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I Didn’t Sponsor Bill To Criminalise Protests- House Member

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The member representing Ahiazu Mbaise and Ehinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency of Imo State, Emeka Chinedu has said that he didn’t sponsor a bill criminalising protests in the country.

The lawmaker who spoke to The PUNCH on Wednesday said that the bill which he sponsored, that scaled first reading and was getting widespread condemnation, only condemned mob action, not protesters.

Chinedu said as a product of democracy he would not sponsor any bill that would criminalise protests and protesters.

He said, “Having been inundated with calls and messages over a misconception gone viral, I wish to state that I am the PDP House of Representatives member representing the good people of Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency in the Green Chamber of the National Assembly, whose Bill that passed first reading on the floor of the chamber was twisted and misrepresented.

“The caption of the Bill that went viral was never my intent or opinion, neither was it an embodiment of the Bill I sponsored that passed the first reading on the floor of the National Assembly on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Hence, a clear case of misunderstanding, misconception and misrepresentation of the facts.

“As a representative of the people, whose political idealogy is rooted in democratic tenets, I can never be a party to a system that seeks to stifle or cripple dissenting voices whose right to freedom of assembly, expression and protest is guaranteed by the combined effort of section 39 and 40 of 1999 Constitution as amended, as well as Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Right to freely assemble.

“While I urge Nigerians to imbibe the culture of reading beyond Newspaper caption in order to comprehend the body of a message, it is imperative to put the record straight, in order to douse tension and allay the concerns of my teeming adherents.

“The Criminal Code Amendment Bill, 2021, did not talk about criminalising protest or Protesters in Nigeria, rather, it is a Bill that proactively seeks to preserve life and protect the killing of the innocent through mob action, known as “jungle justice” in our local parlance.

“My argument as captured in the coming lead debate is as follows: That “now and then we hear and read in the news about mobs moving against people and properties”. And the word “mob” connotes a disorderly people intent on causing trouble or violence”.

“I am laying emphasis that “mob actions are usually trigged spontaneously by accusations of a bystander, then joined by another, till it turns to a crowed of vengeful carnage and destruction on its path”.

“And that “the danger with mob actions is that participants typically believe they are punishing an accused for the violation of law when in reality they are delving into jungle justice on the accused who may be totally innocent and has not been given an opportunity to be fairly heard.” Consequently, I assert that “they become accusers, judges and executors”.

“I also added that “most participants in mob actions are usually not informed first-hand about the situation before joining the destructive crowd in a blind rage to carry out their orgy of violence”, consequent upon which I cited the “Aluu Four” as “a notable example, wherein in 2012, four male students of the University of Port Harcourt who went on debt recovery, were set-up by the debtors, who accused them of theft, leading to their gruesome murder through mob action.”

“My argument further cited “a case in 2016, where a man accused of homosexuality in Ondo State was beaten to death”, while another “was lynched in Ebonyi State, over accusation of theft of motorcycle”.

“One, therefore, wonders the correlation between Criminal Code Cap 38 of the Federation of Nigerian that talks about Mob Action and Riot, and the combined Section 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, that talks about fundamental Human Rights to Protest.

“And also, what has the Aluu Four of Chuba in Rivers State, which I referenced as empirical evidence, got to do with Labour, Political or other lawful protests as the case may be?

“It is deserving to state unequivocally that in all these, I never prescribed a penalty for offenders since the penalties were already enshrined. Rather, mob action was copiously given the definition that was not clearly captured ab initio.

“While it is incomprehensible how a Bill against jungle justice turned to the criminalisation of lawful protest in a democratic state like ours, I am by this clarification advising well-meaning Nigerians, especially my teeming adherents to disregard the incoherently deceptive news, as I, Hon. Emeka Martins Chienedu is not only a product of justice but a man of his people, who believes in democracy where rule of law is sacrosanct.”

 

 

 

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Breaking: Court Frees Sunday Ighoho’s 12 Aides On Bail

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Justice Obiora Egwuatu of the Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that the detained 12 associates of the advocates for Yoruba nation, Chief Sunday Adeyemo popuplarly known as SundayIgboho be granted bail immediately.

 

Justice Egwuatu after  entertaining arguments from lawyers to the applicants and the Department of State Services (DSS) that is detaining them ordered that they be released on bail.

Applicants’ lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi had prayed the court to allow his clients on bail, noting that they have been in DSS’ custody for over 30 days.

 

 

Justice Egwuatu said that the detainees are entitled to bail by the provisions of the Nigerian law having been held in custody beyond the period stipulated by law.

The judge said that the law even frowned at a situation where citizens’ liberty is curtailed under unlawful circumstances.

The suspects were granted bail on various conditions and will remain in the DSS detention until their bail conditions are perfected,Jomog.com reports.

DSS’ lawyer, Idowu Awo had earlier said he was not opposed to the court granting bail to eight of the detainees, but would oppose bail for the other four, who were still being investigated in relation to their complicity in Igboho’s alleged arm stockpiling offence.

 

 

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Akeredolu VS Jegede: Details Of Supreme Court Split Ruling That Awards Victory To APC

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Facts have emerged on why the Supreme Court with a split decision of four-to-three on Wednesday endorsed the victory of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last governorship election in Ondo State.

Four Justices, out of a seven-member panel, resolved on technicality that the petition filed against Akeredolu’s victory was incompetent, because the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State was not joined as a party.

Justice Emmanuel Agim read the lead majority judgment, which was supported by Justices John Okoro, Lawal Garba and Tijani Abubakar.

The other three Justices, Mary Peter-Odili, Ejembi Eko and Mohammed Saulawa held otherwise in their dissenting minority judgment.

The judgment was on the appeal marked: SC/448/21; including the cross-appeals marked: SC/501/21; SC/508/21 and SC/509/21.

The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, Eyitayo Jegede and his party had challenged the competence of Akeredolu’s nomination/sponsorship for the election by the APC, claiming that the letter conveying his nomination/sponsorship to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was incompetent, having been signed by Buni and others.

They contended that by the provision of Section 183 of the Constitution and Article 17 (4) of the APC constitution, Buni acted unlawfully by being the Yobe Governor and serving as APC’s Chairman at the same time, and as such, the nomination/sponsorship letter he signed for the APC, notifying INEC of the candidacy of Akeredolu and Lucky Aiydatiwa (as governorship and deputy governorship candidates) was void.

In his lead majority judgment, Justice Agim held that, since Jegede and the PDP made Buni the centre of their allegation of constitutional breaches, he ought to have been made a party in the case to enable him to defend himself in line with the doctrine of fair hearing.

He proceeded to uphold an earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal, to the effect that the petition filed by Jegede and his party to the election tribunal was incompetent because they failed to include Buni as a party.

Agim said: “The appeal was based on the ground that Mai Mala Buni, the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the party, that is, the second respondent (APC) was holding office as the Governor of Yobe State, contrary to the provision of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999).

“All the issues raised, revolved around Mala Buni. But, Mala Buni, who is at the centre of the dispute was not made party to the petition. It is obvious that the determination of the said issues will affect him.

“Therefore, the court below was right to have held that he was a necessary party to this suit. Failure to join him renders the determination of the matter impossible. To proceed to do so would have violated the fair trial of the case.

“Therefore, we affirm the lower court that the petitioner was incompetent.

“There is no dispute that the third and fourth respondents (Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa) were nominated by the second respondent (APC) as its candidates for the election; that the second respondent submitted their names to the first respondent (INEC) as its candidates, in accordance with Section 31(1) of the Electoral Act.

“They were therefore sponsored by the second in accordance with Section 177(c) of the Constitution (1999). It is not in dispute that Mai Mala Buni is acting as the National Chairman of the second respondent,” he said.

Justice Agim held that the decision to allow Buni act as its National Committee Chairman (in the interim) was made by the APC, despite the provision of Article 1z(4 of its constitution, thereby making the decision internal to the party.

He added: “The second respondent (APC) allowed him (Buni) to be its Chairman in the interim in spite of Article 17 of its constitution.

The vires of this decision of the party is non-justiciable. This appeal fails and it is hereby dismissed,” he said.

He, however, rejected the cross-appeals by INEC, APC, Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa and faulted their claims that the issue of sponsorship/qualification was a pre-election matter that could only be raised before the election.

Justice Agim said by the virtue of the provision of Section 138(1) (a) of the Electoral Act, the issue of qualification could be raised either before or after the election.

He proceeded to dismiss the cross-appeals which Justices Okoro, Garba and Tijani agreed with him.

In the lead minority judgment, Justice Peter-Odili upheld the appeal and dismiss the cross-appeals by INEC), APC, Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa.

Justice Odili was of the view that since the APC, for which Buni acted, was a party in the case, there was no need to include him as a party.

She added that having allowed Buni to act on its behalf in signing the nomination/sponsorship letter of its candidates in Ondo despite the clear provisions of section 183 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 17(4) of the APC constitution, the party should live by the consequences of its lawlessness.

“I do not agree with the majority judgment,” she said, noting that the APC, by Article 17(4) of its constitution has provided for how its affairs should be managed and what offices its members should occupy at a time.

“This Article draws strength from Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution. Therefore when the second respondent (APC) put up a person not qualified to author its nomination by virtue of the provision of Article 1z(4) of its constitution and Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution to do so, that document has no validity, and thereby void,” she said.

She noted that the implication was that the nomination and candidacy of Akeredolu and his deputy was a nullity.

She held that the person, who ought to be declared winner of the election ” is the first appellant (Jegede), who has the majority of valid votes.”

Justice Peter-Odili held that it was unlawful and a violation of Article 17(4) of the APC constitution and Section 183 of the 1999 Constitution for Buni to be serving as the National Chairman of the APC and the Governor of Yobe State at the same time.

Justices Ejembi Eko and Mohammed Saulawa agreed with Justice Peter-Odili in upholding the appeal and dismissing the cross-appeals by INEC, APC, Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa.

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Supreme Court Ruling: Eyitayo Jegede Accepts Defeat, Congratulates Gov. Akeredolu

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Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in last year’s governorship election in Ondo Eyitayo Jegede has finally congratulated Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu on his victory at the polls.

Jegede’s congratulatory message came after the Supreme Court judgment, which upheld rulings of the lower courts dismissing his petition for lacking in merit.

In a statement in Akure on Wednesday evening, Jegede said it was time to give glory to God having explored the grievance procedure permitted by the constitution and the law.

Jegede said he was in the governorship race for service and collective interest of the majority of the people.

He said the Supreme Court ruling should deter good and well-meaning individuals from aspiring for leadership in the State.

According to him: “For all our people who have stood strong, we salute you. We thank the National and State leadership, and the generality of the members of PDP for providing us with great support.

“For our Governors who provided the required leadership and kept faith with our aspiration, gratitude, history will judge you right.

“With this outcome, our respect and reverence for the judiciary and our justices of the supreme court has not diminished. I congratulate HE Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.”

Ondo PDP also said it has accepted the verdict of the Supreme Court.

It said the implication of the Supreme Court verdict was the non-joinder of Buni was more fatal to the petition than the infringement on the Constitution.

A statement by the spokesman of the party, Kennedy Peretei, urged all party supporters to remain steadfast and be consoled that they fought a good fight, from the beginning to the end.

“The Supreme Court is the “Guardian Angel” of our Constitution and Democracy. To ensure that nobody tramples upon it without consequence.

“To this end, the Judgement will also go into history as one of the major tests of our democracy which ought to be guided by the rule of law.

“As much as we are not discouraged by this verdict, we shall continue to pursue that which will make life easier for the people of Ondo State.”

 

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