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Presidential Poll : Peter Obi accuses INEC of Bias

Obi, in a reply he filed before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, faulted the electoral body for filing a preliminary objection in support of the President-elect and candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Bola Tinubu.

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The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Mr. Peter Obi, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of bias, insisting that it ought to maintain neutrality in electoral contest between candidates.

Obi, in a reply he filed before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, faulted the electoral body for filing a preliminary objection in support of the President-elect and candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Bola Tinubu.

He noted that both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal had in the past, cautioned INEC not to place itself “in a position where imputation of partiality in favour of one party against another will be levelled against it.”

Specifically, Obi, who came third in the presidential election that held on February 25, recalled that the apex court had in the case of Attorney-General of the Federation V. Abubakar (2007) 10 NWLR (Pto 1041), emphasised that electoral commission must not only embrace neutrality as its watchword, but “must always remain fair and focused”.

According to him, “The first respondent, forgetting its role as an electoral umpire, gave a Notice of Preliminary Objection to challenge the alleged incompetence of the petition.

“The global best practice for electoral umpires in national elections is that an electoral body must avoid creating the impression that it has no respect for neutrality in an electoral contest between candidates.

“The appellate courts have repeatedly admonished the first respondent of its need to remain neutral in election proceedings. However, the first Respondent hereof, has remained impervious to change.

“Therefore, it is not only an embarrassment but a repudiation of the duty of the first respondent when it adorns the garb of a contestant in an election it conducted as an umpire to raise preliminary objection against an election petition as in the case hereof.

“The expectation is that INEC will maintain a neutral stance in all litigations where participants in elections are challenging the outcome of the elections and not indulge in filling objections to the petition.

“The petitioners will before or at the Pre-Hearing Session or at the hearing of the petition, urge the Honourable Court to strike out and or to dismiss the first respondent’s Notice of Preliminary Objection,” Obi added.

Besides, he described as “misconceived”, INEC’s preliminary objection against the petition he lodged against the declaration of Tinubu as winner of the presidential election.

“The first respondent’s contention that the reliefs sought in the petition are not grantable is false and made in manifest disregard of the specific and concise pleadings in the petition.

“The pleading in the 1st Respondent’s Notice of Preliminary Objection that the allegation in paragraph 20(ii) of the Petition is defective and does not disclose a cause of action, is wishful thinking”.

Obi further contended that Tinubu was not elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election, adding that the Appeal Court, which will sit as the tribunal for the presidential election dispute, has the requisite jurisdiction to entertain and determine the real issues in the petition.

“The Petitioners further aver that the necessary parties as required by law for the determination of the instant Petition are before the Honourable Court.

“The Honourable Court has the requisite Jurisdiction to entertain and determine the real issues in this Petition”.

More so, Obi contended that Tinubu’s running mate and Vice President-elect, Kashim Shettima, was not validly nominated to contest the presidential election.

“As at 14th July, 2022 when the 3rd Respondent was nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate of the 4th Respondent, the 3rd Respondent was still the Senatorial candidate of the 4th Respondent for the Borno Central Senatorial District, his name not having been withdrawn by the 4th

Respondent as stipulated by Section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

“Borno Central Senatorial District is a Constituency for the purpose of a Senatorial election. Likewise, the entire Federation is a Constituency for election for the office of President and Vice President.

“Until there is a valid substitution of a candidate by a political party, the status quo remains and therefore the submission of the 3rd Respondent’s Form EC 9 as Vice-Presidential Candidate of the 4th Respondent did not automatically abrogate his subsisting nomination as Senatorial Candidate for the Senatorial election for Borno Central Senatorial District. The Petitioners’ case is not founded on Section 285(14) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)”, he argued.

Obi told the court that though LP had agents that were positioned at various polling units during the conduct of the election, he said INEC, unfortunately “failed and neglected to give clear copies of the result of the election in the polling units (Forms EC 8A) to the Petitioners’ Agents, as the pink copies given to the Petitioners Agents were very faint and unreadable”.

“In reply to the new issue raised in paragraphs 26 and 27 of the 1st Respondent’s Reply, the Petitioners aver that the actual votes obtained at the polling units as shown in the Report incorporated/pleaded in the Petition, show that the Petitioners won majority of the lawful vote cast at the election, and met the constitutional requirement to be returned/declared as the winner of the election.

“In further answer to the said allegation by the 1st Respondent, the Petitioners aver that the actual result of the election shows that the 2nd Respondent neither won the highest number of lawful votes cast in the election nor met the constitutional requirement, including securing the 1/4 of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to be entitled to be returned/declared as the winner of the Presidential Election.

“Indeed, by the 1st Respondent’s record, the 2nd Respondent is the first candidate since 1999 to be declared the winner of the Presidential election without winning 25% of the votes cast in the FCT.

“The unlawful return/declaration of the 2nd Respondent as the winner of the Presidential Election in the hasty circumstances that characterized the said return/declaration is patently unconstitutional.

“The Petitioners admit the averments paragraphs 28, 29 and 30 of the 1 st Respondent’s Reply; and in further reaction to the new issues raised, state that the use of BVAS for the transmission/upload of the result of the election in the polling units electronically to the I st Respondent’s Result Viewing Portal (IReV) is mandatory.

The Petitioners in answer to the issue of “manual collation” stated in paragraph 31 of the I st Respondent’s Reply, aver that by the applicable Laws and Regulations, the legitimate mode for resolving disputes at the collation is by resorting to the result uploaded on the IReV using the BVAS. As at the date of filing this Reply on 21 st April 2023, the information on the 1 st Respondent’ s IReV Portal (http://www.inecelectionresults.ng) shows that out of the 176,846 polling units, the results submitted were in respect of 167, 433 polling units; and that the percentage of the uploaded results on the IReV is 94.68%.

“In further answer, the Petitioners aver that the I st Respondent’s IReV containing the election result of the election in the Polling Units (data of the election result) upload/stored on the IReV is hosted on the AWS or the Amazon Cloud Platform.

“The Petitioners will at the trial rely on the server logs for the IReV Server, as well as the server content of the AWS Cloud Platform.

“In response to the issues raised in paragraphs 44, 45 and 46 of the I st Respondent’s Reply, the Petitioners aver that for resolving disputes relating to the collation of the election result, the only legitimate reference is to resort to the uploaded result from the BVAS to the IReV”, Obi added in the process he filed through his team of lawyers led by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN.

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Hajj 2024: 18,061 Pilgrims Airlifted to Saudi Arabia – NAHCON

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The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has announced that 18,061 Nigerian pilgrims have been transported to Saudi Arabia for the 2024 Hajj.

NAHCON’s command and control center provided this update on Friday.

According to the center, the pilgrims were flown on 43 flights operated by Flynas, Air Peace, and Max Air.

The commission expects to airlift over 65,000 Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia this year.

The inaugural flight took off on May 15 from Ahmadu Bello International Airport in Kebbi, carrying pilgrims from Kebbi, Nasarawa, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Thousands of Nigerian pilgrims are anticipated to arrive at the Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madina, where they will spend four days before heading to Makkah for their Hajj and Umrah rites. They will then depart from the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

In a press statement, NAHCON spokesperson Fatima Usara confirmed that no flights have been canceled to date.

“So far, no flight cancellations have been recorded, except for a delay that shifted the Kwara inaugural flight from May 20, 2024, to the early hours of Tuesday, May 21,” Usara stated.

She assured that all pilgrims would return to Nigeria following a first-in-first-out (FIFO) policy, ensuring equal duration of stay in Saudi Arabia for everyone.

“Pilgrims are advised to remain calm and understand that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) follows a First-in-First-Out (FIFO) policy for returning from Saudi Arabia to Nigeria, meaning the return sequence mirrors the departure sequence,” Usara explained. “Thus, all pilgrims are expected to spend the same estimated number of days in the Kingdom based on their departure time.”

Speaking to journalists in Makkah, Aliyu Tanko, NAHCON’s deputy coordinator of Makkah operations, assured that all Nigerian pilgrims would be airlifted before the airports close. He added that flights are proceeding as scheduled, with Saudi authorities cooperating with their Nigerian counterparts.

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Ribadu denies facilitating dethroned Emir’s return to Kano

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Nuhu Ribadu, the national security adviser (NSA), has denied claims of aiding the return of Aminu Bayero, the deposed Emir of Kano, to the state.

Bayero returned to Kano on Saturday morning and took residence in a palace in Nassarawa LGA. Soldiers who previously guarded Bayero accompanied him from the airport to the palace.

Governor Abba Yusuf ordered Bayero’s arrest upon his return, attributing his comeback to the alleged assistance from the NSA.

However, the NSA’s spokesperson, Zakari Mijinyawa, dismissed these allegations as false, asserting that the NSA did not provide air transport for Bayero’s return.

Bayero was replaced by Muhammadu Sanusi as Emir on Friday, following a previous fallout with the then-governor of Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje, in 2020.

The Kano house of assembly repealed the law used to depose Sanusi on Thursday, reinstating the traditional emirate structure with one Emir overseeing all of Kano.

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Kano Emirship tussle : Ado Bayero breaks silence

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Aminu Ado Bayero, the 15th Emir of Kano, has urged the authorities to ensure justice prevails in the state’s emirship dispute.

Bayero was dethroned on Thursday after the Kano State Assembly repealed a 2019 emirate law, which had been used to remove Muhammadu Sanusi in 2020.

Subsequently, Governor Abba Yusuf reinstated Sanusi while Bayero was on an official visit to Ogun State.

Upon returning, Bayero relocated to the Kano emirate’s mini palace in Nassarawa LGA, where he was greeted by his supporters.

The governor also ordered Bayero’s arrest for “creating tension in the state.”

During a meeting with security agents, Bayero stated that he would respect the rule of law, emphasizing that no one is above it.

He called for peace and urged the people of Kano to remain law-abiding as the legal process unfolds.

“I urge everyone to stay calm and law-abiding while awaiting the outcome of the legal proceedings,” Bayero said in Hausa.

“We call on the authorities to ensure justice in this matter. Kano is a significant state in Nigeria; whatever impacts Kano impacts the entire country.

“May peace prevail in Kano. We pray for Allah to bless Kano with responsible and just leaders.

“Justice must be served in every matter. No one is above the law. We will accept the law’s verdict. I appreciate everyone who has expressed concern.

“As I said, justice will be done. We will continue to pray for peace in Kano State. May Allah the Almighty protect us.”

On May 23, a federal high court in Kano ordered the state government not to enforce the Emirate Council Repeal Law 2024.

On Saturday, the Kano State Police Command announced that law enforcement agencies would comply with the court order against Sanusi’s reinstatement.

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Bayern Munich Reaches Agreement with Vincent Kompany

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Burnley manager Vincent Kompany has reached an agreement in principle to become the new head coach of Bayern Munich.

The German club turned to Kompany after facing multiple rejections in their search for a successor to Thomas Tuchel.

Kompany is expected to sign a deal until 2027, with Bayern set to pay Burnley £10.2 million in compensation.

Craig Bellamy, Kompany’s assistant at Burnley, will not join him at the Allianz Arena, but Floribert Ngalula and Bram Geers will be part of his coaching staff.

Bayern had previously targeted Bayer Leverkusen’s Xabi Alonso, former manager Julian Nagelsmann, now leading the German national team, and Austria coach Ralf Rangnick, but all three declined the offer.

Tuchel had discussions with Bayern earlier in May about staying on, but they did not reach an agreement.

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Manchester United beat Man City to Win FA Cup

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Erik ten Hag made a compelling argument to avoid being sacked as Manchester United surprised Manchester City with a 2-1 victory in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

Despite reports that Ten Hag would be dismissed regardless of the outcome at Wembley following a difficult season, United’s leadership may reconsider after his tactical success disrupted City’s historic ambitions.

City were strong favorites to achieve a second consecutive Premier League and FA Cup double. However, Ten Hag effectively countered Pep Guardiola’s team with first-half goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo, putting United on track to win the FA Cup for the first time in eight years.

Jeremy Doku scored in the 87th minute, slipping the ball past Andre Onana’s weak attempt at a save, but it was too late to save City.

Ten Hag’s successful end to a challenging season might prevent his dismissal, evoking memories of Louis van Gaal’s exit from Old Trafford just two days after United’s FA Cup victory in 2016. Ten Hag would prefer his situation to resemble Alex Ferguson’s 1990 FA Cup win, which began a remarkable era after calls for his firing earlier that season. Ferguson, present at the match, witnessed Ten Hag’s unexpected triumph.

United shareholder Jim Ratcliffe and co-owners Joel and Avie Glazer were also in attendance. Despite speculation linking United to Thomas Tuchel, Mauricio Pochettino, and Gareth Southgate, Ratcliffe has much to consider after United’s eighth-place finish in the Premier League — their lowest since 1990 — and their Champions League group stage exit.

Ten Hag attributes the season’s struggles to a lengthy injury list but can highlight his two trophy wins in three cup finals with United as evidence of his potential when the team is fully fit.

After ending United’s six-year trophy drought with the League Cup last year, Ten Hag has now avenged their previous FA Cup final loss to City, despite finishing 31 points behind them in the league.

United will also qualify for the Europa League, avoiding their first season without European competition since 2014-15. They capitalized on an uncharacteristically lackluster performance from City, marking their first domestic defeat since losing to Aston Villa 171 days ago.

City, the first team to win the Premier League four times in a row, appeared fatigued after their recent celebrations. They were frustrated when an early penalty appeal was denied following Lisandro Martinez’s challenge on Erling Haaland. United, defensively solid with all players behind the ball, took advantage of City’s mistakes, with Garnacho and Mainoo scoring in the first half.

City increased their efforts after the break, but Doku’s late goal was insufficient to overturn the result. As the final seconds passed, Ten Hag anxiously awaited the chance to celebrate a dramatic victory that could either secure his position or mark his last achievement with United.

– AFP

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Kano Gov Orders Arrest Of Deposed Emir, Aminu Ado Bayero

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Kano State Governor, Abba Yusuf, has ordered the immediate arrest of the deposed Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero, accusing him of causing unrest in the state.

This order follows Bayero’s deposition by the Governor just two days prior.

A statement released early Saturday by the Governor’s spokesperson, Sanusi Bature, alleged that Bayero was secretly brought into Kano city last night in an attempt to forcibly reclaim the palace.

The statement, issued at 7:00 am on Saturday in Kano, confirmed that the new Emir, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, arrived at the palace with the Governor, his Deputy, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, and other top officials around 1:00 am on Saturday.

The statement stressed the government’s commitment to maintaining peace and order, warning that any actions threatening the state’s stability would be met with strict measures.

Speaking to the media early this morning, Deputy Governor Aminu Gwarzo accused powerful forces from Abuja of instigating the situation and vowed to resist any attempt to impose the deposed Emir on the people.

Currently, the entire nation is watching Kano State closely to see how the situation will develop.

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