By luga123 • 12th Feb 2019 • 191 views • 39 comments

Five days to the elections, politicians and their supporters are in frenzied mood as a result of developments from the courts and elsewhere. Adekunle Yusuf, Musa Odoshimokhe, Nicholas Kalu, Calabar, Eric Ikhilae, Faith Yahaya, Abuja, Bisi olaniyi and Rosemary Nwisi, Port Harcourt report.

These are busy times for the courts.  They were busy yesterday and will still be today deciding electoral disputes. Senator John Owan Enoh’s governorship ambition in Cross River State was cut short by a Federal High Court sitting in Calabar. The fate of the candidates in Rivers All Progressives Congress (APC) will be decided today.

The police also unveiled its security plans for the elections, just as the controversies over endorsement of candidates are refusing to abate.

 Court sacks Owan-Enoh

 A Federal High Court sitting in Calabar yesterday sacked Senator John Owan Enoh as the All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship candidate for Cross River State. The court recognised Niger Delta Affairs Minister Pastor Usani Usani as the candidate of the party.

It also sacked other candidates of the party currently recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The court also sacked the factional leader of the party led by Mr John Ochalla, which is loyal to Owan-Enoh.

In a two-hour judgment delivered by Hon Justice Simon A Amobeda, the court ordered that “INEC should only receive and accept the names and candidates for the 2019 elections that emerged from the lawful executive led by Godwin Etim John.”

It also ordered that persons parading themselves as the executive members of the APC in Cross River State should forthwith cease and that the lawful executive of APC in Cross River State remains that which is led by Godwin Etim John.

Usani and Owan-Enoh have been in a protracted battle over the governorship candidate position of the party.

Reports of the judgment were circulated on social media by appointees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led state government on Monday evening.

Further probes revealed to The Nation that in a two-hour judgment delivered by Hon Justice Simon A Amobeda earlier, the court ordered that INEC should only receive and accept the names and candidates for the 2019 elections that emerged from the executive led by Godwin Etim John.

It also ordered that persons parading themselves as the executive members of the APC in Cross River State should forthwith cease and that the executive of APC in Cross River State remains that which is led by Godwin Etim John.

The court also sacked the leadership of the party led by Mr John Ochalla, which is loyal to Owan-Enoh.

Reacting to the judgement, the Director General of Usani Campaign Organisation, Ekpenyong Cobham, said the enforcement of the judgement has been long overdue and appealed to INEC and the security agencies to do the needful by complying with the judgment.

The spokesperson for the Owan-Enoh Campaign Organisation, Dan Amor, said the “purported judgment” was an unnecessary distraction, which cannot stand in law.

His statement reads: “The attention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State, has been drawn to a purported judgment delivered by the Federal High Court, Calabar, seeking to enforce an earlier controversial ruling of a Bwari, Abuja High Court that recognised the Etim John’s factional the state executive council of the party and directing the withdrawal of the candidates of the late state chairman, Dr. Matthew Achigbe, from state/federal assemblies to governorship, from the 2019 general elections, and wishes to state as follows:

“That the Bwari, Abuja High Court ruling has since been appealed by the defendant in the Appeal Court in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja pending hearing.

“That the claimant, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani had sought an Abuja High Court sitting in Apo, FCT, to declare him the governorship candidate of the APC in our state and his case summarily dismissed by the court presided over by Justice Adeniyi on January 7, 2019.”

 Supreme Court decides Rivers APC’s fate today

The Supreme Court will deliver judgements in the about six appeals by the two warring factions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.

The appeals are mainly against the decision of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, which upheld the judgment of the High Court of Rivers State which voided the primaries conducted by the faction loyal to Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi and the other loyal to Senator Magnus Abe.

A five-man panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, scheduled judgment for today after entertaining arguments from the lawyer to the faction loyal to Amaechi, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Henry Bello, who represented the faction loyal to Abe.

Fagbemi and Bello argued the appeal filed by the APC, in which the court said it will give judgment today, would be binding on the other appeals.

Fagbemi urged the court to void the judgment of the High Court on the ground that the trial court had no jurisdiction when it entertained the suit on which the judgment was given.

He contended that since the trial court had no jurisdiction, its judgement in the matter was a nullity and should be set aside.

Fagbemi urged the court to invoke Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act and give final judgment in the matter to end the multiple cases arising from the Rivers State APC primary election.

Bello, in his counter-argument, urged the apex court to dismiss the appeal of the APC on the ground that it has become academic in nature in view of an earlier decision by the court.

He contended that by the decision of the court on February 8, which upheld the order of the High Court, restraining APC in Rivers State from conducting any primary election, the current appeal by APC had died and should be buried.

Bello told the court that the respondents, led by Ibrahim Umar, who were aggrieved by the violation of the Electoral Act and the Constitution in the manner the APC conducted its pre- election matters in Rivers, had secured a consent judgment in their favour, a judgment, he insisted, still stands.

At the conclusion of arguments by parties, Justice Rhodes-Vivour frowned at the multiple appeals filed by both factions of the APC in Rivers on a single issue.

He said the multiple appeals were not only time wasting, they were capable of confusing the court.

The court struck out an appeal filed by Abe against the stay of execution of the judgment of the Federal High Court, which nullified the nomination of  Cole and others as candidates the APC in Rivers State.

The court upheld the argument by Fagbemi (SAN). Fagbemi had argued that the records of proceedings at the lower court, filed by Abe did not follow the rules of the Appeal Court to certify the said documents.

Ruling Justice Rhodes-Vivour noted that only a few of pages of the records of appeal were signed.

He said since most of the pages were not signed, it could be interpreted that they were Abe’s personal documents.

Justice Rhodes-Vivour ordered parties to the appeal back to the Court of Appeal for the determination of the substantive appeal.

Abe had appealed an interlocutory decision of the Court of Appeal, which stayed the execution of the judgment of the High Court which nullified the primaries of the APC in Rivers State

Cole hopeful of running for governor

The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, Pastor Tonye Cole, is hopeful the Supreme Court will allow him run in the March 2 polls.

Cole, through the spokesman of his campaign organisation, Ogbonna Nwuke, said: “We have received a formal brief from our lawyers who were at the Supreme Court this (yesterday) morning to press the arguments of the APC and its candidates in some cases that are currently pending before the superior court.

“We have learnt that no less than three different matters were entertained today by the apex court. The first was an application by Senator Magnus Abe’s lawyer against the stay of execution granted Pastor Tonye Cole and candidates of the APC by the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt.

“The second matter was based on jurisdiction, while the third matter witnessed the commencement of initial legal arguments in a substantive matter. We are happy with the pace that is being adopted by the Supreme Court. We are particularly pleased that the attempt to frustrate the stay of execution granted by the Court of Appeal at the Supreme Court was today (yesterday) refused.

“Senator Magnus Abe and his associates have been ordered by the Supreme Court to descend to the court below for the eventual determination of the substantive suit.

“From what transpired today (yesterday), hearing in some cases which were argued, would continue tomorrow (today) at the Supreme Court. Against this background, we urge Rivers people and our teeming party supporters to kindly remain focused and law abiding.

“We have confidence in our lawyers and enormous faith in our God. They (the unnamed aggressors) had lied to an unsuspecting public that ongoing litigation at the Supreme Court had been settled. We are wondering what they are still trying to do in court, if there are no issues before the Supreme Court.

“For us, it is not over, until it is over. We shall continue to push for equity, fairness and justice. It does not matter whatever our opponents do, we know that justice will eventually prevail.”

Supreme Court strikes out appeals in Ogun PDP crisis

The Supreme Court yesterday declined jurisdiction over two appeals by the national leadership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) against the Senator Buruji Kashamu backed leadership of the party in Ogun State.

The appeals marked: SC/968/2018 (PDP v. Eng Adebayo Dayo & 4 others) and SC/1203/2018 (PDP v. Pegba Otemolu and 3ors, were struck out by a five-man panel of the court led by Musa Datijo Muhammad.

The court said the appeals, being pre-election related were incompetent because they were not filed within the 14 days allowed under Section 285(9) of the Constitution, others referred to as the 4th Alteration Act.

Justice Muhammad said the court no longer possessed the necessary jurisdiction to hear the appeal because it has become statute barred, lifeless and worthless, having been caught by the 4th Alteration to the 1999 Constitution.

PDP in the appeal had challenged the judgment of Justice Buba Ibrahim of the Federal High Court and upheld by the Court of Appeal which conferred recognition on the Dayo Adebayo led Executive Committee of the party in Ogun State as the authentic leadership.

At the resumed hearing in the first appeal, the court asked the appellant’s lawyer Emeka Etiaba (SAN) whether the case was a pre-election matter to which he answered in the negative.

He said the appeal was about the leadership of the PDP in Ogun State and was not election related.

The lawyer to the respondents, Alex Izinyon (SAN), insisted that it was a pre-election matter because it relates to the candidate nomination for the next general election.

Izinyon drew the court’s attention to ground 8 of the application filed on December 14, 2018 by the appellant for accelerated hearing of the appeal, where the appellant said the subject of the matter is to determine who are the rightful candidates of the appellant in Ogun State.

He also referred to paragraphs 11, 12 and 13 of the affidavit supporting the application where the appellant also said that the matter is about the determination of which of the two set of candidates that emanated from the two executive of the party should Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should accept.

He also had informed the court that the appeal has become a mere academic exercise because it has been caught by the 4th Alteration Act which requires the filing of a pre-election suit within 14 days.

The court agreed with Izinyon and held that the case was a pre-election matter, on which the court no longer has jurisdiction in view of the effect of the 4th Alteration Act.\

Although Etiaba made spirited effort to sway the court to his side with argument that the suit was not a pre-election matter, the Supreme Court refused to accept his argument.

He eventually agreed with the court position and withdrew the appeal.

Justice Muhammad, in his ruling agreed with Izinyon that the appeal has become statute barred and lifeless, He consequently struck it out.

The same fate befell the second appeal when it was called later.

 Dogs, horses for INEC headquarters, collation centres

Dogs and horses will be deployed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters and collation centres during the elections, the Force Animal Branch (FAB) of the Police has said.

The animals are expected to help control the crowd at the locations.

Speaking during a meeting in Abuja yesterday with Officers in Charge (OCs) of FAB on their roles during the elections, the Commissioner of Police FAB, Aishatu Abubakar, said dogs and horses were more efficient in crowd control operation.

She said: “We want to use dogs to control crowd because they are very effective. When you are confronted with issues of crowd, ten to 20 policemen cannot do what one or two dogs will do. Once a dog stands, people will behave themselves. Also for the mounted troop, a man on a horse can easily control crowd. So, the animals will be deployed to INEC headquarters and collation centres because that is where we have large number of crowd.

“We also have veterinary doctors to support and ensure that all animals are safe.”

On whether the animals will not scare people away and prevent them from voting, she said: “We expect understanding from members of the public. Our dogs are well trained and they won’t bite indiscriminately. If there is a problem or the dog is suspicious of somebody,  that is when they will come close. We expect the public to understand that the dogs and horses will be there to protect lives and property.

“To better reposition the department for efficient service delivery, the branch will be distributing to all its formations across the counter about 500 bags of K9 food, 1000 different categories of K9 operational gears, over 200 veterinary clinics equipment ranging from examination tables, stretcher, surgical, ambulatory and necropsy kits, 2500 variety of veterinary drugs and consumables.

“The Mounted section of the department will be distributing over 600 bags of the horse feed, guinea corn, millet and 500 varieties of mounted operational gears.”

The Deputy Inspector of Police in charge of Operations, DIG Abdulmajid Ali, urged the personnel to be at their best behaviour.

He said: “I want to remind you of the forthcoming election. Your performance will be monitored and we want to see how you will perform and how the items deployed will be utilised and not sold. All items deployed must be utilised and used justifiably because we want the election to be free and fair.”

Buhari sure of victory, says Ashafa

Senator Gbenga Ashafa has said President Muhammadu Buhari’s integrity will get him re-elected on Saturday.

Ashafa, who spoke during the All Progressives Congress (APC) door-to-door campaign in Magodo, Lagos, said APC was sure of victory.

He said the President has delivered on his campaign promises, noting that the fight against corruption, infrastructure development and bringing insecurity under control were landmarks of the administration.

Ashafa added that Magodo residents would troop out to vote the President, noting the people were comfortable with Buhari’s achievements in the past three and half years.

He said: “What we are doing right now is the drumming of support for President Buhari, who is sure of victory on Saturday. We are telling the residents of Magodo to disregard the campaign of calumny by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“We are here to also let them know that in the area of infrastructure development, agriculture, social welfare and passage of laws, the President has broken all records.

“Only five days back, I was at Iju, we took train from there to Abeokuta. A standard rail gauge has been put in place in the Southwest and this is the first time we are witnessing that. We have one in Warri/Itakpe, we have one across the length and breadth of Abuja and Kaduna.

“The rail gauge that has just been completed is one segment of Lagos/Kano. Nigerians should vote the President in order to enjoy the progress recorded under this administration. We are beneficiaries of roads construction and expansion.”

 ARMPOO tasks Ogonis on peaceful elections

The Association of Retired Senior Military and Para-Military  Officers  of Ogoni (ARMPOO)  has urged the people of Ogoni ethnic nationality to maintain peace before, during and after the elections.

Its coordinator, Rear Admiral John Nicholas Bakpo, in a statement yesterday, condemned the unending spate of violence in the area, particularly Gwara and Kpong communities.

The association urged politicians to desist from inciting the people to engage in violence by promoting thuggery, ballot box snatching and kidnapping during the forthcoming general elections.

Bakpo urged youths of Ogoni to shun cultism, armed robbery and assassination.


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