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Appeal Court Orders Retrial Of Petition Against Oshiomhole

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The Court of Appeal sitting in
Benin last Thursday ordered the re-constituted election petition tribunal to
start the petition filed by retired Maj.- Gen Charles Airhiavbere afresh.

Airhiavbere of the
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is challenging the education qualification of
Adams Oshiomhole to contest the July 14 governorship election in the state. He
joined the ACN, INEC, the Resident Electoral Commissioner and the INEC
Returning Officer, as co-respondents. On September 27, Justice Suleman Ambrusa,
struck out several paragraphs of the pleadings and held that it was a
pre-election issue, which only the regular court had jurisdiction.
Consequently, Airhiavbere appealed against the ruling. In a lead judgment,
Justice Helen Ogunwuniju, upheld Airhiavbere’s appeal, saying that there were
triable issues in the petition. The court held that the tribunal erred in law
to have disqualified itself from entertaining the reliefs that bordered on
Oshiomhole’s education qualification to contest the governorship election. She
held that even though the petitioner had the option of approaching either the
regular court or the tribunal, Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution vested in
the tribunal jurisdiction to entertain it.

The court further held that the Supreme Court had always
warned against dismissing election petitions on technical grounds without
allowing parties to ventilate their issues on merit. She further said that the
tribunal erred in striking out several paragraphs of the petitioner’s pleadings
on grounds that they were scanty. The court held that the appellant’s pleadings
were clear and direct and that the form as stated in the paragraphs been struck
out by the tribunal were the foundation of the appellant’s case. The appeal
court in its judgment, therefore, restored all the pleadings as contained in
the petitioner’s original petition. She further ordered that the Acting
President of the Court of Appeal should reconstitute a new tribunal to hear
Airhiavbere’s petition on its merit. Justice Tom Yakubu, who concurred with the
lead judgment, said that Oshiomhole’s integrity would be enhanced if the issue
of qualification was laid bare and trashed out at the tribunal. Meanwhile, the
court also in a unanimous judgment dismissed Oshiomhhole’s cross appeal against
Airhiavbere’s appeal, holding that it lacked merit. The court described the
cross appeal as a mere academic exercise in view of the earlier judgment
delivered in Airhiavbere’s appeal.

In his reaction, Airhiavbere’s counsel
Aguenede commended the court for the judgment, saying that it would strengthen
the pillars of democracy. The counsel to Oshiomhole and ACN, Mr Omoruyi Omonuwa
and Ken Mozia, said they would study the judgment before taking the next steps.

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Law/Judiciary

Travel Agent Charged With N1.3m Visa Fraud

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A 40-year-old travel agent, Eze Sunday, was on Monday arraigned at a Yaba Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos for allegedly obtaining N1.3 million from a client on the pretext of procuring a Turkey visa for her.
Sunday is facing a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing and obtaining by false pretences.
The defendant, who resides in Yaba, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The Prosecutor, Mr J.I. Eboseremen, told the court that the defendant committed the offences sometime in January on Association Avenue in Igando, Lagos.
He said that the defendant stole the N1.3 million from the complainant, Miss Charity Obeta, which she gave him through a United Bank of Africa electronic transfer, for her travel logistics.
According to him, the defendant promised to procure a Turkey visa, get a return flight ticket and hotel reservation for Obeta, but failed.
Eboseremen alleged that the defendant absconded with the money and refused to take the complainant’s calls.
“My lord, the complainant’s intended travel date was drawing close but she could not contact the defendant.
“His colleagues at workplace told her that the defendant travelled and did not intend to return to the office.
Obeta reported the case to the police, and the defendant was tracked and arrested,” the prosecutor said.
He said that the alleged offences contravened Sections 411, 314 and 287 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 (Revised).
The Chief Magistrate, Mrs Oluwatoyin Oghere, released the defendant on bail in the sum of N2 million with two sureties each in like sum.
Oghere said that one of the sureties must be a blood relation of the defendant and reside within the court’s jurisdiction.
She ordered that the sureties must be gainfully employed and show evidence of three years’ tax payment to Lagos State Government.
Oghere adjourned the case until September 11 for trial.

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Law/Judiciary

Remove Nwosu’s Name As Guber Candidate, Court Orders INEC

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The Federal High Court, Abuja, last Monday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove the name of Uche Nwosu as a governorship candidate in the last election held in Imo State.
Justice Inyang Ekwo voided Nwosu’s candidacy on the grounds of double nomination by two political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Action Alliance (AA), in violation of section 37 of the Electoral Act.
The ruling came as Nwosu, a son-in-law to the immediate-past Governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha, is currently pursuing an election petition at the state’s Governorship Election Petition Tribunal as the candidate of AA, challenging the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Emeka Ihedioha, in the March 11 poll.
In his judgment on Monday, Justice Ekwo upheld the case of the plaintiffs, the Action People’s Party (APP) and its Deputy National Chairman, Mr Uche Nnadi, to the effect that Nwosu’s governorship candidature was null and void on the grounds of multiplicity of nominations as a governorship candidate of both the APC and AA.
According to him, the nomination of Nwosu by AA as a governorship candidate is invalid, null and void, having been made at the pendency of similar nomination of the 2nd defendant (Nwosu) by the All Progressives Congress for the same position.
The judge noted that Nwosu affirmed to be the APC’s governorship candidate in his statement on oath sworn before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
The judge similarly declared that Nwosu “has not been validly nominated by the 3rd defendant (AA) as its governorship candidate for the state governorship election having been made at the pendency of the order of Justice Valentine Ashi of the Abuja High Court recognising the 2nd defendant as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the Imo 2019 governorship election.”
He noted that Nwosu participated in the APC’s primaries held on October 6, 2018 and was subsequently nominated as the party’s governorship candidate.
While laying claim to the APC’s governorship ticket, amidst stiff opposition from members of the party, he was said to have on October 9, 2018, obtained an order of Justice Valentine Ashi (now deceased) of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, recognising him as the valid candidate of the party.
In the midst of this, Nwosu was also offered the ticket of the AA.
In his judgment, Justice Ekwo said, “There is no controversy that, on October 6, 2018, the 2nd defendant (Nwosu) had himself nominated as the governorship candidate of the APC.

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Law/Judiciary

Enugu Police Nab Suspected Armed Robbers, Recover Pistol

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The Enugu State Police Command has nabbed two suspected armed robbers terrorising Abakpa Community in the outskirts of Enugu metropolis.
The police also recovered one locally made Beretta pistol from the suspects.
The Command’s Public Relations Officer, SP Ebere Amaraizu, said this in a statement made available to newsmen yesterday in Enugu.
Amaraizu said that the suspects were arrested on August 16 by Anti-Cult Unit of the command after a raid on a black spot in the community.
He said: “Following an attack on Abakpa Police Division operatives by hoodlums, the Anti-Cultism Unit of Command went on raid at Umuchigbo axis of Abakpa Community.
“The operatives arrested one Chekwube Igwe and one Teddy Otti both of Vikings confraternity, who have been terrorising Abakpa Community and its environs.
“The police operatives also recovered a local pistol from them.’’
The police spokesman said that the suspects had been helping police operatives in their investigation on their nefarious activities.
“They will be charged to court as soon as investigation is over,’’ he said.

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