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Why Supreme Court Judgment On Imo Can’t Be Reviewed – Ozekhome.

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Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), a constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, in this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, speaks on the latest Supreme Court rulings, how to improve the electoral process and the controversy trailing the South-West security outfit, Operation Amotekun, which has been declared illegal by the Federal Government. Excerpts:

The Supreme Court on Monday affirmed the election of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau state. As the lawyer to General Jeremiah Useni, the candidate of the PDP, what is your take on that judgment and others granted by the Supreme Court?

I must say that I am surprised by the governorship ruling on the Plateau governorship election. We had a very good case but the Supreme Court being the final court of law, once they have finished their judgment, they have finished; but that does that not mean they cannot or have not made mistakes. For example, we formulated about 18 issues but they look into only one issue. Even the interlocutory appeal that we had won at the Supreme Court on 23rd September last year which the Tribunal ignored and the Court of Appeal also ignored, the Supreme Court did not touch it at all. We also cited the case of Hope Uzodinma vs INEC of last week and the case of Governor Aminu Tambuwal that was also decided on Monday morning as being in our favour but they did not touch any of them at all.

One point I must make is that the electoral regime as presently constituted is firmly skewed against a petition which is expected to prove that you won in every polling unit, either across the state or across the nation; and all of this must be done within a limited period of time because the period provided for commencement and conclusion of elections cannot be elasticated. The Supreme Court itself had said so that it is like the Rock of Gilbratar which cannot be moved. What it means is that politicians go out of their way during the elections to kill, maim, burn, bribe and yet you see them boasting publicly that their opponents should go to the Tribunal. They do this because they know that the constitutional and electoral obstacles erected on the path of the petitioner are so gargantuan that climbing them is like climbing Mount Everest. That is what encourages politicians to mess up the system; that also encourages INEC instead of being impartial and independent, they are compromised. So, we have a situation where Presidents, Governors, Local Government chairmen, lawmakers and even councilors are being conceived, incubated and delivered from the hallowed chambers of the courts of law rather than through the electoral process which gives vent to the voice of the people. So, the people’s votes are continually being relegated to the background in preference of a supervisory authority called the courts that now delivers candidates to the people.

What do you think can be done to address this anomaly?

I think that it is high time for the Justice Mohammed Uwais Electoral Committee Reform report and the Senator Ken Nnamani Electoral Committee report to be dusted up by the federal government so as to rejig and reinvent the wheel of our electoral process. Otherwise, what we are practicing today is not necessarily democracy, which is government of the people, by the people and for the people as stated by Abraham Lincoln in his 1863 Gettysburg declaration, but the government of the powerful, by the few and of the ruthless. That is not good for us as a nation.

On the Imo governorship election, some lawyers have said there is still hope for Emeka Ihedioha as the Supreme court can still review the case. What is your take on that?

No! Generally, under the Supreme Court rules, except when they commit what we called clerical error, the Supreme Court rules forbids the Supreme Court reviewing its own case because it is the final court. Otherwise, there will be no end to litigation. People who are saying the Imo judgment can be set aside maybe really do not know the legal position.

What is your perspective on the raging controversy surrounding the South-West security outfit, Operation Amotekun which has been declared as illegal by the federal government?

The federal government cannot declare Amotekun illegal. They have no powers to do so. The federal government has its own police force in section 214 and 215 of the constitution. The same section makes the governor of a state the Chief Security Officer of his own state; meaning that within the territorial jurisdiction of a state, a governor has to provide security for its own citizens. He doesn’t have to wait for the federal government. Amotekun is like the Hisbah that has been operating in the North for years which was set up to fight Boko Haram and other criminal vices. There is nothing special about Amotekun. We have the Agbekoya before.

There is hardly a state in Nigeria today that doesn’t have one vigilante group or the other. They are all meant to take care of the security of such states. Within a federal system of government, each federating unit is supposed to be independent and autonomous within its territorial area.

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A’Court Rulling: Pro-Fubara Assembly Heads For Supreme Court

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The lingering supremacy battle between the Rivers State governor, Siminalayi Fubara, and lawmakers loyal to his estranged godfather and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, has shifted to the Supreme Court.

The Speaker of the lawmakers loyal to Fubara in the state House of Assembly, Victor Oko Jumbo, said the factional assembly had filed an appeal at the apex court to challenge the judgement by the Appeal Court delivered in Abuja on Wednesday.

Recall that the Appeal Court had nullified the order of a Rivers State High Court which restrained Amaewhule and other pro Wike lawmakers from parading themselves as lawmakers.

The Court also said only the Federal High Court has the jurisdiction to entertain the matter of the lawmakers.

Reacting, Governor Fubara said his administration remains undeterred by the appeal court ruling and will not waver in its commitment to providing critical infrastructure for the state.

According to a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Nelson Chukwudi, the governor gave the assurance on Friday after inspecting the extent of reconstruction work done at the Zonal Hospital project at Bori Town, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area in the state.

He said: “I know that a lot of you will be wondering what is going on and all that. Government has its own challenges. If you go to the book of Psalm 23 verse 5, in the Bible, it says that God prepares a table before you; it can be before anybody.

“But there is an underlined word that should be noted there: it said ‘in the presence of your enemies’. So, it means that nothing comes easy.

“I want to assure every one of you and the good people of Rivers State, that we are not deterred. We have made our promises; we will continue to give you good governance, no matter how difficult it is.

“But, like I said before, the worst is over. We are moving on to ensure that we continue to provide what is needed for the development of our State.”

Similarly, in a statement issued by a factional Clerk of the House, Dr G. M. Gillis-West in Port Harcourt, the state capital on Friday, Oko-Jumbo said the Appeal Court acted in error and his faction had filed an appeal at the apex court to correct the error.

“There cannot be two Houses of Assembly in Rivers State or indeed any State in Nigeria. This House of Assembly, with me as the Speaker, is the only House of Assembly in Rivers State.

“The Court of Appeal also did not make any declaration that Martin Amaewhule and 24 ORS are still members of the RSHA.

“We strongly believe that the Court of Appeal was in error when it held that the Rivers State High Court lacked the jurisdiction to hear and determine SUIT NO PHC/1512/CS/2024.

“Accordingly, we have instructed our lawyers and they have filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Nigeria challenging the judgement of the Court of Appeal delivered on the 4th Day of July, 2024.

“Martin Amaewhule & 24 others, in spite of all their pretences, are no longer members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, and they remain so until a court of competent jurisdiction says otherwise,” Oko-Jumbo stated.

 

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Photos As GAC Members Meet Obasa Over Proposed Lagos Electricity Law

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A delegation of the Governance Advisory Council (GAC) has visited the Lagos State House of Assembly and held a meeting with the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa.

The meeting which held behind closed doors on Thursday afforded a fruitful discussion concerning the proposed Lagos Electrification Agency Law which recently scaled second reading during plenary.

The GAC delegation at the meeting included Cardinal James Odumbaku, Sen. Anthony Adefuye, Otunba Henry Ajomale, Dr. Yomi Finnih, and Otunba Femi Pedro.

 

From left … Cardinal James Odumbaku, Sen. Anthony Adefuye, Otunba Henry Ajomale, Rt. Hon. Dr. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, Dr. Yomi Finnih, Otunba Femi Pedro

On Tuesday June 25, Dr. Obasa committed the bill to the Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources with a two-week mandate for the latter to report back to the House.

This was after lawmakers at the day’s sitting debated the pros and cons of the bill which targets to repeal the Lagos Electric Power Reform Law, 2018 to provide for the creation and administration of the Lagos Electricity Market.

The bill further seeks to establish a commercial and technical regulatory framework for the electricity market with the purpose of ensuring reliable and universal access to electricity for all residents of the State.

Also, the bill seeks to establish the Lagos State Electrification Fund for the delivery of reliable electricity supply to the underserved areas of the State.

Speaking about the bill, the chairman of the Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Hon. Sobur Oluwa, had said it was “very essential as it gives room for Lagos State to regulate its power supply and transmit electricity at its own pace.”

 

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LP Crisis: Let’s Put Our Differences Aside – Peter Obi To Party Members

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Mr Peter Obi, former presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, in the 2023 general election has urged members of the party to put away differences and work together for harmony to thrive in the party.

Obi, who made this call on Friday via his X handle, said they would emerge stronger and more united than ever.

He stressed the need for moving forward with a shared sense of purpose and vision.

He expressed confidence that the party would overcome the current crisis through open communication, empathy, and willingness to listen.

“We will successfully resolve our differences and emerge stronger and more united than ever. Our strength lies in greater unity for our common national good.

“I reiterate my earlier appeal for us to put aside our differences and work together in a spirit of harmony and mutual understanding,” he said.

 

 

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