Monday, 31 October 2011

Tension in Jonathan’s, Buhari’s camps•As Appeal Court declares winnertoday •Supreme Court dismissesJonathan’s case

Tuesday, 01 November 2011
THE presidential election tribunal sitting at
the Court of Appeal, Abuja, will today deliver
judgment in the petition brought by the
Congress for Progressive Change (CPC)
challenging the declaration of President
Goodluck Jonathan as the winner of the
April 16 presidential election in the country.
In a notice to counsel in the matter obtained
by Nigerian Tribune, the tribunal has
scheduled judgment in the matter for 9.00
The tribunal had, on October 20, ended its
sitting on the CPC petition after taking all the
witnesses and all parties adopted their
At the last hearing of the matter, counsel for
the CPC, Oladipo Okpeseyi (SAN), had, while
adopting his final address, told the court
that he filed a preliminary objection against
the defendants’ written addresses to the
effect that INEC abandoned its pleading
having not called witnesses to substantiate
He said that the INEC had called only three
witnesses out of the 36 states of the
federation and the Federal Capital Territory
and, as such, had abandoned its defence.
He pointed out that INEC had not provided
any evidence before the tribunal to defend
the victory of President Jonathan, who it
returned on April 18, 2011 as the winner of
the presidential election.
Okpeseyi said: "We submit that the
confusion epitomises what we are saying
about INEC and that is why we have asked
them to bring those documents which it
used in conducting the presidential election
to court,” even as he urged the court to
nullify the election.”
Counsel for President Jonathan and Vice-
President Namadi Sambo, Wole Olanipekun
(SAN), in his final address, said "we have
referred to earlier ruling of this court on
July 14, 2011, where the court struck out
relief number six.”
Olanipekun said the tribunal had refused to
grant relief six, which sought for a conduct
of a fresh presidential election between the
CPC candidate, Muhammadu Buhari and
President Jonathan on the grounds that
Buhari was not a party to the petition.
Olanipekun added that, notwithstanding,
that evidence had been taken on the
petition, the hearing amounted to a mere
academic exercise.
He consequently urged the court to dismiss
this petition, which he said had been
abandoned against President Jonathan and
his deputy.
In his own submission while adopting his
address, counsel for INEC, Adegboyega
Awomolo (SAN) said, "a party is supposed to
rely on evidence presented before court
and also authorities cited. But in this case,
the petitioners tendered as evidence
documents that belong to INEC.
“These are documents that are meant to
support INEC and its chairman, Professor
Attahiru Jega’s position that the election
was conducted in full compliance with the
Electoral Act 2010."
He, therefore, asked the court to dismiss the
In adopting his address, counsel for the PDP,
Amaechi Nwaiwu (SAN), said outside the
criminal allegation made, what was left
could not sustain the petition and that the
criminal allegation was on the basis of non-
compliance with the Electoral Act.
He added that what CPC filed as a
preliminary objection did not merit to be
called a preliminary objection, hence he
asked the court to dismiss both the petition
and the preliminary objection.
Buhari, who had stormed the tribunal
alongside his running mate, Tunde Bakare,
CPC chairman, Tony Momoh and the party’s
National Secretary, Buba Galadima, among
other party faithful, told journalists after the
court session that he was in court as a
member of the CPC.
It will be recalled that before the CPC filed
the petition, Buhari was reported as saying
that he would not go to court to challenge
the victory of the PDP but when he was
spotted in court among his party loyalists,
journalists confronted him on the issue and
he replied that he was in court like any
other member of the CPC.
According to the former head of state, who
has contested the presidential poll three
consecutive times but lost: “I have never
distanced myself from the CPC petition. I am
part of the party and subscribed to the
petition. I have confidence in the judiciary. I
have never said I don’t have confidence in
the judiciary."
Also speaking to journalists, the National
Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Rufai Ahmed
Alkali, said he had been so happy with the
proceedings at the tribunal as, according to
him, “except that the opponent
overdramatised the situation. Quite a
number of times, our opponent has
overdramatised the situation in an attempt
to achieve a predetermined political
“The presiding justice reminded everybody
in court that we do not have any other
country except Nigeria. Each and every
citizen of this country has a responsibility
to pursue goals and actions and other
strategies to protect our institutions. If you
destroy our institutions, you are invariably
destroying our country.
“We are confident that with the
submissions of our counsel, who asked the
court to dismiss the petition of CPC, that we
would win the case."
He pointed out that what has happened to
the CPC national publicity secretary “is what
we have earlier expected him to do, that is
to apologise to the court about the
publication he authored.”
The PDP spokesman slammed the CPC for
allegedly failing to allow morality to take
centre stage in the way and manner it had
been playing politics since the party came
into existence.
Alkali accused the CPC of desecrating the
judiciary and ridiculing judges with
impunity and cautioned that the party
leadership should learn how to play politics
with morals.
The PDP national publicity secretary insisted
that it was a big shame for the CPC to cast
aspersions on the judiciary in the public
only to come before open court to swallow
his pride with apology.
The PDP chieftain maintained that the
judiciary today, irrespective of any person’s
opinion, remained the vibrant hope of the
common man and a strong pillar for
democracy in the country.
He thanked the appeal court justices sitting
in the panel for accepting the apology of
Fasakin, but appealed that the CPC
leadership should learn to be cautious and
learn how to respect institutions.
Alkali said those aspiring to lead the nation
must protect and preserve the integrity of
the judiciary, for the sake of the nation.
The party also expressed confidence that it
would emerge victorious in the judgment
billed to be delivered in the CPC petition.
Alkali said the entire proceedings had been
evaluated by the PDP and its team of
lawyers and was confident that there was
no cause for Nigerians who voted
massively for the president to panic.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court had, on
Monday, struck out the appeal filed by
President Jonathan, INEC and the PDP, over a
ruling delivered by the presidential election
petitions tribunal on July 14, which held that
the petition filed on a Sunday by the CPC,
seeking to upturn Jonathan's election is
competent and proper in law.
The five-man panel of the apex court,
headed by Justice Walter Onnoghen, while
dismissing the appeal, held that it was no
longer alive, because it had stayed more
than 60 days, contrary to Section 285 (7) of
the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He further held that since the appeal was
dead, it had become an academic exercise.
The justice said Section 285 (7) mandated
the appeal to be determined within 60 days,
but it was coming after the specified
number of days, hence it could not be
regarded as being alive.
The court, therefore, struck out the appeal
for lacking in merit.
President Jonathan and PDP had, last week,
expressed divergent views on whether the
appeal filed against the hearing of the
petition of the CPC should be heard or not.
While the PDP, which filed the appeal, stood
its ground that the case was still alive, the
president said it was dead and should not
be heard, having been filed outside the
mandatory 60 days provided by the
The appeal arose from the July 14 ruling by
the suspended president of the Court of
Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, to the effect
that CPC petition was in order, though it was
filed on a Sunday, a non-working day for
government institutions.

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