.

What are the issues before the Tribunal? Fundamentally, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its candidate in that election, Oyetola, are challenging the eligibility of Senator Adeleke to stand for the election in the first instance and they are also contesting the fact that contrary to INEC’s declaration, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate in that election, Adeleke, did not score the lawful majority votes to be declared as the winner of the July 16 governorship election.

The Tribunal will for instance determine whether it was lawful and logical for INEC to have issued another CTC of BVAS report to the PDP and Adeleke after Oyetola and APC had filed their petitions in court, based on the first CTC BVAS report issued to them by INEC without any proviso from INEC as at the time it was issuing it that the report was either an Interim or unsynchronized one.

All the above and many more are some of the issues the Tribunal will be helping Nigerians to resolve in the days ahead having listened to both parties present their cases.

Since the introduction of the BVAS (Bimodal Voters Accreditation System) by INEC, Osun will be the first place where the BVAS report is being put on trial.

INEC as an institution would have done its best to ensure a seamless process. However, since those saddled with the responsibility of operating the technology are not angels, there are bound to be rooms for improvement.

In essence, the decision by Oyetola to challenge the outcome of the July 16 Osun Governorship poll should never be seen as an attempt to impugn on the integrity of INEC. Rather, the immediate past Osun governor should be commended for taking to the path of civility and the rule of law; and for helping to deepen the country’s democratic values and the electoral system.

They can run and lie but God and the Tribunal have the final say. The law and the Truth shall prevail in the end.

Before the Tribunal adjourned on December 22 to January 13, below is the summary of the three days proceedings:

Day 1

The cross of the event on this day was the issue of a procedural error in tendering documents before the Tribunal.

Counsel for INEC, Professor Paul Ananaba, SAN, had filed four schedules containing the list of witnesses to be called and list of documents to be tendered.

Oyetola’s counsel, Prince Fagbemi, SAN, said he had seen the schedules containing the EC8A, EC8B, EC8C, EC8D and EC8E and confirmed that they had jointly inspected the documents, saying he had no objection to the tendering of the said schedules.

He also said as for the schedule with respect to the BVAS machine, the INEC counsel had not shown the Petitioners’ counsel any of it, hence, it should not be allowed to form part of the evidence to be tendered before the tribunal.

While ruling on the application to tender the schedule, the tribunal, led by Justice Tertsea Kume, said the column containing the BVAS machine was not substantial enough to cause injury to the case of the petition and subsequently admitted the schedule as exhibit.

The tribunal went further to admit Form EC8A, EC8B, EC8C, EC8D and EC8E as exhibit and marked them accordingly.

Immediately after the ruling, counsel for Oyetola rose and asked the tribunal to vacate its order which admitted the documents on the ground that the said documents as listed in the schedule were not properly tendered.

He said though the petitioners counsel had jointly inspected the documents with the respondents’, at the point of its tendering before the court, it must be shown to them to be sure that the documents inspected were the ones sought to be tendered.

He argued: “There are serious fundamental procedural irregularities here. INEC never sought to tender the documents and could not have done so. What they sought to tender were the schedule containing the list of the said documents. If they were to tender any documents, they will bring them here, but I never saw any.

“The contents of the schedule were never tendered. For it to be tendered, there must be an application to tender them and it is then we will know that what we examined is what is being tendered and then we can say we agree or not. This is cardinal.

“So as not to deny us our right to fair hearing, I will urge your Lordships to vacate the order admitting those documents contained in the schedules”, Fagbemi argued.

Replying to the issue raised by Fagbemi, the Counsel for INEC, Professor Paul Ananaba, SAN, counsel for Adeleke, Onyeachi Ikpeazu SAN and counsel for PDP, Alex Izinyon, SAN, agreed that there was a procedural issue in the tendering of the documents.

They conceded that the portion where the said documents were admitted should be set aside so that the INEC counsel could re-tender the documents in question.

The tribunal chairman subsequently agreed with the petitioners’ counsel and set aside the earlier ruling which admitted the documents.

Subsequently, INEC counsel sought to re-tender the documents, which are Forms EC8A, EC8B, EC8C, EC8D and EC8E and the petitioners’ counsel said they have objection to the admissibility of the documents but reserved their objections till the final address stage.

Day 2

This was the day INEC witness, a Deputy Director in its ICT department, Mrs. Abimbola Oladunjoye, admitted while giving evidence before the Tribunal that there was overvoting in the July 16 election.

Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, cross examined Oladunjoye who was referred to as a star witness of INEC.

She admitted that in Ward 4 unit 7, Ede South Local Government, there was an overvoting of 75, as the figure of accreditation on the BVAS report presented by INEC was 313, while the result on form EC8A was 383.

Oladunjoye’s attention was also drawn to paragraph 21.36 of her witness statement where she stated that the accreditation figure was 830, but in the BVAS report presented by INEC, the figure of accreditation was 793, admitting that there was an over voting of 37.

The witness also admitted that in paragraph 26.7 of her witness statement, there was an accreditation figure of 402, while the accreditation figure on the INEC BVAS report was 263, admitting that there was overvoting of 139.

Also in paragraph 23.24 of her witness statement, Oladunjoye agreed that the accreditation figure she mentioned was 448, while the accreditation figure on BVAS was 224, admitting that there was an overvoting of 224.

She admitted that she signed and certified a BVAS report for the petitioners, and further said that the copy of the report was different from the one issued to the respondents, adding that she never indicated that the report issued to the petitioners was an interim document which would be subjected to synchronisation.

She testified that the synchronisation was done after election results had been declared on July 17, 2022 and BVAS report had been issued to the petitioners on July 27, 2022.

Done with the cross examination of the witness, Chief Olujinmi hinted that the irregularities identified in the BVAS report presented by INEC were just a tip of an iceberg, saying, there were loads of overvvoting during the election.

Earlier, the tribunal had admitted as exhibits the load of BVAS machines and CTC of Form EC8 series brought to the tribunal by the INEC counsel.

After the Cross examination of the witness, the INEC counsel, Professor Ananaba informed the court that he would no
longer be calling any other witness, as he applied to close his case.

Counsel for Adeleke, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, subsequently opened his defence by tendering Form EC8 series used for the election.

Day 3

This was the last day of the sitting during that week. This day, Governor Adeleke’s Forensic Examiner, who is also a statistician, Samuel Oduntan, also told the Tribunal that there was overvvoting in the governorship election that brought in Governor Ademola Adeleke in some of the polling units he examined.

Oduntan, while giving evidence in defence of Adeleke’s declaration said he was paid by Adeleke to extract information through physical inspection of BVAS Machines used for the election and compared it with the Form EC8 series where he discovered that overvoting occured in some polling units, particularly six units in Ede South.

The witness told the panel that in Ward 4 unit 7, of Ede South, the accreditation figure he mentioned in his witness statement was 313, while the accreditation on the BVAS report was 383, which showed overvoting.

The effort of the Adeleke’s counsel, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, SAN, to prevent the witness from making comparison on the BVAS report and the result announced to show overvoting was overruled by the tribunal following the arguments of the petitioners’ counsel, Akin Olujinmi, SAN, that there was no law preventing him from cross-examining the witness.

The witness also testified that for Ward 4 Unit 8 of Ede South Local Government, the accreditation figure on the witness statement was 830, while the accreditation figure on BVAS report presented by INEC was 793, showing overvoting of 37.

He said though he did not work as INEC official on the election day, he carried out physical inspection of the BVAS machines where he carried out his analysis.

Also on this day, Reverend Jenyo appeared before the tribunal and tendered Adeleke’s certificates, bearing Penn Foster High School and Atlanta Metropolitan State College.

Claiming that part of his responsibility as Adeleke’s P.A. was to keep his personal documents, Reverend Jenyo said he has never worked in any of the institutions purported to have been attended by the Governor.

He added that though his International Passport does not show he attended Adeleke’s graduation in the US, he claimed that he attended the Graduation ceremony.

After the Cross examination of the two witnesses, the Adeleke’s counsel closed his case.

Subsequently, counsel for PDP, Alex Izinyon, SAN, also opened his case and told the panel that he would not be calling any witness but would be relying on the evidence of the two other respondents.

He then tendered some documents and closed his case.

The tribunal then adjourned till January 13, 2023 for the parties in the matter to adopt their final written addresses.

Here, I will leave you with the words of Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, where he said: “I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this — who will count the votes, and how.” This is why the BVAS is on trial in Osun.

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Appeal Court Sacks Kwankwaso Reinstate Datti in Kano

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Monday sacked Musa Ilyasu Kwankwaso of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and reinstated Yusuf Umar Datti of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) in the Kura/Madobi/Garun Malam Federal Constituency Election.

It was reported that the three-panel led by Justice Tunde Oyebamiji Awotoye allowed an Appeal by Yusuf Datti and averred that the tribunal was wrong to have counted the date of the Appellant’s resignation on the date of his party’s primary election and that Section 77 of the Electoral Act was misapplied.

The appellate court stated that no court has jurisdiction on the issue of membership of the part.

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Hon. Debo Badru Appointed As Member Of Committee On Guideline For Repositioning of APC In Osun state

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Debo Badru

Debo Badru Appointed As Member Of The Committee On The Guideline For Repositioning of APC In Osun state

The Executive Council of the Osun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has named Hon. Debo Badru as part of the 11-member committee on the Guideline for the Repositioning of the All Progressives Congress(APC) in Osun State.

Hon Debo Badru, former Special Adviser to ex-Governor Gboyega Oyetola on Intergovernmental Political Affairs who is from Iwo Local Government of Osun State is a respected community leader who holds a Diploma from Nigerian Air Force Technical Training School, Kaduna, and served as an Air Force Officer between 1983 and 1990 after which he ventured into politics.

Going forward, the guideline committee which was unveiled on the 16th of October, 2023 also has the Rt. Hon. Timothy Owoeye, the immediate-past Speaker of the state House of Assembly, as its Chairman while the Secretary is Hon Sunday Akere, former state Commissioner for Information.

Other members of the committee are Dr Oyebade Olowogboyega, the immediate-past State Head of Service; Hon Funmi Olaseinde, former member of the state House of Assembly; Dr. Adeniji Adekunle, former Chairman, Ife-Central Local Government Council Area of the state.

Also on the list as members are Hon Hakeem Atanda; Hon Rasaq Adeosun, former Special Adviser to ex-Governor Gboyega Oyetola on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs; Hon(Mrs) Ayo Omidiran, former member, House of Representatives who represented Irewole/Isokan/Aiyedaade Federal Constituency; Hon Femi Kujembola, the state Treasurer of the party and one-time Chairman of Atakumosa-East Local Government Council Area of the state and Comrade Kehinde Ayantunji, former Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to former Governor Oyetola on Youths and Students’ Affairs.

It would be recalled that the state leader of the party, the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Oyetola, inaugurated the APC repositioning committee in the state sometime ago.

The APC Repositioning Committee under the chairmanship of Prof Adewole submitted the report of the committee with fanfare in Osogbo recently with a pledge by Alhaji Oyetola and the state chairman of the party, Sooko Tajudeen Lawal, to implement the recommendations to the letter.

The terms of reference of the guideline committee are:

1) Collation of actionable recommendations from the report of the Repositioning Committee;

2) Development of the framework for implementing the recommendations of the Repositioning Committee’s report;

3) This Committee will liaise with the party organ at the state level in order to kickstart implementation.

4) The Committee should provide a final report in two weeks.

 

e-SIGNED:

 

Sooko TAJUDEEN LAWAL,

Chairman,
Osun State APC.

 

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PBAT’s Reforms and Nigerian Youths by Amb. Habeeb Whyte Esq.,MBA

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Habeeb Whyte

PBAT’S REFORMS AND NIGERIAN YOUTHS

I remain Habeeb Whyte and I still harbour the responsibility. I believe life placed on me to suggest a path deserving a collective action from Nigerian youths towards the faith of our father’s land and in determining our own future.
I have grown to know that everything that irritates us as Nigerian youths about someone can lead us to understanding the person more. Just like Adlous Hoxley puts it, ‘there are things known and there are things unknown and in between are door of perception’. What we are, is what we have been as youths. What we would be is what we do now. I am aware that wisdom comes from knowing that what others say about you is not your reality. It is their reality. One has not only an ability to perceive the world but an ability to alter one’s perception of it.Simply, one can change things by the manner in which one looks at them. Reality is only a reflection of our own intentions, biases, knacks and desires.

I have always looked with a different lens because I have kept my views informed not by parochial considerations or personal gains but by the solemn embrace of the fate of my realities as a Nigerian Youth. As a person, I have thoroughly taken caution on the realities of the general elections that ushered in President Bola Ahmad Tinubu. I have always known that only weak minds stay at the middle of the road in trying periods like this. I rather I appreciate that I have to painstakingly learn with the willingness to unlearn and relearn the politics of this country. More so, I was not born until the crisis had started. I do not want to join the bandwagon of commentators that make opinions on issues they know close to nothing about. I think this should be the wisest path for anybody that was only a child through the 90’s and beyond. The generational paradigm as it affects our choice of governance differs. Our reasoning often time is shapedby what our parents, teachers and elderly ones told us and not by what we participated in as major players.

We have only participated in the Occupy Nigeria campaign, Not Too Young to Run campaign and the most pronounced is the End Sars campaign. I made bold to say that I partook in all the major phases of this campaign. I made my voice seen and felt by demanding for good governance and importantly, youth involvement in governance. I know that at a point. I am aware that in the past, no place was reserved for members of the youth constituency during policy formulations. We were weathered with policies that seem not to be too friendly to our growth but now the story has changed. There was a progressive call that was obeyed by the people in power. Allahu Akbar!!!

Having fought for what was right, we became enemies to our progression by allowing the fate of governance ushered in by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his political opponents to take the spaces where the world is judging us from. Our attitude across our social media platforms on our leaders is not worthy at all. We are distracted while these persons are living their lives – Their dreams. We are allowing men make mockery of our intelligence by sheepishly dragging us into the fate of their own dark hour. Are they better of Mr. President? We should better be concerned on how to help Mr. President achieve his goals. It should interest us that we have a listening leader and someone who prioritizes our constituency before any other constituency. The deliberate reason why some of us supported President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was because we saw him as that leader that would pave the way for the youths to become real stakeholders in governance.Every time Mr. President speaks to us a Nation, he continually emphasizes our importance. He gives us score cards but we are not really interested in assessing same with good critics. He kept on appointing and giving us key responsibilities at sectors that we would not have imagined any one from our constituency at earliest time like this to be in such position. I am aware that Mr. President is not only fulfilling his election promises but he is carrying the youths along towards achieving a sustainable future for this Nation. There is a steady engagement and participation of young people in the development process. A country we prayed for!

I used to live in fear when discussions that bother on handing over of power to youths is concerned. This is because, I could picture the future as it would unfold should that happen. Why? Because, we Nigerian youths were not prepared for the role and we fail to recognize the fact that there has been deliberate effort to incapacitate us. This is what I mean whenever I talk about bastardization of our youths. Now, we are beginning to have a fair share of our lack of preparedness. What ideas are our representatives across board bringing onboard? Are we still bothered on who won or loss election? Are we still bent on why President Tinubu should not have won the elections while our various State Governors are getting palliatives from Federal Government and we are not seeing the effect in most States. I wish the type of energy deployed to bringing down the person of Mr. President could be extended to demanding for good governance from our Governors. Demanding accountability especially on the proceed of subsidy is concerned would have been true patriotism than the former. We are not even bothered that local governments are been buried in governance by most Governors in Nigeria. Are we not worried about the debt profile of some States and yet there is no evidence of development.  The States that most of us we inherit as Governors, Senators, House of Representative members, House of Assembly members etc. as far as governance is concerned in years to come. What do we tend to make up as leaders of our generation; when our kids start asking questions, what type of answers are we planning to give them. Is it that we would be comfortable telling them that when we had a President with unprecedented electoral results and tribunal verdict, we were busy playing cards of his opponents. Would it not interest you to tell your kids you were part of those that speak and do good for the sake of the Country and not because you are Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo. You were a Nigerian before you identify as a Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo. This is us – that have forgotten so soon that most of our Governors are yet to publish the judgements of their respective tribunal of enquiries on the End Sars saga. It is just ridiculous that we are have been soaked into another narrative that would not add any legal value to our corporate existence. Whether bitter or sweet, Mr. President is here to stay.

PRESIDENT TINUBU APPOINTS NEW EFCC CHAIRMAN AND SECRETARY OF THE COMMISSION

We must accept this reality and not be caught in a web of a divided society. We must give our total support to the social governance policy trust fund of Mr. President. He has tagged it the ‘Renewed Hope’ – we already have a developmental plan as opposed the several documents of plans and agenda intentioned on sentiments and prepared without national interests. We are beginning to see the light that we would be handed a working country with national development agenda under implementation, and enjoy the supervision of patriotic elders whose only consideration is national interest. The fact is this, we have a President that has placed upon himself the responsibility to provide the reference point of discipline, patriotism, humility, and adequate sense of self by extending his limits beyond the average standard that is acceptable to his generation. Mr. President has succeeded in employing his political authority to stimulate hope and pride in the corporate purpose of this Nation. We must not be used as detractors to the birth of a New Nigeria. Interestingly, youths of India, Singapore, Brazil, China and Indonesia compete with the world’s best in Information Technology, Agriculture, Entertainment, Alternative energy, Medicine etc.  Of course, those building our bridges and roads are their own youths. The expatriate doctors in our best hospitals are their youths. Those designing and building the phones we use are their youths. Now, our own youths are already leading spaces more due to the deliberate intervention of Mr. President’s faith in our abilities.

I could remember that one of the assurances of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Southwest APC Youths rally was that Mr. President would give opportunities to youths to flourish in their areas of activities, the Governor said young people would be part of the major drivers of the Tinubu presidency. This is never in doubt again. Mr. President in less than six months of Presidency has the highest number of youths in key and strategic positions in Government. The amazing part is that, Mr. President is not stopping. I would always wish for a productive mindset like that of our President. He is a thorough blend of the mosaictraits – he would lead the path to the New Nigeria. The path he kicks started from his very first appointment in office. It is unprecedented. If he is not the Messiah; he is the Moses.

Thanks.

Amb. Habeeb Whyte Esq., MBA.

(WHYTE is a Lawyer, Author, Advocate of Youth Involvement in Good Governance, United Nations Award winner, Regional Africa International Arbitration Award winner, Coca cola/The Nation Campuslife Award winner, Quill Promasidor runner up for Best Future Writer in Nigeria, Royal Ambassador for the Royal Court of Ife Kingdom, Ecowas Youth Ambassador, Cordinator – BAT Lawyers Ogun State and Secretary – Cityboy Movement Ogun State).

Email: whyte287@gmail.com

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