Tensions are on the increase in Kogi State as the people await the final verdicts of the Supreme Court on two separate appeals against the return of Yahaya Bello as governor of the state.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Mr. Musa Wada, and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate, Natasha Akpoti, had approached the apex court to upturn the judgements of the Court of Appeal, which affirmed the re-election of Yahaya Bello as governor.
A seven-man panel of the Supreme Court presided by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, on Tuesday adjourned to Monday, August 31, judgements on the two appeals after taking the submissions of lawyers to the parties.
Tensions had been rising in the state since the last week following the announcement that the Supreme Court was set to hear the appeals on August 25.
Lawyers to PDP and Wada, led by Mr Jibrin Okutepa, SAN, in adopting their brief of argument pleaded with the apex court to allow the appeal and grant the reliefs sought by their clients. They claimed that the appellate court erred in arriving at the conclusion that they did not prove allegations of electoral malpractices, which a minority judgement of the tribunal had established and ordered a rerun in seven local government areas where the said malpractices took place. They urged the apex court to affirm the minority judgement of the tribunal delivered by Justice Ohiamai Ovbiagele.
However, Bello’s lawyer, Mr Joseph Daudu, SAN, and that of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Dr Alex Izinyon, SAN, urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lack of merit. Daudu pleaded with the apex court to uphold the concurrent decisions of the Court of Appeal and the majority judgement of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which affirmed the return of Bello as governor.
After taking the arguments of the lawyers representing parties in the appeal, Muhammad announced that judgement in the matter would be delivered on August 31.
In the second appeal filed by SDP and its governorship candidate, Akpoti, the apex court also announced its decision to give final verdict on August 31.
Meanwhile, the appeal filed by the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and its governorship candidate, Usman Mohammed, was struck out after an oral application for its withdrawal by their lawyer, M. S. Ibrahim. The withdrawal was after some prompting over the eligibility of the DPP candidate, who was said to be 31 years old, instead of the mandatory 35.
The apex court struck out the appeal with a cost of N200, 000 in favour of the first and second respondents.
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, had in July this year affirmed the election of Bello as governor of Kogi State, after dismissing four appeals filed by the PDP, DPP, SDP, and Action Peoples Party (APP) and their respective governorship candidates for lacking in merit.
The litigations followed last year’s declaration of Bello, who was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the November 16, 2019 governorship poll by INEC. The commission announced on November 18, 2019 that Bello won majority of votes cast in the election, polling a total of 406,222 votes, while the runner up, Wada, polled 189,704.
However, the four contestants and their parties disagreed with INEC and approached the Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal to challenge the victory of Bello. Their petitions were all dismissed by the tribunal for lacking in merit. The Court of Appeal upheld the decisions of tribunal.
The appellants approached the apex court to set aside the judgements of the appellate court on the grounds that the Court of Appeal discarded evidence of rigging and violence in seven local government areas of the state.
The Court of Appeal had, in a unanimous judgement, held that the appellants did not prove the allegations of over-voting, multiple thumb-printing, and results falsification. In the ruling delivered by Justice Haruna Tsamani, the appellate court said the appellants merely dumped documents on the tribunal without calling relevant witnesses to link the documents to the allegations.
According to the judge, a party who alleges over-voting must tender the voter registers for the affected polling units and the results of the polling units, show how, without over-voting, the results would be in his or her favour.
In the other judgements, the Court of Appeal held that the tribunal was right in dismissing the petitions of the DPP and APP over alleged unlawful exclusion and that of the SDP for failure to prove claims of electoral malpractices in the governorship election.
Although the decisions of the Kogi election tribunal were unanimous in the petitions of APP, DPP and SDP, it was divided in that of PDP. While the majority judgement delivered by Justice Kashim Kaigama favoured Bello, the minority judgement delivered by Ovbiagele held that there was evidence of electoral malpractices in seven local government areas. Ovbiagele then upturned Bello’s victory and ordered a rerun in the affected local government areas.
Ramadan 2021: Sultan Asks Nigerian Muslims To Commence Fasting
Following the sighting of the moon, this year’s Ramadan starts Tuesday, April 13th 2021, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, announced Monday.
Alhaji Abubakar, who is the president of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), said this in an announcement on NTA live broadcast.
He urged all Muslims to use the occasion of the holy month to pray fervently for the country and indulge in acts of charity so as to benefit maximally this month.
The NSCIA on Monday had issued a guideline enjoining the Ummah to practice social distancing during the 1442AH Ramadan.
“All COVID-19 protocols should be observed. I’tikaf should still be put on hold while strict observance of all COVID19 protocols including avoiding lengthy or crowded sessions should be observed,” it stated.
Ramadan is the ninth lunar month of the Islamic calendar seen as sacred by Muslims during which they refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activities from dawn to dusk for 29 or 30 days — depending on when a new crescent is slighted.
The sighting of this new moon marks the beginning of another month, Shawwal, and the celebration of Islamic festival, Eid-l-fitr.
The Ramadan ritual is observed to attain a spiritual bond with God, as contained in Qur’an 2:183: “Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn piety and righteousness.”
Benue Crisis: Expose Those Who Killed Soldiers, Return Army Weapons – Ortom Urges Communities
The Benue State Government has urged community leaders to expose those who carried out an unprovoked attack on Nigerian Army troops, leading to the death of an officer and 10 other soldiers.
In a statement on Friday, Governor Ortom while addressing the recent crisis between communities in Konshisha and Oju Local Government Areas, called for restraint on all sides including the military.
Ortom noted in his communique that he has already directed leaders of the affected areas to ensure that the weapons the “bandits” took away from the military personnel deployed to bring peace between the warring communities are returned without delay.
Earlier on, the army had reported that its troops came under attack while on a routine operational task, it was not clear who the attackers were at the time.
The military however asserted that the troops comprising one officer and ten soldiers were initially declared missing which prompted the deployment of a joint search and rescue team comprising NA troops and personnel of Operation Whirl Stroke.
The search and rescue team, unfortunately, found all the missing troops dead in Konshisha LGA of Benue State. While the bodies of the slain troops were evacuated immediately.
According to the army, efforts were still ongoing to track down the perpetrators of the heinous crime with a view to bringing them to justice.
In his reaction, Governor Ortom urged members of the affected communities to expose perpetrators of the unprovoked attacks on the military, stating that such an act is condemnable and also capable of jeopardizing the efforts Government has made to guarantee the return of peace to the area.
The governor disclosed that in an effort to find a solution to the crisis, he set up a Boundary Committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Engineer Benson Abounu to resolve the land dispute in collaboration with the National Boundary Commission.
The Committee had fixed a date for the demarcation of the area in contention when renewed violence broke out between the Bonta Community of Konshisha Local Government Area and Okpute Community of Oju Local Government Area.
Ortom assured the people that his administration is determined to see the end of the crisis and will support security agencies to fish out those fomenting trouble.
He, however, urged the military to avoid civilian casualties and protect law abiding people while efforts are on to recover their missing weapons.
Queen Elizabeth II’s Husband Prince Philip Dies At 99
Queen Elizabeth II’s husband Prince Philip has died at age 99, according to a statement by Buckingham Palace.
Prince Philip was the longest-serving royal consort in British history after getting married to Princess Elizabeth in 1947, five years before she became Queen.
The Palace announced the death of the late monarch via its official Twitter handle on Friday afternoon, April 9, 2021.
“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” it said in a statement.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
“The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
The palace added that further announcements would be made “in due course”.
Fears over the health of the Duke of Edinburgh, as he was formally known, had been heightened after he recently spent a month in hospital for treatment.
He left the hospital on March 16 following what was described as a successful procedure for a pre-existing condition and treatment for an unspecified infection.
He was first admitted on February 16 on the advice of his doctor after he complained of feeling unwell.
Philip had returned to Windsor Castle, west of London, where he had been isolating with the queen — Britain’s longest-serving monarch — since the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year.
He was due to turn 100 in June.
The news of his death saw television channels interrupt regular programmes and start special coverage marking his life.
The BBC announced his death and played the national anthem, “God Save the Queen”.
Philip had increasingly struggled with his health in recent years and had retired from public life.
In the run-up to Christmas 2011, Philip was taken to hospital by helicopter after suffering chest pains.
The Greek-born former naval officer was then treated for a blocked coronary artery and had a stent fitted