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COURT SUMMONS PDP, INEC OVER HIGH COST OF NOMINATION FORM

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Barely few days to the conduct of its presidential primary, a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory(FCT), Abuja, has summoned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) to appear before it on May 26, in connection with a suit challenging the high cost of expression of interest and nomination forms imposed on aspirants by the party.

In the suit marked FCT/CV/144/2022, the plaintiff, Okey Uzoho, is contending that the act of the PDP interposing a monetary condition as additional qualification criteria for aspirants amounts to a violation of the 1999 constitution.

Justice C. Emisiri of the Jabi division of the court issued the summon, yesterday, with a directive that hearing notices be served on the respondents before the next adjourned date fixed for May 26.

The summons was necessitated by the absence of the respondents in court when the matter was called. The two defendants in the suit are the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC).

The plaintiff, Okey Uzoho, a card carrying member of the PDP, said he is desirous of contesting for the office of President of Nigeria in the 2023 election as the flag-bearer of the party.

In his supporting affidavit to the suit, he however averred that he was denied the opportunity of actualising his aspiration on the grounds that he could not submit a bank draft in the sum of N40 million, being a condition precedent for acquiring the expression of interest and nomination forms for the party’s presidential primary election.

The aggrieved politician posed the following questions for the determination of the court: “Whether having regard to section 131 read along with section 1(1) and (3) of the 1999 constitution, the PDP is entitled to impose or interpose as additional qualification/s the payment of N40m by the plaintiff, as further qualification to seek the party’s sponsorship for election to the office of president of Nigeria. Whether having regard to the provisions of section 84(3) of the Electoral Act 2022, it is not unlawful and in violation of the aforesaid provisions of the Electoral Act for the PDP to demand and insist on collecting the sum of N5m for expression of interest form and another sum of N35m for presidential nomination form, from the plaintiff before he could aspire to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on its platform.

“Whether it is lawful for the 1st defendant (PDP), to refuse or neglect to avail the plaintiff of its expression of interest form and presidential nomination form for the party’s presidential primary election for the 2023 election, for reasons of non-payment of the sum of N40m for purchase of the said forms. Whether having regard to the provisions of item 15(a), (c), (f) and (i) of the third schedule to the 1999 constitution; and section 83(2) and (4) of the Electoral Act 2022, the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), ought to accept and/or give effect to the outcome of the party’s 2023 presidential primary election where the plaintiff was not allowed to participate on account of non-payment of N40m under the guise of purchasing expression of interest form and nomination form for the said primary election or any related guise. Whether the refusal to supply him with the necessary forms required for participation in the party’s 2023 presidential primary election is not in violation of his right to peaceful assembly, association and freedom from discrimination as enshrined in sections 40 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution.”

The plaintiff is demanding the sum of N50m as compensation for the anxiety, inconvenience, loss of valuable campaign time occasioned by the denial to participate at the presidential primary. He is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from excluding him from the presidential primary.

He is further pressing for an order of injunction compelling the PDP to provide him with all the necessary facilities to ensure his participation in the party’s primary election for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The originating summon is accompanied by a 12-paragraph affidavit of urgency deposed to by a legal practitioner, Zephaniah Bashi.

SUN

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COMMUNITY SEEKS SOLUDO’S HELP OVER HARASSMENT BY SECURITY OPERATIVES

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The community leaders in Nteje, Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State, have called on Governor Chukwuma Soludo to save them from the incessant harassment and intimidation of indigenes allegedly by security operatives in the town.

They made the call on Friday in Awka at a news conference following the invasion of Nteje by suspected security operatives on Thursday.

The spokesman for the community, Mr. Martins Okechukwu, said seven persons, including the acting President-General of Nteje, Chief Benneth Chinweze, were seriously injured by the security operatives.

Okechukwu said, “Apart from our president-general, who is now lying critically ill in the hospital, one Oluebube Anukwu, who was among the seven persons that sustained gun shots is now dead, while five others are receiving treatments in different hospitals.

“Before now, Nteje has been a peaceful community, but in the past 10 years now, all that we are facing are incessant attacks and arrest of our people, who in some cases, are taken to Abuja where they suffer grievously.”

Okechukwu who blamed the ugly development on some natives mentioned one Chief Mike Nwakalor as the person fanning the crisis due to his interest in land grabbing activities.

He said that the Nteje community today has about four army checkpoints which some privileged individuals take undue advantage to harass the residents.

The acting President General of Nteje, Chief Benneth Chinweze, who spoke from his hospital bed in Awka, when our correspondent visited the hospital, said he had a harrowing experience in the hands of the security men on June 16.

“I was driving when, suddenly, some persons who all covered their faces double-crossed my vehicle and ordered me out.

“They forced me into their Hilux truck, tie my legs and hands and blindfolded me before they began to give me treatments like a common criminal.

“This incident took place on Thursday, June 16, but it was on Friday, June 17, that I regained consciousness in a hospital.

“As you can see, I cannot raise my two hands up or use them to eat and bath, I am just helpless here as you can see,” he said.

Chinweze who doubles as the regent of Nteje Community, added that he suspected that it was Chief Mike Nwakalor that was behind his ordeal.

”Before I lost consciousness, the people beating me kept saying, you always insult Chief Mike Nwakalor and if you don’t respect yourself, we will teach you bitter lesson,” he added.

When contacted, Chief Mike Nwakalor said he was not involved in the problem which occurred in Nteje on June 16 and do not have any hand in land grabbing activities in Nteje.

“As a community leader, I heard what happened and upon investigation I was told that Chief Chinweze wrote a petition and when security operatives came for him, he tried to evade arrest.

“I further gathered that those who were wounded by gun shots blocked security operatives and in the exchange of gun fire some of them got injured,” he said.

Nwakalor, however, explained that he was also not involved in any land dispute with any person in Nteje, saying, ”I have 200 plots of land between Nteje Park and Umunya and the property is not in dispute because I have my certificate of occupancy.”

Reacting, the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, said that the command was not aware of the matter which occurred in Nteje on June 16.

He rather urged people of Nteje who were affected in the matter to come up with information that could help police in nipping the matter in the bud.

PUNCH

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ICPC RAIDS MILITARY CONTRACTOR’S ABUJA HOME, RECOVERS $220,965, CARS, OTHERS

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission has raided the Abuja home of a military contractor and seized N175,706,500; $220,965; G-Wagon; 2022 editions of BMW and Mercedes Benz cars.

Operatives also recovered customised mobile phones; several designer wrist watches, including three Rolexes, and some property documents.

ICPC arrested the Managing Director of K Salam Construction Company Nigeria Limited, Mr. Kabiru Sallau, said to be the owner of the property.

The anti-graft agency in a statement on Friday denied that the home belonged to a former Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai.

The statement by the ICPC spokesperson, Azuka Ogaga read, “The Commission wishes to state that ICPC operatives raided a property in Wuse 2 of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on Thursday, June 16, 2022, between 5:00 pm and 12:00 am in suspicion of money laundering. Facts available for the time being indicate that the property is owned by the owner of K Salam Construction Company, a military contractor.

“The Commission recovered money and other items from the property viz-a-viz N175,706,500; $220,965; G-Wagon; 2022 editions of BMW and Mercedes Benz cars; customized mobile phones; several designer wrist watches, including three Rolexes, and some property documents.

“The Commission arrested the Managing Director of K Salam Construction Company Nigeria Limited, Mr. Kabiru Sallau, and the investigation is ongoing.

“The Commission is yet to conclude its investigation and prefers not to preempt its outcome and also avoid the frenzy of a media trial.”

PUNCH

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CALL FOR ASUU BAN ABSURD, MEMBER SAYS

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Academic Staff Union of Universities,

A former chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, University of Port Harcourt Branch, Dr. Austen Sado, has described the call for the ban of the union as absurd and irrational.

A member of the National Caucus of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Sam Nkire, had asked the Federal Government to consider banning ASUU, alleging that the union had stifled the development of tertiary education and “trying to bring the government and the society to its knees.”

But Sado, who spoke in an interview with Saturday PUNCH on Thursday, expressed shock that a party leader could call for the prescription of a union as a result of a problem caused by the government.

Further describing Nkire’s act as an exhibition of ignorance, the former ASUU chief said Nkire’s statement showed the dilemma of leadership Nigerians had to endure.

“I am shocked to my marrow that a party leader could say this. To suggest that a way to solve a problem caused by the government’s irresponsibility is to ban a group of people that are asking the government to do the right thing is absurd.

“I have never been shocked by any exhibition of ignorance to that extent. That tells you the quality of leadership in Nigeria. It tells you the thinking behind our developmental quest.

“This person went to school and understands what is required to fund education, so that you can enhance and equip your people for developmental purposes, and you think that the way to achieve that is to silence a group of people that are holding you accountable to your irresponsibility. Nothing could be more absurd and irrational than that,” he said.

PUNCH

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