Supreme Court Upholds Election Of Governor Dickson

The Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed Seriake Dickson as governor of Bayelsa State.

The seven-member panel of judges threw out an appeal by Timipre Sylva, candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, challenging the election of Dickson.

The election tribunal and the Court of Appeal had earlier upheld Dickson’s election.

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had accused some bigwigs of the All Progressives Congress, APC, of pressurizing Justices of the Supreme Court in a bid to favour the party in the Bayelsa State Governorship election matter.

However, in a unanimous decision, a seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court led by Justice Mohammed Tanko, dismissed the appeal by the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its governorship candidate in the state, Timipre Sylva.

Justice Tanko who read the lead verdict held that the petition lacked merit.

“This appeal lacks merit and it should be dismissed. I hereby dismiss the appeal and affirm the judgment of the court below. I shall give my reasons on Friday, November 18. Parties are to bear their cost”, Justice Tanko held.

Nevertheless, the court, in two other judgments by Justices Kudirat Ekekere-Ekun and Olukayode Ariwola, dismissed cross-appeal filed by Dickson and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, against Sylva and the APC, though they also reserved their reasons till Friday.

EFCC Traces Slush Funds To More Supreme Court Justices

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has traced suspicious funds to more Supreme Court Justices.

Two Justices of the Supreme Court – Justice Inyang Okoro and Justice Sylvester Ngwuta – are among the 15 judges under probe by the EFCC and the Department of State Services (DSS) for alleged corruption.

It was also learnt yesterday that the National Judicial Council (NJC) will write to judges under probe to stop perform their official responsibilities until their innocence is established.

The NJC, which took the decision last week, was said to have decided to formally notify the judges to avoid a haphazard compliance with the directive.

A source said the letters will be sent to them before the end of this week.

It was also learnt that the EFCC is preparing charges against the six judges it had interrogated.

One of the judges, whose case file was being “fine-tuned”, might face a 12-count charges.

Also, all the 15 judges under investigation by the EFCC and the DSS have had their movement restricted to the country pending the conclusion of the probe.

The EFCC team is believed to have discovered that suspicious funds were lodged in the accounts of more Supreme Court Justices.

The Federal High Court and the National Industrial Court (NIC) judges under investigation are: Justices Mohammed Nasir Yunusa; Hyeladzira Ajiya Nganjiwa; Musa Haruna Kurya; Agbadu James Fishim; Uwani Abba Aji; and Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, Justice Mohammed Ladan Tsamiya, Justice Adeniyi Ademola( Federal High Court); the former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice I. A. Umezulike; Justice Kabiru Auta of Kano State High Court; Justice Muazu Pindiga (Gombe State High Court); Justice Bashir Sukola and Justice Ladan Manir, from the Kaduna State High Court..

An EFCC source said: “From our findings so far, there is much rot in the Judiciary.

“More Supreme Court Justices have questions to answer on suspicious funds in their accounts. We cannot give you their names but it is certain that the apex court needs a surgical cleansing.

“We are already preferring charges against some of the six judges of the Federal High Court and the National Industrial Court interrogated by our team. In fact, one of them will face a 12-count charge.

“ We do not want piecemeal arraignment of the judges in court. We plan to file charges against all of them at once.”

On the restriction of the 15 judges, the source said: “It is only in exceptional circumstances like ill-health and any emergency that these judges will be allowed to step out of the country. They have all been watch-listed pending the conclusion of investigation or their trial.”

The NJC is said to be unhappy with the Executive’s delay in acting on its recommendation of the retirement or dismissal of erring judicial officers.

The practice is that the council writes to the President (in the case of a judge of a federal court) and to the governor (in the case of a judge of a state court) about its recommendation. Either the President or the governor is required to write back to the NJC about its acceptance and execution of the council’s recommendation.

It was learnt that in most cases the Executive has always been reluctant in implementing the recommendations of the NJC and writing back.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Muhammed, expressed a similar reservation in an October 26, 2016 letter to a group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

In the letter written by his Senior Special Assistant, H. S. Sa’eed, the CJN said: “The failure on the part of the executive arm of government to act upon recommendations by the NJC cannot be blamed upon the NJC.”

He said the Constitution empowers the NJC only to recommend to the President and the governors the removal from office of judicial officers and to exercise disciplinary control over such judicial officers, which in effect is the extent of its power to discipline.

The CJN added that it was not within the powers of the NJC to implement its recommendation of retirement or dismissal, but that the most it could do is to suspend an erring judicial officer until its recommendations are accepted by the Executive.

The Nation’s investigation revealed that the President and some governors are yet to act on some specific recommendations involving judicial officers, such as Justice Musa Ibrahim Anka (Zamfara High Court), Justice Mohammed Yunusa (Federal High Court), Justice Olamide Oloyede (Osun State High Court) and Justice I. E. Umezulike (Chief Judge of Enugu State) and Kabiru Auta (Kano State High Court).

In 2011, the NJC directed that Justice Anka be sacked, having been found guilty of gross misconduct (bribery and corruption). It found that the judge received bribe from Zubairu Abdulmalik to deliver judgment in his favour.

Justice Anka, before then had been on suspension by the NJC since July 2010, following a petition written against him by Zamfara State DSS, alleging that he received bribe from one Zubairu Abdulmalik in order to deliver judgment in his favour.

The NJC, in July, recommended to President Muhammadu Buhari that Justice Yunusa be compulsorily retired for granting interim orders and perpet­ual injunctions, restrain­ing Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), In­spector General of Police (IGP), Independent Corrupt Practices and related of­fences Commission (ICPC) and EFCC from arresting, in­vestigating and prosecuting some persons accused of corruption in some cases.

Also in July, the NJC recommended to the Osun State Governor, the compulsory retirement from office of Justice Olamide Oloyede for failing “to conduct herself in such a manner as to preserve the dignity of her office and impartiality and independence of the judiciary.

The NJC, in a statement on July 18, 2016, said Justice Oloyedee “derailed when she wrote a petition against the Osun State Governor and his Deputy to members of the State House of Assembly and circulated same to 36 persons and organisations”.

The petition was said to have contained political statements, unsubstantiated allegations and accusations aimed at deriding, demeaning and undermining the Government of Osun State.

On the case of Justice Auta, the NJC, in a statement on September 30, 2016, recommended to the Kano State Governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, that the judge be dismissed and be handed over to the police for prosecution following its findings on the allegations levelled against him by Alhaji Kabiru Yakassai.

Yakassai had petitioned the NJC, claiming that he paid N125, 000.000.00 into an account approved by the Judge.

The NJC also recommended that Justice Auta be handed over to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 1, Kano, for prosecution

Also in September, the NJC recommended Justice Umezulike to the Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, for compulsory retirement.

The council confirmed the allegations levelled against him by Barrister Peter Eze.

It was alleged that Justice Umezulike failed to deliver judgement in suit No E/13/2008: Ajogwu V Nigerian Bottling Company Limited in which final addresses were adopted on 23rd October, 2014.

The judgement was however delivered on 9th March, 2015, about 126 days after addresses had been adopted, contrary to constitutional provisions that judgement should be delivered within 90 days.

It was learnt that neither the President nor the governors have written the NJC in relation to its recommendations on the judges.

Saraki’s Trial Will End At Supreme Court – Dino Melaye

Flamboyant Senator, Otunba Dino Melaye, on Saturday in Abuja opened a new chapter in the trial of the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over alleged false declarations of his assets.

Melaye said it was certain the issue would end at the Supreme Court.

According to him, the committees in the National Assembly would keep close watch on the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government and ensure proper implementation of the 2016 budget, which has been signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Melaye is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory and represents Kogi West Senatorial District on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.

He was also the founder of a group: “Like-minded Senators,” which worked for the emergence of Saraki as Senate president.

Speaking on Saturday after the conferment of an award on him by the Rotary Club of Ilorin GRA, Kwara State, led by a former Military Administrator of Bauchi and Osun States, retired Colonel Theophilus Bamigboye, for his commitment to nation building, Melaye said: “Our support for the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, is total and undiluted.

“Our commitment to his getting justice is a battle of no retreat, no surrender.

“One thing I want to assure Nigerians is that the trial of Saraki will not end in the CCT, but in the Supreme Court and we are with the Senate president until we get to the last bus stop.

“We are with him up till Supreme Court.”

Melaye expressed excitement that after the controversies surrounding the 2016 budget, it has been signed by the President.

He said: “What is more important is not the signing of the budget but its implementation.

“But we look forward to making sure that the National Assembly with all sincerity of purpose carries out monitoring of the MDAs to make sure that this budget is properly implemented.

“May we never see a situation where only 30 per cent of capital projects is implemented.

Kogi Drags NASS, AGF Before Supreme Court Over Assembly Takeover

The Kogi State Government has sued the National Assembly and the Attorney-General of the Federation before the Supreme Court, asking for an order nullifying the House of Representatives’ resolution to take over the legislative functions of the state’s House of Assembly.

The House of Representatives had on March 9, 2016 passed a resolution to take over the legislative functions of the Kogi State House of Assembly.

The House of Representatives passed the resolution following the crisis that broke out from the tussle for the speakership position between two factions of the state assembly.

It also in the said resolution directed the Inspector-General of Police to seal up the House of Assembly until the crisis was resolved.

But the Kogi State Government represented by the state’s Attorney-General and the House of Assembly, filed its suit on April 29, 2016 before the Supreme Court, to challenge the House of Representatives’ resolution.

The National Assembly and the AGF are the two defendants to the suit.

The plaintiffs in the suit with number, SC.340/2016, filed under Order 3 Rule 5 of the Supreme Court Rules, asked the apex court to declare that the House of Representatives’ resolution was passed in breach of section 11(4) of the Constitution.

They also urged the apex court to nullify the resolution.

‎They contended in their statement of claim that “the factional disagreement” between members of House of Assembly was normal in a democracy.

According to them, the crisis started on February 16, 2016, following a disagreement between two factions in the House of Assembly over the speakership position.

They claimed that following the disagreement, a faction of the members of the House of Assembly‎ filed the suit, FHC/LKJ/CS/16/16 (Kogi State House of Assembly & 3 Ors V National Assembly & 2 Ors.

They said while the suit was pending, the House of Representatives invoked its power ‎under section 11(4) of the Constitution to take over the functions of the House of Assembly.

The plaintiffs said the House of Representatives declared the impeachment ‎proceedings embarked upon by five members of the members of the House of Assembly for the removal of the Speaker, as clearly violating section 92(c) of the Constitution.

They added that the lower legislative chamber of the National Assembly also condemned the roles played by the police in providing cover for only five members out of the 20 members of the House of Assembly “to commit illegalities”.

But the plaintiffs claimed that the said “disagreement” between the factions in the House of Assembly did not create any “adverse security situation” in the state.

Their statement of claim accompanying the suit added, “There is no security report by the Governor of Kwara State, the police or any security agency in Nigeria that the disagreement among members of Kogi State House of Assembly caused insecurity and danger t o public safety in the state.

“At all times material to the passage of the resolution of the National Assembly to take over Kogi State House of Assembly, Kogi State was ad is calm and peaceful as citizens go about their lawful business.”

The plaintiffs therefore sought the following two prayers: “A declaration that the resolution of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 9, 2016, which purportedly took over the legislative functions of Kogi State House of Assembly is passed in breach of section 11(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the National Assembly from interfering with or take over the legislative functions of Kogi State House of Assembly based on the resolution of the House of Representatives passed on Wednesday, March 9, 2016.”

The processes of the suit had been served on the defendants.

But the defendants have yet to respond to the suit and no date has been fixed for the hearing.

Sagay Slams Supreme Court Over Rivers Election Tribunal Judgement

Eminent jurist, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), assailed the recent verdict of the Supreme Court on the 2015 Rivers State governorship election afresh yesterday, branding it a farewell to election petitions in the country.

The ruling, Sagay said in a in a 52 page review of the apex court’s decision, was shocking, catastrophic and uncalled for.

He said not a few Nigerians have lost faith in the Supreme Court on account of the judgement which upheld the election of Mr. Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the duly elected governor of the state.

“In the Richter scale of earthquakes, it must have measured up to 15: enough to induce a miscarriage, even in a man,” he said of the disappointment of those he called innocent Nigerians by the ruling.

He could not understand how the verdict was arrived at despite “the murder, mayhem, chaos and devastation almost amounting to a catastrophe, displayed on television, reported in all newspapers in all its gory details; after the damning reports of International and Local Observers who barely survived their mission.

“It was the worst shock ever created by a Supreme Court decision since I was knowledgeable enough to follow and understand Court judgments.”

Citing the judgement of Nweze, JSC in in Okereke v. Umahi S.C. 1004/2015 where the Supreme Court, said that the use of the Card Reader would ‘dethrone’ and ‘depose’ the Voters’ Register, Sagay said: “How does the Card Reader ‘depose’, or ‘dethrone’ the voter’s Register. After verification by the Card Reader, the voter’s name still has to be identified in the voters’ Register and ticked before he can vote.

“It must be noted that both the Tribunal and Court of Appeal emphasized that the Card Reader was intended to and did strengthen the application and efficacy of the Electoral Act, by ensuring a credible election for the benefit of Nigerians.

“The Election Tribunal stated expressly that “the usage of the Card Reader was complementary to the usage of the voters’ register. In other words, the two work hand in hand towards ensuring credible elections. The voters’ Registers properly come to play where a prospective voter has been screened by the Card Reader. The sum total of the role of the Card Reader is that it is complementary to the usage of the Voters’ Register.”

“So where in all this did Nweze, JSC, discover the ‘deposition’, and ‘dethronement’, of the Voters’ Register by the Card Reader? Absolutely nowhere. What Nweze had simply done was to give the Card Reader a bad name in order to subject it to judicial execution. Has the Card Reader eliminated the voters’ Register? No! Has it brought integrity and transparency to the voters’ Register and the whole electoral process? Yes!

“All the Card Reader does is to act as a gate man for the voters’ Register. There was no dethronement and deposition here. There was only a step forward towards free, fair and credible elections – a procedure for sanitizing our elections and for eliminating fraud, dishonesty and rigging from our electoral process. Should any Supreme Court anywhere in the world resist and reject such a beneficial development in the electoral process? No!

“The law as stated in Section 49 has not in any way been altered by the Card Reader.

“So, all this talk of superseding and dethroning has no bearing whatsoever on Section 49 of the Electoral Act 2010. There is no provision of the Electoral Act banning or prohibiting the use of Card Readers. It is wrong of any one to assert that the use of Card Readers is electronic voting. It shows that such a person cannot distinguish between accreditation and voting.”

The jurist said the Supreme Court ought to have considered the following questions on the Card Reader before arriving at its decision:

* Was the voters’ Register instituted in the Electoral Act to promote and ensure free, fair and credible elections?

*If this is so (and it necessarily must have been so) did the introduction of the Card Reader enhance the capacity of the Voters’ Register to produce clean, fair and credible elections?

He added: “As all the Courts, even the Supreme Court, have admitted, the Card Reader has sanitized and brought transparency and integrity to the election accreditation process. The sum total of the usage of the Card Reader therefore is that it is complementary to the work of the Voters’ register. “The two work hand in hand to ensure a credible election” – (The Tribunal)

“It follows that if all the Card Reader does is to enhance, improve and promote the capacity of the Voters’ the Card Reader could NOT in any sense have ‘deposed’, ‘dethroned’ the Voters’ Register as Nweze wrongly asserted in Okereke v. Umahi. Helping and enhancing the Voters’ Register’s capacity and efficiency cannot be classified as ‘dethroning’ or ‘deposing’ it. It is still there as the ultimate source after the cleanup of the process by the Card Reader.”

Sagay also faulted the Supreme Court’s position that “in order for an election to be nullified, the Petitioner (Dr. Dakuku Peterside) has to establish that not only was there a substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act, but additionally the Petitioner must show that the substantial non-compliance affected the result of the election.”

Relying on Section 139(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 which stipulates that “An election shall not be liable to be invalidated by reason of non-compliance with this Act if it appears to the Electoral Tribunal or Court that the election (i) was conducted substantially in accordance with the principles of this Act and (ii) that the non-compliance did not affect substantially the result of the election,”

Sagay said:”In other words, any election has to clear two hurdles in order to be valid; (i) it must comply substantially with the provisions of the Act; (ii) where there was any non-compliance, no matter how insignificant, it must not have substantial effect on the result.

“Therefore a petitioner will succeed if he can establish either of the following: Substantial non-compliance with the Act, only or substantial effect on the result by any degree of non-compliance, no matter how trivial. I repeat, the petitioner need only establish one of these two situations in order for the election to be invalid, namely, Substantial non compliance with the electoral Act including the schedules and regulations or Substantial effect on the election result of any infraction of the Electoral Act, schedules, regulations etc no matter how trivial the infraction.”

“Therefore, Kekere-Ekun, JSC, was absolutely wrong when she stated at page 67 of her judgment that in addition to establishing substantial non-compliance, the Petitioners were also obliged to also establish that the non-compliance also affected the result of the election. This is an error that some Justices of the Supreme Court have been repeating again and again in spite of corrections that have been offered several times.”

The Nation

Orji Kalu Welcomes Supreme Court Ruling, Assures EFCC Of Support

Former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Kalu, yesterday, welcomed the verdict of the Supreme Court directing his trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged N2.4billion fraud when he ran the affairs of the state between 1999 and 2007.

The apex court had dismissed his appeal for lacking in merit.

Kalu, who in the appeal, had sought to quash the charge of money laundering brought against him by EFCC, said moment after the Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday that “this is another opportunity to prove my innocence.

“I have all the records and facts of the case. I am willing to submit myself for the rule of law to take its course. That has always been my passion advocacy, right from the lower courts where the case enamnated,” he said from London.

He added: “this clarification has become imperative lest oppositional forces mischievously misinterpret the ruling and mislead the public by injecting their jaundiced opinions into the routine directive as had always been with similar cases where the apex court intervened.”

He assured the EFCC of his “continued support and profound cooperation in any further investigation into this allegation,’’ and also claimed it “is part of the price I have to pay for opposing the third-term agenda fiasco of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.”

A similar appeal by Kalu’s associate, Udeh Jones Udehogo, was similarly dismissed yesterday by the Supreme Court for the same reason.

Justice Suleiman Galadima, who wrote the lead judgments in both appeals, upheld the concurrent decisions of the Federal High Court, Abuja and Appeal Court, Abuja, in refusing the appeals.

The five-man panel of the apex court, in its unanimous judgments, directed the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to assign the cases to new judges for hearing.

On Kalu’s case, Justice Galadima, whose judgment was read by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, said: “The appellant had approached the Federal High Court, Abuja to quash the charges made against him by the EFCC.

“The Court dismissed the case. He went to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division. He lost and approached this court.

“Having considered all issues raised and arguments by parties, I come to the conclusion that I cannot, but help in dismissing this appeal for lacking in merit. It is dismissed.

“I affirm the decision of the court bellow, which rightly affirmed the decision of the Federal High Court, that it was not bound by the ex-parte order of the Abia State High Court as to vitiate the charges preferred against the appellant.

“The learned Chief Judge of the Federal High Court should assign the case to another judge for expeditious trial,” Justice Galadima said.

Other members of the panel: Justice Mahmud Mohammed (the Chief Justice of Nigeria), Bode Rhodes-Vivour, sylvester Nwgwuta and Datijo Mohammed agreed with the lead judgments in both appeals.

In its decision on April 27, 2012, the Court of Appeal, Abuja division, dismissed the appeal by Kalu against the ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja, dismissing his motion seeking to quash the charge against him and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited.

Justice Ejembi Eko, who read the judgment on behalf of Justices Kayode Bada and Regina Nwodo, resolved all issues in the appeal against Kalu and his company and dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.

Justice Eko noted that the proof of evidence attached to the 97 count charge preferred against the appellants by the EFCC disclosed a prima facie case against the former governor and others.

Justice Eko said the facts raised in the proof of evidence established a prima facie case against the appellants. He further said that as far as there is a link which prima facie is all about, the appellants had an obligation to stand trial to defend themselves.

He further ruled that the ex-parte order of May 31, 2007 by Abia State High Court, asking the Federal High Court to stay all proceedings against Orji was a racquet suit aimed at frustrating his arrest and subsequent prosecution.

“That order was an order at large, personal rather than definite. It was an order made as an ex-parte and not at the course of trial.” He described the ex-parte motion as an abuse of court process.

Justice Eko said the claim of breach of personal freedom raised by Orji was sentimental in nature, adding that the claim bordered on the realm of conspiracy theory and is politically motivated. He said right to personal liberty is not absolute.

On whether EFCC had the competence to charge the appellants, Justice Eko held that both the EFCC Establishment Act and the Money laundering and Prohibition Act, (MPLA, 2003, 2004) had given the commission power to prosecute offenders.

“EFCC derives its competence to prosecute from section 6 and 7 of its Establishing Act. Equally, the definition of economic crime is quite wide,” he said.

The appellate court further held that the proof of evidence attached to the 97-count charge preferred against the appellants by the EFCC disclosed a prima facie case against the former governor and others.

Justice Eko also denounced the ex-parte order of May 31, 2007 by the Abia State High Court.

“That order was an order at large, personal rather than definite. It was an order made as an ex-parte and not at the course of trial.”

The EFCC had on July 27, 2007 arraigned Kalu before the High Court in Abuja on charges of money laundering, official corruption and criminal diversion of public funds totaling over N5 billion.

On September 3, 2007 Kalu filed a motion before the court seeking an order to strike out all EFCC charges against him and to vacate the terms and conditions of the bail earlier granted by the court. The court dismissed the motion, a decision Kalu appealed to the Court of Appeal.

After Eight-Year Delay, Supreme Court Orders Orji Kalu To Go Face Trial

The Supreme Court, Friday, gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the nod to prosecute the former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu on a 107-count corruption charge.

The charge borders on the alleged complicity of the erstwhile governor in money laundering and illegal diversion of public funds to the tune of N5.6billion.Kalu was alleged to have perpetuated the fraud while he piloted the affairs of Abia State between 1999 and 2007.

Though the anti-graft agency docked him before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on July 27, 2007, however, for the past eight years, the defendant, through various interlocutory applications, frustrated moves by the prosecution to open its case against him.The defendant firstly challenged the competence of the charge against him, as well as the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear and determine the case.
Meanwhile, following refusal by the trial court to quash the charge, Kalu, took the case before the Court of Appeal in Abuja.The appellate court, in a unanimous judgment, upheld the competence of the charge, adding that the high court was constitutionally empowered to exercise jurisdiction on the trial.Dissatisfied with the verdict, Kalu approached the Supreme Court, begging it to set-aside the concurrent findings of the two lower courts.

The former governor, through his lawyer Chief Awa Kalu, SAN, pleaded a five-man panel of Justices of the apex court, headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, to quash the criminal charge against him.

He contended that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie nexus linking him to the ingredients of the offence contained in the charge.

It was his contention that the proof of evidence the anti-graft agency adduced against him did not nail him to the commission of any crime.

Nevertheless, the apex court, in a unanimous judgment on Friday, dismissed the appeal, even as it ordered the appellant to go and face his trial before the high court.

While upholding the Court of Appeal verdict, Justice Suleiman Galadima who delivered the lead verdict, said the apex court was satisfied that the former governor has a case to answer pertaining to allegations that were levelled against him by the EFCC.

Besides, the apex court ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to re-assign the case to another Judge to

Death Sentence: Supreme Court To Decide Reverend King’s Faith Today

The Supreme Court will give the final word today whether Rev. Chukwuemeka Ezeugo, a.k.a Reverend King should be hanged for murder or whether he should spend some few years more in jail.

King, General Overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly in Lagos, is challenging the judgment of a Lagos High Court sentencing him to death by hanging.

The apex court presided over by Justice Walter Onoghen adjourned till today to give judgment after listening to arguments from counsel to prosecution and defence in the matter.

Lagos State Attorney general and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, who appeared before the Supreme Court alongside Mrs. Idowu Alakija, the Director of Public Prosecution and other Senior Counsel in the State, urged the court to dismiss the appeal and uphold the judgment of the lower court.

Ezeugo was arraigned on September 26, 2006 on a six-count charge of attempted murder and murder.

He pleaded not guilty to the allegation but was sentenced to death by the then Justice Joseph Oyewole of Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, on January 11, 2007 for the murder of one of his church members, Ann Uzoh.

Justice Oyewole is now a judge of Appeal Court sitting in the Calabar division.

The Lagos State Government had said that the convict poured petrol on the deceased and five other persons and that Uzoh died on August 2, 2006; 11 days after the act was perpetrated on her.

Ezeugo was convicted and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for the attempted murder and death by hanging for the offence of murder.

Dissatisfied, Ezeugo challenged the verdict before the Court of Appeal in Lagos, but the appeal was thrown out.

“I hereby rule that the prosecution effectively discharged the burden of proof on it. This appeal is devoid of any basis and accordingly fails.

“The judgment of the High Court is hereby affirmed, and the conviction imposed on the appellant, (which is death by hanging) is also affirmed,” Justice Fatimo Akinbami who read the judgement held. The two other members of the panel of Justices, Amina Augie and Ibrahim Saulawa concurred with the lead judgement.

Again, Ezeugo not being satisfied with the verdict, approached the Supreme Court, and urged that the judgment be upturned.

The apex court has now fixed the final judgment for today.

Pm News

Stella Oduah, Andy Uba Remain Elected – Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a motion filed by the Independent National Electoral Commission seeking clarification on its January 29, 2016 judgment, which many claimed had sacked federal legislators from Anambra State, including senators Andy Uba and Stella Oduah.

A five-man panel of the apex court, led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, held that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the motion

Justice Nyang Okoro, who read the lead ruling of the court, held that there was no ambiguity in the apex court’s judgment and could not be accommodated under Order 8, Rule 16 of the Supreme Court rules.

But despite declining jurisdiction to clarify the judgment, Justice Okoro went on to highlight what the apex court decided and did not decide in the said verdict.

Justice Okoro, who had delivered the judgment, which was being sought to be interpreted, ruled, for instance, that the apex court did not resolve the question relating to the legitimacy or otherwise of the list of candidates submitted to INEC for the 2015 National Assembly election by the various factions of the Peoples Democratic Party in Anambra State.

He ruled, “The motion is not seeking correction of any clerical mistake or some error arising from any accidental slip or omission. May I say, generally too, that this court has the power to correct its own clerical errors or slip of the pen. Such power is exercisable in both civil and criminal proceedings.

“It must be clearly stated that it is not every slip or error in a judgment that would be allowed to undermine or derogate from an otherwise well-written judgment. I have seen the application by the applicant (INEC) and the issues thrown up for determination.

“I am of the view that this court has no jurisdiction to determine and pronounce upon them as it will have the effect of rewriting the judgment and in the process, making orders, which ought not to have been made in the first place. The judgment of this court is final by virtue of Section 235 of the Constitution.

“From the issue before us, nothing has been shown, which is not clear in the judgment. It is wrong for anyone to import into the judgment, issues which were not ventilated and decided upon.”

Justice Okoro explained that, although the panel upheld the earlier judgment of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, to the effect that the Ejike Oguebego-led executive committee of the Anambra chapter of the PDP was the authentic body to run the party’s affairs, it did give the EXCO the power to submit a list of candidates to INEC.

Justice John Okoro stated that the Supreme Court neither ordered INEC to accept the list of candidates for the National Assembly election from the Oguebego-led EXCO nor did it direct INEC to conduct fresh elections to the National Assembly in the state.

He added, “For instance, the applicant is seeking clarifications whether to issue certificate of return to persons in the list of Ejike Oguebego-led executive committee. This was not part of our judgment.

“Also, INEC is seeking whether to do a fresh election to the National Assembly, as it affects Anambra State. This, again, was not part of the judgment. These are matters that have been properly ventilated at the election tribunal and the Court of Appeal. I am not aware that any of those matters are on appeal in this court.

“It is untrue that parties do not understand the import of our judgment. Where in the judgment did we state that the Oguebego-led committee should take over the functions of the National Executive Committee of the PDP so that it can submit a list to INEC? I think counsel are not fair to this court when they say they do not understand the judgment of this court, which was written in simple English language.”

The court dismissed the motion filed and argued by INEC’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomoolo (SAN) and upheld the objection by lawyer to the Oguebego-led EXCO, Chris Uche (SAN), who had urged the court to decline jurisdiction.

The Punch

Aisha Alhassan Has No Locus To Challenge PDP’s Nomination Of Ishaku – Supreme Court

Supreme Court on Monday stated that the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its governorship candidate in Taraba State, Aisha Alhassan, had no locus standi to challenge the nomination of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate Governor Darius Ishiaku by his party.

The court made the declaration while giving reasons for dismissing the appeal of APC and Alhassan in its judgment on February 11, 2015.

According to Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, who read details of the judgment, the appeals and cross appeals had no redeemable substance.

The apex court held that Governor Ishiaku was duly sponsored by the PDP, to contest in the election, adding that evidence brought before it had confirmed Ishiaku’s membership of the party.

“The matter is very simple, the apex court has ruled on matters of this nature at different occasions.

“There is no way a candidate of another political party who did not participate in the primaries of another political party could suddenly rise to challenge the conduct of such an exercise.

“It is therefore, clear that the appeals and all the cross appeals against the election of Governor Darius Ishiaku have no redeemable substance,” Rhodes-Vivour held.

Besides, the court declared that the Taraba State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal grossly misdirected itself by upturning Ishiaku’s victory.

It would be recalled that the tribunal had nullified the governor’s election and went ahead to declare Alhassan as duly elected governor of Taraba.

However, an appeal by Ishiaku set aside the tribunal judgement, prompting Alhassan and the APC to approach the apex court, which dismissed their appeals and affirmed the validity of the governor’s election.

Why Wike Is Rightfully Elected Governor Of Rivers – Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday gave reasons while Nyesom Wike was affirmed as the validly elected governor of Rivers.

Justice Mohammad Mahmud, who presided, held that the Governorship Electoral Petition Tribunal that handled the case swayed INEC guideline on the use of card readers for the election.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) also held that the tribunal also denied Wike fair hearing.

The Justice said: “While the court commends the introduction of card readers, the innovation, however, cannot supersede the voters register.

“The extant laws of the Federation provides for the use of voters register but the card reader irrespective of its importance does not have a place in any extant law of the land.

“Hence it said that the tribunal was wrong to base it judgment on non-compliance with the use of card readers,” Mahmud held.

On the issue of allegation of violence and irregularities during the election, Mahmud held that Dakuku Peterside, candidate of the APC in that election, failed to prove the allegations.

“The APC and its candidate, Mr Dakuku Peterside, were not able to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt because they failed to bring witnesses from all the polling units to substantiate the claims.

“For Peterside to prove non-accreditation, he ought to have tendered the voters register and then demonstrate it before the open court.

“We have aligned ourselves with the provision of the law that recognizes the voters register as key element to conduct any elections,” he said.

Mahmud, therefore, said the voter register could not be jettisoned for the card reader because it had a place in law while the card reader did not.

According to him, the tribunal and the lower court were unduly swayed by INEC’s directive on card reader usage during the election.

While noting that INEC had empower to make subsidiary regulations regarding conduct of election, Mahmud held that the regulations must not go contrary to constitutional provisions.

On the evidence of INEC staff who described the election as a sham and a mockery of democracy, the court held that his evidence could not take the place of testimonies of voters.

“We however discovered that under cross examination witness did not state whether he personally witnessed any violence at any polling unit, thereby making his evidence hearsay.

“The laws do not give room for arbitrary nullification of an election. A petitioner has to prove that there was substantial non-compliance in all polling units, this we did not see,” he said.

Mahmud further said that APC and Peterside failed to bring the issue within this parameter.

The CJN, however, commended the introduction of the card reader but urged the electoral body to approach the National Assembly to give its usage the status of law.

On that of Ogun state, the Court held that Amusu Ibikunle’s return as governor hinged on similar reasons adduced in the Rivers appeal.

NAN reports that Ibikunle contested the election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Mahmud held that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Gbeyeoga Isiaka, failed to prove allegations of violence, irregularities and other related malpractices during the election.