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Presidential Election Tribunal to Rule Next Week Tuesday Amid Disturbing Controversies…As Controversy Trails Other Cases

February 19, 2008
Following Umar Yar’adua’s poorly-timed announcement of Justice James Ogebe’s elevation to the Supreme Court, the Presidential Elections Petitions Tribunal may have decided to deliver its ruling earlier than planned. Justice Ogebe is chairing the electoral tribunal.

Sources at the tribunal headquarters told Saharareporters that, in order to beat Umar Yar'adua at his game, members of the tribunal met all night and agreed to conclude the writing of the judgment and deliver it by next week. Barring last-minute changes, the ruling is now fixed for Tuesday, February 26 2008.

Saharareporters had earlier reported that the tribunal was going to deliver a ruling on or before March 14 2008.
Yesterday, Umar Yar'adua sent Justice Ogebe’s name to the Nigerian Senate for confirmation as a justice of Supreme Court. The move has been widely condemned by lawyers and legal analysts, and seen as a cynical move calculated to help the judge consolidate his stance in support of validating the election in the name of national stability. 

Saharareporters learnt that Justice Ogebe's nomination by National Judicial Council was formally presented to Umar Yar'adua in November 2007, but he decided not to present it to the Senate until a time he thought the decision would have a big impact on the lead judge in his case.

Sources also disclosed to Saharareporters that Yar'adua had quietly enlisted the help of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, to ensure a favorable ruling. The five justices on the panel have met with Justice Abdullahi to discuss their proposed ruling.
As reported earlier by Saharareporters, the states of Katsina and Kaduna are bankrolling last-minute efforts to compromise the tribunal as well as the media. Saharareporters reliably gathered that some media executives are meeting in Abuja to collect huge bribes to ensure that several columns are manufactured over the weekend urging the Appeal Court not to remove Umar Yar'adua in the "interest of stability" and "in order to allow the nation to move forward" as well as allow Yar'adua to complete "the good works he has started."

Even as Yar'adua makes a desperate effort to stave off possible defeat at the tribunal, another major ruling is also awaited on the appeal instituted by the Adamawa State governor, Murtala Nyako. Saharareporters has learnt that the Court of Appeal sitting in Jos will deliver a final ruling on the case of exclusion brought to it by Murtala Nyako. The governor already lost at the state elections tribunal.

Also, the certified true copy of the controversial favorable judgment handed Andy Uba was yet to be released to the lawyers involved in the case. Several of the lawyers have told Saharareporters that the judges who ruled in the case are being evasive about releasing the certified true copy. One source revealed that, even though Justice Munkata Coomasie, who heads the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, wrote the judgment in Ilorin, the typing and "amendments" of the judgment which was delivered by Justice Dongban Mensen is still going on in Abuja. As a result, the lawyers have been unable to lay their hands on the judgment.

Justice Coomasie was also elevated to the Supreme Court less than 24 hours after the delivery of his judgment on Andy Uba’s case.

Most legal analysts across Nigeria have described the judgment as lacking in value, substance and impact.

The ruling of the Elections Petitions Tribunal, involving the Senate President, David Mark is also ready for Saturday February 23, 2008. A reliable source told Saharareporters that the ruling on David Mark's case was also moved forward to neutralize him from fighting to take over from Yar'adua should the Presidential Elections Tribunal rule against Yar'adua next week.
This is emerging as sources told Saharareporters that David Mark may have intimidated the lead judge handling the case by involving the Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro. Mike Okiro recently ordered the arrest of the tribunal clerk alleged to have tampered with the tribunal form EC 8 on behalf of Mark’s opponent. The lady was said to have “confessed” to police interrogators that she was offered N5 million to tamper with the materials.
 David Mark had already tried to use the excuse to restart the trial but the tribunal refused to do his bidding.
 The Chairman of the Tribunal was last night summoned by police authorities to see the 'evidence' available from the clerk.

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