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Presidential Election Tribunal: Parties set for final addresses. Here are the issues

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Petitioners and respondents at the ongoing hearing of the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party at the presidential election petition tribunal are expected to make their final addresses on Tuesday.

The tribunal presided by Justice Garba Mohammed adjourned to that date after the respondents, the Independent National Electoral Commission, President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress closed their cases.

While the petitioners, the PDP, presented 62 witnesses, INEC said it was not embarking on a journey of inviting witnesses because, according to the commission, the witnesses brought by the PDP did not counter the earlier submissions made by INEC.

Like INEC, the third respondent, the All Progressives Congress did not bring any witnesses to the tribunal before closing its case.

The second respondent, President Muhammadu Buhari presented seven witnesses who all focused on proving his education qualification.

Background

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The PDP in its petition had accused the various respondents of liability in a series of alleged electoral fraud that resulted in President Buhari’s victory.

INEC had declared Mr Buhari winner of the February 23 general elections after announcing that he polled 15,191,847 to defeat his closest challenger of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar who secured 11, 262,978 votes according to the commission.

But the PDP and Mr Abubakar insist that the party had scored 18,356,732 votes to defeat Mr Buhari, whom they said received 16,741,430 votes.

During the trial, PDP also showed video clips of INEC resident electoral commissioner in Akwa-Ibom State, Mike Igini.

In the video, Mr Igini explained that the results would be collated at the various polling units into the form EC8A after which the collated results would then be transferred to the card reader and “transmitted to the central server.”

“The results declared at the polling units will then be sent directly to the INEC central server,” Mr Igini said in the video clip.

In a reaction to comments made by Mr Igini at the hearing, President Buhari’s lawyer, Alex Izinyon, brought another video where the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said due to poor information network and possible cyber insecurity, election results would not be transmitted through a server.

“Recall that we have had discussions with the NCC, telecommunication, we have blind spots, how do we transmit results in blind spots,” Mr Yakubu said in the video.

Alleged manipulation

Another point made by several witnesses for the PDP at the tribunal was the allegation that the APC manipulated election results in connivance with security operatives and INEC during the compilation of results in February.

A witness, Yau Yusuf, who told the court that he worked at Dass local government area of Bauchi State, said APC agents took advantage of the security situation after members of the Joint Task Force were called to man election centres following a bomb blast.

“The original result was torn by an APC agent in front of an electoral officer,” Mr Yusuf said.

Mr Yusuf added that copies of the torn sheets were taken away by police officers who promised to investigate the matter. His testimony was meant to strengthen the PDP’s claim that Mr Abubakar’s alleged original votes were interchanged to help ensure Mr Buhari’s victory.

Mr Yusuf’s point was corroborated by several other witnesses, including a former ally of President Buhari, Buba Galadima, and constitutional lawyer Ben Nwabueze when they appeared at the tribunal.

The PDP also submitted thousands of result sheets intended to support its arguments that the results were manipulated during the February 23 general elections.

Educational requirements

Another issue raised by the PDP in its petition is that President Buhari did not meet the minimum requirements for emerging as a candidate for the election, based on education grounds.

In various statements made within and outside the tribunal, the PDP dared Mr Buhari to render his educational certificate at the tribunal.

Grounds for contest

According to section 138. (1) of Nigeria’s electoral act: an election may be questioned on any of the following grounds:

(a) that a person whose election is questioned was, at the time of the election, not qualified to contest the election;

(b) that the election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of this Act;

(c) that the respondent was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election; or that the petitioner or its candidate was validly nominated but was unlawfully excluded from the election.

(e) That the person whose election is questioned had submitted to the Commission affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the election.

Defense from Respondents

As stated earlier, INEC and the APC said they had studied the evidences alluded by the PDP and found it unnecessary to present any defence in the matter.

Buhari’s counter-arguments

The seven witnesses presented by Mr Buhari in his defense are; a retired general of the Nigerian Army, Paul Tarfa; Mr Buhari’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari; a Deputy Registrar of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), Osidehinde Adewunmi; his classmate, Suleiman Maiadua among others.

They all focused on proving his educational qualifications during their defence.

Mr Buhari’s second defence witness, Mr Maiadua, told the tribunal that he was the president’s classmate at the Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, now Government College, Katsina.

The 77-year-old claimed they both finished from the school in 1961.

Mr Maiadua was shown a picture of those who were said to be the president’s classmates and teachers while graduating as a Class 6 pupil in 1961. He identified himself, Mr Buhari, and a former President of the Court of Appeal, retired Justice Umar Abdullahi, as appearing in the picture.

The picture was part of the APC’s evidence to prove that Mr Buhari met the educational qualifications for participating in the elections.

Presenting the said certificate, which was admitted as evidence, the third witness, Mr Kyari, told the tribunal that Mr Buahri had five credits including in English in the examination.

Mr Kyari said he had known the president for nearly 40 years.

The 67-year-old also said he signed for and collected the Cambridge documents for his principal.

He also confirmed to the tribunal that the curriculum vitae signed by Mr Buhari did not have any certificate listed, apart from the list of institutions he attended.

He admitted that the Diploma in Strategic Study which he claimed Mr Buhari possessed was not listed in the president’s CV.

Testifying as Mr Buhari’s fourth witness, Mr Adewunmi, said the President obtained a Cambridge University West African examination certificate with five credits, contrary to claims by the opposition.

According to Mr Adewunmi, who said he has worked with (WAEC) for over 30 years, Mr Buhari wrote the 1961 WAEC exams in eight subjects and emerged successful in five.

Mr Adewunmi said the subjects passed by Mr Buhari are; Oral English, C 5; History, A3; Geography, C6; Hausa, C5; and Health Science, C6.

He also said, while speaking during his examination by the APC lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi, that Mr Buhari wrote the exams with 17 others and had an aggregate of 32.

“Whoever has this (the R21 exhibit) has a secondary education.”

He added that the president was listed as number 2 in the list of those “who had taken the examination that year.”

Nigeria

Gov AbdulRazaq urges youths to shun drug abuse, other vices

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Gov AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara has called on Nigerian youths to shun drug abuse and other vices that could hinder them from realising their lifetime ambitions.

AbdulRazaq made the call on Wednesday when he received members of the state chapter of Scouts’ Association of Nigeria (SAN), led by its Commissioner, Deacon Olabisi Afolayinka, at the Government House, Ilorin.

The governor, who recalled, with nostalgia, his days as a scout boy in Capital School, Kaduna, said that the organisation had contributed immensely to nurturing youths to become good citizens and contribute to the development of the country.

“This is an association that prepares youths on how to be good citizens and how to relate with their fellow countrymen.

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“These are virtues that the youth of today should maintain. In our own days as youths, there were no rampant cases of drug abuse,” he said.

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The governor urged the youth to use their energy for productive ventures and join the organisation to make positive contributions to society.

AbdulRazaq, who was made the organisation’s Ambassador of Peace, promised to live up to expectations by giving necessary support to the body through relevant government agencies.

Earlier in his remarks, Afolayanka said that the constitution of the body automatically made the governor of any state its patron and the president grand patron.

He commended AbdulRazaq for the audience granted the association, saying that this was the first time any governor would be hosting them in the state in the last 21 years.

Afolayanka said that the association was founded to build young boys and girls to make useful contributions to the country.

The SAN commissioner noted that cultism and other vices were not rampant in schools in the past when the scouts held sway.

He urged the governor to continue to support the association for effective discharge of its responsibilities in the state.

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Nigeria

NYSC: Bwari assures Corp members improved welfare

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The Chairman of Bwari Area Council, Mr John Gabaya has assured members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) of his administration’s readiness to improve on their welfare.

Gabaya gave the assurance when representatives of the FCT NYSC Secretariat, and some members of the NYSC 2019 Batch B’, paid him a courtesy visit on Wednesday in Abuja.

Gabaya, who appreciated the team for the gesture, said that it was the duty of the council, as host of the NYSC Orientation Camp in the city to ensure it gave the Corps maximum support.

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He acknowledged the fact that the camp in Kubwa, was faced with infrastructure challenges, adding that efforts would be made to amendments it and bring succour to the corps members.

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“The council, in its capacity, alongside the management of the scheme, would meet and discuss how it would make the development feasible including our best effort to add a little raise to their allowance,” Gabaya said.

Earlier, the NYSC FCT Coordinator, Mrs Waleeda Isa, said the visit was to acquaint its officials with the new administration of the council as host of the orientation camp.

Isa decried the sorry state of infrastructure at the NYSC camp, saying “their lodge in the camp is dilapidated and needs attention”.

“Also, it would go a long way for those who serve under the council, if your administration can kindly add a little to their allowance to augment what the Federal Government is giving them.

“We will be honoured if you make these efforts so that we feel your presence and know that you have us at heart,” she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NYSC 2019 Batch B’ corp members have reported and would be inaugurated at the orientation camp on Aug. 22.

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Nigeria

Lagos govt boosts MCC services in Eti-Osa Tribune Online

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THE Lagos State Government says it has completed yet another Maternal and Childcare Centre (MCC) located in Eti-Osa Local Government Area of the state to increase residents’ access to qualitative maternal and child healthcare.

The state Commissioner of Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, made this known on Wednesday in Lagos during an advocacy meeting with community leaders and residents of Badore.

Abayomi was represented by the Director of Projects, Ministry of Health, Dr Olusola Oduwole.

He said that the continuous implementation of strategic maternal child survival interventions, policies, programmes and projects by the government was geared toward the reduction of maternal and child mortality in the state.

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According to him, the local and national statistics of maternal and child mortality and morbidity rate are of utmost concern to the government hence, the adoption of various strategies to combat it.

“One of these strategies is the construction of MCC, a specialised healthcare centre for mothers and children.

“It is aimed at taking maternal and child healthcare closer to the people by reducing the travel time and improving the quality care to the highest possible standard,” the commissioner said.

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Abayomi said that the MCC was located on Ogombo Road along Abraham Adesanya Estate in Eti-Osa local government area.

According to him, the facility is a four-floored 110-bed complex designed to respond to maternal and child health issues.

“It will provide quality services for the restoration, improvement and promotion of the health and well-being of women, babies and children in the local government area and adjoining communities.

“It has two theatres where surgeries can be done; consulting rooms; treatment rooms, antenatal and postnatal wards; baby nursery; pharmacy, laboratory and offices, among others,” he said.

Abayomi said that the construction of MCCs in the state was designed to stem the tide of maternal deaths which occurred as a result of delivery by unskilled birth attendants, haemorrhage, infection, obstructed labour and malaria, among others.

He said that women should not die in the course of life procreation process.

“The concept of the construction of MCCs was mooted with the conviction that these interventions will impact positively on the health indices of our mothers and children who constitute a significant percentage of clients attended to at public health facilities.

“The Eti-Osa MCC will commence operation before the end of the week and will serve as a referral centre to all primary health facilities in Eti-Osa local government and accompanying communities.

“It will yield the much desired and anticipated impact towards the reduction of maternal and child mortality in the area,” the commissioner said.

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Nigeria

Psychiatric resident doctors vow to continue strike %

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THE Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, has resolved to continue its ongoing indefinite strike demanding for optimal mental healthcare for patients.

The President of the association, Dr Afeez Enifeni, said in a statement on Wednesday, in Lagos, that the strike would continue until the management addressed the work experience of the overworked doctors.

Enifeni said that the doctors had on Aug. 19 held a meeting to review the current industrial action.

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The doctors accused the hospital management of being insensitive to the plight of the in and outpatients, who according to him, are receiving suboptimal mental health services.

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“The hospital management has blatantly refused to replace the annual exit of resident doctors for the past four years.

“Instead, they have let patient load and clinical work increase significantly for hapless resident doctors whose health and academic pursuits have suffered irreparably.

“In light of the above, the management’s insistence on employing only five locum doctors is highly provocative of our demands.

“It hardly improves the status quo which already puts overworked resident doctors at the brink of academic failure, health challenges and malpractice suits,” he said.

He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the hospital’s management to do the needful in line with the administration’s next level agenda.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the resident doctors had embarked on an indefinite strike on July 31 over non-employment of more resident doctors at the hospital.

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Nigeria

AIDS: Society says self-stigma more destructive than HIV/AIDS

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THE Coalition of Civil Society Network on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (COCSNHAN) on Wednesday said that self-stigma was more destructive to people living with HIV than the disease.

Mr Ikenna Nwakamma, first Co-chairman of the society, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that it was the major reason people living with HIV default from treatments.

Nwakamma, who called for the incorporation of mental health services in the national HIV programme, said it was imperative to rescue patients from the dangers of self-stigma.

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“Very important, the issues of self-stigma is hardly talked about and that is even more destructive; it is the major reason people living with HIV default in their treatment,” he said.

The society’s co-chairman explained that mental health would make people living with HIV become co-managers of their health.

According to him, mental health problems among people living with HIV is the new epidemic and we must deal with it squarely.

Nwakamma restated the plans of the society to set up a monitoring system that would capture and report cases of stigma and discrimination in health facilities.

He promised that any identified case would be used to send a strong warning to others.

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