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Presidential elections: INEC can’t change the rules, not uploading election results fatal – Aondoakaa



“Non-transmission of results is a problem because INEC rules have constitutional flavour. If you make rules, you must follow it. And there is a Supreme Court decision that says that INEC is duty bound to obey their own guidelines and if they don’t it is a violation of the electoral act and the constitution.”

These were the exact words of Michael Aondoakaa, former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF-MoJ), on Tuesday, as he weighed in on the current political situation in the country, particularly the outcome of the 2023 general election and the ongoing challenges instituted in court following the hiccups that trailed the outcome.

Aondoakaa bemoaned a situation where petitioners usually abandoned challenging the processes, procedures and guidelines that led to the elections, in preference to the results alone, saying that this had not been helpful adding that those who perpetrated electoral infractions must be punished alongside cancellation of such elections as a deterrent.

The former Minister, who was a guest of The Morning Show, a breakfast programme on Arise Television on Tuesday, said: “Our attitude has always been to scrutinise the outcome of the result. This person scored this number and that person scored this and therefore the infractions that occurres are targeted on the result – who has the majority. But the main corruption that occurs in an electoral process is the refusal to follow the procedures that leads to that result.

“Nobody will complain of an election if the procedure leading to that result that produced the winner is followed. Nobody will complain. If you see all the complaints, it is that the procedure that is supposed to follow like this, is not done. All the election cases, the complaint may not be about the overall result. But if you go to court the target is prove whether this overall result is correct or not forgetting that the main corruption is within the foundation upon which those results occur.

“An opportunity has come for the court to give a direct interpretation of that and, which is inbetween the two-thirds of the federation and the the Federal Capital. If they say it is conjunctive, it means that it is otherwise. But apart from this two rules, there is also the mischief rule with which the court can override what I’m saying and try to look at what is the purpose of what is going to happen, what is the mischief. The Supreme Court is a court of policy and law. So, they may decide to look at other things differently.

“The emphasis from us lawyers has been the way we present our petitions and the judges cannot go out of their way from what is presented to them. In most cases we go to court and we say at the conclusion, declare us the winner because we won majority of lawful votes. Basically the judge will not concern himself with the lawful votes and who has the majority of the lawful votes.

“We have not said nullify elections on the grounds that the procedure has not been followed to give the court an opportunity to say, look, you said this has to be done before an election could be said to be credible. You have not done so and so we nullify the election on that score. Most of the petitioners and us, our desire is to be declared the winner. And what we canvass in the court is what the court gives us. We lawyers, sometimes we fear to attack the procedure, because if we do that, we also will not be declared the winner and the election will have to be done afresh.

“But, the procedure is more important than the result or as important as the result because a corrupt procedure has already corrupted the electoral process and then violates the constitution because there cannot be a free and fair election otherwise. For instance, if INEC says, if I finish my election at the polling booth I’ll declare my result there and transmit the result first, then I’ll take the results to the collation centre and INEC does not do that, has it followed the procedure?

“These are the way we have to clean the system, because we cannot build a house without a foundation. Take the issue of Adamawa. Look at how the procedure was about to be violated and look how they had come back and do the right thing. But the initial move was I don’t care. Once I announce the results let them go to court.

“This is the time we should lay a solid foundation in this country. Look at the procedure. The Supreme Court has said in several cases that if there is a procedure of doing something and you deviate from that procedure, the end result should be vitiated. If there is a procedure to conducting an election and suddenly it is deviated from, don’t you think that it is important for us as lawyers to attack these procedures and make sure the right thing to be done.

“I thought we should not be in a haste to say let us do everything and finish before May 29. I said, let us invite the court to say let us look at these procedures and give us a verdict whether these procedures have substantially affected the results of these elections. Let us hear what the court will say. If they say it has substantially affected the results, then next time people will not do it.

“By common sense, there could be unforeseen circumstances, which if it happens, you tell the people what happened. But you keep silent, it is only the court that will interpret why you kept everyone in darkness. That is why everybody. INEC regulation said clearly that you vote, results will be announced, and copies will be scanned, sent to the BVAS, sent to the IReV, and then it is after you do that the results will be taken for collation.

“These are the condition precedent to take the results to the collation centre. I read the regulation and it used Shall, which means one condition is certain, you must send the results to the electronic portal before the result is announced. That was my opinion when I saw the Shall. That goes to the constitution. Does this regulation fit into the laws that can be obeyed and if they’re violated, it does not matter?

“Before now, the court said INEC’s regulations, guidelines and even circulars have constitutional flavour. They flow direct from the constitution and violation of those guidelines and rules is a violation of the constitution. And the court went further to say INEC staff are bound by the guidelines and regulations. I don’t know what the courts will say now. It is INEC which will tell the court why they made guidelines and deviated from it. Then the Supreme Court will look at their previous decisions that said INEC staff ought to follow their guidelines”

Aondoakaa, rebuffed the argument for more regulations and reforms of electoral laws, stating that the laws had been tampered with too frequently, and that instead, the focus should be on punishment for those who chose to break the laws, such as were experienced in the last elections.

“These are human problems. It is the punishment given to those actors that will create a deterrence. The laws are fair enough for a person who wishes to do the right thing. But a person with an evil mind, who is bent on violating the law, like the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Adamawa, who damned the consequences, the only deterrence is punishment, severe punishment. If say you’ll change the method and you bring any other method, that kind of deviant person, plays that role, will you change again. The law will have to take its course. The man will go to jail and no other electoral officer will do that kind of thing.”

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Imo massacre: Armoured vehicles procured for police used to rig elections – LP



Labour Party, palpably in anguish at the slaughter of eight soldiers in Imo State on Tuesday by some rampaging gunmen, has raised questions over the whereabouts of the nine Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) Athan Achonu, it claimed its governorship candidate for the November 11 election, repaired and donated to the authorities in the state.

The party, all but called out the leadership of the Imo State Police Command, to whom they claimed the equipment were handed over, alleging that the last time they APCs were seen was during the last general elections, where they were used by members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party in power in the state to snatch ballot boxes for candidates in the national and state assemblies.

The claim, was made when Nick Opara-Ndudu  and Nnaemeka Onyeka Obiareri , chieftains of the party appeared as guests on The Morning Show, a breakfast programme on Arise Television to sell the candidacy of Achonu, whom they said would never have allowed the type of insecurity in the state to endure under his watch.

Both men, who said that Achonu, whose highest political office so far, was his short stint in the Senate, where he served via the 2015 election before he was removed through the courts, remained the only solution not to the insecurity, in the state and even the South East,  but the one to rescue the people from years of underdevelopment from poor leadership.

Obiareri, spokesman of the LP in the state, argued that if the APCs had been in place, Tuesday’s incident in which the military men were killed alongside some policemen and officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), would probably not have happened, said a check on the social media would reveal how they were used by party men of the APC for rigging the 2023 general elections.

He said: “The military men that were killed if they had armoured vehicles patrolling, they wouldn’t have been shot by those criminals. Athan Achonu, go and confirm from Innoson, paid hundreds of millions of naira to Innoson, Innoson is still alive, you people can still go and interview him, to repair nine armoured vehicles for the police. Five were supposed to be in Okigwe zone. Till today, we don’t know where those nine armoured cars are.

“If you go to Youtube, you’ll see Youtube record of members of the House of Assembly in Imo State using those APCs to carry ballot boxes. It’s there on Youtube, you can search it out. What Athan Achonu will do is very simple. Every local government area will have one humvy vehicle for the police. Police stations had been totally burnt in Imo State and Athan repaired most of those police stations.

“Then, there will be community vigilante. We’ll train those 50 youths per community – train them, equip them and arm them. They should guard their communities. When you have over 50,000 hectres of land, reclaimed from the bandits, and you have youths who are not only just farming, but who are trained to protect their communities, they’ll do the job.

“Then, we have to set up a security trust fund. Ndi-Imo are not scared. As at today, there are some communities in Imo State, where bandits – unknown gunmen, are ransacking and collecting levies from the communities. Basically, Athan Achonu will provide training, recruitment for people donated by the communities. Communities know those who are the terrible ones in their midst. And I tell you, in six months, they will flush them out.”

Opara-Ndudu, who dismissed the claim by the state governor, Hope Uzodimma that the carnage and other killings in the state were politically-motivated, blamed the governor for misplacing his priorities and failing to provide jobs for the teeming youth population in the state, questioning why nobody had been arrested and prosecuted fully in the courts if the insecurity in the state was all about politics.

Hear him: “The security problem has to do with objective conditions in the state. The young people are frustrated. The government is not making any investments in the areas that are required. We’re busy pursuing projects that are designs in deception. Look at the roads that are being done in Imo State, you know for you to deal with the problem of poverty and other economic challenges, you have to deal with the problem of infrastructure.

“In Imo State, the government has dedicated all of its time and half of its time to reconstructing federal roads without any attention – little or no attention paid to the rural areas. If you go to length and breadth of Imo State – Ngor Okpala, Ezinifte Mbaise, even in the governor’s local government – everywhere in Imo State, you find that the rural areas are looking desolate and abandoned.”

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Police find body of missing female student dumped in the bush, vow to get killers



Operatives of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), command, have vowed to fish out the killers of a university student, Blessing Karami, whose body was said to have been picked up from the bush days after she was declared missing on September 11.

The FCT police, which released the painful news on Thursday, said in a statement by its spokesman, Josephine Adeh that the remains were found in the woods in the Karimu area of the city.

The police spokesman acknowledged that her disappearance was reported to the police authorities last,  Thursday, September 14 added that 26-year-old Blessing, a student of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), was declared missing after leaving her place of work in Garki, Abuja.

She said in the statement: “The body of Blessing Karami Moses, a 26-year-old woman who had been missing since September 11, 2023, was tragically discovered in a wooded area in Karimo. Her disappearance was reported to the authorities on September 14, 2023,” the statement read.

She said Commissioner of Police, FCT, Haruna Garba, had directed that command should conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident, adding: “While we are working closely with the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) to facilitate the respectful retrieval of the decomposed remains acknowledging the sensitive nature of this task, we will continue to provide updates to the public as our investigation progresses.”

Adeh, a Superintendent of Police (SP), also commiserated with Blessing’s family and loved ones over the incident.

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Ogun cult massacre: DSS raid home, pick up PDP lawmaker, five others



Damilare Bello Mohammed, a serving member of the Ogun State House of Assembly (OGHA), is currently telling operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) his side of the story, after he was picked up over his alleged involvement in the rival secret cult clashes that occurred in Sagamu town.

Mohammed, recently elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to represent Sagamu State Constituency 1, was picked up on Wednesday by the agency over the incident in which at least eight persons were killed last weekend during the violent clash in the town, alongside five other suspected cultists allegedly involved in the cult violence.

The five other suspects; Debbo Animashaun, Bamidele Saheed, Ismaila Onitire, Adewale Otesanya and Tobi Owoade, were arrested by the DSS operatives during a sting operation after a tip-off at the early hours of Thursday within the residence of the lawmaker.

Lekan Adeniran, spokesman to Dapo Abiodun, the Ogun State governor, announced the development in a statement on Wednesday, saying the secret police tracked the six suspected cultists to the official residence of the lawmaker.

Accusing the lawmaker of providing shelter to the cultists, Adeniran, said in the statement, that the suspects were presently undergoing interrogation in DSS custody after many dangerous weapons, including guns, were recovered from them.

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