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Breaking News! NJC QUERIES APPEAL COURT PRESIDENT ON EKITI JUDGEMENT

By Akinmola Ade
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NJC queries Salami on petition by 1000 Nigerian registered voters , …petition for removal of Appeal court president before Senate

The National Judicial Council has queried the embattled President of the Court of Appeal, justice Isa Salami and four other Justices who sat on the Appeal of the Ekiti Election Tribunal over a petition by1000 registered voters of Ido Osi Local government of Ekiti state, representing 15000 others alleging abuse of powers of the judiciary, and unconstitutional infringement of their fundamental rights as voters among other constitutional breaches. In the letter forwarded to Justice Salami ref No NJC/F.2/CA.1/1/65 dated 4 february 2011,the Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Katsina Alu as Chairman NJC, asked for Salamis comments to be forwarded within two weeks of the receipt of the letter.

In the petition dated 9 January 2011 signed by the aggrieved voters with their voters card no and addresses, the voters in the petition, forwarded on their behalf by firm of legal practitioners,Segun Ilori &co, stated that Justices Isa Salami, Hon Justice Clara-Barta Ogunbiyi, Hon Justice Ariwoola, Hon Justice Nweze and Justice A Jauro abused their powers and the constitution by infringing on their inherent fundamental rights to participate in the democratic governance of their state as they “ cancelled the votes legitimately returned in our wards on the grounds which are absurd, unjustifiable and patently unjust”' through their judgement on Fayemi vs Oni delivered on 15 October 2010. The petitioned which was also copied the Nigerian President and the Attorney General of the Federation stated

“ We the 1000 persons identified hereunder being registered voters in Ido –osi local government, write on our behalf and on behalf of all registered voters of Ido Osi local government of Ekiti state of Nigeria, particularly voters of Ifaki 1, Ifaki11,Orin Ora ward, Usi, to protest and challenge the infringement of our inherent fundamental right to participate in the democratic Governance of our country and our state by the decision of the Court of Appeal in the cases of Fayemi v Oni (2009)7 NWLR(pt 1140)223CA per Justice Dantijo Mohammed& Fayemi v Oni (CA/IL/EPT/GOV/1/10) delivered by Justice Isa Salami on 15 October,2010 which cancelled the votes returned in our wards ,on two occasions, on grounds which are absurd, unjustifiable and patently unjust''.

'' We believe that no institution created under the Constitution of Nigeria has the right and the power to exterminate any of the rights guaranteed under s13 &14 (2) (c) the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and other extant laws, the African Charter of Fundamental and Peoples Rights, United Nations Charter of Fundamental Human Rights.

We believe that it is beyond the powers of the Justices to exterminate without cause, the legitimate rights of any citizen of Nigeria. For the abuse of the power vested in the justices, we request that The National Assembly commence the process of removal of the Justice Isa Salami President of the Court of Appeal, and the others named”

The petitioners listed part of their grounds as follows

1. The Court of Appeal in 2009 unjustifiably and irresponsibly cancelled the votes duely cast by us on the grounds that the wrong biro was used in marking the voters register. Justice Dantijo Mohammed led panel held that since RED BIRO WAS USED INSTEAD OF BLUE BIRO accreditation was not properly done hence the election in all the 10 local government w as annulled.

2. The results were cancelled only in places where the PDP won ,whilst the areas where the AC won (and the same biros were used )were not annulled.. It should also be recalled that 2 elections were held simultaneously –The House of Assembly and the Governorship and the same accreditation was used. The results of the House of Assembly elections still stands at PDP13: AC13 and none of these have been reversed by any tribunal till date.

3. The Court of Appeal thereon ordered for a rerun Election based on this flawed judicial reasoning in10 local governments including areas like Okemesi, and Ilawe which did not form part of the petitioners claim

4. In deciding on the case filed after rerun election, the Court of Appeal in the case (CA/IL/EPT/GOV/1/10) delivered by Justice Isa Salami on 15 October,2010 AGAIN CANCELLED THE ELECTION in the four wards of Ifaki1, Ifaki 2, Orin Ora Ward and USI wards on the grounds that INEC and the Electoral Officer of Ido -osi failed to produce the voters register used in conducting the said election.

5. The said cancellation was SELECTIVELY APPLIED to affect only wards in Ido – Osi LG where Engr Olusegun ONI won the elections while the wards where the AC candidate Kayode FAYEMI won eg -Ayetoro 1 & 11 were left out of the cancellation despite the absence of the same VOTERS REGISTER for the Local Government.

6. Evidence was led before the tribunal that the said voters register was burn by agents of the AC CANDIDATE. Never the less, the Tribunal held that “by the 3rd and 5th respondents failing to produce the electoral materials it cannot be said election was properly conducted in the said four wards”

7. The Votes legitimately and validly cast by us was cancelled by the Justice Isa Salami despite the production of FORM EC 8A, properly authenticated by all relevant parties but the tribunal held“the mere production by the Respondent of Form EC8A without more is not prima facie evidence or proof that an election was conducted”.

8. The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal had held in numerous cases that the prima facie proof of the conduct of an election is the production of Form EC8A. see Amgbare v. Sylva which the Court made copious reference to.Also Obun v Ebun (2006) All FWLR (Pt.327) 419 where the Court stated as follows:“…..there is in law a rebuttable presumption that the results of any election declared by the Electoral body (in this case, INEC) is correct and authentic and the onus is on the person who denies its correctness and authenticity to rebut the presumption………..”

9. It is ultra vires, unconstitutional and Abuse of power for Justice Isa Salami to refuse to be bound by precedence and the pronouncement of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

10. The said Cancellation of our votes has created absurdity, grave injustice and denial of our fundamental right to vote and be voted for, or freedom of choice in the Governance of our state.

11. The said cancellation has wrought injustice and unwarranted disenfranchisement on us which is tantamount to discrimination and extinguishing of our right to self determination and participation in the governance of our state-Ekiti State, Nigeria. This is against the spirit of s13 &14 (2) (c) the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the African Charter of Fundamental and Peoples Rights, United Nations Charter of Fundamental Human Rights.

12. The said cancellation has made us the VOTERS and the CANDIDATE vicariously liable for the acts of omission or commission of INEC.Neither we the voters or the candidates could reasonably in law be held accountable for the negligence or non performance of the duties of INEC or any other organ of government vested with the conduct of elections.

13 We believe that the court thereby acted ultra -vires by cancelling our votes duely cast at the elections using legal technicality when what is required is substantial justice. The Supreme Court of Nigeria has consistently warned against the use of legal technicality to override substantial justice in a plethora of cases. Also the Electoral Act provides that elections can not be invalidated if there is substantial compliance with the ACT.

In another development the one thousand registered voters petitioned the Senate of the National Assembly praying the National Assembly to restore their fundamental rights as voter and make their votes count.They also asked the Senate to commence proceedings for the removal of justice Salami and the four other justices on the grounds of abuse of power,unconstitional breach of fundamental rights

In the petition sent through Senator Ayo Arise,representing Ekiti North District, They claimed that Justice Isa Salami has betrayed his oath of office by disobeying the constitution of Nigeria, which requires a judge to dispense justice and perform his functions, “to all manner of people without ill will and affection ''. Mr Justice Salami has not done justice to 15000 voters of Ido Osi Local government by the extermination our legitimate right to vote for the Government of our choice and by infringing on our rights.

''Furthermore, the President of the court of Appeal publicly acknowledged discrimination of over 50 justices of the court of Appeal, who he claimed not to trust in the discharge of their judicial functions as to empanel them in handling Election Petitions. In an interview published in THISDAY JANUARY 25,2011 Justice Salami said '' '…… Then he raised the issue of using a few Justices to determine appeals. Well when it comes to that you must use people you trust, you cant just empanel anybody''. This statement has put the judiciary in a bad light and the President has confirmed the existence of '' Trusted '' and ''untrustworthy'' judges. Justice Isa Salami by this statement can no longer enjoy the confidence of other Judges in the Court of Appeal.Also his statement in the said Interview that” people who attempted to bribe us are now blaming us'' is an admission of criminal offence of concealing the commission of a criminal act.Justice Isa Salami therefore should be accountable for this act of Ommision.””

The full text of petition to the Senate is as follows

REGISTERED VOTERS OF IDO-OSI LG, EKITI STATE ,NIGERIA


January 27,2011 c/o Prince Tunde Aladegbami

B1,Hospital rd, Ilogbe,Ifaki Ekiti

His Excellency
THE SENATE PRESIDENT
NATIONAL ASSEMBLYOF NIGERIA
ABUJA-NIGERIA

We the People of IDO OSI ……..
PETITION BY REGISTERED VOTERS OF IDO OSI LOCAL GOVT ,EKITI STATE AGAINST JUSTICE ISA SALAMI,PRESIDENT COURT OF APPEAL AND 4 ORS

We the 1000 persons identified hereunder being registered voters in Ido –osi local government, write on our behalf and on behalf of all registered voters of Ido Osi local government of Ekiti state of Nigeria, particularly voters of Ifaki 1, Ifaki11,Orin Ora ward, Usi, to protest and challenge the infringement of our inherent fundamental right to participate in the democratic Governance of our country and our state by the decision of the Court of Appeal in the cases of Fayemi v Oni (2009)7 NWLR(pt 1140)223CA per Justice Dantijo Mohammed& Fayemi v Oni (CA/IL/EPT/GOV/1/10) delivered by Justice Isa Salami on 15 October,2010 which cancelled the votes returned in our wards ,on two occasions, on grounds which are absurd, unjustifiable and patently unjust.

We believe that no institution created under the Constitution of Nigeria has the right and the power to exterminate any of the rights guaranteed under s13 &14 (2) (c) the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and other extant laws,the African Charter of Fundamental and Peoples Rights, United Nations Charter of Fundamental Human Rights.

We believe that it is beyond the powers of the Justices to exterminate without cause, the legitimate rights of any citizen of Nigeria.

For the abuse of the power vested in the justices, we request that The National Assembly commence the process of removal of the Justice Isa Salami President of the Court of Appeal, and Hon Justice Clara-Barta Ogunbiyi, Hon Justice Ariwoola, Hon Justice Nweze and Justice A Jauro

The grounds of our petition is stated as follows:

The registered voters duely participated in the April 14 2007 Governorship ELECTION and the Supplementary Governorship Election by INEC on 25 April 2009.

13. We the registered voters duely cast our votes under a free and fair election. The results of the voting was duely collated and announced to us at every polling booths of our wards, the results were recorded in the provided form EC8A and authenticated by all relevant persons including agents of all the parties, the security agencies , LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS who had counterpart copies. The observers reported generally a free and fair election and proper accreditation, which report was made available to all concerned.

14. The votes were collated at our ward level s and results declared as recorded in the relevant forms EC8B.The votes cast represent our electoral choice and mandate in the Governance of Ekiti state

15. During the voting period, there was no violence and NO ELECTORAL MALPRACTICE was perpetrated nor was any criminal allegation of electoral irregularity proved against we the voters or the candidates at the tribunal proceedings.

16. Since 1999, majority of voters in Ido Osi had always voted in support of the PDP as the following data indicates

Year PDP Votes % share of Total Votes Cast in IDO/OSI

1999 29,122 55.03
2003 18,217 61.22
2007/2009 15,939 80.77



17. The Court of Appeal in 2009 unjustifiably and irresponsibly cancelled the votes duely cast by us on the grounds that the wrong biro was used in marking the voters register. Justice Dantijo Mohammed led panel held that since RED BIRO WAS USED INSTEAD OF BLUE BIRO accreditation was not properly done hence the election in all the 10 local government w as annulled.

18. The results were cancelled only in places where the PDP won ,whilst the areas where the AC won (and the same biros were used )were not annulled.. It should also be recalled that 2 elections were held simultaneously –The House of Assembly and the Governorship and the same accreditation was used. The results of the House of Assembly elections still stands at PDP13: AC13 and none of these have been reversed by any tribunal till date.

19. The Court of Appeal thereon ordered for a rerun Election based on this flawed judicial reasoning in10 local governments including areas like Okemesi, and Ilawe which did not form part of the petitioners claim

20. In deciding on the case filed after rerun election, the Court of Appeal in the case (CA/IL/EPT/GOV/1/10) delivered by Justice Isa Salami on 15 October,2010 AGAIN CANCELLED THE ELECTION in the four wards of Ifaki1, Ifaki 2, Orin Ora Ward and USI wards on the grounds that INEC and the Electoral Officer of Ido -osi failed to produce the voters register used in conducting the said election.

21. The said cancellation was SELECTIVELY APPLIED to affect only wards in Ido – Osi LG where Engr Olusegun ONI won the elections while the wards where the AC candidate Kayode FAYEMI won eg -Ayetoro 1 & 11 were left out of the cancellation despite the absence of the same VOTERS REGISTER for the Local Government.

22. Evidence was led before the tribunal that the said voters register was burn by agents of the AC CANDIDATE. Never the less, the Tribunal held that “by the 3rd and 5th respondents failing to produce the electoral materials it cannot be said election was properly conducted in the said four wards”

23. The Votes legitimately and validly cast by us was cancelled by the Justice Isa Salami despite the production of FORM EC 8A, properly authenticated by all relevant parties but the tribunal held“the mere production by the Respondent of Form EC8A without more is not prima facie evidence or proof that an election was conducted”.

24. The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal had held in numerous cases that the prima facie proof of the conduct of an election is the production of Form EC8A. see Amgbare v. Sylva which the Court made copious reference to.Also Obun v Ebun (2006) All FWLR (Pt.327) 419 where the Court stated as follows:

1. “…..there is in law a rebuttable presumption that the results of any election declared by the Electoral body (in this case, INEC) is correct and authentic and the onus is on the person who denies its correctness and authenticity to rebut the presumption.

25. It is ultra vires, unconstitutional and Abuse of power for Justice Isa Salami to refuse to be bound by precedence and the pronouncement of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

26. The said Cancellation of our votes has created absurdity, grave injustice and denial of our fundamental right to vote and be voted for, or freedom of choice in the Governance of our state.

27. The said cancellation has wrought injustice and unwarranted disenfranchisement on us which is tantamount to discrimination and extinguishing of our right to self determination and participation in the governance of our state-Ekiti State, Nigeria. This is against the spirit of s13 &14 (2) (c) the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the African Charter of Fundamental and Peoples Rights, United Nations Charter of Fundamental Human Rights.

28. The said cancellation has made us the VOTERS and the CANDIDATE vicariously liable for the acts of omission or commission of INEC.Neither we the voters or the candidates could reasonably in law be held accountable for the negligence or non performance of the duties of INEC or any other organ of government vested with the conduct of elections.

29. We believe that if the tribunal was concerned or interested in justice and fairness, it could have ordered the voters to re-cast their votes in a rerun election, rather than the wholesale cancellation of all our votes.

30. We believe that the court thereby acted ultra -vires by cancelling our votes duely cast at the elections using legal technicality when what is required is substantial justice. The Supreme Court of Nigeria has consistently warned against the use of legal technicality to override substantial justice in a plethora of cases. Also the Electoral Act provides that elections can not be invalidated if there is substantial compliance with the ACT.

31. Justice Isa Salami has betrayed his oath of office by disobeying the constitution of Nigeria, which requires a judge to dispense justice and perform his functions, “to all manner of people without ill will and affection ''. Mr Justice Salami has not done justice to 15000 voters of Ido Osi Local government by the extermination our legitimate right to vote for the Government of our choice and by infringing on our rights.

32. Furthermore, the President of the court of Appeal publicly acknowledged discrimination of over 50 justices of the court of Appeal, who he claimed not to trust in the discharge of their judicial functions as to empanel them in handling Election Petitions. In an interview published in THISDAY JANUARY 25,2011 Justice Salami said '' '…… Then he raised the issue of using a few Justices to determine appeals. Well when it comes to that you must use people you trust, you cant just empanel anybody''. This statement has put the judiciary in a bad light and the President has confirmed the existence of '' Trusted '' and ''untrustworthy'' judges. Justice Isa Salami by this statement can no longer enjoy the confidence of other Judges in the Court of Appeal.

33. Also his statement in the said Interview that” people who attempted to bribe us are now blaming us'' is an admission of criminal offence of concealing the commission of a criminal act.Justice Isa Salami therefore should be accountable for this act of Ommision.

a. OUR PRAYERS
34. 1)We request for the restoration of our rights flagrantly infringed upon by the said justices of the court of Appeal by Correcting the wrongs inflicted upon us as registered

voters.
35. ii)We request that the Senate and the National Assembly invoke their powers under the Constitution to commence the Process of removal of the President of the Court of Appeal and the four justices on his panel.

We remain, Yours faithfully

The undersigned 1000 REGISTERED VOTERS
For and on behalf of Registered voters of
IDO OSI LOCAL GOVERNMENT,EKITI STATE,NIGERIA
Through SEGUN ILORI&CO LAW ANNEX CHAMBERS,ABUJA