By Eric Elezuo and Morakinyo Ajibade
After weeks of courtroom exchange and legal crossfire, the stage is finally set for a decision to be taken in the electoral imbroglio involving frontline players in the February 25, 2023 Presidential Election. They include Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the umpire.
The results of the election were announced at about 4am on March 1, 2023, declaring Tinubu as the winner even as opponents argue that the result announced did not reflect the votes cast by Nigerians. Tinubu was announced winner with a total vote of 8,794,726 to defeat his closest rival, Atiku Abubakar, who polled 6,984,520 votes, and Obi with 6,101,533. All the three contestants claimed victory, however, and instituted a court case at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
The major grouse of the appellants bordered on the inability of Tinubu to score a mandatory 25 per cent votes in the Federal Capital Territory as well as his ineligibility to contest based on his involvement in drugs in the United States of America. The appellants also accused INEC of running foul of the Electoral Act 2022 in the conduct of the election.
During the week, all the parties submitted their written addresses with Atiku claiming the presidency, standing on the premise that INEC had originally declared that he won in 21 states of the federation, and did not refute the stance even as the case proceedings have ended.
All eyes are now on the judiciary, represented by the 5-man panel, and led by the Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal, Haruna Tsammani. Others are Justice Stephen Adah of the Court of Appeal Asaba division, Justice Misitura Bolaji-Yusuf, Court of Appeal also of Asaba Division; Justice Boloukuoromo Ugoh of Kano division and Justice Abba Mohammed of Ibadan Court of Appeal.
The Panel had assured that “We are determined to look at the matter dispassionately and give justice to whoever deserves justice.” Tsammani noted that the tribunal would consider the substance of each case over technicalities so that “whoever leaves here will be satisfied that justice has been done.”
Atiku’s submission is contained in a 44-page address signed by his lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, and is presented below in full details:
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL IN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION PETITION COURT HOLDEN AT ABUJA
IN THE MATTER OF THE ELECTION TO THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA HELD ON 25TH FEBRUARY 2023
PETITION NO: CA/PEPC/05/2023
1. ABUBAKAR ATIKU………………..…………………..PETITIONERS
2. PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PDP)
1. INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC)
2. TINUBU BOLA AHMED
3. ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC) ……….. RESPONDENTS
PETITIONERS’ FINAL WRITTEN ADDRESS
1.01 This is the Final Written Address of the Petitioners in this Petition filed to challenge the undue and wrongful return of the 2nd Respondent by the 1st Respondent as winner in the Presidential Election which held on 25th February 2023, and the wrongful result declared on 1st March 2023 in an election that has been adjudged as the worst in the annals of general elections in Nigeria given the brazenness of the subversion of the will of the Nigerian voters, despite the enactment of a new Electoral Act, the introduction of promising technological innovations to ensure transparency, massive investment of public funds and guarantees by the election body.
1.02 Undoubtedly, this presidential election was conducted under a novel and technologically-improved legislative architecture and a new electoral jurisprudential regime to cure the banes of the past, and therefore the features thereof and the judicial approach and attitude thereto must ipso facto be different from the analogue past.
1.03 It must be borne in mind, and we shall urge this Honourable Court to so hold, that the Electoral Act 2022 introduced, as was intended by Parliament, a new regime in election management and dispute resolution, in response to the yearnings for an end to the perennial flawed election cycles, each cycle getting worse than its predecessor, and the Honourable
Court shall be urged to adopt a very proactive approach to its interpretation of the new laws and application of the new technologies in order not to stifle the principles of transparency and integrity, the bedrock of constitutional democracy. Gratefully, this Honourable Court in the PreHearing Conference, stated that it will prefer substantial justice to technicalities in consideration of this matter, in accord with the statement
of the Supreme Court in HOPE DEMOCRATIC PARTY (HDP) V. INEC
(2009) 8 NWLR (PT. 1143) page 297 at 329 that election petitions are sensitive and parties should as much as possible be allowed to ventilate their respective grievances without, asphyxiating their cases with technicalities. As held by the Supreme Court in IKPEAZU V. OTTI & ORS (2016) LPELR-40055(SC) (PP. 56 PARAS. C)
“Nowhere else is the need to do substantial justice greater than in election petition, for the Court is not only concerned with the rights of the parties inter se but the wider interest and rights of the constituents who have exercised their franchise at the polls”.
1.04 A fortiori, this Honourable Court will be urged to dispense with the archaic and analogue methods of proof and embrace the progress made by technology in this new paradigm shift improving and pushing the traditional boundaries of burden of proof in the quest to attain substantial justice.
2.00 BRIEF STATEMENT OF FACTS
2.01 The 1st Petitioner contested election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the platform of the 2nd Petitioner, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which held on 25th February 2023, along with 17 other candidates, including the 2nd Respondent, who was the candidate of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in whose favour the electoral body, the “Independent” National Electoral Commission (INEC) manipulated the technologies earlier put in place to ensure transparency, and wrongfully returned the said 2nd Respondent as winner at about 4.00am on 1st March 2023, at the time the 1 st Respondent admitted that substantial percentage of the results had not be transmitted to the collation system for verification as required by law. Under the cover of the so-called “technical glitch” excuse which the 1st Respondent never explained, the results were deliberately manipulated through suppression and discounting of the votes of the 1st Petitioner and inflation of the votes of the 2nd Respondent. This deliberate bypass of the use of the prescribed verification technology was nationwide, and substantially flawed the return of the 2nd Respondent.
2.02 The said 1st Respondent equally proceeded to declare the 2nd Respondent winner when the 2nd Respondent did not meet the mandatory constitutional requirement to secure not less than a quarter of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. This was in addition to the numerous infractions and corrupt practices perpetrated by the Respondents.
Notwithstanding, the 1st Respondent unequivocally and clearly admitted in its pleadings, namely paragraph 18 at page 13 of its Reply to the Petition, which was never refuted or nor retracted, that the Petitioners won 21 States of the Federation in the presidential election, which is an admission against interest. As a result of non-use of collation by electronic transmission, the 1st Respondent later altered the admitted result of 21 States for the 1st Petitioner to 12 States.
2.03 Worse still, the 2nd Respondent is constitutionally disabled from contesting for the office of President of Federal Republic of Nigeria in the light of the criminal forfeiture judgment against him for the sum of $460,000 for narcotics related crime (proceeds of crime) in the United States, as well as holding as a presidential candidate, dual citizenship of Nigeria and Guinea, having voluntarily acquired the citizenship of the Republic of Guinea, in addition to presenting forged documents to the electoral body.
2.04 Given that collation of results in the said election was to be technologybased, the 1st Respondent in further act to suppress the actual results of the election, applied for leave of this Honourable Court to reconfigure the BVAS machines used for the election, with an undertaking to preserve the data used in the presidential election. In order to suppress evidence, the 1st Respondent purged the entire BVAS machines of all the data as confirmed by INEC in their letter dated 17th May 2023.
3.00 SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE:
3.01 After the pre-hearing session, hearing of evidence in the Petition begun on 30th May 2023. The Petitioners in proof of their case, fielded 27 witnesses and tendered several documents. Given the role of technology in the conduct of this election, there was a departure from the need to call physical witnesses from polling units, being the intendment of the present technological improvements, to discontinue with the past impossibility to call witnesses from over half or more of the 176,846 polling units nationwide, being the import of section 137 of the Electoral Act 2022 and paragraph 46(4) of the 1st Schedule thereto.
3.02 The first set of witnesses for the Petitioners were State Collation Agents of the Petitioners, namely, PW 1, Captain Joe Agada; PW 2, Dr. Sunday Folarin Adekunle; PW 3, Hon. Uzoma Nkem Abonta; PW 4, Hon. Sani Idris Kutigi; PW 5, Nicholas Msheliza; PW 6, Silas Joseph Onu; PW 7, Dr. Abiye Sekibo; PW 8, Mohammed Magaji; PW 9, Mr. Abraham David; PW 10, Ibrahim Mohammed Hamza; PW 12, Hon. Sir Ndubuisi Nwobu, and PW 20, Captain Olatunji Shelle. Their evidence collectively established that there was deliberate non-compliance by the 1st Respondent with the mandatory mode of transmission and collation of results.
3.03 The next set of witnesses were Presiding Officers who participated in the conduct of the presidential election as staff of the 1st Respondent, and they were subpoenaed to testify, namely PW 12, Mr. Friday Ogwumah; PW 13, Grace Timothy; PW 14, Grace Ajagbona; PW 15, Abidemi Joseph; PW 16, Edosa Obosa; PW 17, Alheri Ayuba; PW 18, Sadiya Mohammed Haruna; PW 23, Janet Nuhu Turaki; PW 24, Christopher Bulus Ardo; and PW 25, Victoria Sanni. Their evidence unequivocally established that there was a sabotage of the transmission of results electronically contrary to what they were prepared for at their preelection training. The next set of witnesses were principal agents of the Petitioners at the election, namely PW 19, Dr. Alex Adum Ter, who was the National Co-Ordinator of the Petitioners’ National Situation Room; and PW 22, Senator Dino Melaye, who was the National Collation Agent of the Petitioners, who timeously protested the wrongful collation process of the 1st Respondent at the National Collation Centre.
3.04 The Petitioners called the evidence of their expert witnesses, namely the Statistician, PW 21, Mr. Samuel Oduntan and the Digital Forensic Analyst, PW 26, Mr. Hitler Nwala.
3.05 The Petitioners closed their case with the piercing evidence of PW 27, Mr. Michael Enahoro-Ebah, who tendered several documents in support of the non-qualification and disqualification of the 2nd Respondent to contest the election.
3.06 Notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence called by the Petitioners, the 1st Respondent, who clearly mismanaged the election as shown by the evidence, chose to call only one witness, one Dr. Lawrence Bayode, the Deputy Director, ICT Department, shielding the substantive Director, Engr. Paul Omokore, who was used to replace Mr. Chima Nwafor who had designed the software for transmission of results installed on the BVAS machines. The said witness admitted that the technological innovation introduced by INEC through the BVAS and transmission to the IReV was to guarantee the transparency of the process and the integrity of the result.
He admitted that there was a “technical glitch” that made the system fail to work. He further admitted that the Presidential and National Assembly elections were held on same day and with same BVAS machines. He openly admitted that at the time the result was declared on 1st March 2023, all the results had not been uploaded to the IReV. He was shown the European Union Observers Final Report, which was admitted as Exhibit RA6, and he read out the relevant portions indicting the conduct and outcome of the presidential election.
3.07 It is instructive to note that despite the uniqueness of the new regime of election management, INEC failed to call even one field officer, or agent or staff, or any ward collation agent, or local government collation agent or state collation agent or poll officials, any of its numerous registration area technicians (Ractechs), or even the Presiding Officers (PO), Assistant Presiding Officer (APO 1, APO 11, APO 111) who handled the BVAS machines or who person who operated any aspect of the technological system including the IReV to give evidence or to even explain the nebulous “technical glitch”.
3.08 The 2nd Respondent did not call any witness in support of his claim to victory in the election, but only one witness, a certain Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, who claimed to be practising law in the United State as well as in Nigeria and at the same time, a serving Senator, who came to speak on the qualifications of the 2nd Respondent, and admitted that the name of the 2nd Respondent is the subject of the US forfeiture judgment admitted in Court as EXHIBIT PBF1. He admitted that the 2nd Respondent did not score 25% of the votes cast in the FCT in the election.
3.09 The 3rd Respondent did not call any witness in defence of the Petition, thereby abandoning its pleadings.
4.00 PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS ON 2ND RESPONDENT’S ADDRESS:
4.01 At this stage, it is pertinent to observe from the outset that the 2nd Respondent’s Final Written Address, with respect, reflects a complete misconception and unfortunate misunderstanding of the case of the Petitioners, notwithstanding the magisterial arrogance, condescending cynicism and overbearing misanthropy with which he has sought to trivialise the Petitioners’ case, as will be shown hereunder.
4.02 Furthermore, a subtle threat of apocalyptic catastrophe of national chaos and anarchy if a judgment is not given in a particular manner cannot deter a Court of law from doing justice. The Court must do justice, rather “let the heavens fall”; but as courageously stated by the Supreme Court per Oguntade JSC, in the epic case of AMAECHI vs. INEC & ORS (2008) LPELR-446(SC) (Pp. 67-68 paras. D):
” I must do justice even if the heavens fall. The truth of course is that when justice has been done, the heavens stay in place.”
4.03 It is also pertinent to observe that the Final Written Address of the 2nd Respondent was filed in flagrant defiance of, and non-compliance with, the mandatory provisions of Paragraph 5(c) and (d) of the ELECTION JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS PRACTICE DIRECTIONS, 2023 rendering same invalid. We urge your Lordships to discountenance as well as strike out the said Final Written Address for gross non-compliance.
5.0 ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION:
5.1 We most humbly submit that the following issues call for determination by this Honourable Court in this Petition, namely:-
(1). Whether the return of the 2 nd Respondent in the election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on 25th day of February 2023 was not invalidated by reason of substantial noncompliance with the novel and mandatory provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 on electronic transmission of results for collation and verification.
(2). Whether the 2nd Respondent was lawfully declared and returned as the winner of the Presidential election held on 25th day of February 2023, having not secured one-quarter of the valid votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as required by the Constitution of the Federal of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended)?
(3). Whether the 2nd Respondent was not disqualified under the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) to contest the Presidential election held on 25th day of February 2023, having regard to order of criminal forfeiture arising from drug-related offence, his declaration of allegiance to a country other than Nigeria, and presenting a forged certificate to the 1st Respondent?
(4). Whether the 1st Respondent was not wrong in returning the 2nd Respondent when he was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast in the election.
5.2 LEGAL ARGUMENT:
ISSUE No. 1: Whether the return of the 2nd Respondent in the election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on 25th day of February 2023 was not invalidated by reason of substantial non-compliance with the novel and mandatory provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 on electronic transmission of results for collation and verification.
5.3 We most humbly begin by submitting that the 1st Respondent woefully failed to comply with the novel and mandatory provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 on electronic transmission of results for collations and verification.
5.4 My Lords, the case of the Petitioners as presented in their pleadings and eloquently supported by the testimonies of their witnesses and admitted exhibits is that the said presidential election was fatally flawed by noncompliance with a fundamental requirement of the new electoral regime, which non-compliance was nation-wide and substantially affected the outcome of the election. It was not disputed even by the 1st Respondent that the so-called “technical glitch” that blighted the election was localised to a particular polling unit, ward, local government area, or State, but it was national, and affected the most critical, sensitive and vulnerable part of the electoral chain, namely the collation of results.
5.5 The Petitioners led evidence to show that the most prominent distinguishing factor of the Electoral Act, 2022 is the clear expression of legislative intent to introduce technology in the conduct of election, and particularly in the collation of results. It is common knowledge that the manipulation of election results occurs not principally at the voting stage but at the collation stage and in the collation process. This was the mischief the Electoral Act 2022 sought to cure by the introduction of technology in the collation processes. It is between conveying the results from the polling units to the wards and from the ward collation centres to the local government collation centres, and from the local government collation centres to the State collation centres that results sheets are hijacked, switched, replaced, re-written and figures altered or substituted. This is a major mischief the introduction of electronic transmission is designed to solve. That is the reason the Courts have always applied the “mischief rule” in construction of novel provisions such as those introduced by the Electoral Act 2022. Just as was held by the Supreme Court, per Niki Tobi JSC in UGWU & ANOR V. ARARUME & ANOR (2007) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1049) 365 @ 439 para D:-
“One of the most useful guidelines to interpretation is the mischief rule which considers the state of the law before the enactment, the defect which the statute sets out to remedy and/or prevent, the remedy adopted by the Legislature to cure the mischief and the true reason of or behind the remedy. The duty of a Judge therefore is to adopt such interpretation that will enable the suppression of the mischief and to promote the remedy within the intent or intention of the statute.”
5.6 My Lords, the law allowed the regulatory body the option to choose the technological device to use in the conduct of the election, and the 1st Respondent chose the BVAS machine and the IReV as admitted by all the parties. The Petitioners tendered as exhibits the video evidence of the undertaking and commitment by the 1st Respondent through its Chairman and Spokesman as Exhibits PAF 1(a) to (c) and PAF 2(a) to (c) to deploy these technological innovations in the election to ensure transparency of the election and to eliminate all forms of manipulation. The 1st Respondent did not either in its pleading or evidence deny this prescription by the Commission, and therefore the belated attempt by the 2nd and 3rd Respondents to contend that the 1st Respondent’s Chairman rescinded the prescription two days before the election by an interview to a media house is an afterthought which cannot alter legislation or statutebirthed regulations and guidelines.
5.7 Section 64(4) and (5) of the Electoral Act 2022 made the use of the BVAS machines mandatory for collation, verification and confirmation of results before announcement. Section 60(5) of the Act also gives effect to same. The INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Election (tendered as Exhibit PAE 1) and INEC Manual for Election Officials (tendered as Exhibit PAE 2) both made mandatory provisions for the results from the polling units to be transmitted real-time to the IReV. For 10 purpose of ease of reference and for emphasis, permit us to quote paragraph 2.9.0 of the INEC Manual (Exhibit PAE 2):
“Electronic Transmission/Upload of Election Result and Publishing to The INEC Result Viewing (IReV) Portal: One of the problems noticed in the electoral process is the irregularities that take place between the Polling Units (PUs) after the announcement of results and the point of result collation. Sometimes results are hijacked, exchanged, or even destroyed at the PU, or on the way to the Collation Centers. It becomes necessary to apply technology to transmit the data from the Polling Units such that the results are collated up to the point of result declaration.
“The real-time publishing of polling unit-level results on IReV Portal and transmission of results using the BVAS demonstrates INEC’s commitment to transparency in results management. This commitment is backed by Sections 47(2), 60(1, 2 & 5), 64(4a & 4b) and 64(5) of the Electoral Act 2022, which confers INEC with the power to transmit election results electronically. The system minimizes human errors and delays in results collation and improves the accuracy, transparency, and credibility of the results collation process.”
5.8 To reinforce this mandate, paragraph 38 of INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022 (Exhibit PAE 2) provided as follows:
“On completion of all the Polling Unit voting and results procedures, the Presiding Officer shall:
(i). Electronically transmit or transfer the result of the Polling Unit, direct to the collation system as prescribed by the Commission.
(ii). Use the BVAS to upload a scanned copy of the EC8A to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV), as prescribed by the Commission.”
5.9 The RW 1, the sole witness of the 1st Respondent confirmed under cross examination that the above-said technological innovation by INEC was to guarantee the transparency of the electoral process and to guarantee the integrity of the results. He confirmed that on 1st March 2023 when the results were announced, all the results had not been uploaded to the IReV, which was a glaring breach of the process of accountability and transparency of collation. The witness admitted that the system was hosted by Amazon Web Service, yet the 1st Respondent did not and declined to report the failure to Amazon Web Service.
5.10 The Petitioners through the evidence of their two star witnesses, namely PW 19 Dr Alex Adum Ter (paragraphs 42 to 83 of his Witness Statement on Oath adopted on 13/6/23) and PW 22, Senator Dino Melaye, (paragraphs 38 to 78 of his Witness Statement on Oath adopted on 16/6/23) proffered comprehensive evidence on the deliberate bypass of the use of BVAS machines and IReV in the conduct of the election and electronic transmission of results. Indeed, the PW 19 also tendered IreV Webshots (Exhibit PAF 4) which showed clearly that as at 18th March, 2023, the results of about 10,295 polling units were yet to be uploaded. This evidence was neither challenged nor rebutted.
5.11 Very importantly, the Petitioners called the evidence of Presiding Officers who directly participated in the conduct of the presidential election as staff of the 1st Respondent, and personally handled the BVAS machines in question. These witnesses, namely PW 12, Mr. Friday Ogwumah; PW 13, Grace Timothy; PW 14, Grace Ajagbona; PW 15, Abidemi Joseph; PW 16, Edosa Obosa; PW 17, Alheri Ayuba; PW 18, Sadiya Mohammed Haruna; PW 23, Janet Nuhu Turaki; PW 24, Christopher Bulus Ardo; and PW 25, Victoria Sanni, gave evidence which unequivocally established that there was a sabotage of the transmission of results electronically contrary to what they were prepared for at their pre-election training. They were unanimous in their testimony that whereas they were able to transmit the results of the National Assembly elections which took place on the same day, the system blocked them off from transmitting the results of the presidential election. It will be recalled that the sole witness of INEC, that is RW 1, confirmed that it was the same application that was installed on the same BVAS machines used for both the presidential election and the National Assembly elections but with separate provisions for each election.
5.12 The Petitioners having given credible evidence that the transmission of results for the National Assembly elections went through whilst that of the presidential election did not, the 1st Respondent, (as well as the beneficiaries the 2nd and 3rd Respondents) had a duty to explain the discrimination in transmission. With the introduction of technology into election by the Electoral Act 2022, the burden of proof now shifts to the Commission in circumstances such as this where the Petitioners have proffered credible evidence of non-compliance, and we shall urge the Honourable Court to so find and hold.
5.13 We submit that the burden of proving this particular fact, namely, that the necessary verification and confirmation in compliance with the mandatory provisions of Section 64(4) of the Electoral Act, 2022 was done, is on the 1st Respondent and indeed on all the Respondents for two reasons. The first reason is that it is a fact within the knowledge of the 1st Respondent whether or not it carried out the said mandatory verifications and confirmations as all the relevant materials (election results and accreditation data directly transmitted from the polling units and the hard copies of the election results which it collated) were at all material times in the custody of the 1st Respondent and it was the 1st Respondent that carried out the collation in issue. The second reason is that the Petitioners are asserting the negative, namely, that the 1st Respondent failed to carry out the mandatory verifications and confirmations, whilst the 1st Respondent and indeed all the other Respondents are asserting the positive. We submit that the position of the law is that the burden of proof is on the person asserting the positive and not on the person asserting the negative.
5.14 In AMALE & ORS V. MUSTAPHA & ORS (2022) LPELR-56897(CA),
pp. 41-42, paras. D-E, this Honourable Court, adopting an apt Supreme Court decision on this issue, held thus:-
“The position of law is clear that the burden is on the who asserts the positive and here the Respondent is the one who asserts the positive. The Appellants had no burden of proving the negative, see ADEGOKE V ADIBI & 7 ANOR (1992) LPELR-95 (SC) where the apex Court said thusly:
”The principle is that the burden of proof lies on he who asserts and not on he who asserts the negative of an issue. The whole concept of burden of proof in a civil case has been epitomized in Section 136(1) and (2) of the Evidence Act which provides as follows: “(1) In civil cases, the burden of first proving the existence or non-existence of a fact lies on the party against whom the judgment of the Court would be given if no evidence were produced on either side, regard being had to any presumption that may arise on the pleadings. (2) If such party adduces evidence which ought reasonably to satisfy a jury that the fact sought to be proved is established, the burden lies on the party against whom judgment would be given if no more evidence were adduced; and so on successively, until all the issues in the pleadings have been dealt with.” Per Kutigi JSC.”
5.15 The Petitioners further called the evidence of a digital forensic analyst as PW 26, Mr. Hitler Nwala (whose Witness Statement on Oath was adopted on 22/6/23). The witness who pursuant to order of Court for inspection, conducted a random sampling of the BVAS machines made available to him by the 1st Respondent at the headquarters of the 1st Respondent after several demands, confirmed that there was nothing inherently or intrinsically wrong with the machines and any malfunction on the day of the election was by human intervention. The witness made reference under cross-examination to the letter from INEC allowing him only access to the BVAS machines at the headquarters as INEC had claimed by the letter dated 17th May 2023 that the bulk of the BVAS machines were still at the State Headquarters, months after the elections. The suggestion that he ought to have taken away and brought the physical BVAS machines from INEC office to the Court, with respect, seems absurd as it is suggesting the impossible for him to take away the BVAS machines from INEC office when the order granted was only for leave to inspect, not to impound or retrieve the BVAS machines from INEC. He tendered his Forensic Report and Annexures and they were admitted in evidence as EXHIBITS PAR 1(a), (b), (c), (d), (e) and (f) respectively. It is very instructive that neither the 2nd Respondent nor any of the Respondents called the evidence of any forensic analyst to provide evidence to the contrary, and none tendered any Expert Report for comparison.
5.16 We pause to submit here that the failure of the 1st Respondent to report to either Amazon Web Service or to manufacturers of the technological device is clear proof that the so-called “technical glitch” was a ruse, unreal, if not self-induced. For a project that the Nation committed the sum of over N355 billion, it is unreasonable to expect that the Commission would refuse to report or complain to the suppliers of the devices or providers of the services or hold anyone accountable. In fact the evidence introduced by the 2nd and 3rd Respondents that the Chairman of the 1st Respondent had reneged on the commitment to use the prescribed technology (see Exhibit RA 5 – Tribune Newspaper) when juxtaposed with the stout and advertised resistance of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents to the use of the technology for the election (see Exhibit X2 – Vanguard Newspaper), strongly proves collusion between the Respondents to sabotage the transparency of the election by failure to use the technology designed to guarantee transparency and integrity by reliance on a fake “technical glitch” that was never, and has never been explained.
5.17 We submit that with the advent of the technological innovations brought about by the Electoral Act 2022, there has arisen a need for a monumental shift from the old way of pleading and proving non-compliance in post 2022 election petition jurisprudence and this cannot be overstated. Thus, the Petitioners adequately pleaded the requirements for the usage of BiModal Voters Accreditation Systems (BVAS) Machines on the one hand, and the refusal and/or failure of 1st Respondent to use the BVAS Machines to transmit BVAS Accreditation Data, as well as the Polling Unit results to both the Collation System and the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV). Under the new regime therefore, a witness does not need to be in all Polling Units at the time of transmission to confirm that a result was transmitted. The proof of transmission is the visibility of the result to all on the IReV, indicating date and time of transmission. My Lords, both Collation System and IReV are fed (supplied accreditation data and Polling Units results) simultaneously by BVAS Machines, and all manually received EC8As and all manual accreditation data, must be confirmed and verified to be consistent with the BVAS captured accreditation data and polling units results before collation at Ward, Local Government, State and National Level. We submit that INEC and indeed all the Respondents can only discharge the burden of proof placed on them by tendering documentary evidence, supported by relevant oral evidence that INEC complied with these twin fundamental requirements in the collation of the results of the said election under the new electoral regime.
5.18 We further submit that in the peculiar circumstances of this case, the burden is on INEC and indeed on the other Respondents to prove that the non-compliance aforesaid did not and ought not to nullify the said election, which said burden INEC and the other Respondents woefully failed to discharge. This paradigm shift of the burden of proof in the new electoral jurisprudence has become even more relevant so that an electoral regulatory body does not act with impunity and expect to be protected by official presumption of regularity when it acts irregularly, hoping that all the burden of proof would rest on the Petitioners, even when dared to go to Court.
5.19 We further submit that contrary to the position of the Respondents, the decision in the Supreme Court in OYETOLA & ANOR V. INEC & ORS (2023) LPELR-60392(SC) supports the introduction and use of technology in election management and dispute resolution. The decision has indeed established the fact that there is a electronic collation system and the IreV. As rightly held by the Supreme Court in the Oyetola’s case, the use of the collation system for verifying result before collation is part of the election process and operational at that. Therefore, the failure, refusal or negligence to either deploy or use the collation system, as admitted by the 1st Respondent, in the entire polling units and collation centres in Nigeria, is beyond substantial non-compliance; it is indeed a wilful sabotage of the electoral process and the relevant laws, which must be frowned at by this Honourable Court. The 1st Respondent has no power, whatsoever, to decide which portion of the Electoral Act it obeys and which one it disregards. Its decision not to apply the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and the Regulations and Guidelines during collation of results, clearly compromised the entire election as its integrity became totally eroded, giving room to manipulate the results in favour of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents.
5.20 Little wonder that the renowned international observer duly accredited by the 1st Respondent, the European Union Election Observation Mission, Nigeria 2023 in its Final Report tendered and received in evidence as Exhibit RA (which was read out in Court by the RW 1) indicted the election and stated at page 6 thus: “The 2023 general elections did not ensure a well-run transparent and inclusive democratic process as assured by the Independent National Electoral Commission”. The Report continued at page 47 thus: “Only 31 per cent of the presidential election results uploaded in IReV system were formally and mathematically correct….”. We submit that inability to confirm and verify 69% of the results several months after the election and declaration, is substantial enough to nullify the outcome of 25th February, 2023 Presidential Election, and we urge My Lords to so hold.
5.21 We humbly submit that it is not in dispute that INEC failed to electronically transmit the results of the election from the various polling units to the INEC Electronic Collation System and the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) as prescribed by the Commission in compliance with the mandatory provisions of Sections 60(5) and 64(4),(5)&(6) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and paragraph 38(i) & (ii) of the INEC Guidelines and Regulations for the 2023 General Elections.
5.22 It is therefore strange for the 2nd Respondent to consider the Petitioners’ challenge to breaches of such fundamental provisions of the new Law as “very remote events that took place after the election” as contended in paragraph 6.6 of his Final Written Address. It is equally strange for the 2nd Respondent to contend that the Petitioners accepted the validity of every other process in the conduct of the election until the conclusion of the election, save that the results were not transmitted on time. We shall with humility not use such words as “naivety” to describe such contention as the 2nd Respondent has done in paragraph 6.15 of his Final Written Address, not willing to partake in his monopoly of such expressions.
5.23 The 2nd Respondent wrongly submitted that the “Petitioner’s witness all agreed that the results were not affected”. This is completely erroneous and misleading. All the witnesses called by the Petitioners stated that the results were affected and did not concede to any of the results declared by the 1st Respondent.
5.24 We further submit that the admission by INEC in its Reply that it had no electronic collation system to which Presiding Officers were required to electronically transmit the result of the election directly from the polling units, shows that the election was conducted by INEC based on a grave misrepresentation. The Political parties and their candidates, especially the Petitioners, were deceived as to the manner of the conduct of the election by INEC, which is akin to changing the rules of a game in the middle of play. We submit that this revelation alone, coming out of INEC in the middle of the proceedings, is sufficient for this Honourable Court to nullify the election, as not being free and fair, as same affects the very foundation of the electoral process.
5.25 It is pertinent to note that the 2nd and 3rd Respondents did not also adduce any oral or documentary evidence of INEC’s compliance with the said provisions of Section 64(4) of the Electoral Act, 2022. We submit that in this case, the presumption of regularity cannot assist the Respondents as same does not apply. For the presumption of regularity to apply, the Respondents ought to have shown that the formal requisites for the validity of the collation exercise had been complied with by them, which is compliance with the provisions of Section 64(4) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
5.26 We therefore submit that by the combined effect of the provisions of Section 60(5), 64(4),(5),(6,(7))&(8) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and Paragraphs 38 & 48 of the INEC’s Guidelines and Regulations for the 2023 General Elections, the electronic transmission of the results of the election together with the number of accredited voters to the INEC Collation System and the use of the said electronically transmitted information for confirmation and verification during the collation of the results of the said election are necessary conditions precedents to the validity of the election.
We submit that non–compliance with a fundamental condition precedent such as this prescribed by a statute, renders whatever that has been done in violation of the statutory provision null and void, and we urge your Lordships to so hold.
5.27 We urge your Lordship to discountenance the submission of the 2nd Respondent that the Petitioners have failed to prove substantial noncompliance with the provisions of the extant laws and guidelines regulating the elections. It is pertinent to state that the deliberate bypass of the BVAS Machines to transmit the election results, which was conceded to by the Respondent’s sole witness during cross examination, is proof of substantial non-compliance, which had nation-wide impact affecting substantially all the results declared by the 1st Respondent. In ONUIGWE vs. EMELUMBA (2008) LPELR – 4787 (CA), the Court held that:
“Acts which may be regarded to substantially affect the result of an election need not necessarily be widespread non-compliance. Such act may occur in a few places. Yet their effects are so significant to the overall result of the election that it cannot be ignored. It is not the number of stations where or how widespread the non-compliance has occurred which is relevant, it is the effect of the non-compliance on the overall result of the constituency involved.” See also APC VS. ADELEKE (2019) LPELR-47736 (CA) 5.28 We therefore submit that under the new regime of technology-based elections, the old, traditional and analogue manner of proof of substantial non-compliance must yield way to a modern, dynamic and scientific approach by the Courts towards proof of substantial non-compliance. The intent of the new Electoral Act 2022 is that the old order must give way to the new order; the analogue must yield to the digital, and we urge this Honourable Court so to hold.
ISSUE No. 2:
Whether the 2nd Respondent was lawfully declared and returned as the winner of the Presidential election held on 25th day of February 2023, having not secured one-quarter of the valid votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as required by the Constitution of the Federal of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended)?
5.29 My Lords, we begin by submitting that the Constitution is the organic law of the Nation, the fons et origo and the grundnorm. See ROSSEK V. ACB LTD (1993) 8NWLR (Pt. 312) 382; DAPIALONG V. DARIYE (2007) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1036) 332.
5.30 My Lords, the relevant section of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) calling for interpretation is section 134(2) thereof. It provides as follows:- “A candidate for an election to the office of President shall be deemed to have been duly elected, where, there being more than two candidates for the election
(a) He has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and
(b) He has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation AND the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.” (Emphasis added)
5.31 A digest of the section reveals that there are two limbs in section 134(2) which are conjunctive and not disjunctive. That is, (a) the candidate must have the majority of votes cast at the election; and (b) he must have not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all States of the Federation AND the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Furthermore, there are two scenerios contemplated in the provision dealing with where there are only 2 candidates; and where there are more than 2 candidates. In both situations, any of the candidates must satisfy both conditions of 25% in at least 24 States of the 36 States of the Federation; AND 25% in the FCT, Abuja.
5.32 Clearly, the special status of Abuja in the composition of the Federation of Nigeria cannot be disputed. Section 2(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) provides as follows:- “Nigeria shall be a Federation consisting of States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
5.33 Then Section 3(1) of the same Constitution leaves no one in doubt when it specifically listed those States as follows:- “There shall be thirty six States in Nigeria, that is to say, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.”
5.34 Since the Federal Capital Territory Abuja is not a State, the Constitution 1999 made provision for its application to three named areas of structures of government, namely the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. Section 299 of the Constitution 1999 provides as follows:- “The provisions of this Constitution shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as if it were one of the States of the Federation; and accordingly –
(a) all the legislative powers, the executive powers and the judicial powers vested in the House of Assembly, the Governor of a State and in the courts of a State shall, respectively, vest in the National Assembly, the President of the Federation and in the courts which by virtue of the foregoing provisions are courts established for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja;
(b) all the powers referred to in paragraph (a) of 21 this section shall be exercised in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution; and
(c) the provisions of this Constitution pertaining to the matters aforesaid shall be read with such modifications and adaptations as may be reasonably necessary to bring them into conformity with the provisions of this section.”
5.35 Two things stand out from this provision. The first is “as if”, indicating it is not. The phrase “as if” has been defined by Online Dictionary thus:
“As if” is a phrase used to describe a situation or action that appears or resembles something else, but is not actually that way.” Therefore, the Federal Capital Territory Abuja is NOT a State.
5.36 Secondly, subsection (c) thereof clearly stated that the application of this provision is limited to the matters aforesaid, namely, legislative powers, executive powers and judicial powers. It is an elementary, if not trite rule of statute interpretation, that where a statute mentions specific things, those things not mentioned are not intended to be included, encapsulated in the maxim “expressio unius est exclusio alterius”. In BUHARI & ANOR V. YUSUF & ANOR (2003) LPELR-812(SC) (p. 20 para. B), the Supreme Court per Uwaifo JSC held thus:
“The principle is well settled that in the construction of statutory provisions, where a statute mentions specific things or persons, the intention is that those not mentioned are not intended to be included. This is the expressio unius est exclusio alterius rule, meaning that the express mention of one thing in a statutory provision automatically excludes any other which otherwise would have been included by implication. see Ogbunyiya v. Okudo (1976) 6-9 SC 32; Udoh v. Orthopaedic Hospital Management Board (1993) 7 NWLR (Pt. 304) 139.”
5.37 From the above, it is clear that the provisions of section 299 will NOT apply to section 134 (2) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which deals with procedure for election of President with margin note “Election: two or more President candidates.” The said section 134 (2)(a) of the Constitution, 1999 has nothing to do the matters mentioned in section 299 of the Constitution, namely legislative powers, executive powers and judicial powers.
5.38 We therefore submit that the said Federal Capital Territory Abuja cannot be construed as the 37th State in the computation of presidential election results and in the construction of section 134(2)(a) aforesaid.
5.39 To further demonstrate the areas of application of section 299 of the Constitution 1999, sections 300, 301 302, 303 and 304 of the said Constitution, made detailed provisions to the effective application of the foregoing section 299. The said section 299 has nothing whatsoever to do with presidential election. Interpretation must be restricted to the context of use. In the case of OBI V. INEC & ORS (2007) LPELR24347(SC)(pp. 126 paras. D), the Supreme Court, per Tabai JSC held thus:-
“…MAXWELL ON INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES at Page 55 says: “It is therefore a canon of interpretation that all words if they be general and not express or precise are to be restricted to the fitness of the matter. They are to be construed as particular if the intention be particular; that is, they must be understood as used in reference to the subject-matter in the mind of the legislature and to it only.”
5.40 We submit that the word “AND” used in the said section 134(2)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) “all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory” clearly shows that Federal Capital Territory Abuja is a mandatory component of the calculation. It is not in doubt that the phrase “and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja” made its entry into the Nigerian constitutional history with the 1999 Constitution. The earlier legislative framework under which the 1979 presidential election was held had section 34A (1)(c)(ii) of the 1977 Electoral Decree which is impari material, with section 134(2), except the absence of the phrase and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”.
5.41 The Courts have over the years developed canons of interpretation of constitutional and statutory provisions. Many of these have been ably set out in the Book “Guidelines to Interpretation of Nigerian Statutes”
2019, by eminent Jurist of Honourable Court, Ogbuinya JCA, pages 80 to 102, principal among which are the Literal Rule, the Golden Rule, and the Mischief Rule.
5.42 How then is the word “AND” to be interpreted? To begin with the Black’s Law Dictionary 6th Edition, defined the word “and” as “a conjunction connecting words or phrase expressing the idea that the latter is to be added to or taken along with the first.” We submit that the word “AND” in the said section is a word of addition, as is the clear intendment of the provision and the intention of the framers of the Constitution.
5.43 We submit that the word demanding for interpretation here is “AND”, and being a plain, clear and unambiguous word, the principle that will apply is the Literal Rule. In OJOKOLOBO & ORS. V. ALAMO & ANOR (1987) 3 NWLR (PT.61) 377, the Supreme Court held that if the language used by the Legislature is clear and explicit, the Court must give effect to it because in such a situation the words of the statute speak the intention of the Legislature. In COTECNA INTERNATIONAL LTD. V. IVORY MERCHANT BANK LTD & 2 ORS. (2006) 5 SCM 17 at 26, the Supreme Court held – “Where the language of a Statute is clear and unambiguous, Courts have no jurisdiction to introduce interpretation or construction not borne out from the clear and unambiguous language.” In ONOCHIE & ORS. V. ODAGWU & ORS.
(2006) 2 SCM 95 at 110 – 11, the Supreme Court per Ogbuagu, JSC stated “it is firmly settled that where the provisions of a statute are clear and unambiguous, the Court, must give those provisions, their liberal and ordinary interpretation.” Also in A.G, ABIA STATE V. A.G FEDERATION (2022) 16 NWLR (PT. 1856) 205, the Supreme Court held that where words are clear and unambiguous, the court must so interpret their natural meaning and none other.
5.44 Thus, in BUHARI v. INEC (2008) 19 NWLR (PT.1120) 246, the Supreme Court, per Tobi JSC, held thus in respect of the word “AND”: “The final word I should examine briefly is the conjunction “and” joining the larger part of the Subsection with the smaller part of “that the noncompliance did not affect substantially the result of the election.” The word “and”, being a conjunction, performing the function of joining two expressions or sentences which could be inseparable, integrated, joint or matched…” See Ndoma-Egba v. Chukwuogor (2004) 2 S.C. (Pt. I) 107; (2004) 6 NWLR (Pt. 869)”
5.45 We submit that the clear word, “AND” makes receiving one-quarter of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja an integral and mandatory component of victory for declaration as winner in a Presidential election under section 134 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). It has nothing to do with any special status for the citizens of Abuja, but special status of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, The FCT, Abuja, is the seat of power of the Nigerian leadership. It is a cosmopolitan convergence of all federating units of the Nation. It is the political nerve centre of Nigeria. It has been imbued with such a special status as a miniature Nigeria in such a way that any elected President must have to compulsorily win the required 25% vote in the FCT, Abuja, after winning 25% votes in 24 States. It thus has a SPECIAL STATUS conferred by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). The reasons for this are not far-fetched. FCT, Abuja, is the melting pot which unites all ethnic groups, tribes, religions, people of variegated backgrounds, and other distinct qualities and characteristics in our pluralistic society. It is indeed a multi-diverse and multi-faceted conglomerate of the different and distinct peoples of Nigeria. The FCT, Abuja, is thus regarded as the “Centre of Unity”, which is a testament to its inclusiveness of all tribes, religions, ethnic groups, languages, and peoples of different backgrounds.
5.46 Consequently, scoring 25% of votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, is a Presidential candidate’s testament to being widely accepted by majority of the Nigerian people. The President is not expected to be a tenant in his seat of power. Senator Michael Bamide Opeyemi who testified as RW1 for the 2nd Respondent, under cross examination agreed while reading out paragraph 7.34 page 51 of Exhibit RA 11, that it was recommended by the framers of 1999 Constitution that Abuja be provided for in the Constitution “because of the importance of the Federal Capital”. He also conceded that “Abuja is the symbol of unity” and “the Federal Capital Territory”. See also page 55 paragraph 8.10 and 8.11 of Exhibit RA 11.
5.47 We further submit that the said section 134(2)(a) of the Constitution 1999 added the phrase “and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja” to reflect the constitutional history. Contrary to the contention of the 2nd Respondent, there was no mischief to be cured in section 134, and therefore the “mischief rule” will be inapplicable. The “mischief rule” is only employed where the old law did not provide for a matter and an interpretation becomes necessary to cure or remedy that mischief. See UGWU v. ARARUME (2007) 12 NWLR (PT. 1048) 365; WILSON v. A.G.BENDEL STATE (1985) 1 NWLR (PT. 4) 572.
5.48 We further submit that the case of BABA-PANYA V. PRESIDENT, FRN (2018) 15 NWLR (Pt 1643) 423, cited by the 2nd Respondent to the effect that the FCT is to be treated like a State has no relevance to the issue at stake here, and therefore is easily distinguishable, and inapplicable. This case did not deal with election and votes, and had nothing whatsoever to do with section 134 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
5.49 My Lords, it is not in dispute that the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu Bola Ahmed) did not achieve the constitutional requirement to returned as winner of the election. We rely on the Exhibit PB (Form EC8D -Declaration of Result) and Exhibits PC 1-37, the Summary of Results) of the election. Out of the total votes of 478,652 cast in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja the 2nd Respondent was ascribed only 90,902 (18.99%) of those votes. The sole witness of the 2nd Respondent, RW 2, Senator M.O. Bamidele, admitted clearly in under cross-examination as follows:- “The 2nd Respondent did not score 25% in the FCT”.
5.50 We therefore submit the 1st Respondent failed to comply with the provisions of section 134 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) in wrongfully, unlawfully and unconstitutionally returning the 2nd Respondent as winner of the election.
5.51 We therefore urge Your Lordships to resolve this Issue in favour of the Petitioners and hold that the 2nd Respondent was wrongly returned as elected when he scored less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as required by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
5.52 ISSUE No. 3:
5.53 Whether the 2nd Respondent was not disqualified under the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) to contest the Presidential election held on 25th day of February 2023, having regard to order of criminal forfeiture arising from drug-related offence, his declaration of allegiance to a country other than Nigeria, and presenting a forged certificate to the 1st Respondent?
5.54 It is apposite from the onset to define the attitude of our Courts, to issues that tend to subvert our Constitutional Democracy and our polity. Our Courts are Courts of law as well as Courts of public policy. At critical times our Courts remain the conscience of our nation and guardian of our Constitution as our collective heritage. No Court should condone or encourage culture of violation of our Constitution on matters that have to do with violation of our Constitution. The Court must boldly take the lead in righting the wrongs in our society. see SALEH V ABAH (2017) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1578) 100 at 136-137 paras H-A. where the Supreme Court held thus:
”This Court must take the lead, in righting the wrongs in our society, if and when the opportunity presents itself as in this appeal. Allowing criminality and certificate forgery to continue to percolate into the streams, waters and oceans of our national polity would only mean our waters are, and will remain dangerously contaminated. The purification efforts must start now, and be sustained as we seek, as a nation, to now ‘change’ from our old culture of reckless impunity.”
5.55 It is submitted that the above commendable approach of our Courts should apply with equal force to cases of brazen violation of our Constitution as in the instant petition. The Petitioners in paragraph 16 of their petition, made the non-qualification of the 2nd Respondent a ground of challenge to the 2nd Respondent’s return. This complaint on the settled state of Judicial authorities remains purely a matter of law, circumscribed around the provisions of section 137 (i) (a) (d) and (j) of 1999 Constitution (as amended). The relevant section provides:
“137(i) A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of the president if:
“a. subject to the provisions of section 28 of this Constitution he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a country other than Nigeria or, except in such cases as may be prescribed by the National Assembly, he has made a declaration of allegiance to such other country.
d. he is under a sentence of death imposed by anycompetent court of law or tribunal in Nigeria OR a sentence of imprisonment OR fine for any offence involving any other dishonesty OR fraud (by whatever name called) OR any for other offence, imposed on him by any court or tribunal OR substituted by a competent authority for any other sentence imposed on him by such a court or tribunal.
j. he has presented forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission.”
5.56 Now, in the premise of the above constitutional provisions, it is submitted that qualification to contest an election to the office of the President is a constitutional issue sufficiently and comprehensively provided for in the 1999 Constitution. It does not therefore leave room for speculation and conjectures neither does it provide for additions, or subtraction and being a constitutional provision cannot be trivialised. See LADO V MASARI (2021) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1793) 334 at page 349 to 350 paras H and A-C. It is submitted further, that where qualification is in issue, it is the 1999 Constitution, that must be interrogated. See ABUBAKAR V INEC (2020) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1737) 37 at 102 paras B-D: where Supreme Court held that:
“… issue of qualification to contest election to the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria being a constitutional issue, it is the constitution we must interrogate.”
5.57 We refer also to SHINKAFI V YARI & ORS (2016) LPELR- 26050 (SC) pp 24 – 26 paras B-E. referring to those provisions in the constitution on qualification and disqualification where the Supreme Court, per Okoro JSC said on these exhaustive provisions:
“…Taking the above provisions together in section 177 and 182(i) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) it is seen that both provision for qualification and that of disqualification are so comprehensive which makes them exhaustive. Thus the Constitution as the grund norm (supreme law of the land), having made such elaborate and all-encompassing provisions for qualifications and disqualification of persons seeking the office of Governor of a State, does not leave room for any addition to those conditions already set out.”
5.58 The above principle also applies with equal force to those seeking election to the office of the president. Now again as stated by their Lordships in Saleh v Abah (Supra) page 137 para D:
“On these issues, our duty is to apply the Constitution and law in its start original form undiluted by “colorated” interpretations.”
5.59 It is submitted that by Petitioners reference to constitutional threshold, the Respondents knew the case they were to meet at the trial, and none of the Respondents was prejudiced or in any way taken by surprise. It is submitted, that to satisfy the Respondents in their quest for a more detailed averment on these constitutional issues, the Petitioners specifically referenced the Forfeiture proceedings of United States District Court.
Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division, per Judge A. Norberg, in which the 2nd Respondent forfeited a sum of $460,000 U.S Dollars to the United States Government for narcotic trafficking and money laundering activities. (See Exhibit PBF2). It is submitted, that the forfeiture of $460,000 by the Respondent to the United States Government, (a competent authority in the instant case) is neither contested nor disputed by any of the Respondents. The response of the Respondents is that there was no arraignment or criminal conviction.
5.60 It is submitted, that by Exhibit PBF1 – PBF3 which is the verified complaint for forfeiture and the entire records of the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, eastern Division dated September 15, 1993, it was clearly indicated that the 2nd Respondent funds totaling $460,000 U.S.D (Four Hundred and Sixty Thousand) U.S Dollars were seized as the funds which constitute proceeds of narcotics trafficking and money laundering. The 2nd Respondent’s sole witness Senator Bamidele Opeyemi (RW2) admitted under cross examination when shown Exhibit PBF2 that the proceedings affected the 2nd Respondent, as his name was reflected in the records of the court (Exhibit PBF2).
5.61 It is pertinent to observe that the 2nd Respondent evaded denying the forfeiture of the said sum of $460,000 U.S Dollars to the United States Government for narcotic trafficking and money laundering activities, but is engaged in semantic distinction between civil and criminal forfeiture, as well the defence that the offence was committed over ten (10) years.
5.62 It is submitted, that forfeiture whether “civil” or “criminal” takes its source from commission of a crime. “Black’s Law Dictionary 9th edition page 722 defines “forfeiture”, “civil forfeiture” and “criminal forfeiture” as follows:
“forfeiture; A divestiture of property without compensation: 2. The loss of a right, privilege, or property because of a crime, breach of obligation, or neglect of duty……
“Civil forfeiture” an in rem proceedings brought by government against property that either facilitated a crime or was acquired as a result of criminal activity (cases of controlled substances – forfeitures).“Criminal forfeiture”, A governmental proceeding brought against a person to seize property as punishment for the person criminal behavior (cases-controlled substances; forfeitures).”
5.63 In the case of MOHAMMED ABACHA vs. FRN (2014) LPELR 22014 (SC), @ 46 the Supreme Court, per Ariwoola JSC (as he then was; now CJN) held thus:-
“The word “forfeiture” means – “the divestiture of property without compensation. The loss of a right, privilege, or property because of a crime, breach of obligation, or neglect of duty.” It follows that, “title in those assets and properties forfeited is instantaneously transferred to another, such as the government.” See: Black’s Law Dictionary, Ninth Edition, page 722.”
5.64 It is submitted with respect, in all the above definitions, the common thread that runs through all categories of Forfeiture is the imputation of a crime, leading to seizure of property or money. It cannot be argued therefore that there was no imputation of crime, or a finding of violation of Penal laws relating to proceeds of drug trafficking or/and money laundering for which punishment was imposed. The 2nd Respondent’s forfeiture proceedings fall squarely within the prohibition/disqualification list contained in section 137(i)(d) of the 1999 Constitution as the proceedings Exhibit PBF2 constitute:
“……a sentence of imprisonment OR fine for any offence involving dishonesty or fraud (by whatever name called) OR for any other offence, imposed on him by any court or tribunal OR substituted by a competent authority for any other sentence imposed on him by such a court or tribunal, or.”
5.65 No doubt, and it is so submitted that the “United States DISTRICT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS, EASTERN DIVISION qualified as a court (of record) and the forfeiture qualified as a punishment for criminal behavior or “Criminal activity” of 2nd Respondent. It is the contention of the Petitioners that the words “any offence (by whatever named called)” and “substituted by a competent authority for any other sentence imposed on him” as used is clearly elastic enough and indeed disqualified the 2nd Respondent in his quest to contest the 25th February, 2023 Presidential election.
5.66 It is the Petitioners further submission that the mischief, that section 137(i) (d) of 1999 Constitution was designed to address was to disable any candidate with records of criminal activity, or a person who has undergone some form of punishment and in this instant petition “forfeiture” from contesting for the office of the president of Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is submitted that this is a strict liability provision, which can neither be impaired by any procedural law, or lesser legislation, being itself a constitutional provision. The court is urged to hold that by the provisions of section 137 (i) (d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) specifically on the undisputed judgement of the District Court. Court of Illinois U.S.A. (Exhibit PBF2) the 2nd Respondent is not qualified to contest for the election into the office of the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria. 2nd Respondent participation, and eventual return as the winner of the said election is therefore unlawful and void. 5.67 With respect to the acquisition of citizenship of Guinea it is the case of Petitioners, that the 2nd Respondent is not constitutionally permitted to acquire the citizenship of Guinea, in the circumstance of this petition. See Exhibit PBF4. It is submitted, that section 137 (i) (a) of the 1999 Constitution is made subject to section 28 of the same Constitution. The 32 said section 28, however relates to forfeiture of Nigeria citizenship by persons other than those who are citizens of Nigeria by birth. The subject of disqualification to contest an election under section 137 of the Constitution, is different from subject of forfeiture of citizenship of Nigeria under section 28 of the same Constitution. While section 137 (i) (a) of the Constitution deals with a prohibition or disqualification to contest election into public office of the President for those who have acquired citizenship of another country or those who have made declaration of allegiance to another country other than Nigeria. Section 28 (1) of the Constitution on the other hand, deals with citizens of Nigeria who acquired their citizenship by “registration” or “Naturalisation”, and subsequently acquired or retain the citizenship another country with the dare consequence of forfeiture of Nigeria citizenship which was acquired under section 26 or section 27 of the 1999 Constitution. The provisions of section 137(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) are very specific as a President of the Country as a symbol and embodiment of the Country cannot be allowed to declare allegiance to another Country, which is the implication of acquiring such country’s citizenship.
5.68 The general position of the law is encapsulated in the decision of the Supreme Court. In UCHE V ONWE & ORS (2011) LPELR – 8085 (SC) pages 48 – 49, where the Court held thus:
“Section 66(i) of the Constitution makes specific provisions for a person’s disqualification or nonqualification for election to the senate or the House of Representatives. These include the persons voluntary acquisition of the citizenship of a country other than Nigerian.”
5.69 It is therefore a misconception of law, to introduce or import into section 137 (i) (a) of the 1999 Constitution, matters that have to do with consequences that will befall a “naturalized” citizen or those who acquired citizenship through a process of Registration (under section 26 and 27 of the 1999 Constitution). No doubt, the intention of the framers of our Constitution in introducing the subsection (i) and (j) of section 137 of the 1999 Constitution is to tame the dangerous culture of presenting a forged certificate by those contesting for public office, (in the instant petition, the 2nd Respondent). The intention is to purify the polity and electoral process, by a deliberate corrective process exemplified by section 137(i) (j) of the 1999 Constitution.
5.70 The Petitioners through PW27 (Mike Enahoro – Elah) tendered and demonstrated in Court Exhibit PBD1 (Affidavit in support of particulars – form EC9) in which the 2nd Respondent represented through a certificate under his hand, not to have acquired the citizenship of another country. See Exhibits PBE1 to PBE6.
5.71 We respectfully urge the Honourable Court to discountenance the 2nd Respondent’s diversionary but deliberate misrepresentation and misapplication of evidence before the Court with respect to the unassailable evidence of PW27 as can be deduced in their paragraphs 22 – 27 of the Written Address as well as the purport of Exhibit XX1. On the Contrary, PW27 evidence before the Court was uncontroverted and same is reliable, having hinged his responsibility to the Court and the Nation Nigeria at large, as one founded on the provisions of Section 24 (b)& (e) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) as well as the Order 2 of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007.
5.72 Further, it is sad on the part of anyone to downplay the seriousness and legal implication of the provisions of Section 137 (1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) which deals with situation as this where 2nd Respondent voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a country other than Nigeria (Guinean Passport No: D00001551) and has made a declaration of allegiance to that said Country. As we know, the 2nd Respondent had the opportunity to state the truth in his Form EC-9, ‘PART B’ – PARAGRAPH A – PERSONAL PARTICULARS where the question of whether he had in the past voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a country other than Nigeria and had made declaration of allegiance to that said Country.
5.73 Also, a fundamental part of PW27 evidence before the Court is that the 2nd Respondent submitted forged certificate to INEC and therefore robs him of qualification to contest for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This piece of evidence remains unchallenged before this Honourable Court. The 2nd Respondent’s Counsel deliberately avoided raising that issue during cross examination and has also avoided commenting on same in his written address. This Honourable Court is respectfully urged to rely on this piece of uncontroverted evidence and act upon same.
5.74 All 2nd Respondent’s School Records tended before this Honourable Court through PW27, together with the original forwarding letter from the Registrar of Chicago State University, are products of a Subpoena in line with the Laws of Illinois, United States of America and same would have been admissible in a court of law in the USA. This practice is envisaged by our Law of Evidence and therefore presumed in favour of admitting such documents in Nigeria as would have been the case in the foreign country.
We commend the provisions of Section 149 of the Evidence Act, 2011, which reads: When any document is produced before any court purporting to be a document which by the law in force for the time being in any country other than Nigeria would be admissible in proof of any particular in any court of justice in that country, without proof of the seal or stamp or signature authenticating it, or of the judicial or official character claimed by the person by whom it purports to be signed, the court shall presume- (a) that such seal, stamp or signature, is genuine; and (b) that the person signing it held, at the time when he signed it, the judicial or official character which he claims, and the document shall be admissible for the same purpose for which it would be admissible in the country where the document is produced.” The misconception that the evidence of PW27 is questioning whether 2nd Respondent attended Chicago State University, is deliberate to mislead the Court.
5.75 Besides, the 2nd Respondent failed to explain the owner of the name ADEKUNLE on the NYSC certificate presented by him to the electoral body, and refused to cross-examine the PW 27 on that document which was duly certified by INEC. It is late in the day to do so.
5.76 On the above premise it is submitted that the 2nd Respondent stands disqualified for presenting forged certificate to the 1st Respondent. Permit us to repeat the immutable charge to Courts of law by S.D. Bage, JSC in the case of SALEH v. ABAH & ORS (2017) LPELR-41914(SC): “This Court must take the lead, in righting the wrongs in our society, if and when the opportunity presents itself as in this appeal. Allowing criminality and certificate forgery to continue to percolate into the streams, waters and oceans of our national polity would only mean our waters are and will remain dangerously contaminated. The purification efforts must start now, and be sustained as we seek, as a nation, to now ‘change’ from our old culture of reckless impunity. The Nigerian Constitution is supreme. It desires that no one who had ever presented forged certificate to INEC should contest election into Nigeria’s National Assembly.”
5.77 It may be added: How much more, to be allowed to become the President of the nation, Nigeria with over 200 million citizens!
5.78 It is submitted that this Honourable Court should once and for all resolve this lingering controversy trailing the 2nd Respondent, and not be impeded by any technical rule. The Honourable Court is urged to apply the provisions section 137(i) (j) of the Constitution against the 2nd Respondent in its undiluted form and resolve this issue in favour of Petitioners and proceed to effect the disqualification of the 2nd Respondent.
ISSUE NO. 4:
Whether the 1st Respondent was not wrong in returning the 2nd Respondent when he was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast in the election.
5.79 We humbly submit that the Petitioners’ complaint here is straighttforward.
The Petitioners complained in paragraphs 87, 88, 89, 90,91, 92, 93, 94,95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103 and 104 of their Petition that the election conducted by the 1st Respondent was characterised by massive suppression of votes of the Petitioners in several states, manipulation of ballots and ballot boxes, BVAS machines, accreditation and collation, Election Material Delivery and Election Material Reverse Logistics. They also complained that there were unprecedented Thumb-Printing of Ballot Papers, Destruction and hijack of electoral materials, mutilations, cancellations, inflations and deflations of Scores and Wrong Entries in result sheets among several other infractions.
5.80 The Petitioners’ witnesses gave compelling eye-witness accounts in their evidence-in-chief of the above wide spread corrupt practices and tendered certified true copies of Electoral Forms and a great deal of other documents. Witnesses called by the Petitioners in proof of their petition who led credible and uncontroverted evidence were duly cross examined by the counsel to the 2nd Respondent.
5.81 We contend that the 2nd Respondent during cross-examination was unable to discredit the evidence led and exhibits tendered by the Petitioners. Indeed, the 2nd Respondent failed to cross-examine the Petitioners’ witnesses on all material issues presented by their evidence before this Honourable Court. Further pieces of damning evidence were obtained pursuant to the order of this Honourable Court permitting forensic examination of Electoral Materials. Consequently, PW21 and PW26, Mr. Samuel Oduntan and Mr. Hitler Nwala, a certified statistician and a forensic expert examined some Electoral Materials and prepared their comprehensive reports which were tendered and admitted in evidence as Exhibits PAH1 and Exhibit PAR1 respectively. The Reports are detailed, self-explanatory and illustrative. They seriously flawed the integrity of the elections conducted by the 1st Respondent.
5.82 In SENATOR RASHIDI ADEWOLU LADOJA v. SENATOR ABIOLA ADEYEMI AJIMOBOBI & ORS (2016) LPELR-40658 (SC) it was held that it is only the opinion of a person specially, or professional skilled in the area that is admissible. Indeed the Court is not allowed to accommodate any other opinion except that of a skilled person and not that of any witness” without an iota of doubt PW 21 is from experience an expert in collating and reviewing electoral materials and results, his testimony and report in Exhibits PAH1, PAH2, PAH3 and PAH4 clearly shows the analysis of the Statisticians in consideration of the Exhibits he has reviewed to enable him to arrive at a detailed and comprehensive report, thus the Petitioners cannot be accused of dumping as preached by the 2nd Respondent. The Statisticians Report has successfully identified the cancellation, mutilations and invincible prints in the various forms to show that indeed the non-compliance substantially affected the results of the election.
5.83 It is respectfully submitted that the expertise and oral testimonies of PW21 and PW26 during their evidence-in-chief were not contradicted under cross-examination by the 2nd Respondent. The implication of the 2nd Respondent’s failure to seriously contradict Exhibits PAH1 and PAR1 by any other contrary evidence is that he is deemed to have accepted as undisputed and true the facts contained in the said Exhibits. In AMADI V. NWOSU (1992) 5 NWLR (PT. 241) 273 @ 284, the Supreme Court held thus:
“It is a settled principle of law that where an adversary or a witness called by him testified on a material fact in controversy in a case, the other party should if he does not accept the witness’s testimony as true, crossexamine him on the fact or at least show that he does not accept the evidence as true. Whereas in this case, he fails to do either, a court can take silence as an acceptance, that the party does not dispute the facts.”
5.84 The 2nd Respondent having failed to discredit the evidence of PW21 and PW26, vigorously, albeit erroneously, contended in paragraphs 6.21 to 6.23 of their written address that facts in support of the evidence of PW21 and PW26 are not pleaded. This is deliberate falsehood, with a lot of respect, as the averments in paragraphs 87 to 104 of the petition are unequivocal, unambiguous and very straightforward. It was further contended for the 2nd Respondent that PW21 was not the maker of the documents he examined. It is submitted that PW21 is a competent witness to tender and give evidence of the contents of Exhibit PAH1 because by virtue of Section 83(1) of the Evidence Act, he was involved in the examination and has personal knowledge of the contents of the report. The law is settled that where a team of two or more experts jointly undertake a project and produce a report, that report could be tendered by one of them in court proceedings. See SPDC V. ADAMKWE (2003) 11 NWLR (PT. 832) 532 @ 598, SPDC V. FARAH (1995) 3 NWLR (PT 382) 148 @ 191. It is respectfully submitted that the 2nd Respondent having failed to adduce any contrary evidence to contradict Exhibits PAH1 and PAR1, this Honourable Court is respectfully urged to accept, believe and act upon the same.
5.85 In MIA & SONS V. FHA (1991) 8 NWLR (PT. 209) SC 295 @ 331 PARAS. E-H, the Supreme Court held thus: “Where an expert is not contradicted… and his credibility remains untainted due to failure to elicit any evidence adverse to his opinion, that expert must be believed by the court.”
5.86 Similarly, in SPDC V. ISAIAH (1997) 6 NWLR (PT. 508) 236 @ 249-251, the Supreme Court again warned thus: “It could be risky for a court to simply ignore or waive aside an expert opinion as expressed by an expert in the field concerned… to reject an expert opinion as the court did, it needs to have very cogent reasons for doing so, that is, where there is contrary and reliable expert opinion on the same subject.”
5.87 Unfortunately, the 2nd Respondent at his own peril has not placed any such reasons or alternative expert report before this Honourable Court.
5.88 The 2nd Respondent also contended in his Written Address that Exhibit PAH1 relates to only a total of 30,345 Polling Units, while Exhibit PAR1 only covered a number of BVAS devices used in some polling units in the FCT, suggesting that the same are not substantial. It is submitted that substantial corrupt practices or non-compliance affecting the result of an election is not necessarily confined to their being wide spread, but can also effectively refer to situation where it occurred in only one particular area but the effect is so significant to the overall result of the election. See OPUTEH V. ISHIDA & ORS (1993) 3 NWLR (PT. 279) 34 @ 63, SORUNKE V. ODEBUNMI (1960) S.C.N.L.R 414.
5.89 The 2nd Respondent further appear to give the impression in his written address that the witnesses called by the Petitioners are not sufficient to prove the ground of corrupt practices or non-compliance in all the polling units complained of. Perhaps, this would have been tenable in the past.
However, the true and current position of the Electoral Law in Nigeria now is that a party who alleges corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 for the conduct of elections need not call oral evidence if the originals or certified true copies of election documents used in the conduct of the election manifestly discloses the infractions alleged. See Section 137 of the Electoral Act, 2022. A careful and dispassionate examination of all the exhibits tendered and supported by the uncontroverted Reports of PW21 and PW26 manifestly discloses large scale corrupt practices never before witnessed in Nigeria.
5.90 Very importantly, the 1st Respondent who conducted the election made an open admission in paragraph 18 of its Reply to the Petition, where it unequivocally stated thus:
“The 1st Respondent further avers that in compliance with extant laws and regulations, it diligently discharged its duties when it collated the 1st Petitioner’s scores at the Election which aggregates to 6,984,520 winning only 21 States to wit: Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Borno, Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.”
5.91 Indeed, as admitted by the 1st Respondent (INEC), the 1st Petitioner won in these 21 States. It is important to note that throughout the trial, the 1st Respondent neither refuted or countermanded this critical averment nor denied it. We urge your Lordship to hold that this constitutes an admission that requires no further proof. It also constitutes an admission against interest. We refer to the cases of DR. JEREMIAH O. ABALAKA v. PROF. IBIRONKE AKINSETE & ORS (2023) LPELR-60349(SC) and DR. SHETTIMA BUKAR ABBA v. ALHAJI MUSA ABBA AJI & ORS (2022) LPELR-56592(SC).
5.92 We therefore urge this Honourable Court to resolve the issue raised and argued above in favour of the Petitioners.
6.01 In conclusion, we humbly and respectfully urge the Honourable Court to resolve all the issues formulated for determination in favour of the Petitioners and thereupon grant the reliefs and/or alternative reliefs of the Petitioners contained in paragraph 150 of the Petition, for the reasons, inter alia:
(a). The Petitioners have proved that the return of the 2nd Respondent in the election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on 25th day of February 2023 was invalidated by reason of substantial non-compliance with the mandatory provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 on electronic transmission of results for collation and verification by deliberate bypass of and failure to transmit the election results electronically.
(b). The Petitioners have established that the return of the 2nd Respondent as the winner of the Presidential election held on 25th day of February 2023, was unlawful and unconstitutional, having not secured one-quarter of the valid votes cast in the FCT, Abuja as required by the Constitution of the Federal of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended).
(c). The Petitioners have established that the 2nd Respondent was clearly disqualified under the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) to contest the Presidential election held on 25th day of February 2023, having regard to order of criminal forfeiture on him arising from drug-related offence, his declaration of allegiance to a country other than Nigeria and acquisition of citizenship of another Country, and presenting a forged certificate to the 1st Respondent.
(d). The Petitioners have proved that 2nd Respondent was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast in the election.
(e). The Respondents proffered very scanty evidence in defence, and virtually abandoned their pleadings by not calling necessary witnesses, not having any credible defence to the Petition.
6.02 We submit with all sense of responsibility that this Nation and its Judiciary stand at the threshold of history. We submit that the fact that a presidential election has never been nullified by the Courts in Nigeria before now, is not a good reason not to do so now, as is very just to do. As was eloquently put by the celebrated Law Lord, Denning MR in the case of PACKER vs. PACKER (1954) AC P.15 AT 22:-
“What is the argument on the other side? Only this, that no case has been found in which it had been done before. That argument does not appeal to me in the least. If we never do anything which has not been done before we shall never act anywhere. The law will stand still whilst the rest of the world goes on and that will be bad for both.”
6.03 May our law and our country no more stand still, while the rest of the world goes on.
6.04 May it so please your noble Lordships.
DATED AT ABUJA THIS 20th DAY OF JULY 2023.
Chief Chris Uche, SAN ✓
Paul Usoro, SAN,
Eyitayo Jegede, SAN,
Prof. Mike Ozekhome, SAN,
Nella Andem-Rabana, SAN
Ken Mozia, SAN,
Dr. Garba Tetengi, SAN,
Mahmud Magaji, SAN,
Joe Abrahams, SAN,
Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN,
Prof. Maxwell Gidado, SAN,
Emeka Etiaba, SAN,
Gordy Uche, SAN,
Edward Ashiekaa, SAN,
A.K. Ajibade, SAN,
Abdul Ibrahim, SAN,
Paul Harris Ogbole, SAN,
Olusegun Jolaawo, SAN,
Nurueni Jimoh, SAN,
Kemasuode Wodu, SAN,
Andrew Malgwi, SAN,
Prof. Yusuf Dankofa,
M.S. Atolagbe Esq.,
O. A. Dada Esq.,
Abdulazeez O. Ibrahim Esq.,
Olabode Makinde Esq.,
Ahmed T. Uwais Esq.,
Abdulaziz E. Ibrahim Esq.,
Adedamola Fanokun Esq.,
Kanayo Okafor, Esq.,
Silas Joseph Onu, Esq.,
Dr. Daniel Bwala, Esq
Udzahu Medugu, Esq.,
Joy Etiaba Esq.,
Ime Edem-Nse Esq.,
Chiamaka Anagu Esq.,
Victor Iorshenge Esq.,
O. S. Maliki Esq.,
B.F Folorunsho Esq.,
Jacob O. Otokpa Esq.,
Genevieve A. Okereke Esq.,
Chukwudi Maduka Esq.,
Okechukwu Osuoha Esq.,
James Olotu Esq.,
Jude A. Daniel Esq.,
Queen U. I. Umana Esq.,
Olakunle Lawal Esq.,
Priscilla Ejeh Esq.,
Affis Matanmi Esq.,
Teinye T.S Akobo Esq.,
Abdulkaber Badmos Esq.,
Chinasa Amechi Esq.,
Ngozi Princess Dimkpa Esq.,
Francis Nsiegbunam Esq.,
Sule Asemokhai Esq.,
Abduljalil Musa Esq.,
Doughlas Ondor Esq.,
A.D Mohammed Esq.,
Falilat Olajumoke Olawoyin Esq.,
Nheoma Ndu Asobinuanwu Esq.,
Osilama Mike Ozekhome Esq.,
Hazeem Gbolarumi Esq.,
Chris Mike Uche Esq.,
John Odeh Esq.,
Oshomha Mike Ozekhome, Esq.,
David Nwokike Esq.,
Caleb Yakubu Esq.,
Agbodike Maureen Chikodo, Esq.,
Chiamaka Ilozue Esq.,
Joshua H. Barka Esq.,
James Omotosho Esq.,
Alhassan Ibraheem Mohammed Esq.
c/o Chief Chris Uche (SAN) & Co,
34 Kumasi Crescent,
N.I.N. of Signatory – 13063727966
FOR SERVICE ON:
C/o Its Counsel,
A. B. Mahmoud, OON, SAN, FCIArb,
Dikko & Mahmoud
No. 10 Seguela Street,
Wuse 11, Abuja.
C/o His Counsel,
Chief Wole Olanipekun, CFR, SAN, FCIArb,
Wole Olanipekun & Co.
God’s Grace House,
No. 6 Oshakati Close,
Off Constantine Street,
Wuse Zone 4,
C/o Its Counsel,
Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, FCIArb (UK),
Lateef O. Fagbemi & Co.
Rivers State Office Complex,
Opp. Federal Ministry of Finance,
LIST OF AUTHORITIES
Full Text of President Tinubu’s 63rd Independence Day Speech
63RD INDEPENDENCE DAY ANNIVERSARY SPEECH BY PRESIDENT BOLA AHMED TINUBU
October 1, 2023
“It is my unique honour to address you on this day, the 63rd anniversary of our nation’s independence, both as the President of our dear country and, simply, as a fellow Nigerian.
“On this solemn yet hopeful day, let us commend our founding fathers and mothers. Without them, there would be no modern Nigeria. From the fading embers of colonialism, their activism, dedication and leadership gave life to the belief in Nigeria as a sovereign and independent nation.
“Let us, at this very moment, affirm that, as Nigerians, we are all endowed with the sacred rights and individual gifts that God has bestowed on us as a nation and as human beings. No one is greater or lesser than the other. The triumphs that Nigeria has achieved shall define us.
The travails we have endured shall strengthen us. And no other nation or power on this earth shall keep us from our rightful place and destiny. This nation belongs to you, dear people. Love and cherish it as your very own.
“Nigeria is remarkable in its formation and essential character. We are a broad and dynamic blend of ethnic groups, religions, traditions and cultures. Yet, our bonds are intangible yet strong, invisible yet universal.
“We are joined by a common thirst for peace and progress, by the common dream of prosperity and harmony and by the unifying ideals of tolerance and justice.
“Forging a nation based on the fair application of these noble principles to a diverse population has been a task of significant blessing but also a serial challenge.
“Some people have said an independent Nigeria should never have come into existence. Some have said that our country would be torn apart. They are forever mistaken. Here, our nation stands, and here we shall remain.
“This year, we passed a significant milestone in our journey to a better Nigeria. By democratically electing a 7th consecutive civilian government, Nigeria has proven that commitment to democracy and the rule of law remains our guiding light.
“At my inauguration, I made important promises about how I would govern this great nation. Among those promises were pledges to reshape and modernize our economy and to secure the lives, liberty and property of the people.
“I said that bold reforms were necessary to place our nation on the path of prosperity and growth. On that occasion, I announced the end of the fuel subsidy. I am attuned to the hardships that have come. I have a heart that feels and eyes that see. I wish to explain to you why we must endure this trying moment.
“Those who sought to perpetuate the fuel subsidy and broken foreign exchange policies are people who would build their family mansion in the middle of a swamp.
“I am different. I am not a man to erect our national home on a foundation of mud. To endure, our home must be constructed on safe and pleasant ground.
“Reform may be painful, but it is what greatness and the future require. We now carry the costs of reaching a future in Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few. A Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever-fading past.
“There is no joy in seeing the people of this nation shoulder burdens that should have been shed years ago. I wish today’s difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to reach the good side of our future.
“My government is doing all that it can to ease the load. I will now outline the path we are taking to relieve the stress on our families and households.
“We have embarked on several public sector reforms to stabilize the economy, direct fiscal and monetary policy to fight inflation, encourage production, ensure the security of lives and property and lend more support to the poor and the vulnerable.
“Based on our talks with labour, business and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage increment to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation. For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional Twenty-Five Thousand naira per month.
“To ensure better grassroots development, we set up an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas. States have already received funds to provide relief packages against the impact of rising food and other prices.
“Making the economy more robust by lowering transport costs will be key. In this regard, we have opened a new chapter in public transportation through the deployment of cheaper, safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses across the nation. These buses will operate at a fraction of current fuel prices, positively affecting transport fares.
“New CNG conversion kits will start coming in very soon as all hands are on deck to fast track the usually lengthy procurement process. We are also setting up training facilities and workshops across the nation to train and provide new opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs.
“This is a groundbreaking moment where, as a nation, we embrace more efficient means to power our economy. In making this change, we also make history.
“I pledged a thorough housecleaning of the den of malfeasance the CBN had become. That housecleaning is well underway. A new leadership for the Central Bank has been constituted. Also, my special investigator will soon present his findings on past lapses and how to prevent similar reoccurrences. Henceforth, monetary policy shall be for the benefit of all and not the exclusive province of the powerful and wealthy.
“Wise tax policy is essential to economic fairness and development. I have inaugurated a Committee on Tax Reforms to improve the efficiency of tax administration in the country and address fiscal policies that are unfair or hinder the business environment and slow our growth.
“To boost employment and urban incomes, we are providing investment funding for enterprises with great potential. Similarly, we are increasing investment in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
“Commencing this month, the social safety net is being extended through the expansion of cash transfer programs to an additional 15 million vulnerable households.
“My administration shall always accord the highest priority to the safety of the people. Inter-Service collaboration and intelligence sharing have been enhanced. Our Service Chiefs have been tasked with the vital responsibility of rebuilding the capacities of our security services.
“Here, I salute and commend our gallant security forces for keeping us safe and securing our territorial integrity. Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We remember them today and their families. We shall equip our forces with the ways and means needed to perform their urgent task on behalf of the people,
“We shall continue to make key appointments in line with the provisions of the Constitution and with fairness toward all. Women, Youth and the physically challenged shall continue to be given due regard in these appointments.
“May I take this opportunity to congratulate the National Assembly for its role in the quick take-off of this administration through the performance of its constitutional duties of confirmation and oversight.
“I similarly congratulate the judiciary as a pillar of democracy and fairness.
“I also thank members of our dynamic civil society organizations and labour unions for their dedication to Nigerian democracy. We may not always agree but I value your advice and recommendations. You are my brothers and sisters and you have my due respect.
“Fellow compatriots, the journey ahead will not be navigated by fear or hatred. We can only achieve a better Nigeria through courage, compassion and commitment as one indivisible unit.
“I promise that I shall remain committed and serve faithfully. I also invite all to join this enterprise to remake our beloved nation into its better self. We can do it. We must do it. We shall do it.!!!
“I wish you all a happy 63rd Independence Anniversary. Thank you for listening. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Godwin Emefiele: The Endless Search for Justice
By Eric Elezuo
After the long drawn brouhaha of arrest, detention and dragging to court, the suspended and later sacked Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, was on July 25, 2023, granted bail in the sum of N20 million with one surety in like sum by the Federal High Court in Lagos State.
He was granted bail after pleading not guilty to the two counts bordering on the alleged illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. It was believed that the search for justice was coming to an end, but that was not to be.
Emefiele was facing two counts of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition preferred against him by the Federal Ministry of Justice before the vacation judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo.
The Ministry of Justice was prosecuting him on charges of possessing a single-barrelled shotgun (JOJEFF MAGNUM 8371) without a licence. He was also accused of illegally possessing 23 rounds of live ammunition (cartridges) without a licence, offences committed the offences on June 15, 2023, at No. 3b Iru Close, Ikoyi area of Lagos.
But rather than releasing the embattled former governor, the Department of State Services (DSS) physically fought the Correction Centre officials to retain him as their prisoner.
A few days latter, the Federal Government applied to withdraw the ‘illegal possession of firearms’ case it filed against Emefiele, at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mohammed Abubakar told Justice Nicholas Oweibo that the application followed the result of further investigations made by the government.
Justice Oweibo adjourned till Thursday, August 17, 2023 to rule on the application. The DPP told Nigerians after the proceedings that a fresh 20 counts has been filed at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court against the then suspended CBN governor.
He said one of the charges proffered against Emefiele is that of “conferring unlawful advantages” making Nigerians wonder if there are no underground currents to denied the embattled Emefiele of justice even as four months has come and gone since he was removed from office and incarcerated.
Matters took a different turn as since the adjournment of the case, it has not been heard. On August 17, the case was stalled, and moved to August 23. Again, it was stalled.
The matter was not listed on the cause list of a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja on the day with no reason given as lawyers to both parties were absent in court.
The embattled defendant, who appeared before the court on August 17, was supposed to be arraigned but the arraignment was stalled as a result of the absence of the second defendant who was said to have been indisposed.
Although Emefiele (the first defendant) was present in court, the second defendant, a female CBN employee, Sa’adatu Yaro, was not in court prompting the Presiding Judge, Justice Hamza Muazu adjourned the matter to August 23, 2023.
Frustrated by the back and forth attitude of the DSS towards his release, Emefiele had sued the secret Police at the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja, challenging his detention.
In his originating motion on notice, Emefiele prayed for the court to enforce his right to liberty and freedom of movement, as there is no basis for his continuous detention.
However, the Attorney General of the Federation as well as the DSS have insisted that the detention of the suspended CBN Governor is lawful.
In a preliminary objection filed against the fundamental rights enforcement suit instituted by Emefiele, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the DSS told the Federal Capital Territory High Court that the detention was backed by the order of a magistrates’ court and prayed for the court to dismiss the motion with cost.
They noted that the arrest of the former CBN governor was an administrative decision of the DSS.
The AGF is also challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit, as the originating motion filed by Mr. Emefiele ought to have sought that the court set aside the order for his detention rather than seek enforcement of rights.
An appointee of former President Goodluck Jonathan after Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s tenure was cut short in 2015, Emefiele, was retained by Buhari, and began his second term in office in May 2019 after his reappointment, and confirmation by the Senate. He was thereafter sworn in by the Bank’s Secretary and Director, Corporate Secretariat Department, Mrs Alice Karau, according to a statement by the Director Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okoroafor.
On resumption of office for his second term, Emefiele expressed high hopes, dsiclosing that he will unfold a new roadmap for the Bank and the economy, in the days ahead, after consultations with critical stakeholder groups, and reiterated the bank’s focus to play an active role in supporting job and wealth creation in Nigeria.
In his words: “We must strengthen our efforts over the coming years to stimulate growth and job creation in critical sectors of the economy, which will help insulate our economy from shocks in the global economy.
“We must also work to build a healthy and stable financial system that will contribute to the growth of our economy while preserving price stability”.
Emefiele went ahead to unveil his economic blueprint for the country, promising to recapitalise banks within the next five years to make them contribute significantly to economic growth, promising that during his next five years, which will elapse in 2024, he would pursue an economic agenda that would make the economy grow by double digits through targeted programmes that would boost output, and work with Deposit Money Banks to boost credit to the real sector as well as the creative and education sector. In addition, he said the apex bank will increase its support to farmers in order to bring down the rate of inflation.
However, events began to take a dramatic turn as the matters of the naira showed the traces of a currency given inadequate attention with plummeting agenda against other currencies of the world, coupled with the advent of the electioneering season, which categorically sort of distracted the CBN governor with his overtly ambitions trend to become president, even without resigning his appointment as a public servant.
Earlier, the CBN governor was laced in a scandal following a leaked tape, where he and other senior bank officials were heard discussing discrepancies in the bank’s accounts, addressing a stolen money from the bank’s coffers. Though the tape was audible enough declaring the anxiety in the bank at the time, the authorities promptly denied the development, saying the tape was misquoted out of context, and distorted
Again, the Director, Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okoroafor, was on hand to veil the authenticity of the allegation saying said that no money was missing or stolen from the bank’s coffers as reported in some section of the media. He said that the audio was distorted in a manner which creates a different impression of the matter being discussed, which was to proffer solutions to a misunderstanding that affected the Bank’s balance sheet.
Though the bank threatened to ‘pursue every legal means to bring the perpetrators to justice’, nothing was heard of the matter till date.
Identity Saga: Tinubu Pleads with Court to Release Only His Certificate, Not Academic Details
President Bola Tinubu has reluctantly allowed a federal judge in the United States to give his university certificate to his political opponent Atiku Abubakar.
But the Nigerian leader pleaded with Judge Nancy Maldonado to block all other details, especially the gender, and admission records, among others, of the person who owns the certificate from being disclosed.
Mr Tinubu’s prayers on Monday morning came as part of the ongoing legal battle unfolding at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.
The case was brought by Mr Abubakar, who has been on a judicial quest to establish that Mr Tinubu was not eligible to be Nigerian president despite his election in February 2023.
He won the election by 36 per cent of the vote after Mr Abubakar and Peter Obi, who was his running mate in the 2019 election, fell out, subsequently dividing their potential votes into at least two parts, paving the way for Mr Tinubu’s victory with the slimmest margin in Nigerian presidential election history.
Mr Tinubu’s acceptance that his certificate could be released came after he narrowly escaped full disclosure on September 21 by pleading severe harm to his life in order to obtain a stay of a magistrate judge’s order on September 19.
“There is harm in allowing discovery on issues and documents outside the diploma,” Mr Tinubu’s lawyers said in their full briefing to the court seeking a review of Judge Jeffrey Gilbert’s order by Ms Maldonado, a district judge.
The identity of who was admitted into Chicago State University in the 1970s has been a hot issue after college transcripts emerged that indicated the school admitted a female Bola Tinubu from Southwest College Chicago in 1977.
Source: People’s Gazette
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