Court dethrones Obong Of Calabar

The Calabar High Court presided over by Justice Obojor Ogar, Monday,  declared the stool of Obong of Calabar vacant and told the current occupant Edidem Ekpo Abasi Otu not to parade himself as the Obong of Calabar

A one time Minister of Finance during the late Gen. Sani Abacha military regime, Etubom Anthony Ani and four others had in April 2008 dragged Edidem Abasi Otu and eight others to court challenging the selection and proclamation of the dethroned Obong as the rightful occupant of the throne.

Etubom Ani had in his claim through his counsel Mr. Agi, SAN, sought a declaration that “the presentation and/selection of the 4th defendant (Edidem Otu) who was Chairman of the screening committee for the selection of the 4th Defendants as the Obong of Calabar elect is contrary to natural justice, equity and good conscience.

He also claimed “That the purported selection of the 4th Defendant as the the Obong of Calabar-elect, who is from Adiabo is contrary to the decision of the Western Calabar Traditional Rulers Council that Ikoneto has the exclusive right to produce the next Obong of Calabar and the 4th Defendant is not qualified to be selected and/ or appointed the Obong of Calabar.”

Ani sought a declaration that the Etubom Traditional Rulers Council of the Obong’s Palace refusal to entertain the complaint of the Plaintiff violated their right to fair hearing and an injunction restraining the government from according recognition and/ or giving staff of office to the 4th defendant.

Delivering judgment that lasted for about two hours, Justice Obojor Ogar restrained the Obong from parading himself as the Obong of Calabar until proper election has been done and also restrained the Etubom Traditional Council, from excluding Etubom Anthony Ani and Mbiabo Ikoneto from any election or selection of an Obong.

Reacting to the ruling, counsel to the Etubom Traditional Council Mr. Paul Eba said they were still studying the judgment, though, he noted that the judgment did not make any order for the withdrawal of the certificate of recognition from the state government that had earlier given recognition to him, meaning that the “Obong is still on the throne.”

Mr. Eba said the Obong still occupies his throne and that they will study the judgment to go for appeal and described the judgment as “a declaration judgment that Ikoneto has right to contest. Definitely we are going on appeal to determine some issues raised by the Judge”.

 

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Oyo: PDP claims victory in Reps re-run polls

The  People’s Democratic Party, PDP, is claiming to have won the last Saturday’s re-run election in Irepo/Olorunsogo/Oorelope Federal Constituency election where no fewer than 100 suspects armed with dangerous weapons were arrested for alleged violence and thuggery but  the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, however, said the election was inconclusive.

INEC through its Supervising Resident Electoral Commissioner, Alhaji Hussain Pai, explained that the election was inconclusive because the difference between the highest score by the PDP and that of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, was too close when compared to the results cancelled by the commission.

According to the state electoral boss, there was no way the commission could declare a clear cut election result.
To ensure a trouble-free election,  the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Moses Onireti was redeployed to Lagos State on Friday, while his counterpart in the state, Yakubu Alkali, was transferred to Oyo.

Unconfirmed sources said Friday that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate, Mr. Jimoh Adelowo, led with 16,344, while ACN scored 14,573votes.

Other results released at  press time,  showed that PDP led with 1,821 votes, while about 3,000 votes were expected from the cancelled units, Accord, 330 votes, ANPP 101, CPC 152, DPP 141, LP 25, MPPP 20 and NTP 57.

According to Pai, 32,688 votes were cast, 895 votes rejected while 31,793 were valid.

Meantime, the Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide and the minority leader of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Rafiu Adekunle, have called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to release results of Saturday’s re-run elections in the state.

Though, the results have not been officially announced, Oloye Akinjide said the result of the election in Irepo/Olorunsogo/Oorelope Federal Constituency had shown that the Peoples Democratic Party had regained its glory in the state.

 

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Eket: A/Court sacks Eseme Eyibo

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, Friday, sacked Mr. Eseme Eyibo as lawmaker representing Eket Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom state in the House of Representatives.

The court in a judgment it delivered Friday, ordered the leadership of the lower chamber to forthwith swear-in the declared winner of the constituency, Mr. Dan Bassey Abia as the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the election.

In the unanimous judgment read by Justice Ayo Bada, the appellate court, maintained that “the primary election of the PDP held on the 7th and 8th January through which Dan Bassey Abia emerged as the party’s candidate for the April elections is hereby upheld as it was the primary that was monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and annexed in the suit.”

According to the court, “The trial judge erred by saying that the name of Abia be removed and replaced with that of Eyibo. The party primary is the exclusive right of a political party as the party determines who its candidate in an election should. The said primary through which Eyibo purportedly emerged, there was nothing before the court to show that it was either monitored by the party or INEC.”

The court maintained that the way the respondent was sworn into office amounted to “sneaking into the National Assembly illegally”, saying he should vacate the office immediately.

Supreme Court sacks Bayelsa, Adamawa, Sokoto, C/River, Kogi govs

The Supreme Court has in a judgement delivered, Friday morning, sacked the five governors of Bayelsa, Adamawa, Sokoto, C/River, Kogi state from their respective office.

In a unanimous decision, a 7-man panel of justices of the apex court, maintained that the affected governors exceeded the 4-years tenure that was specifically stipulated in section 180(2) of the 1999 constitution.

Counsequently,it made an order setting aside the two lower courts judgments that ab-initio elongated the tenure of the governors till this year.

The affected governors areTimipre Sylva(Bayelsa) Magatakada Wamakko,(Sokoto) Liyel Imoke(C/River) Ibrahim Idris(Kogi) and Murtala Nyako( Adamawa)

Wada Retakes Kogi

There was a mild drama Monday  in Lokoja, Kogi State, when the winner of the December 3, 2011 governorship election in the state, Captain Idris Wada, and his running mate, Mr. Yomi Awoniyi, took over Lugard House, the seat of power, as substantive governor and deputy governor respectively.

Also Monday , Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, cleared the fog in the Supreme Court ruling regarding the state when he advised the authorities to inaugurate Wada as governor.

The winner of the December 3, 2011 governorship election in Kogi State, Captain Idris Ichalla Wada, has sued for peace on the face of the political and legal issues confronting the state.

As governor-elect, he  was sworn into office in controversial circumstances along with the Speaker, Kogi State House of Assembly, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello, on Friday, January 27,  said: "The people of the state must live to sustain lasting peace in our dear state".

While recounting that the state has been through a lot in the past few days, Wada noted that "the Friday ruling of the Supreme Court, which brought the tenure of my predecessor to an abrupt end, came with its own challenges".

He said the challenges are part of the teething problems of democracy in the state.
He maintained that every step taken by him and his deputy, Mr. Yomi Awoniyi,  was guided by the consciousness that it is about the mandate the people gave them.
He advised the people of the state to put aside their ethnic dis-similarities to work together for the development of the state.

Wada said what will count is "…how we come out of the volatile situation confronting the state.
"No matter where we come from, we are to chart a course for the state", he advised.
He added that: "We must carry on with civility".

The governor promised to constitute a committee of stake holders to ensure that the feeling of every segment of the state is not over looked.

Rationalising its position on Kogi, the INEC boss said it took the decision after it had carefully studied the judgment of the apex court that had sacked governors of five states, including Kogi, and after due consultation with the commission’s legal team.

He said: “The commission, having carefully studied the judgment and after due consultation with its legal team, has decided as follows: that the Kogi governorship election which took place on December 3, 2011, is a concluded election and therefore, the governor-elect should be sworn in immediately.”

The state had been thrown into unprecedented confusion over who the authentic governor is after the Friday, January 27, 2012 Supreme Court ruling.

Wada and Awoniyi were on that day sworn in as governor and deputy governor respectively following the sack of former governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris.
But the swearing-in ceremony was conducted by the President of the state Customary Court, Justice Shuaibu Ibrahim Atadoga.

However, less than three hours after, the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Nasiru Ajannah, conducted a fresh swearing-in for the Speaker, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello, who took office afterwards as acting governor. He insisted that his decision was in line with the position of the apex court.
Before Wada arrived the state capital yesterday from Abuja, a group of youths had earlier stormed the Lokoja Township Stadium to welcome him and his deputy before they were dispatched by the police.
On the other hand, Bello, who was also at Abuja, had yesterday morning directed the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and other political appointees in the state to hand over to the permanent secretaries in their ministries and departments.

S’Court Okays Sylva’s Move to Challenge Judgment

The Supreme Court Monday  granted leave to the former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, to challenge the judgment of the Court of Appeal which had held that though he was right to go to court to validate his nomination as the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the trial judge went too far when it threatened to sanction PDP.

The five-man panel of the apex court presided over by Justice Mariam Mukhtar cleared the way for Sylva when it granted him leave to file a cross appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal, which held that the trial Judge Gabriel Kolawole went beyond himself in warning PDP not to tamper with the subject matter of the action before him.

The court also granted an order for accelerated hearing of the appeal of PDP and the cross appeal filed by Sylva and fixed February 7, 2012 for definite hearing.

“In view of the fact that this is a political matter and requires urgency, the application for accelerated hearing is hereby granted. The appeal and cross appeal are fixed for next Tuesday, February 7, for hearing”, Justice Mukhtar held.

In Sylva’s cross appeal filed by Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), he asked the apex court to consider the urgency and circumstances of the case and invoke Section 22 of its enabling statute and hear the case fully and determine it to its finality as if it is the high court.
If the court agrees with him, it will hear the originating summons filed by Sylva at the Federal High Court.

Both Sylva and PDP are presently before the apex court because they were dissatisfied with the judgment of the Abuja Court of Appeal.

The court of appeal had held that Sylva was right to have filed his case against PDP at the Federal High Court but added that the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole went too far when he threatened to sanction PDP and INEC if they failed to appear before it within 72 hours to show cause why he should not grant Sylva all the reliefs he sought from the court.

In his appeal, Sylva said that the court of appeal erred in law when it held that the pronouncement of the trial judge asking the respondents to show cause and also warning them from taking any action which would foist upon the court a hopeless situation without hearing the Respondents amounted to pre-judging the issue before him.
He argued that a court of law had the responsibility of protecting the sanctity of its proceedings.

But PDP in its own appeal, said the court of appeal erred in law when it held that the federal high court had jurisdiction to hear Sylva’s case.
It asked the court to strike out the case…(read more)

INEC Fixes Election in 4 States

Jega has rolled out a new election timetable for the remaining four states of Adamawa, Bayelsa, Sokoto and Cross River to be conducted in all the weekends of February.

The new dates are: Adamawa, Saturday, February 4, 2012; Bayelsa, Saturday, February 11, 2012; Sokoto, Saturday, February 18, 2012; and Cross River, Saturday, February 25, 2012.

The INEC chairman said that the new dates were arrived at after due consideration of the logistics, operational and administrative requirements to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
Also, the electoral body has declared that only candidates who emerged after the Court of Appeal judgment of April 15, 2011 are recognised candidates for the elections.

“The commission wishes to categorically state that only candidates who emerged after the Court of Appeal judgment of Friday, April 15th, 2011 are the recognised candidates for the election,” he said
Jega, however, said that the commission being a law abiding body, would obey any contrary position if it comes from the courts.

Responding to INEC on the candidates that would be allowed to run in the elections, former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, said: “…under our laws, it is not the place of INEC to interpret any court judgment. More importantly, Sylva disagrees completely with this interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment. He does not regard the INEC position as final.”

Sylva insisted that only “the Supreme Court is better placed to resolve the matter of the proper candidate for the PDP in the Bayelsa State governorship election”.

Imoke wins ticket as PDP congresses start Feb 4

Cross River State Governor Liyel Imoke on Monday clinched the Peoples Democratic Party’s ticket to contest the governorship election in April.

Imoke polled 737 votes to emerge winner, while his only rival, a former Nigerian Ambassador to Mali and erstwhile state chairman of the party, Amb. Soni Abang, got three votes. A total of 747 delegates participated in the election with seven void votes

However, Abang, who was not present at the UJ Esuene Stadium venue for the election, but had his agent on the ground, alleged that the process of electing the ad-hoc delegates that participated in the primary election was faulty.

Abang described the process as a “manipulation of the highest order,” insisting that the election was right from the beginning “baked in Government House.”

Dignitaries that participated in the exercise were a former governor of the state, Mr. Donald Duke, Senate Leader, Chief Victor Ndoma-Egba; Minister for Culture and Tourism, Chief Edem Duke.

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha; and the state Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr. Mike Igini also witnessed the event.

Imoke thanked the delegates and the people of Cross River for their loyalty.

Meanwhile, the postponed congresses of the Peoples Democratic Party are not to commence on February 4 with the ward congresses in 8,800 wards across the country.

Our correspondent learnt that members of the National Working Committee of the party would meet on Wednesday to approve the new dates for the congresses.

The members of the NWC, led by the acting National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, are to leave office on March 8 when they will complete their four-year tenure, having being in office since March 8, 2008.

 

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INEC clears Dickson for Bayelsa gov poll

The Independent National Electoral Commission has included the name of the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Mr. Seriake Dickson, on its list of candidates for the February 11 governorship election in the state.

Dickson’s name was omitted from the list of 36 candidates for the election published by INEC on January 11.

This followed a legal action against the PDP by Governor Timipre Sylva.

But a Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Gladys Olotu on Wednesday granted an ex parte order, mandating INEC to include Dickson’s name on the list of candidates for the election.

Based on the development, our correspondent observed that INEC published a fresh list in its website (www.inecnigeria.org) on January 20 in obedience to the order.

The commission said, “This publication supersedes the earlier one released by the commission on 11th January 2012.”

Meanwhile, a PDP governorship candidate for the state primary, Jusline Bolou, on Monday asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to order a fresh nomination of governorship candidates for the state in accordance with the amended constitution and 2010 Electoral Act for primary election of the party.

The plaintiff premised his request on the ground that the party did not comply with the Electoral Act and its constitution in conducting the November 19 primary election.

Bolou is seeking a declaration that the primary conducted on the November 19, 2011 violated Articles 2,12.7,12.8(e)&(f),17(1)(2)(b) of PDP constitution and Articles 2(1)&3,Part II(A)&(B)(xi) of the electoral guidelines for primary election.

 

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Edo PDP seeks dissolution of council committees

Edo State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has called on Governor Adams Oshiomhole to dissolve the current transition committees in the 18 local councils of the state and set up modalities for the conduct of local council elections.

The state Chairman of the party, Dan Orbih made the call at a rally in Ujiogba, Esan West Local Council Edo Central. He described the continued use of transition committee chairmen in the councils as illegal and unacceptable.

While fielding questions on a television programme recently in Benin City, governor Adams Oshiomhole explained that it was the state Independent National Electoral Commission (EDSIEC) that could initiate the process of election but added that he was initially faced with re-constituting the commission which he said was composed of card-carrying members of PDP.

He also argued that the law which made provision for caretaker committees was passed by the PDP dominated House of Assembly before he became governor.

In a related development, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) party in Anambra State, Chief Emeka Onuorah who is the Njikoka Council chairmanship candidate of the party, has dragged Governor Peter Obi to court over the non-conduct of council elections in the state.

Also joined in the suit are the state Assembly, its Speaker; the Accountant General of the state and the Attorney General of the state. Others are the state’s Independent Electoral Commission and the  chairman of State/Local Council Joint Allocation Committee.

With the suit, Onuorah has now joined the growing ranks of agitated politicians and parties, including the PDP, the Council of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) and other APGA councillorship and chairmanship candidates who have gone to court seeking orders to compel the governor to conduct council elections in the state. The last one was held in 2003.

 

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Appeal Court places embargo on Benue ACN’s cases

The Court of Appeal in Makurdi, the Benue State capital headed by Justice Ahmed Tsamiya has stopped hearing on all election petition matters involving the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

Investigations revealed that the embargo was in lieu of the several petitions the ACN wrote against the judges of the appeal court before the National Judicial Commission, (NJC).

A source said the judges were angry with the party over several petitions written against them and viewed the action as unnecessarily targeted at demeaning their hard earned integrity.

At yesterday’s sitting to determine the issue of 180 days in the matter between the governor of the state, Dr. Gabriel Suswam and Prof. Steve Ugbah of the ACN, the court referred to a petition by the state ACN dated December 31, 2011 and addressed to the NJC indicating lack of confidence in them and decided to send the appeal to the president of the Court of Appeal probably to be reassigned to another court.

It would be recalled that a similar petition was instituted against the court last year at the height of the case involving the former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Tarhemen Tarzoor of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Hon. Avine Agbum of the ACN. The party alleged that the judges received gratification to the tune of N17 million to pass judgment in favour of the former speaker.

This allegation was however proved wrong as the court eventually sacked the speaker and ruled in favour of Agbum.

Reacting to the development, D. D. Dodo, (SAN) representing Governor Suswam said: “What can we do, the court said it cannot hear it.”

The state’s Chairman of ACN, Comrade Abba Yaro told The Guardian on telephone that his party was not bothered by the decision of the appeal court as the president of the court would constitute a fresh panel to hear the matter.

Bayelsa guber: Judge hands off Sylva’s suit

Following allegation of bias levelled at him by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, discontinued further hearing on the suit seeking to invalidate the November 19 gubernatorial primary election that saw the emergence of Henry Seriake Dickson as the standard bearer of the party in Bayelsa State.

The suit was filed before the high court by the incumbent governor of the state, Timipre Sylva, who is challenging the decision of the PDP to jettison a previous primary election it held in the state in January 2011, which also saw his emergence as the candidate of the party before the election was subsequently deferred till February 11, this year.

Gov Sylva had in his suit, contended that it would amount to an act of illegality for the party to forward a fresh name or governorship aspirant to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, when he was still alive and had not withdrawn his candidacy as stipulated in the Electoral Act.

However, sequel to an order Justice Kolawole made on November 16, which barred the PDP from going ahead with the Bayelsa State primary election pending the determination of the said suit, PDP took the matter before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, accusing him of taking side with the plaintiff.

Though the appellate court panel headed by Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa on January 7 declined to vacate the restraining order or dismiss the substantive suit, nevertheless, it had ordered the trial judge to hands-off the case.

Consequently, Justice Kolawole in compliance with the directive, yesterday, transmitted the case-file back to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, for re-assignment to another judge…(read more)