S’ Court stalls appeal over tenure elongation

The Supreme Court yesterday adjourned till tomorrow hearing on the appeal on the tenure elongation of five governors brought by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Following the decision of the Court of Appeal in April, 2011 affirming the decision of Mr. Judge Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court that the tenure of these governors would expire at various times other than May 29, 2011, INEC had lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court, seeking to upturn it.

The five State Governors are Alhaji Ibrahim Idris (Kogi), Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Liyel Imoke (Cross Rivers) and Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa).

Fresh 27-count Charges against Daniel

The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) yesterday, filed an additional 27-count charges against former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel. The former governor, who was initially facing a 16-count charge would now be tried on a 43-count charge by the anti-graft agency.

In the additional prove of evidence presented before the Federal High Court Sitting in Abeokuta, the by the EFCC prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, Daniel was alleged to have failed to declare his assets contrary to Section 27(3)(b) of the EFCC Act, 2004. 

The former governor was also accused of corruptly obtaining property to section 10 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related offences Act, No. 5 of 2000, alleging that on March 9, 2005, the former governor did obtain the sum of N7.4million from Aron Nigeria Limited for the benefit of Blue Chapel Limited (a company incorporated and owned by him and the wife). Daniel was also alleged of stealing contrary to section 390 (4) (f) of the criminal code law, laws of Ogun State, stating that the former governor fraudulently converted an aggregate sum N911,958, 468. 54, property of Ogun state government to the use of Toner World oil and Gas Limited, which sum was part of the funds meant for the execution of Ijebu Ode Water project awarded by the Ogun state government.

However, at the hearing yesterday, the lead counsel to the accused, Prof. Taiwo Osiptapan, told the court that: “We need to sit to look at the amendment thoroughly and as well digest it", adding that "if it took them (prosecuting counsel) one month to make an amendment, we also need one month to look at the document page by page to discuss it with the client.”

Osipitan added that the prosecutor indicated that charges should be amended, stating that it had been done but the charges and proof of evidence were in two volumes precisely 1,063 pages.

Meanwhile, Jacobs told the court that it was true that the amended information was filed this yesterday to make it 43 in all, saying not the entire information were new but majority of the old charges were there.

The presiding judge, Justice Olarenwaju Mabekoje, however, adjourned further hearing to January 19, 2012 for both parties to put their house in order ahead of the next hearing.

Intrigue as 3 Sylva’s Aides Resign

Indications emerged yesterday, that all might not be well within the political camp of the embattled governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, as three of his aides resigned their appointments.

The resignation came as the governor allegedly condemned the arrest and unlawful detention of 70 of his supporters in Lokoja, Kogi State by security operatives.

Principal among those who resigned their appointments were the Commissioner for Youth and Conflict Resolution, Bekes Etifa; Special Adviser on Inter-party Relations, Steven Diver; and Special Adviser on Enlightenment and Reorientation, Gesiye Isowo.

A statement by his spokesman, Doifie Ola, said: “The governor’s supporters were intercepted about 5p.m. on Sunday on their way to Abuja to show solidarity with the governor at the hearing of the case on tenure for five Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors at the Supreme Court on Monday.”

The governor described the arrest as a sad reminder of the Nigeria’s dark days of military rule, saying: “Our constitution allows for the freedom of movement for every Nigerian as well as freedom of association. This is another in the series of recent happenings by agents of the Federal Government to trample democracy in the face and truncate the rights of Bayelsa people to freely decide their political future.”

The governor, however, pleaded with all his supporters to remain calm and law abiding in the face of undue provocation, assuring that “the will of God through the people of Bayelsa State shall surely prevail in the evolving political imbroglio in the state.”

Addressing the press in Yenagoa yesterday on their arrival from the 24 hours detention at the A Divisional Police Station at Lokoja, the over 70 ward chairmen led by Chairman of Ward Three of Nembe Local Government Council Area, Comrade Moses Moses, described their arrest and detention as that accorded criminals.

He said they were paraded and photo shots of their images taken without explanation.
“At about 10p.m., we were asked to go and sleep without any accommodation. We slept in our buses and the next morning, we were escorted by armed policemen up to Delta State and asked to go back to Yenagoa.

“What those who we call our leaders in Abuja are doing to us party members in Bayelsa is illegal. We don’t doubt their leadership but our rights are being trampled upon. We want to tell the whole world as authentic party chairmen, that there were no ward congresses in Bayelsa. If the PDP wants the party to win in 2012, there should be a new ward congress. Some people might say we are being sponsored but we are not being sponsored. We are not speaking for the Governor, we are ready to work for any flag bearer that emerges but the process should be free, fair and transparent.”

It was gathered that Etifa, whose father is the coordinator for Seriake Dickson in Ekeremor council area was pencilled down for a sack due to disloyalty before he resigned.

Steven Diver, a close political ally of former Governor DSP Alamieyeseigha was the only government official who participated in controversial PDP primaries in the state.

Isowo on his part resigned the moment it was announced that Sylva will not be contesting the governorship election.
When contacted over the resignations within the government, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Nathan Egba, confirmed the actions of government official but did not comment further.



Akunyili vs Ngige: Tribunal Dismisses Motion on Jurisdiction

The Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Awka, Anambra State has dismissed for lack of merit the motion by Dr Chris Ngige of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) challenging its competence to entertain the petition by Prof. Dora Akunyili of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), after the expiration of stipulated 180 days.

In a ruling delivered yesterday, it also fixed fresh 180 days for hearing of the petition filed in respect of the poll conducted for Anambra Central senatorial seat.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that Ngige had through his counsel, Mr. Emeka Ngige (SAN), filed a motion challenging the competence of the tribunal to entertain the petition after the expiration of the stipulated 180 days for election petitions.

Ngige had contended that the petition had since expired on November 11, urging the tribunal to strike out or dismiss the petition or on the alternative suspend it pending the determination of an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Enugu.

Counsel to Akunyili, Obiora Obianwu (SAN), while opposing Ngige’s argument, reminded the tribunal of its earlier ruling to take motions along with the hearing and urged it to abide by its decision.

However, the tribunal Chairman, Justice Onajite Kuejubola, held that accepting the application by Ngige would render ineffective the order of the Court of Appeal which directed that the matter be heard on merit.

It also held that since there was hierarchy in the courts, it was bound to follow the directives of the Court of Appeal.
It further held that the order of the appeal meant that “the constitution which is a grundnorm cannot give with one hand and take with another.”

“The intention of the Constitution is to give judgment substantially and not on technical grounds. I do not think that the intention of the lawmakers was to create confusion. The creation of 180 days was to limit the time for which election petitions are tried. To hold the flimsy excuse that 180 days has expired is to make mockery of the order of the Court of Appeal. The successful petition at the Court of Appeal will be hindered from reaping the fruits of litigation if this tribunal accedes to the application and arguments by Ngige.

“We find no merit in the application and hold that this tribunal has jurisdiction to hear this petition on merit and the 180 days commences from November 16, to expire sometime in May 2012. The application, therefore, suffers defeat as the tribunal has the jurisdiction following the directive of the Court of Appeal,” he said.

The matter was adjourned till December 6, for hearing. Reacting to the ruling, Akunyili thanked members of the panel and the judiciary in general, saying that the ruling showed that the tribunal was up to date.

“I am happy beyond expression for today’s landmark ruling. For six or seven months, my opponent has done everything to see that my case does not see the light of the day, but I will continue to trust God like a child. This ruling means that very soon the world will know that I won that election,” Akunyili added.

In his reaction, Ngige’s counsel said the tribunal’s ruling was an indication that it was not biased, but quickly added that the extension of 180 days by the tribunal would be appealed.

“The tribunal went as far as acting like father Christmas. The petitioners had asked that the petition be extended till December 9, but it went ahead to say it will now expire in May. What the court did was a judicial amendment of the constitution. We are taking it up at the Court of Appeal,” he said.

NAN further recalls that the said petition was filed on May 17, struck out on October 20 for lack of compliance, but was re-listed on Nov. 18, following a ruling at the Court of Appeal on November 16 that the petition should be allowed on merit at the lower court.

However, the recent Judges Conference stalled hearing of the petition on November 22, compelling the tribunal to reschedule hearing till November 29.

It took the intervention of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, to bring the hearing date back to November 25.
On that day, the tribunal was faced with the motion of notice by Ngige on its competence to hear the petition.

Suswam’s Certificate Scandal: S’Court Orders Retrial

The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed an appeal filed before it by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the judgment of the Court of Appeal sitting in Makurdi, on the alleged certificate scandal against the Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam.

This is coming barely three weeks, after the apex court ordered a fresh trail in the election petition filed by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and its candidate in the 2011 governorship election in the state Dr. Steve Ugba.

Ugba is challenging the declaration of Suswam as the governor of Benue State on the grounds that the April elections were fraudulent and marred with irregularities.

The Appeal Court in an appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the All Nigeria’s Peoples Party (ANPP) Prof. Daniel Saror, had ordered the governorship election petition tribunal also sitting in Makurdi to entertain the matter.

Affirming the Court of Appeal’s position, the Supreme Court ordered that the matter be heard afresh by the tribunal as it is not a pre-election matter as conceived.

The apex court held that the case borders on serious constitutional issues which determine the eligibility Suswan to contest the 2011 governorship election.

In unanimous decision read by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Dahiru Musdapher, the court held that issues of certificate forgery is a constitutional matter which determines eligibility of any candidate in an election.

Sitting section 182 of the 1999 constitution as amended, Musdapher maintained that no person shall be qualified to contest an election to the office of the governor with forged certificate.

“No person shall be qualified to aspire for the office of governor if he has produced a forged certificate, it is clearly wrong for the tribunal to decline jurisdiction on the matter.

Jonathan, Obasanjo, Anenih, Govs Storm Lokoja ahead of the Kogi Polls

With less than five days to the Kogi State governorship election, President Goodluck Jonathan, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih, governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will Monday storm the state to drum support for the party’s governorship candidate in the December 3 governorship election, Idris Wada.


President Jonathan, Obasanjo and Anenih are part of the national campaign team announced by the party to canvass support for Wada.


The national campaign team is headed by President Jonathan and is made up of former President Obasanjo; Vice-President Namadi Sambo; Senate President, David Mark; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal; and all PDP governors from the north central zone, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Hon. Chibuike Amaechi and former chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Anenih.


The campaign team looks like a reaction to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) campaign earlier this week where all the ACN governors attended a campaign rally to boost the chances of Prince Abubakar Audu, winning the governorship election.


A statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Prof. Ahmed Alkali, said the other members of the campaign team includes, Chief Tony Anenih; all PDP governors from the North Central, all PDP senators from the North Central, all PDP house of reps members from the North Central and all PDP ministers from the North Central.


The National Legal Adviser, Chief Olusola Oke will serve as Secretary. Other members of the national campaign committee include, the National Organising Secretary, Prince Uche Secondus; National Woman Leader of PDP, Hajia Inna Ciroma; National Publicity Secretary, Prof. Rufai


Ahmed Alkali and the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Ali Gulak; National Youth Leader, Umar Garba Chiza (NYL), as well as the National Vice Chairman for the zone, Yusuf Ayitogo.


The statement said he national campaign team include Prof. Jerry Gana; Mr. Abdullahi Kure; Senator Tunde Ogbeha; Mrs. Sarah Jibril (SA to President), Dr. Amadu Ali; Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN), the Speaker, Kogi State House of Assembly, Alhaji Isa Kutepa; and Mr. Olusola Akanmode, who is the Director General of the state campaign…(read more)

Jonathan Meets Party Leaders

President Goodluck Jonathan may have concluded plans to meet with leaders of all the major political parties on the state of the nation this week.

Sources in the presidency who confirmed the meeting, said issues that will top the agenda include national security, withdrawal of fuel subsidies, the Sovereign Wealth Fund as well as other economic issues.

Parties invited to the meeting with the president are the Peoples Democratic Party, Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change, All Nigeria Peoples Party,  All Progressives Grand Alliance and the Labour Party, among others.

Throwing some light on the need to meet with the leaders of other political parties, sources said that the president believes that there is a need to forge a consensus through consultations on burning national issues.

The president is also of the view that in the light of the inability by state governments to reach an agreement with the federal government on their monthly allocations from the Federation Account for the second month in a row, it has become necessary to brief party leaders on the state of the nation so they can pass on the message to their state governors.

Sources further revealed that party leaders have been duly informed of the meeting and the presidency is trying to extract assurances that they will attend.

It is not clear if the ACN national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande and the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu have confirmed their attendance, but indications are that several political parties will be represented at the meeting.

Borno federal lawmaker wins appeal in Jos

Abdul Musa Msheliza of the All Nigerian Peoples Party  (ANPP)  has been returned by the Court of Appeal sitting in Jos as being duly elected in the April  2011 National Assembly election as the representative of Askira/Uba/Hawul Federal Constituency of Borno State.
The Appeal Court upheld the ruling of the Borno Elections Tribunal after Nicholas Elijah Msheliza of  the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)   challenged the result of the April polls.

Nicholas Msheliza had dragged Musa Msheliza to the three-man tribunal chaired by Justice B.S. Adamu, claiming that the election of Musa was not proper and not in accordance with the extant laws guiding the National Assembly elections.
 Justice Adamu and the other two judges were unanimous that the petition lacked merit as the petitioner failed to substantiate claims that he scored more votes than his challenger in the polls.

 Notwithstanding, Nicholas Msheliza went to the Court of Appeal in Jos for the reversal of the ruling.
 Ruling on the appeal, Justice Clara Ogunbi held that the tribunal was right in striking out the petition challenging the election of Musa Msheliza and upheld the decision of the tribunal to dismiss the petition on account of lacking in merit.

 Justice Ogunbi ruled that the tribunal did not err by throwing out the petition as it lacked substance in law.
 In his reaction, to the ruling, Musa Msheliza said it was a victory for the electorate and the ANPP, adding, “What the court has done was to affirm the wish of the people to determine who will represent them at the House of Representatives. The people spoke with their votes and the court just stamped it.
“With the confirmation of my election as the representative of the people of Askira, Uba and Hawul, I can only urge my opponents and the entire people of the constituency to give me the necessary support so as to deliver to them more dividends of democracy.”

While he assured that his election promises on working for quality health care delivery as he did while he was the chairman of Health Committee at the state House of Assembly, Msheliza pledged to collaborate with other members of the National Assembly and in particular, the Borno State caucus to address the security challenges in the state.

Lawyer sues Jonathan, others over proposed removal of fuel subsidy

The controversy over the proposed removal of fuel subsidy has assumed a legal dimension, as an Ibadan-based legal practitioner, Mr Kole Ajayi, has instituted a legal action against President Goodluck Jonathan, the Attorney-General of the Federation  and the National Assembly at a Federal High Court, Ibadan, praying the court to stop President Jonathan from implementing the proposal.

In the originating summons issued by the legal practitioner against the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the National Assembly and the Attorney-General of the Federation, the plaintiff is praying the court to grant the following reliefs: a declaration that the proposed removal of fuel subsidy by the first defendant is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void as it is against good governance and public policy and against the economic interest and well-being of the good people of Nigeria and an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, their servants, agents and/or privies from implementing or ratifying the removal of fuel subsidy.

Ajayi implored the court to determine, among other things, whether the proposed removal of fuel subsidy by President Jonathan was not a contravention of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and whether the proposal, if implemented, would not cause untold hardship on the people of Nigeria.

The originating summon was supported by a 12-paragraph affidavit  deposed to by the plaintiff.

The deponent, among other issues, deposed that President Jonathan, in a document submitted to the National Assembly, made projections for revenue generation for the next three years for the country, including an estimated income from fuel subsidy removal.

Tinubu: ACN will leverage on PDP crisis in Bayelsa

National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said yesterday that the party is set to win the governorship election in Kogi State.

He said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has failed to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people of the Confluence State.
Tinubu, who spoke to  reporters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos,  said besides Kogi, the ACN is also set to clinch the governorship seat in Bayelsa State.  The crisis in the state, according to him, will enable the ACN ride to victory.

He said: “The election in Kogi is around the corner and our chances are very bright.

“We have good chances, if the election is free and fair; if it is devoid of violence and other malpractices. We have faith in Jega’s men and we are

working really hard. We are ready for change.
“There is nothing like the power of incumbency. Where was the power of incumbency in Ogun? Where was the power of incumbency in Ekiti? Where was the power of incumbency in Oyo?”
On the party’s chances in Bayelsa, Tinubu said: “Very good; we will capitalise on their crisis to win and win massively.
“The only disappointing thing is the fact that the party could not obey the court order. If you are a ruling party in this country and you are talking about the rule of law, you should be a role model, you should show leadership. You should show some degree of compliance. 
“They still have time. What is the desperation? Why should you militarise Bayelsa for a primary? But that is the kind of party we have: Poverty Development Party (PDP).”

On zoning of key political offices, the ACN leader said: “In our pluralism and the constitutional rights of Nigerians, we have demonstrated that the presidential candidate should be able to come from anywhere. Why should it be based on zoning, regional thinking?
“That is the process of selection, not election. Nigerians must have the right to aspire and contest, be voted for by the people of this country.
“It is limited in a way because you are not opening the opportunity to everybody.
“We are talking of constitutional democracy; we are talking about the right of the people to aspire to be or not to be. Leave it open, you see it divides us further.
“If you look at it carefully you will see that you are dividing Nigerians further and further instead of a cohesive country that is united and free choosing whoever they want to choose to lead them.”

I have no mental disorder—Wada

The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State, Captain Idris Wada, has defended his mental stability.
A chieftain of the PDP, Mr. Emmanuel Abalaka, told a Federal High Court that Wada  has a record of mental disorder at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.

Captain Wada, who was shocked by the allegation, said that he could not comment on the allegation because it was made before the court.

While stressing that it is only the court and the accuser that can  prove the allegation, Wada said: “But all I know is that  I am hale and hearty. I believe in politics, anything happens.’’

Wada said as a pilot, he flew planes for 35 years and never crashed.

“Ordinarily, if a driver is found with a smell of alcohol coming out of his mouth, that driver won’t be allowed to drive, let alone a pilot. You must be 100 per cent healthy before you can be allowed close to a plane as a pilot.

“I have always had a clean bill of health before embarking on any trip, like piloting the plane,” he added.
The PDP candidate said  his lawyer is standing for him in court. “Let the truth prevail”, he said.

Wada has promised to make agriculture and tourism his top programmes, if elected  governor.
He spoke yesterday during his party campaign rally at Ogori/Magongo and Ajaokuta local government areas.
The PDP candidate said through agriculture, jobs would be created for the youths.
Wada urged the electorate to vote for PDP next Saturday, if the state wants to achieve greatness.

Election can’t be stopped—INEC

With a few days to the governorship election in Kogi State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said adequate security and logistics have been put in place to ensure a smooth polls.
Speaking with newsmen yesterday, INEC’s Director of Public Affairs Mr. Emmanuel Umenger said the weaknesses discovered during the April elections have been taken care of.

He said calls that next Saturday’s election be suspended cannot be heeded since a date has already been fixed.

The INEC director explained that in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act, a court injunction at this time cannot stop the election.
He said: “We have trained all the workers in readiness for the election. We are going to flag off publicity by Saturday. In fact, we are ready for the election. Actually, we did a post-election assessment on the April polls and identified some areas of strength and weaknesses.

“And we have now strengthened and taken care of the weaknesses to be able to have an outing that will be better than what we had in April. We have strengthened our logistics in such a way that we would not have hitches with the polls.
“We have sharpened the skills of our  workers towards a successful conduct of the election. So, there is not going to be any problem at all,” he added

On calls by some aspirants that INEC should  stop the election, Umenger said: “INEC does not organise intra-party elections. Conduct of party primaries is the sole responsibility of political parties. I am not aware that there is a law suit to stop the Kogi election. I have been away from Abuja and as I am talking to you, I am on my way to Abuja.”

“But if you look at the Electoral Act, there is a particular section that says that once a date for an election has been fixed, nobody can stop it. Sowe are working with what the law says.,” he said.

Speaking on the security measures, he said: “There is a committee on security comprising  the SSS, Police, Army and Civil defence. We have mapped out strategy to ensure that all electoral materials and polling booths are fully secured.”