Supreme Court affirms Adeleke’s election as Osun Governor
The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the election of Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor of Osun state.
A five-member panel of Justices of the apex court had in a judgement prepared and delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, dismissed an appeal by the immediate past governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) seeking the sack of Ademola Adeleke as the validly elected governor of Osun State.
The apex court held that Oyetola’s appeal lacks merit and consequently dismissed it and upheld the March 25 judgement and the consequential order of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division which affirmed Adeleke as the validly elected governor of Osun state.
Justice Agim, in the judgement held that the appellant, (Oyetola) failed to prove the allegations of over voting and other irregularities in the conduct of the election.
The court held that though, Oyetola alleged that Adeleke won through over-voting that occurred in 774 polling units in the state, but failed to produce any Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS), an electronic device that was used in any of the polling units to prove his allegation.
According to Agim, the appellant failed to provide in evidence, any BVAS, but sought to prove over-voting by means of a report of examination of INEC’s database or backend server and held that the BVAS machine, containing the record of accredited voters is the only direct and primary record of voters accredited at polling units on election day.
The court held that nothing in either Section 47 of the Electoral Act 2022 or Regulations 18- 23 of the INEC’s Regulations, made it mandatory for Presiding Officers in an election to transmit by BVAS, the number of accredited voters in each polling unit to the backend server.
Justice Agim dismissed evidence of purported expert witnesses that testified in Oyeyola’s favour, saying that the entire testimony of the witness is hear-say and not admissable by the court.
The apex court said collapsed because of his inability to prove all what he alleged in the conduct of the election that produced Adeleke as Osun state governor.
The court held that the entire proceedings of the Osun state governorship election petition tribunal was a nullity and upheld the judgement of the Court of Appeal.
“On the whole, this appeal fails for lack of merit and, it is hereby dismissed. This judgement binds on other sister appeals”, Justice Agim held.
Oyetola and his party, in their appeal numbered, SC/CV/510/2023, prayed the apex court to set aside the decision of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, which voided the judgment of the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal, which returned Oyetola as winner of the November July 16, 2022 governorship election.
INEC had last year declared Adeleke as winner of the election having scored majority of the votes cast in the election, however the tribunal in its split judgment of two-to-one delivered in January, held that Oyetola and not Adeleke won majority of the lawful votes in the election.
Oyetola and APC in their appeal, want the apex court to determine whether the appellate court was right “in declaring as nullity the judgment of the tribunal delivered on January 27 notwithstanding the earlier resolution of the same court that Section 294(1) of the Constitution is inapplicable to a tribunal”.
They also want the court to decide whether the lower court was right in concluding that they did not prove the allegation of over voting in favour of Adeleke and that the appellate court wrongly declared as null and void the proceedings and judgement of the Osun state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.
It would be recalled that a three-member panel of the appellate court set aside the judgement of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which nullified Adeleke’s election.
The court, which found Adeleke’s appeal meritorious and allowed it held that, the lower tribunal was “wrong to reach the conclusion that there was over-voting during the state governorship election held on 16 July 2022″.
Justice Mohamed Lawal Shuaibu, who prepared and delivered the unanimous judgement held that, “the lower tribunal was wrong to have come to the conclusion of over voting based on the document presented by the first and second respondents (Oyetola and APC) and also on Exhibit BVR, which requires demonstration in public court”.
He said, “the burden of proving the allegations of over-voting lies squarely with the respondents (Oyetola and the APC). It is inconceivable to assume that the testimonies of the respondents’ witnesses had any probative value”.
The Court of Appeal noted that Oyetola and the APC “did not tender the voters’ registers and BVAS machines,” which captured data of eligible voters at the Osun governorship election and held that the foundation of what transpired at the polling units would only be established by the evidence that is contained in the voter register and BVAS machines, which are the foundation of any election.
Similarly, the court dismissed the cross-appeal filed against the judgment of the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal by former Osun Governor and his party
The cross-appeal which centred on the educational qualification of governor Adeleke was thrown out for lacking in merit.
The Appeal Court held that the Court of Appeal judgment delivered in 2019 to the effect that Adeleke did not forge the certificate presented for the 2018 governorship election has settled the matter and cannot be resuscitated in the way and manners Oyetola did.
Justice Shuaibu held that the Court of Appeal judgment remained valid and binding and that, it was wrong and erroneous of the tribunal to have made findings on the issue of the alleged certificate forgery that had been resolved by the Court of Appeal.
Adeleke and his party, had prayed the appellate court to set-aside the verdict of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which sacked him from office.
It will be recalled that the Justice Tertsea Kume led three-member panel tribunal, had on January 27, in a split decision of two-to-one, voided the declaration of Adeleke as winner of the governorship election that held on July 16, 2022.
In the majority judgement, the tribunal upheld a petition filed by the former governor of the state, Adegboyega Oyetola of the APC who came second in the election.
It held that Adeleke did not score the majority of lawful votes, adding that the conduct of the election was not in substantial compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.
According to the tribunal, the petitioners, Oyetola and APC, successfully established that there was over voting in 744 polling units in the state.
After deducting the said invalid votes, the tribunal declared Oyetola as winner of the governorship contest and directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return it earlier issued to Adeleke.
However, in his dissenting judgement, the third member of the panel, Justice P. Agbuli, affirmed Adeleke as the valid winner of the election and struck out the petition that was lodged by Oyetola and the APC.
Dissatisfied with the majority decision that sacked him from office, governor Adeleke took the case before the Court of Appeal.
I Didn’t See It Coming – Keyamo Reacts to National Honour
Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo has reacted after President Muhammadu Buhari conferred a National Honour, Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON, on him. Reacting on Sunday, Keyamo said he was conferred along with other “deserving and distinguished Nigerians”, saying he was number 15 in the list. Keyamo thanked and prayed for Buhari, asking God to honour the president as he did to others. The statement reads, “I was very delighted to wake up this morning to the news of the conferment on my humble self of one of the highest National Honours of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) (No. 15 on the list).“I had no single inkling this was coming and for this I am grateful to the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.“His style is to give honours and privileges to those deserving of them and not those who lobby for them. Thank you, Mr. President and may God Almighty continue to honour you even as you have honoured others”.
President Buhari Confers Citizenship On 385 Foreigners
Nigeria’s Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari has conferred citizenship on 385 foreign nationals, The Nation reports.He declared them worthy Nigerians after meeting all necessary conditions. The conferment was conducted on behalf of the President by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, at Gen Abdulraman Danbazzau Conference Hall, Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), Headquarters, Abuja. Buhari said his administration gave citizenship to more foreigners than any administration so far, asserting that the gesture was to encourage foreign investment and boost the nation’s economy. He described those conferred the citizenship as worthy of the honour, saying they have contributed in various fields of human endeavours to the development of the country.The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola said those conferred with the citizenship met the stringent conditions attached to it, and called for the review of the Nigerian Constitution to allow more foreign nationals apply for citizenship. He said in Europe and United States, foreigners who had lived there could apply for citizenship after 5 years, but wondered why in Nigeria foreigners would have to wait for 15 years before they could apply for Nigeria citizenship. He however commended Buhari for initiating policies that make application for citizenship attractive to foreign nationals, saying from the records a total of 671 have been conferred with Nigeria citizenship within the past five years. Aregbesola said: ”That we have a high number of foreigners willing to become Nigerians is an indication that the on-going efforts of the Federal Government to make Nigeria a destination for investment and peaceful coexistence is beginning to yield good fruits.“I must state also that it is under our administration that the largest number of foreigners have been naturalised. “Between 2011 and 2013,a total of 266 foreigners became Nigerians. In 2017, 335 people took up Nigerian citizenship. But last year, 286 foreigners and today at this ceremony, 385, making a total of 671 have acquired Nigerian citizenship.“I am still not pleased with this figure. In Europe and America, thousands of foreigners are inducted into citizenship every year. They do this to attract youths and people in their prime who would like to contribute to the development of their countries.“The bane of the smooth pathway to Nigerian citizenship however is the constitutional requirement of continuous residency in Nigeria for 15 years.” This is a huge disincentive, considering that in the United States and most European countries, it is five years. Some of these countries have made a habit of snatching young and resourceful brains – who after four years of schooling and working for just one year – through easy pathways, to obtain quality migration to their countries.” I will therefore urge the relevant institutions of state to reconsider this in the next effort at amendment to the constitution. We ought to have easier pathways to citizenship for foreigners than currently obtains.”
Alkali still in office as IGP despite order removing him
One week after Justice F. O Riman of a Federal High Court sitting in Awka made an order removing him from office, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali has continued to stay in office in disobedience to the valid order of the court.
Justice Riman, had in the suit marked FHC/AWK/CS/58/2023, made an order restraining Usman Alkali from further parading himself as the Inspector General of Police of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or exercising any form of command or control over the Nigeria Police Force.
The court also granted an order mandating the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to immediately convene a meeting for members of the Nigeria Police Council for the purpose of appointing a new Inspector-General of Police capable of holding the office for the fixed term of four years unhindered by Section 18 (8) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020 and also in line with the provision of Section 7 of the Nigeria Police Act.
The removal order followed a suit filed by one Okechukwu Nwafor against the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Usman Baba Alkali; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; and Nigeria Police Council, 1st to 4th defendants respectively.
The Originating Summons was brought pursuant to sections 2015 and 216 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), sections 7 and 18 (8) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020.
In the judgement delivered on May 19, which was sighted by our correspondent, the court declared that “by a community reading of the provisions of Sections 215 (a) and 216 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), Sections 7 (2) & (6) and 18 (8) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, the appointment of the 2nd Defendant (Alkali) is unlawful and invalid, the 2nd Defendant not being a person capable of fulfilling the mandatory requirement of tenure of office needed to hold the office of the Inspector General of Police and/or the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria (as amended) having not been complied with.
More so, the court made a declaration that “the 2nd Defendant (Alkali) is not qualified to hold the office of the Inspector General of Police for the sole reason that doing so will lead to absurdity which will amount to a complete breach and total disregard for the clear and unambiguous provision of Section 7 (6) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020.
Also granted by Justice Riman was a declaration that the President has no power, whatsoever, to extend the condition for retirement of a Police officer as contained in Section 18 (8) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020.
In the judgement, Justice Riman stated that, “I have carefully considered submission of both counsel. The Defendant’s counsel referred to his paragraph 4 to 7 where it was averred as follows:
“That it is a fact that a Federal High Court Abuja Division per Hon. Justice A. K Mohammed and Hon. Justice J. O. Omotosho have determined the issue of interpretation of section 216 of the 1999 Constitution, Section 7 (3) (@) and 18 (8) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020 as it relate to remaining in office as the Inspector General of Police despite having retired as a Police Officer in the unreported cases of MAXWELL MPENA VS. THE PRESIDNT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA 23 or with suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/106/2021 and MICHAEL SAM IDOKO AND NIGERIA POLICE FORCE & ORS in suit no: FHC/ABI/CS/106/2021 respectively.
“I must observe that the said judgements are not placed for examination in the counter affidavit or filed in Court which is necessary to guide this Court on the issue canvassed before the Court on the said suits.
“Section 215 (1) (6) of the Constitution provides that the President shall appoint the Inspector-General of Police from serving members of the Nigeria Police Force on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council (NPC), which comprises of the President, Governors, Chairman of the Police Commission and the Inspector General of Police.
“See also Section 7 (3) of the Police Act, 2020. The Inspector General of Police tenure shall come to an end in February, 2020, four years from February 2021, by March 1, 2023, the 2nd Defendant was 60 years old, and two weeks later, marked 35 years he entered in the Nigeria Police Force” the court held.
Justice Riman observed that the IGP being a public servant and by virtue of the fact that he is a member of staff of the Nigeria Police Force, an authority established from the Federation by Section 214 (1) of the Constitution and in subject of the Federal Public Rules 299 (PSR) thereof which provides for the compulsory retirement of all grades of public service officers at the age of 60 or 35 years of service, whichever comes first.
“In the instant case, the 2nd Defendant’s birth day comes first. By the said Rule, the 2nd Defendant is obliged to step down on March 1st 2023.
“The PSR retirement age provision, is mirrored in section 18 (8) of the Police Act, on the word “Shall” is used in the provision, it is mandatory.
“Section 7 (6) of the Police Act provides for a four year term or tenure for the Inspector General of Police and the word “Shall” is also used in the said provision” the court stated.
Justice Riman observed that despite the prerogative power of the President, he is limited to the provisions of the Constitution,. adding that the IGP retirement is statutory and constitutional issue and no other law of the land can change the ground norm.
On the issue of the locus standi of the Plaintiff, the trial judge observed that locus standi is a central concept in the administration of justice and it delineates not only the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain matters brought before them but also restricts access to Courts to perform with genuine grievance.
“Thus, it is firmly established that a Plaintiff who fails to satisfy the “interest” and “injury test” will be denied the legal standing to sue to challenge any perceived act of unconstitutionality.
“It is my view however that required of locus standi is not necessary on constitutional cases as the application of the concept could impede the administration of justice.
The court noted that there is liberalization of the concept of locus standi where it involves constitutional matters, stressing that the deposition of the Plaintiff in his affidavit as a Nigerian and tax payer has not been controverted. END.
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