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Court rules on Atiku’s preliminary objection to Keyamo suit June 5



The Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice James Omotosho will on June 5, 2023 rule on an preliminary objection filed by Atiku Abubakar challenging the suit brought by Festus Keyamo seeking to compel Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission ICPC to investigate and prosecute him over alleged fraud.

Justice Omotosho adjourned for ruling, the preliminary objection filed by Prof. Mike Ozekhome, SAN, on behalf of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to the Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/84/2023.

Atiku had through his counsel, Prof. Ozekhome, raised a preliminary objection to the suit to the effect that Keyamo lacks locus standi to file the suit, having not disclosed what he has suffered above other members of the public, especially as he filed the suit as a public officer using his public position.

He said the Plaintiff had not disclosed any wrong done to him by Atiku, or what damage he had suffered, describing him as a busy body and meddlesome interloper. Atiku also argued that the suit disclosed no reasonable cause of action.

Atiku had, in the Preliminary Objection, urged the court to dismiss Keyamo’s suit which accused him of using an SPV to corruptly enrich himself while he was Vice President of Nigeria, as purportedly revealed in an affidavit allegedly deposed to by one Michael Achimugu. The allegation had led Keyamo to write to the EFCC, CCB and ICPC to investigate and prosecute Atiku. In addition, Keyamo filed the suit urging the court to direct the anti-graft agencies to prosecute Atiku as a public duty.

Atiku also argued through Ozekhome that the Plaintiff’s suit is incompetent having been filed without leave of the court being first sought and granted on a matter for judicial review, seeking an order of mandamus to compel public officers to perform their statutory duties.

He also argued that the Plaintiff’s suit constitutes a gross abuse of office, the Plaintiff being a public officer occupying a public office and using public funds to bring an action against a private individual to confer a private gain on himself and his political party.

Atiku also urged the court to dismiss and/or strike out the suit for not being initiated by due process of law; and the proper parties not being before the court, as the Attorney-General of the Federation who is the Chief Law Officer of the Federation vested with the prosecutorial powers of the Federation by the 1999 Constitution was not joined as a party to the suit. Ozekhome also urged the court to dismiss the case because it was statute-barred under the Public Officers Protection Act, LFN, 2004, as complaints involved allegedly took place between 1999 and 2007 when he was the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and while he acted in his capacity as a public officer.

The entire suit, Ozekhome also contended, was instituted in bad faith; constitutes an abuse of court process; and is frivolous and vexatious; and therefore constitutes a waste of the precious time of the court and the parties.

The EFCC in its preliminary objection, filed through its counsel, Samuel Okeleke Esq, also aligned with the argument of Atiku, that the case of the Plaintiff was for judicial review, yet he failed to seek the leave of court before filing same. ICPC on its own part contended in its preliminary objection filed by its counsel, O.B Odogbu Esq, that the acts complained about by the Plaintiff were done before the establishment Act of the Commission came into effect.

When the case came up for hearing before Justice Omotosho on 3rd May, 2023, Benson Igbanoi, Esq, holding Prof. Ozekhome’s brief and leading Okueyelegbe Sylvanus Maliki and others for Atiku, informed the court that the Plaintiff did not file any response to Atiku’s Preliminary Objection which was served on him since the 20th of February 2023 contrary to order 26 rule 4 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2019, which provides that the Plaintiff shall respond to Atiku’s objection within seven (7) days from the said 20th February, 2023, when same was served on him.

He urged the court to take the Preliminary Objection as unchallenged and strike out and or dismiss the case of the Plaintiff as the purported counter affidavit filed by the Plaintiff was incompetent.

However, the Plaintiff through his counsel, O.C. Uju Azu, Esq. responded that by the provisions of order 29 Rule 4 of the rules of the court, his time to respond to the objection of Atiku only started running from the time the Originating Process was served on him personally.

The court however wondered whether there was any rule of court that supports this argument, that a party cannot file a preliminary objection when he has knowledge of a suit against him before he is personally served the processes.

The court after hearing argument on this, reserved ruling to the 5th of June, 2023, on the competence or otherwise of the counter affidavit of Keyamo to the Preliminary Objection of Atiku which was filed belatedly without leave of court, till the time when a composite ruling shall be delivered on all the Preliminary Objections filed by parties.

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BVAS fails to transmit Presidential election results, INEC’s ad-hoc staff tells Court




The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) deployed for February 25 general election failed to transmit the results of the Presidential election, two INEC’s ad-hoc staff told Presidential Election Petition Court.

Mr. Friday Egwuma and Grace Timothy the two ad-hoc staff who served as Presiding officers in polling units in Abia State and Plateau State told the court on Thursday that presidential election results were not transmitted from polling Units after the results were recorded, snapped, and entered,

Both of them testified under subpoena as Atiku witnesses. They further told the court that the BVAS machine allocated to them developed a system error immediately after the results of the Senate and House of Representatives held same time and venue were transmitted.

In their subpoena evidence, the two workers of the electoral body explained that they had to resort to other means of getting the results through when it became clear that the BVAS machines would not help them.

Egwuma was a Presiding Officer in a polling unit in Abia State while Grace Timothy served INEC in Plateau State.

Apart from the failure of the BVAS machines to transmit the presidential election results, the two witnesses admitted that voting went smoothly in their respective places of work.

They were led in evidence by Atiku’s lead counsel Chief Chris Uche, SAN. However
under cross-examination by Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud SAN who stood for the electoral body, Egwuma explained that he resorted to the offline system in place of the BVAS machines.

In her own, Grace Timothy told the Court that the greatest challenge she experienced during the election was the uploading of the presidential election results into the I- rev portal.

The witnesses were also cross-examined by Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN who stood for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN who represented the All Progressives Congress APC.

Early yesterday, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Bola Tinubu, and APC had vehemently kicked against the bid by Atiku to have the INEC ad-hoc staff testify in the petition challenging the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the 2023 presidential election.

Tinubu’s lead counsel Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN objected to the tendering of statement on oath of the witnesses at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in aid of Atiku’s petition.

The respondent argued that the statements of the ad-hoc staff were not front-loaded at the time of filing their petition

He asked the Court to reject the witnesses and discountenance their statements on the grounds that they violated the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.

Tinubu’s arguments against the subpoenaed witnesses were adopted by Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN who stood for the APC and Abubakar Mahmoud SAN who appeared for INEC.

Atiku’s lead counsel, Chris Uche SAN asked the Court to dismiss the objections on the grounds that they were utterly misplaced and misconceived.

Uche argued that the objections by Tinubu, APC, and INEC were deliberate ploy designed to delay proceedings.

The senior lawyer insisted that the statements of the subpoenaed witnesses could not have been front-loaded along with the petition because they have not been summoned at the time of filing the petition.

He asked the Court to discountenance the objections of the three respondents and hold that they are not regular or additional witnesses envisaged in the law cited by Olanipekun. The council said that it would be a denial of a fair hearing to bar a witness under subpoena from testifying when the respondents have the right to cross-examine the witness.

The presiding Justice Tsammani stood down the matter for a ruling but on resumption, Justice Tsammani announced that ruling in the objections had been reserved till the judgment date.

The court directed the petitioner’s lawyer to proceed with his subpoenaed witness testimony.

Meanwhile, further hearing in the petition has been shifted to June 9

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Two Reasons I’m Supporting Akpabio to be Senate President – Ndume



Ali Ndume has revealed why he’s supporting Senator Godswill Akpabio to become the next Senate President. Ndume who represents Borno South, spoke during an interview on Politics Today, a Channels Television programme, on Wednesday. Ndume said it is because Akpabio is the preferred candidate of President Bola Tinubu. Tinubu has also asked Ndume to lead Akpabio’s campaign and ensure he becomes the number three citizen.“There are so many that contributed to my reason to stand for Akpabio, because one the president had interest and had Akpabio as his preferred candidate and number two, he had the confidence of asking me to lead the campaign.“Most importantly, it is about justice, about equity, about the constitution and doing what is right and standing for what is justful for this country,” Ndume said. Even though the All Progressives Congress (APC) has chosen Akpabio to be senate president, the likes of Abdulaziz Yari, a former governor of Zamfara, and Orji Uzor Kalu, chief whip of the senate, have insisted on contesting the position.

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Democracy Day: FG Declares June 12 Public Holiday



To commemorate Democracy Day, the Federal Government has declared Monday, June 12, 2023, a public holiday.In a statement issued Thursday in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Dr Oluwatoyin Akinlade who made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, congratulated all Nigerians on the occasion.She said; “Nigeria’s democratic journey has, like in many other climes, encountered both stormy and smooth sails, but the ship of State, it’s institutions and most importantly, the Nigerian people have remained steadfast on the tenets of democratic governance.“On this memorable occasion therefore, Nigerians and friends of Nigeria are invited to appreciate the progress that has been made, celebrate the milestones covered and look forward to a better future for the country’s democracy.“The Permanent Secretary wishes all Nigerians a Happy Democracy Day celebration”.

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