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BREAKING: Supreme Court frees Saraki, dismisses assets declaration charges

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The Supreme Court on Friday finally laid to rest the trial of a Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on assets declaration and sundry charges instituted against him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

A five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Dattijo Muhammad unanimously upheld Saraki’s appeal, by dismissing the remnant three counts, declaring the evidence led by the prosecution as hearsay.

The Danladi Umar-led CCT had, in June last year, terminated the trial upon an application by Saraki, by dismissing the entire 18 counts preferred against the Senate President.

The CCT’s decision was based on the grounds that the prosecution, with its four witnesses and 49 exhibits tendered, only led hearsay evidence which could not be the basis to link Saraki to the 18 counts preferred against him.

However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja ruling on December 12, 2017, in an appeal filed by the Federal Government against the decision of the CCT, restored three out of the dismissed 18 counts and ordered Saraki to return to the CCT to defend the three charges.

While Saraki had appealed to the Supreme Court against the part of the Court of Appeal’s decision restoring three of the 18 counts, the Federal Government had cross-appealed against the part of the decision affirming the tribunal’s dismissal of the rest of the 15 counts.

However, in its lead judgment on Friday, Justice Centus Nweze upheld Saraki’s appeal and dismissed the Federal Government’s appeal.
Justice Nweze agreed with the CCT that the evidence led by the prosecution at the tribunal was entirely hearsay.

He held that the Court of Appeal was wrong to have restored three out the 18 counts earlier dismissed by the CCT when it agreed that the evidence led by the prosecution was hearsay but went ahead to isolate three of the counts as having been proved.

Justice Nweze quoted a part of the Court of Appeal’s judgment where it held that “the prosecution failed to call those who have direct knowledge of the facts sought to be proved, to testify”.

Faulting the Court of Appeal’s turn around to restore three of the counts based on the evidence it had declared as hearsay, Justice Nweze said was “equivalent to judicial equivalent of a forensic somersault”.

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Osinbajo denies resigning as Vice President

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has debunked the rumour of his alleged resignation as the Vice President of the country.

On his verified Twitter handle, Professor Osinbajo said, “Misleading/FAKE news is on the rise especially in this season when Nigerians will make a choice about who will govern them for the next four years. I have not resigned! I remain committed to the service of the Nigerian people under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.”

President Muhammadu Buhari’s New Media aide, Bashir Ahmed, debunked same rumour on his Twitter handle.

He said Professor Osinbajo remains committed to serving the Nigerian populace.

On his verified Twitter handle, Ahmad said, “FAKE NEWS ALERT: Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has NOT resigned, he remains committed to the service of the Nigerian people under the leadership of Pre

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Only God can stop Feb. 23 elections – INEC chairman

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Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says “only an Act of God can stop the conduct of the rescheduled Presidential and National Assembly election slated for Saturday.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu stated this in Abuja while addressing a cross section of the diplomatic community and international election monitoring groups in Nigeria, for the 2019 General Election.

The briefing which was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in conjunction with INEC, is aimed at engaging with friends and partners of Nigeria on the rescheduled election.

Yakubu, who was represented by an INEC National Commissioner, Dr Mustapha Lecky, said that the commission had put in place everything possible to ensure the elections hold on Saturday.

The INEC boss said that the commission had no reason to feel that anything would stop the conduct of the election on Feb 23.

He said the commission has developed a six-point agenda of what needed to be done to ensure success of the election

He also said that the commission has completed the deployment of materials.

“We believe that as a prayerful nation the act of God has been assuaged and that things will go right, we have no reason to feel that anything will go wrong.

“We have received all the materials, they have been checked, audited people have been informed, party agents have gone there to check,” he said.

The official said that INEC had already taken responsibility for the postponement and that the body was committed to surpass achievement of previous elections in the country.

He blamed the postponement on logistics and problems associated with the primaries of some political parties, which according to him delayed the printing of ballot papers.

The Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said the police was working with other security agencies to ensure maximum security during the elections

Adamu said that he would ensure ballot box snatchers and other criminal elements who may attempt to scuttle the polls are arrested and prosecuted according to the law.

He said, the force had taken measures to protect voters, officials as well as election observers during the polls and warned trouble makers to rethink or be made to face the consequences of their actions.

“The police will be professional, impartial and will create a level playing ground for all parties.

“All security personnel were trained by various security agencies, training was also given by Civil Society Organisations and other partners towards free, fair and transparent elections.

“I have spoken to Nigerians. We on our part, will be professional and impartial.

“We are going to create enabling environment for all the political parties to operate freely without molestation without favouring one party against another,” he said.(NAN)

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Elections: By Wednesday, Nigerians should know their president – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has announced the timeframe for result declaration of the 2019 Presidential Election.

The commission assured that the results would not take longer than the 2015 elections, in spite of the number of presidential candidates, size of the result sheets and increased voter population.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said this on Wednesday in Abuja while briefing journalists on the state of preparedness of the commission for the polls.

Yakubu said the commission was working to ensure that it does not keep Nigerians waiting for days without declaring the results.

He said the time limit would not exceed what obtained in 2015.

Recall that in 2015, while the Presidential Election held on a Saturday, a winner was not declared until the following Wednesday.

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