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Atiku: EU’s report read in open court, admitted as evidence, as panel disregards Tinubu’s protest



Members of the panel of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), on Monday, brushed aside the protests by President Bola Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC), to admit in evidence, the final report of the European Union Observation Mission (EUOM), which impugned the outcome of the 2023 general elections.

Vanguard reports that the verdict of the world body was tendered before the court by candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who alleged that the presidential election that held on February 25, was manipulated to favour President Tinubu and the ruling APC.

In a joint petition he filed alongside his party, Atiku, alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), installed a third-party device that intercepted and allocated votes to Tinubu.

Even though INEC had in its reply to the petition, denied the allegation, however, at the resumed proceedings of the court on Monday, the Deputy Director of ICT at the Commission, Mr. Lawrence Bayode, mounted the witness box to defend the outcome of the presidential poll.

Bayode, in a bid to puncture Atiku’s claim that Tinubu’s running mate was nominated for two elective positions, produced four documentary exhibits, among which included a letter dated July 6, 2022, which the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, wrote to INEC to notify it of his decision to withdraw as candidate of the APC for the Borno Central Senatorial election.

Led in evidence by INEC’s lead counsel, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, the witness, tendered the letter and its accompanying certification, which was admitted in evidence and marked as Exhibits RA-1 and RA-2.

While being cross-examined by President Tinubu’s lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), the witness, maintained that the presidential election was “free, fair, credible and conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act.”

“Recordings on INEC’s Form EC8A (polling unit results) forms basis for any election result and data or internet is required for Form EC8A captured by the BVAS machines to be uploaded,” the witness added.

He told the court that images captured by the BVAS, whether transmitted manually or electronically, would not affect the integrity of an election.

“In practical terms, election is completed at the polling unit level when the officer conducts, announces results and record the result on the Form EC8A,” Bayode told the court. Also answering questions from APC’s lawyer, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the witness admitted that though the electoral body experienced a technical glitch on the day the presidential poll held, he, however, insisted that it did not affect the actual scores of all the presidential candidates, which he said remained intact.

He further told the court that results of the presidential election was not electronically collated, saying it was done manually.

“INEC does not have an electronic collation system,” he stated, adding that Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu had two days before the presidential poll was held, announced that electronic transmission of results of the election would not be feasible.

Fagbemi (SAN) tendered a copy of Tribune Newspaper of February 23, 2023, where the INEC Chairman was reported to have waved aside the possibility of real-time transmission of results of the presidential election.

Though Atiku’s lawyer, Uche, SAN, opposed the admissibility of the page containing the said news item from the INEC boss, he urged the court to admit the front page of the newspaper with a banner headline that read: “Atiku, a man whose time has come.”

The certified copy of the Newspaper was subsequently admitted in evidence and marked as Exhibit RA-5.

When it was his turn to cross-examine the witness, Atiku’s lawyer, Uche, SAN, asked him to confirm before the court, if the EU Observation Mission was accredited by INEC to monitor the 2023 general elections.

After the witness told the court that the EU team was duly accredited to monitor the elections, he was asked if he was aware that EU released its final report on the 2023 general elections.

The INEC’s witness told the court that though he was aware of that EU recently released a report on the elections, he said he had not seen it.

When he was shown a certified copy of the report and asked to read from a portion of it, both President and the APC, through their respective lawyers, raised objections.

However, notwithstanding the objections, the panel admitted the report in evidence and marked it as Exhibit RA-6.

Following a request by counsel to the Petitioners, the witness, read in the open court, a paragraph in the report, where EU stated that the 2023 election was not “a transparent and inclusive election” as promised by the INEC.

He also read a portion in the report that stated that “only 31% of results uploaded in I-REV was formally or mathematically correct.”

The witness, however, maintained that technological innovations that INEC introduced into the electoral process was to guarantee transparency and integrity of the results.

He admitted that both the National Assembly and the Presidential election were conducted on the same day and with the same BVAS machines.

The witness told the court that it was wrong for the Petitioners to claim that because of system failure, all the results of the presidential election were not electronically transmitted.

“Some of the results were uploaded on the IReV portal on the day of the presidential election, but not all of them. As of March 1 when a winner was declared, not all of the results were uploaded to the IReV portal,” the witness added.

Asked if INEC filed any formal complaint to Amazon Web Services, AWS, over glitches experienced during the presidential election, the witness, said: “We did not need to file a report to Amazon over the technical glitch and we did not need to do that. I supervised the configuration of the system that was used for the election.”

Asked if the system INEC deployed for the presidential election, had in-built mechanism for distinguishing between the Presidential and NASS election, the witness answered in the negative.

“There is no human interference. The system is configured in a way that you click a button to upload result of particular election,” he told the court.

Shortly after the witness was discharged from the box, INEC’s lawyer, Mahmoud, SAN, told the court that his client would not call any other witness in the matter.

Consequently, counsel to President Tinubu and Vice-President Shettima, Chief Olanipekun, SAN, announced that his clients would open their own defence on Tuesday.

It will be recalled that Atiku, who came second in the presidential contest, closed his case after he called a total of 27 out of 100 witnesses he scheduled to testify in the matter.

He is among other things, praying the court to withdraw the Certificate of Return that was issued to President Tinubu by INEC.

Atiku and his party contended that President Tinubu “demonstrated inconsistency as to his actual date of birth, secondary schools he attended (Government College Ibadan); his State of origin, gender, actual name; certificates evidencing Universities attended (Chicago State University).”

According to the petitioners: “The 2nd Respondent did not disclose to the 1st Respondent (INEC) his voluntary acquisition of the citizenship of Republic of Guinea with Guinean Passport No. D00001551, in addition to his Nigerian citizenship. The 2nd Respondent is hereby given notice to produce the original copies of his said two passports,” they added.

The petitioners equally challenged Tinubu’s eligibility to contest the presidential election, alleging that he was previously indicted and fined the sum of $460,000.00 by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in Case No: 93C 4483, for an offence involving dishonesty and drug trafficking.

All the Respondents had in their replies, urged the court to dismiss the petition which they maintained was bereft of merit.


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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