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Appeal Court affirms Abure as Labour Party’s National Chairman

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The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, affirmed Mr. Julius Abure as the authentic National Chairman of the Labour Party, LP.

The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of Justices, vacated an order of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, which barred the Abure-led Executives from piloting the affirms of the political party.

The high court order was a fallout of a suit that was filed by the Chief Lamidi Apapa-led faction of the party.

In the ruling he delivered on April 5, 2023, Justice Hamza Muazu restrained Mr. Abure from parading himself as the National Chairman of the LP.

He equally barred Umar Farouk Ibrahim, Oluchi Opara and Clement Ojukwu, from further functioning as National Secretary, National Treasurer and National Organising Secretary of the party, restrictively, pending the determination of a suit before it.

The restraining order followed an ex-parte application that was brought before the court by eight aggrieved members of the party loyal to the Apapa faction.

Those behind the suit marked: CV/2930/2023, which has the LP as the 5th Defendant, were: Mr. Martins Esikpali John O., Lucky Shaibu, Isah Zekeri, Omogbai Frank, Abokhaiu Aliu, Ayohkaire Lateef, Job Elomah and Dr. Abayomi Arabambi.

Specifically, the plaintiffs had through their team of lawyers led by Chief James Ogwu Onoja, SAN, prayed the court to among other things, declare that, “the 1st Defendant (Abure) cannot continue to function in office as the National Chairman of the 5th Defendant as a result of his suspension by the Ward 03 Executive, Arue, Esan North East Local Government Area dated 31st March, 2023”.

They further prayed the court for; “A declaration that the 1st — 4th Defendants cannot continue to remain in office as National Chairman, National Secretary, National Treasurer and National Organising Secretary of the 5th Defendant consequent on the prima facie case of forgery, perjury and conspiracy established against them by the Commissioner of Police F.C.T and the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory pending their prosecution in court.

“A declaration that the 1st — 4th Defendants lack the moral and legal standing to continue to function in office as the National Chairman, National Secretary, National Treasurer and National Organising Secretary of the 5th Defendant having been indicted upon established prima facie case by the Commissioner of Police, F.C.T and the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

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“An order directing the 1st Defendant to vacate office as the National Chairman of the 5th Defendants based on the communique issued by the Ward 03 Executive, Arue, Esan North East Local Government Area of the 5th Defendant, Edo State Chapter dated 31 st March, 2023.

“An order directing the 1st , 2nd , 3rd and 4th Defendants to vacate office as the National Chairman, National Secretary, National Treasurer and National Organising Secretary of the 5th Defendant having been indicted upon established prima facie case by the Commissioner of Police, F.C.T and the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“An order directing the National Executive Committee and the National Working Committee of the 5th Defendant to appoint interim National Chairman, National Secretary, National Treasurer and National Organising Secretary for the 5th Defendant pending the convention of the 5th Defendant for such purpose”.

As well as, “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Defendants from henceforth parading themselves as the National Chairman, National Secretary, National Treasurer and National Organising Secretary respectively of the 5th Defendant”.

However, following the dismissal of a preliminary objection he filed to challenge the competence of the suit as well as the ex-parte orders, Abure took the case before the Court of Appeal.

Delivering judgement in the matter on Wednesday, the appellate court, in its lead decision that was read by Justice Hamma Barka, faulted the lower court which it said wrongly assumed jurisdiction in the matter.

The appellate court held that the case of the Plaintiffs was incompetent, noting that since they raised issues that bordered on fraud and criminality, they ought to have commenced the action through a Writ of Summon which would allow the parties to call witnesses and tender relevant evidence before the court.

It maintained that Justice Muazu was wrong when he held that the case could be effectively determined through an Originating Summon.

“Unless an action is initiated by a proper process of law, the action becomes a waste of time despite how competent it may be.

“The aim of an Originating Summon is to speed up the process. But where there are serious issues of fact, it should not begin with an Originating Summon,” the appellate court held.

It further queried the statutory powers of Ward Executives of a political party to suspend National Officers of the party.

More so, the appellate court held that issues the Plaintiffs raised before the high court, bordered on the domestic affair of a political party which no court was permitted to delve into.

Aside from upholding Abure’s appeal marked: CA/ABJ/CV/559/2023, the appellate court awarded a cost of N1million against the Respondents.

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Bayelsa Governorship: Tribunal Reserves Judgment on Sylva, Diri

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The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, on Monday, reserved its judgment in the petition filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timipre Sylvia, challenging the re-election of Douye Diri as Governor of Bayelsa State.

The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Adekunle Adeleye, made the announcement shortly after parties adopted and argued their written addresses in the suit.

He assured the parties that the panel’s verdict would be delivered within the 180 days statutorily allowed by law, adding that the judgment date would be communicated as soon as it is fixed.

At Monday’s proceedings, the petitioners prayed the tribunal to annul the declaration of Diri as the winner of the November 11, 2023 election.

Their lead counsel, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), told the tribunal that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) embarked on wrongful exclusion of results before arriving at the declaration of Diri as winner.

Ikpeazu further stated that the electoral body did not debunk the allegation of wrongful exclusion of results by not calling the state election result collation officer to testify.

He therefore urged the tribunal to objectively decide the petition on the strength of the evidence adduced by the petitioners especially because INEC did not call a single witness to challenge all the allegations.

However, Diri’s counsel, Chris Uche (SAN), informed the tribunal that the petition by Sylva died on arrival because it is grossly deficient in quantity and quality of evidence.

He said that the petition was baseless, frivolous and vexatious and grossly lacking in merit because the two petitioners did not discharge the burden placed on them by law.

Among others, Uche said that Sylva predicated his petition on alleged refusal of INEC to collate results in three local governments areas — Southern Ijaw, Nembe and Ogbia — but failed to call a single collation officer to back up its claim.

Besides, Uche said that Sylva did not tender the voter register, BVAS machines and form EC8A used for the purported election in the three local governments to establish his allegations.

The senior lawyer also said that the petitioner himself, despite having a witness statement on oath, refused to give evidence before the tribunal to substantiate his allegations.

Uche pleaded with the tribunal to discountenance the evidence of a former police commissioner in the state on the ground that the police officer admitted before the tribunal that he had issues with Diri when the Prado Jeep earlier given to him was withdrawn.

Uche also urged the tribunal not to invoke the spirit of the judgment that brought Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, into office, adding that INEC has established beyond doubt that election did not hold in the three local governments due to resistance by some hoodlums to the use of BVAS machines.

Similarly, INEC, represented by Charles Edosomwan (SAN), and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), represented by Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), canvassed for the dismissal of the petition on the ground that the petitioners failed and neglected to discharge the burden of establishing their allegations against the election beyond reasonable doubt as required by law.

INEC had declared Diri of the PDP winner of the November 11, 2023 governorship election in Bayelsa State, having won majority of the votes cast at the election.

According to the Returning Officer, Prof. Faruq Kuta, the PDP and Diri polled 175,196 votes to defeat his closest rival, Timipre Sylva of the APC, who scored 110,108 votes.

Dissatisfied, Sylva and APC had approached the tribunal to challenge the declaration of Diri as winner of the poll.

The petitioners are asking the tribunal to hold that contrary to the position of the electoral umpire, election held in some polling units and winners declared at the said units, adding that it was wrong of INEC to disregard the results at the ward and local government level.

It is their claim that if the said cancelled results were restored by the court, they would emerge winner of the November election.

But the respondents, especially INEC, which conducted the election, submitted that election in three local governments of Southern Ijaw, Ogbia and Nembe did not hold due to incidents of alleged diversions of materials and disruption of the electoral process over alleged bypass of the BVAS machine.

They had tendered the Form EC40G to confirm that there were no elections in the said polling units.

In addition, the respondents brought Certified True Copies (CTCs) of results from INEC to prove that the results brought before the court as evidence that election held at the polling units were forged by the petitioners.

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Edo Guber: Labour Party Faults INEC Final List

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The Edo State chapter of the Labour Party (LP) has faulted the final list as published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

INEC, in the final list released on April 22, named Oluyinka Faith Alufohai as running mate to Olumide Akpata rather than Alhaji Asamah Yusuf Kadiri, (SAN).

Recall that  the  Labour Party governorship candidate in the September 21st gubernatorial election, Olumide Akpata dropped Oluyinka Faith Alufohai and picked Alhaji Asamah Yusuf Kadiri, SAN as his running mate.

A press statement signed by Comrade Kelly Ogbaloi, the state chairman of the party, and made available to newsmen in Benin City, assured party members and supporters that “this is simply a technical error”.

Comrade Ogbaloi, said, “Our team followed all necessary procedures and submitted Alhaji Kadiri’s name and credentials as the deputy governorship candidate, well within INEC’s stipulated window.

“Unfortunately, a technical glitch occurred at the end of the National Headquarters of our party during the submission process, resulting in the incorrect name appearing on the final list.

“We are currently actively engaged with INEC officials to rectify this issue immediately and our team has provided all requisite documentation demonstrating Alhaji Kadiri’s valid nomination. We have been following-up with INEC diligently, to ensure it updates its candidate list with the accurate information.

“We recognise the anxiety this error may cause, but urge our supporters to remain calm and steadfast in their commitment to our party’s vision.

“Your unwavering support and activism have been invaluable thus far, and we need you to continue spreading awareness of our platform and championing the positive change we represent.

He further said: “The Labour Party is determined to contest the forthcoming September 21, 2024, Edo State Governorship elections fairly and transparently.

“We should not allow this minor administrative hurdle to dampen our confidence or impede our momentum.

“Together, we shall overcome any obstacle, minor or major, as we continue our march towards restoring Edo State to its pride of place nationally.”

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Ondo guber aspirant, Akinterinwa under EFCC custody

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has detained All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant in Ondo State Wale Akinterinwa.

He is being held in connection with the ongoing investigation of his tenure as Commissioner for Finance in the defunct Akeredolu administration.

Until the State Executive Council was dissolved by Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who succeeded the late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Akinterinwa served as commissioner for over seven years.

The aspirant is being investigated for alleged mismanagement of billions of Naira, a source said.

Although Akinterinwa participated at the weekend direct primary from detention, EFCC said the timing of detention was at its discretion and choice.

According to sources, Akinterinwa was invited some weeks ago by the anti-graft body for interaction on some allegations, but was “allegedly too busy” to honour the invitation.

He, however, showed up at the anti-graft commission’s office on Thursday.

It was gathered that EFCC decided to be silent on the detention in order not to jeopardise Akinterinwa’s chances in the APC primary.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “In the past few weeks, the EFCC invited Akinterinwa for interrogation on the red flag on some issues during his tenure as Commissioner for Finance. But he has not been forthcoming.

“The commission had the option to declare him wanted, but it exercised restrained to avoid being dragged into politics because he was an aspirant for the APC governorship primary.

“But Akinterinwa voluntarily reported to the EFCC in Abuja. He was taken into custody for quizzing.”

The soure speaking yesterday, said: “Akinterinwa is still in our custody. We did not arrest or pick him up, but he came up to respond to our long overdue invitation. I can tell you that his detention has no political undertone.”

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