Nigerian appeals court dismisses challenges against President Bola Tinubu’s election win

Nigeria's President Bola Tinubu speaks after his swearing-in ceremony in Abuja on May 29, 2023. (REUTERS/File Photo)
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Updated 07 September 2023

Nigerian appeals court dismisses challenges against President Bola Tinubu’s election win

  • 3 opposing parties challenged the election results claiming Tinubu was not qualified to run for president because he was a citizen of Guinea
  • Court also ruled that petitioners failed to prove claim that Tinubu was once indicted on drug charges in the US, thereby disqualifying him from running for president

ABUJA, Nigeria: An appeals court in Nigeria on Wednesday rejected petitions filed by the opposition challenging the legitimacy of President Bola Tinubu’s victory in the February election after ruling that the political parties were not able to prove their cases alleging voting irregularities and questioning Tinubu’s qualifications.

Three opposing parties challenged the election results which they said was illegally announced and argued that Tinubu was not qualified to run for president because he was a citizen of Guinea and allegedly did not have the required academic credentials.
The opposition, which had hinted at possible protests if the court upheld Tinubu’s election, rejected the court’s ruling but did not immediately say if they will appeal it. The verdict can be appealed at Nigeria’s Supreme Court within 60 days.
In the Court of Appeal in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, a five-member justice panel, dismissed most of the grounds of the petitions filed by the Peoples Democratic Party’s Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president who came second in the election, the third-place finisher Peter Obi with Labour Party as well as the Allied Peoples Movement.
The panel ruled that Obi was not able to prove his claims that the Nigerian election commission did not follow due process in announcing the results of the vote nor that the voting was marred by irregularities and that he — not Tinubu — won the election with a majority of votes. The court also ruled that he failed to prove his claim that Tinubu was once indicted on drug charges in the United States, thereby disqualifying him from running for president.
“It is clearly evident that the petitioners have failed to discharge the burden of proof placed on them by law,” said Haruna Tsammani, head of the panel. “They have not been able to leave any cogent, credible and acceptable evidence.”
It also rejected a petition by the Allied Peoples Movement which sought to nullify Tinubu’s victory on the ground that his running mate — Vice President Kashim Shettima— was not legally nominated to contest. It said Shettima met the minimum constitutional provisions allowing him to run.
Abubakar’s claims that Tinubu is a citizen of Guinea and was therefore not qualified to contest in the election was also rejected by the court which ruled that the Peoples Democratic Party candidate could not prove his argument.
Tinubu, who is currently attending the G20 summit in India, has denied all the allegations made by the petitioners.
Amid tight security in Abuja, various support groups chanted songs near the court premises to show solidarity with their political parties and to urge the judiciary to “do the right thing.”
A protester, James Mike, said they stood by the court to let the judiciary know “the last hope of the common man depends on” them.
The tribunal is empowered to either uphold Tinubu’s election win, declare someone else the winner, annul the vote, or to order a new election. It would have been a first in Nigeria’s history if the judges upheld the petitions and annulled the presidential election.
A presidential election can be annulled only on the basis of evidence that the Independent National Electoral Commission did not follow the law and acted in ways that might have affected an election’s outcome.
Since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, all presidential elections but one have been contested in court. None were overturned.
Police in Abuja issued a statement Tuesday warning citizens “to be cautious in their actions and statements,” saying security forces would not “condone activities capable of inciting violence or causing a descent into anarchy.”
The 71-year-old Tinubu won the election with less than 50 percent of the vote, also a first in Nigeria’s history. The election was largely described by observers as an improvement from the 2019 election, although critics also said the delays in uploading — and announcing — election results could have given room for ballot tampering, critics say.
Since taking office in May, Tinubu introduced measures that he said would reform the country’s ailing economy but which have further squeezed millions of poor and hungry Nigerians during his first 100 days in office. Most of the Nigerian leader’s reforms, though well-intentioned, have been poorly implemented, critics have said.
On Tuesday, Nigeria Labor Congress workers launched a two-day “warning strike” to protest the growing cost of living due to the removal of gas subsidies, threatening to “shut down” Africa’s largest economy if their demands for improved welfare are not met. It was their second strike in over a month.
The Nigerian government urged citizens to be patient with Tinubu. Mohammed Idris, Nigeria’s minister of information, said though steps taken by the government “to save the country from hitting the rocks brought momentary discomfort to Nigerians,” the president has “never failed in his appeal to Nigerians to see the current inconveniences as a price we must all pay to save our country from disappearing.”

Ukraine says Russian shells hit private homes, four killed

Updated 1 sec ago

Ukraine says Russian shells hit private homes, four killed

KYIV: Russian shells struck a residential building and private houses on Tuesday, killing four and injuring at least five people, local Ukrainian officials said.
A five-story building was hit in the morning in the southern town of Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk region governor Serhiy Lysak said.
“A 63-year-old man was killed. Two women, aged 65 and 63, were injured. There may be people under the rubble,” he said on Telegram messenger.
In a separate attack in the afternoon, Russian shelling destroyed at least five private houses in a northern settlement just on the border with Russia, Sumy regional prosecutors reported.
Two bodies have been recovered from the rubble, and a 7-year-old girl died in hospital after a car she was in came under fire, the prosecutors said on Telegram. Three people have been injured.
Russia has denied deliberately targeting civilians although many have been killed in its frequent air strikes.

Sri Lanka eyes Saudi investment to modernize tourism sector

Updated 20 min 51 sec ago

Sri Lanka eyes Saudi investment to modernize tourism sector

  • Tourism is a key industry for Sri Lanka, accounting for 12 percent of GDP in 2019
  • Officials also discussed possibility of Saudia Airlines launching direct flight to Colombo

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka is looking for Saudi investment to modernize its tourism and other sectors, top officials in Colombo have said following an official visit of Saudi Economy and Planning Minister Faisal Al-Ibrahim. 

Al-Ibrahim was in the Sri Lankan capital on Monday, where he met President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Ali Sabry to discuss ways to strengthen economic ties. 

“President Ranil Wickremesinghe … further highlighted that the tourism and agriculture sectors were areas open to greater investment, as the country is committed to modernizing these domains,” the presidential secretariat said in a statement. 

Tourism and agriculture are key industries for Sri Lanka, accounting for about 12 percent and 7 percent of its 2019 GDP respectively. The country has been working to revive its crisis-hit economy following a severe financial crisis that drove the country to bankruptcy last year. 

Al-Ibrahim said that he was honored to meet Wickremesinghe. 

“We discussed both countries’ ambitions and transformation journeys as well as strengthening our bilateral economic ties and trade and investment growth opportunities,” Al-Ibrahim wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. 

During Al-Ibrahim’s meeting with Sabry, the two officials discussed Saudi investment, as well as manpower and tourism cooperation, the foreign minister said.  

“We also discussed (ways) to improve the tourism traffic between the two countries and further strengthen people-to-people contact. We also discussed the possibility of Saudia Airlines commencing direct flights to Colombo,” Sabry told Arab News. 

“We decided to explore possibilities of Saudi investment in Sri Lanka and opportunities for the Sri Lankans for further skilled employment opportunities in Saudi Arabia in its planned construction boom,” he said, alluding to the Kingdom’s various megaprojects under Vision 2030.  

“All in all, we had a very productive discussion and agreed to have a clear plan to continue our cooperation.” 

Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka have expanded ties in the past year. They agreed to broaden their political consultation following their first joint committee meeting in May and earlier this year launched a new employment scheme aimed at boosting Colombo’s manpower exports to the Kingdom.

Finland closes Russian border for 2 weeks to stop asylum seekers

Updated 56 min 57 sec ago

Finland closes Russian border for 2 weeks to stop asylum seekers

  • Some 900 asylum seekers from nations including Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen have entered Finland from Russia in November

HELSINKI: Finland will close its entire border with Russia to travelers for the next two weeks in a bid to halt a flow of asylum seekers to the Nordic nation, the government said on Tuesday.
Finland last week shut all but one of its remaining border posts to travelers from Russia, keeping open only the northernmost crossing located in the Arctic. But this too would now close, allowing only goods transport, the government said.
Some 900 asylum seekers from nations including Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen have entered Finland from Russia in November, an increase from less than one per day previously, according to the Finnish Border Guard.
The decision means only freight traffic can pass between the two countries.

Singapore sees logistics, green energy opportunities under Saudi Vision 2030

Updated 28 November 2023

Singapore sees logistics, green energy opportunities under Saudi Vision 2030

  • Saudi Arabia, Singapore elevated their ties to strategic partnership during PM Lee’s visit last month 
  • Manpower Minister Tan See Leng tells Arab News about Singapore’s interests in deepening cooperation 

SINGAPORE: Singapore sees growth opportunities in logistics, transport and green energy under the Saudi Vision 2030, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said on Tuesday, as the two countries have recently elevated their ties to a strategic level. 

Saudi Arabia and Singapore agreed to strengthen relations during an official visit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to the Kingdom and his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last month. 

The visit was preceded by seven memoranda of understanding to facilitate investment opportunities, which were inked during the third session of the Saudi-Singapore Joint Committee held in Riyadh, led by Tan, who is also the city state’s second minister for trade and industry, and Saudi Transport and Logistic Services Minister Saleh Al-Jasser. 

“Minister of Transport and Logistic Services Eng. Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser and I reaffirmed our commitment to growing our countries’ bilateral ties,” Tan told Arab News. 

“With Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the country has seen new growth areas for Singapore’s businesses on many fronts, such as in logistics, transport and green energy. I had shared with His Excellency Al-Jasser Singapore’s interests to deepen our cooperation in the ports and logistics sectors and Singaporean companies’ interest to participate in projects arising from Vision 2030.” 

Singapore’s Manpower Minister Tan See Leng signs an agreement with Saudi Transport and Logistic Services Minister Saleh Al-Jasser, Riyadh, Oct. 17, 2023. (Tan See Leng)

Singapore, Asia’s top logistics hub, has been ranked by the World Bank as the first in the world for logistics competence, infrastructure and timeliness of services. 

During the Saudi-Singapore Joint Committee’s recent sessions, the Saudi Ports Authority, known as Mawani, and Saudi Global Ports, a subsidiary of Singapore’s port operator PSA, signed an agreement to establish an integrated logistics zone at the King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam. 

“The development of the integrated logistics zone is one of SGP’s partnerships with Mawani on its Vision 2030 roadmap to grow Saudi Arabia as a logistics hub,” Tan said. 

“On the energy front, I was pleased that Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and I signed the Energy Cooperation Roadmap. Through this, we will see closer cooperation in areas such as low-carbon solutions and technologies, renewable energy, energy efficiency and innovation for decarbonization. Prince Abdulaziz and I also discussed our countries’ commitment to our energy transition.” 

This year’s joint committee meeting also saw in attendance representatives of the private sector from the Federation of Saudi Chambers and the Singapore Business Federation, as well as members of a business delegation from Singapore, which signed five memoranda with the Saudi Ministry of Investment to facilitate their entry into the Kingdom. 

Tan said that Singaporean companies were also interested in working together with Saudis in the fields of oil and gas, tourism and hospitality, urban infrastructure and education sectors. 

He gave as an example Surbana Jurong, a Singaporean government-owned consulting company focusing on infrastructure and urban development, which has already established offices in Riyadh to work on design consultancy in NEOM, the Kingdom’s flagship smart-city megaproject under Vision 2030. 

“I am also glad that (the Saudi Ministry of Investment) has set up a Singapore office earlier this year in September, to promote investments into the Kingdom and facilitate Saudi companies tapping into Singapore to expand into Asia,” Tan said. 

“With these developments, I hope that in the years to come, there will be greater presence by Singapore companies in the Kingdom, and that more Saudi companies will explore using Singapore as a launchpad into Southeast Asia.”

Baltic nations’ foreign ministers pull out of OSCE meeting over Russian foreign minister attendance

Updated 28 November 2023

Baltic nations’ foreign ministers pull out of OSCE meeting over Russian foreign minister attendance

  • Lavrov said Monday he planned to travel to Skopje for the OSCE foreign ministers’ meeting
  • “For the past two years we have witnessed how one OSCE participating state has actively and brutally tried to annihilate another,” the Baltic foreign ministers said

SKOPJE: The foreign ministers of the three Baltic states have said they will boycott a meeting by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe being held this week in North Macedonia, in objection to the participation of Russia’s foreign minister.
The foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania issued a joint statement Tuesday saying they “deeply regret the decision enabling the personal participation” of Russia’s Sergey Lavrov. “It will only provide Russia with yet another propaganda opportunity.”
Lavrov said Monday he planned to travel to Skopje for the OSCE foreign ministers’ meeting, a trip which would mark his first visit to a NATO member country since Russia invaded Ukraine. In September, he was in New York to attend the United Nations’ annual gathering of world leaders.
The 57-nation OSCE was set up during the Cold War to help defuse tension between East and West. North Macedonia currently holds the organization’s rotating presidency and its foreign minister invited Lavrov to the two-day meeting starting Thursday.
“For the past two years we have witnessed how one OSCE participating state has actively and brutally tried to annihilate another,” the Baltic foreign ministers said in their statement. “Let us be very clear: Russia’s war of aggression and atrocities against its sovereign and peaceful neighbor Ukraine blatantly violate international law.”
They also accused Russia of “obstructive behavior within the OSCE itself,” citing Russia’s prevention of an OSCE presence in Ukraine and by blocking Estonia’s chairmanship of the organization in 2024. Lavrov’s attendance at the Skopje meeting “risks legitimizing aggressor Russia as a rightful member of our community of free nations, trivializing the atrocious crimes Russia has been committing,” they added.
Speaking to reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels Tuesday, North Macedonia’s foreign minister, Bujar Osmani, said he believed he would be meeting Lavrov in Skopje.
“Lavrov is not coming to Skopje, in a way. Lavrov is coming to the OSCE just as he went to (the) UN in New York a few months ago,” Osmani said. “I won’t be meeting him as the foreign minister of North Macedonia, but as the OSCE chairman in office.”
Asked what he would say to Lavrov, Osmani said: “I think the Russian Federation has violated (the) commitments of OSCE principles that we have voluntarily subscribed to 50 years ago.”
“We have condemned the aggressor throughout our chairpersonship. And also we have turned (the) OSCE into a platform for political and legal accountability of the Russian Federation for its deeds in Ukraine, and we will continue to do so. And this is what I am going to tell to Mr. Lavrov as well.”
There was no immediate reaction from the Russian Foreign Ministry to the statement by the three Baltic states.