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Nasarawa Governorship Election: Tribunal adjourns sitting to July 25th …as INEC subpoena witness certifies IREV results on server authentic

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By David Okpashi

The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital has adjourned sitting to Tuesday 25th July, 2023 for continuation of hearing after admitting documents from subpoena witnesses during her three days sitting in a stretch.

It would be recalled that, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and it Governorship candidate, Rt. Hon. David Emmanuel Ombugadu had challenged the declaration of Abdullahi Sule of the All Progressive Congress (APC) as the winner of the March 18th Governorship election in Nasarawa state.

The petitioner had also alleged irregularities, mutilation and inflation of election results in certain Polling Units and electoral wards of some local government areas of the state.

At the hearing last Saturday, all the counsel pledged their readiness for the business of the day just INEC witness subpoenaed by the petitioner confirmed to the Tribunal that the result on the IRev server is the same as certified true copy of result earlier issued to the petitioner by the electoral umpire.

The Petitioner lead counsel, Jibril Samuel Okutepa (SAN) sought the permission of the Tribunal to invite a subpoena witness from INEC National Headquarters Abuja who on appearance at the witness box introduced self as the Deputy Director of Information/Communication Technology (ICT).

Okutepa (SAN) explained to the INEC witness that he was invited to produce, and testify to the documents his institution(INEC) sent him to tender before the honourable Tribunal in which the petitioner shall rely on as exhibits to proof the truthfulness of the petition.

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The Lead council asked the witness what he can show to testify that he is an INEC Staff. In response the witness presented the original subpoena letter served to INEC Headquarters, personal Staff I.D Card, authority letter from the ICT Department and receipts of payment by the Petitioner.

Consequently, the respondents counsel objected to the admissibility of the subpoena witness and reserved reasons to the address stage. But the Petitioner pledged to reply the respondents at an appropriate time.

Subsequently the subpoena witness produced five (5) bundles of documents numbered 289 pages comprises of the satisfied true copies of BVAS reports/satisfaction, IRev CTC Print out of Form EC8A’s, receipts/remittance of payments and certification pages.

Again the respondents Counsel objected to the admissibility of the documents and reserved arguments to the address stage.

During the cross examinations,
The lead council threw a question as to whether he was in Nasarawa state during the March 18th, 2023 Guber Election.

The witness answered no, but at the INEC National Control Room as the supervisor who monitored the real time transmission of Form EC8A to the INEC IRev Portal/server.

The petitioner pointed it to him that Form EC8A’s were not uploaded to the INEC IRev.

But he answered “I was the officer who trained the trainees on the use of BVAS Machines also, the one who produced the user name and password for all the BVAS Machines used for the 2023 General Elections in which the Presiding officers were mandate by the electoral guidelines and Act to transmit real time Form EC8A (Polling Units results) to the INEC IRev Portal and I generated this reports from the INEC IRev server”.

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Okutepa asked if the Presiding officers were the only persons you rely on the transmission of Form EC8A? The witness said yes, and explained that because they are mandated by the law to give account of what happened at the Polling Units by completing Form EC8A and transmit same to the INEC IRev server.

The petitioner asked “I will be right that results of the House of Assembly were uploaded instead of the Governorship Election results?

The Witness answered no, and said “a total of 3,242 Polling Units results (Form EC8A) at the ratio of 99.67% were uploaded to the INEC IRev Portal which reflected in the documents I submitted to the Tribunal upon my invitation today.

The petitioner then asked, “Are you aware that BVAS Machines required network service to transmit Form EC8A to the INEC IRev server?

The INEC witness responded “BVAS Machine is made in such a way that it can transmit Form EC8A to the INEC IRev server via online or offline accordingly.

The petitioner asked “I will be correct to say that, you are familiar with the electoral guidelines, manuals and 2022 Act as Amended? The witness answered yes, saying “I was part of the trained the trainees team.

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The petitioner urged the witness to confirm to the honorable Tribunal that, the election was conducted substantially in compliance with guidelines?

The witness agreed yes, saying “based on the evidence in the documents I produced and tendered and testify before this honorable Tribunal.

Okutepa asked “Are you aware that, the Petitioner has gotten the certified true copies of the documents you produce today? He answered yea and confirmed that he was part of the certification team.

The petitioner then asked him to confirm to the Lordships that, these are not different from the previous ones. The witness said no, because IRev server is a public documents or view portal where any member of the public can view election results.

At the end of cross examinations, the Petitioner counsel seek for the discharge of the witness from the box.

J.S Okutepa (SAN) observed and seek the Tribunal to number Form EC8A code 011 of Ashige Ward, Lafia LGA which was tendered on 24/06/2023 for clarity and equally, pray that the the BVAS Machines as stated yesterday be brought by the Nasarawa State INEC subpoena witness on the next adjourned date to facilitate quick dispensation of justice.

The chairman of the three Man Governorship Election Petition Panel, Mr. Ezekiel Ajayi however adjourned the Tribunal sitting to 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th & 29th July, 2023 for continuation of hearing.

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Judiciary

Governor Ododo Swears in New Judges…Urges them to uphold tenets of the Judiciary

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By Iyojo Ameh

Kogi State Governor, Ahmed Usman Ododo has sworn in ten new judges recently appointed into the state judiciary.

In his address at the swearing in ceremony held at the Muhammadu Buhari Square in Lokoja, Governor Ododo charged the new judges to serve the people of Kogi State with integrity, fairness, and unwavering dedication to the tenets of the judiciary.

The Governor noted that the appointment and swearing in of the new judges is in line with the commitment of his administration to promote a just and fair society where everyone is treated equally to guarantee peace and stability.

He described the judiciary as the last hope of the common man which owes the society an obligation to be just and fair, stressing that a judiciary trusted by the people will promote peace and security.

He urged the new judges to ensure that every body is treated equally in order to guarantee a peaceful society.

“A just and fair society is where every body is treated equally regardless of class, religion and ethnicity. Therefore you must be reminded and be guided by the oaths you have just taken”, Governor Ododo said.

The Governor who stated that the new Judges are men and women of unquestionable character, assured that he would not interfere with their activities to enable the judges discharge their duties within the ambit of the law.

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The Governor who used the occasion to present vehicles to some judges in the state, noted that his administration will provide enabling environment for the judges to discharge their statutory responsibilities, assuring that more judges in the state will be provided with new vehicles in the next batches of the allocation of vehicles by the state government.

In his remarks, the Chief Judge of the State, Hon. Justice Josiah Majebi charged the new judges to respect the integrity of all litigants and to shun media trial of any body in the administration of justice.

While expressing appreciation to Governor Ododo for his support to the Judiciary, the Chief Judge urged family members of the new judges not to interfere with their job.

The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Muiz Abdallah urged the new judges to showcase their worth to justify their selection as judges of the State.

He charged them to be up and doing and to avoid activities that will ridicule the Judiciary and bring their reputation into jeopardy.

The new judges sworn in as High Court judges include Justices Ajeshola Joseph Sunday, Badama Kadiri, Ojoma Rachel Haruna and Ezema Beatrice Ada.

The Khadis of the Shariah Court of Appeal include Muhammad Bello Muhammad,Okino Isah Saidu, Idris Alhaji Abdullahi, Shaibu Ridwan Aliyu and Yakubu Adavenege.

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Justice Maryanne Oziohu Otaru was sworn in as a judge of the Customary Court of Appeal.

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Judiciary

GOVERNOR ODODO WELCOMES APPEAL COURT JUDGEMENT

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By Iyojo Ameh

Kogi State Governor, Ahmed Usman Ododo has welcomed the judgment of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja that upheld the decision of the governorship election petition tribunal affirming his return as the duly elected Governor of Kogi State.

In his reaction to the appeal court judgment, Governor Ododo thanked the people of Kogi State for their support and expressed appreciation to the judiciary for the swift and expeditious manner with which it dealt with the appeal, adding that the court has again demonstrated that the mandate freely given to him by the people of the state cannot be upturned by persons who may not agree with the will of God and the majority of the people of Kogi state.

According to Governor Ododo:

“I give thanks to God for seeing us through this phase of the court processes and I thank the people of Kogi state for uniting behind our administration and the steps we are taking to serve our people with the best of our ability.

“The judgement of the Appeal Court reaffirms the fact that the November 2023 Governorship election in Kogi State was free, fair, peaceful, and credible.

“By the grace of God, our administration has become the symbol of peace and unity in our state and we are committed to serving our people on the basis of equity and inclusion.

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“I thank the judiciary for staying true to its independence with this judgement of the Appeal Court that has reaffirmed the earlier decision of the Tribunal which is a clear testament that the mandate freely given to us by the people of Kogi State was done in the best interest of our state.”

He called on opposition politicians in the state to join him in advancing the development of the state, stressing that the judgement of the appeal court should now lay to rest the argument over the result of the 2023 governorship election and unite the people for the development of the state irrespective of political differences.

The Governor also expressed appreciation to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for ensuring that the judiciary remains truly independent and transparent as the last hope of the common man in the country.

The Appeal Court had on Thursday upheld the May 27 decision of the Kogi State governorship election petition tribunal which upheld the election of Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the duly elected Governor of Kogi State having scored 446,237 votes which represents the majority of lawful votes cast in the November 11, 2023 Governorship election in the state.

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The Appeal Court in a unanimous decision dismissed all grounds of appeals filed by candidates of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Action Alliance (AA) and the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) for being incompetent and for lacking in merit.

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Crime

Court of Appeal Upholds tribunal judgement of Kogi State Governor Usman Ododo

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By Admin

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has affirmed the election of Kogi State Governor, Usman Ododo, dismissing the appeal filed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its governorship candidate, Murtala Ajaka.

The appeal sought to quash the judgment of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which had declared Ododo the duly elected governor.

The SDP and Ajaka contended that the tribunal’s decision was a miscarriage of justice and requested the Court of Appeal to nullify Ododo’s election and declare them the rightful winners. They also called for the invalidation of all votes cast for Ododo and the All Progressives Congress (APC), arguing that Ododo was not qualified to contest the election.

However, the Court of Appeal dismissed these claims, upholding the tribunal’s ruling and confirming Ododo’s election as the legitimate governor of Kogi State.

This decision represents a substantial setback for the SDP and Ajaka’s efforts to challenge the results of the November 11, 2023, governorship election in Kogi State.

The affirmation of Governor Ododo’s election by the Court of Appeal reinforces the initial ruling of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, solidifying Ododo’s position as the duly elected governor of Kogi State.

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