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Awara Loses Appeal As Court Confirms Bello As AAC’s Counsel

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The Court of Appeal has upheld the ruling of the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal recognising Mr Henry Bello as the authentic counsel of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the appeal filed by the defeated Rivers State African Action Congress (AAC) Governorship Candidate, Engineer Biokpomabo Awara.
The defeated Rivers State African Action Congress (AAC) Governorship Candidate, Biokpomabo Awara through his counsel, Tawo Tawo (SAN), in suit number CA/PH/PHT/356/2019, urged the Court of Appeal to stop Henry Bello from representing the AAC in the governorship petition.
Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Hamma Barka struck out the AAC interlocutory appeal on the ground that the appellant has no locus to file the appeal as he was no longer the counsel to AAC.
The Court of Appeal also ruled that the appeal filed by the defeated Rivers State AAC Governorship Candidate was incompetent, having been filed without prior leave of court.
The election petition appeal panel also awarded the sum of N50,000 in favour of counsel to AAC, Henry Bello.
The court noted that judgement of a court was sacrosanct, which all parties were bound to obey.
The court emphasised that AAC has the right to change its counsel based on the judgement of the Federal High Court which recognized Leonard Nzenwa as the national chairman of the party.
The court recognised counsel of the AAC, Henry Bello had filed a preliminary objection on the premise of Section 242 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), saying that the appeal was incompetent.
Counsel to INEC, Sir Steve Adave (SAN), said the decision of the Court of Appeal lays to rest the issue of representation in the suit filed by the defeated Rivers State AAC governorship candidate.
Counsel to the AAC, Henry Aleruchi of Henry Bello Chambers, said that the party had sacked Omoyele Sowore and elected Leonard Nzenwa, who subsequently appointed Henry Bello as the authentic counsel of the party.
He said that the ruling of the Court of Appeal was in consonance with the Constitution, which gives individuals the right to choose their counsel.
In a preliminary objection, Counsel to Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) argued that the appellant was not a person affected by the decision/ruling of the tribunal, and accordingly, has no locus standi or competence to appeal the judgment of the tribunal.
Ukala further argued that the appellant’s appeal has been mooted and rendered academic by subsequent events, including the striking out of the substantive appeal by the tribunal.
Mark Agwu, who spoke on behalf of Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), said that the ruling has proved that the appeal was a mere academic exercise and lacks merit.
“The genesis of the issue was that the petition was filed by the Chamber of Tawo E. Tawo representing both petitioners but in course of the proceedings, the AAC decided to debrief the Chambers of Tawo E. Tawo, and engage the Chambers of H.A. Bello to represent it. In the course of that, H.A. Bello fulfilled the condition upon which it can change its counsel.
‘After that, Tawo brought an application asking court to set aside the change of counsel filed by H.A. Bello. After hearing the argument, the tribunal came to the decision that the party deserves its right to engage counsel of its choice, and that is sacrosanct and nobody can change it.

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CAN Kicks As Kaduna Gives Quit Notice To 110-Year-Old Church

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The Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has raised alarm over a purported quit notice handed to one of its churches in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Agency allegedly served the 110-year-old St. George, Anglican Church, Sabon Gari, Zaria, a seven-day quit notice.
The notice also claimed that compensation had been duly paid to the church.
The quit notice, which was not dated, was addressed to House No. 27, Church House, Sabon Gari Market, Zaria which is St George’s Church.
It reads, “Reference to the directive given by the executive governor on the issue of market development which compensation has been duly paid.
“You are hereby directed to vacate your residence within seven days from now; failure to comply will leave the agency with no option than to evict you at your own expense (from 19h – 24 September).”
The signatory of the notice did not include his name, but it was signed by the “Zonal head” of KASUPDA on behalf of the “Zonal Manager.”
It was gathered that the agency planned to pull down the structure to pave the way for the expansion of the Sabon Gari Market.
The state CAN Chairman, Rev. Joseph Hayab, in a statement, yesterday, in Kaduna, faulted the quit notice.
Hayab noted that the quit notice smacks of foul play as according to him, such an order wouldn’t have emanated from the Governor of the state, Malam Nasir El-Rufai.
Though in 2016, the chairman claimed that the state had made such moves to relocate the church to pave ways for the expansion of the market but later realized that the church had all valid documents.
The chairman in the statement entitled, ‘Governor Nasir El-Rufai should call KASUPDA to order,” partly stated, “We are alarmed and apprehensive about this, if it is true, that it is a directive from the governor. But we doubt much if the governor issued the directive.
“This is because in February, 2016, the government made moves to relocate the church to pave way for the expansion of the market, but later realized that the church has all valid documents and that even some parts of the market are on the church land.
“Following the presentation of the necessary documents by the church, the matter was resolved amicably. We wish to state categorically that no compensation was paid to the church.
“Where did the KASUPDA officials get this false information that compensation had been paid?
“It should be noted that the church which was founded about 110 years ago, was liberal enough to allow the market in question to operate in some parts of its land. Is it now a crime to be liberal and accommodating?
“How could the governor revisit the issue which was resolved amicably in 2016, by issuing a 7-day quit?”
The CAN leader also called on the governor to immediately investigate the purported quit notice from KASUPDA and take prompt action.
“This will go a long way in allaying fears and apprehension among Christians in the state and the nation at large”, the body added.

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We’re Proud Of You, Fayemi Tells Wike …Commissions Rumuwoji Int’l Market

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The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has said that the frequency with which Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike churns out quality projects justifies his world acclaimed name, ‘Mr Project’.
Commissioning the Rumuwoji International Market built by the Wike administration in Port Harcourt, last Wednesday, as part of activities marking the first 100 days of his second term in office, Fayemi commended Wike for his outstanding performance.
The Ekiti State governor said: “We are proud of Governor Wike. We are proud of the work he is doing in Rivers State. He is going to continue to commission projects till 27th September. That is almost 10 days from now.
“Even if it is one project per day, it will be almost 10 days. Now I understand why they refer to him as ‘Mr. Project'”, he added.
Fayemi said that governance was about improving the living standard of the people, noting that Wike has worked hard for Rivers people.
He said: “The promise that the governor made is what he is fulfilling today. That is what government is all about. Government is about affecting the lives of our people.
“Governance is about improving the quality and condition of our society. Governance is about ensuring that we fulfill promises that we make to the people”.
He said though he is not in the same political party with Wike, his duty as chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum is to support, protect and defend all governors irrespective of their party affiliations.
In his address, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike described his Ekiti State counterpart and NGF Chairman, Dr John Kayode Fayemi, as a highly focused leader who does not discriminate against members of the opposition party, but sees them as partners in progress.
Wike said Fayemi was given the honour of commissioning the market in recognition of his rare qualities as a leader who does not discriminate based on political party affiliation.
The Rivers State governor recalled how Fayemi’s intervention helped douse the tension that was brewing over the issue of mosque demolition in the state earlier in the month.?
Wike said that he pledged to rebuild the market, and that the commissioning of the Rumuwoji Market was a fulfillment of that promise.
“I made a promise to construct this market. We started this market from the foundation to its completion.
“When we make promises to the people, we are bound to fulfill the promises. Hold us accountable to our promises, because there is no need for excuses. We made a promise and we have fulfilled that promise”, he noted.
He explained that the Rivers State Government has finished paying for the project.
Wike established a management committee for the market, directing the committee to ensure that the market serves the people.
He announced that he would give allocation to Rumuwoji community, Rumuwoji women while other people would get their shops through open balloting.
“I will give Rumuwoji women shop allocations in this market. I advise that they should not sell their shops because we will release funds for the Rumuwoji women to ply their trade”, he said.
The governor stated that he would build a market for the Nkpolu community as a means of improving the economy of the area.
In his remarks, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing, Mr Joseph Amiofori said that the market has two banking halls, clinic, police post, fire station, fire hydrants, pumping station and fire alert system.
Amiofori said that the market has 421 lock-up shops, 34 open stalls and 441 concrete tables.
Also speaking, Mayor of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, Hon Victor Ihunwo commended the Rivers State governor for delivering a market of international standard to the people of the city.
The Chairman of the Rumuwoji Market Association, Eze Nyeche thanked the Rivers State governor for keeping his promise to the traders.
Meanwhile, residents of Port Harcourt City have applauded the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for the successful completion of the Rumuwoji ultramodern market in Port Harcourt.
Some of the residents, who spoke to our correspondent during the commissioning of the market, last Wednesday, said the feat would end the hardship being faced by traders since the unfortunate fire that gutted the former market.
One of the residents, Chief Wilford Egbule said, “I am happy to be alive to witness the commissioning of the new Rumuwoji market today.
“I thank the Rivers State governor for this feat. It touches the life of our people directly”.
Also commending the governor, another resident, Madam Cecelia Nwafor said, “I can still reflect back on that unforgettable day when traders cried and wept uncontrollably as fire burnt their goods.
“Comparing that heartbreaking day with the excitement of today, I must thank God for using Governor Wike to wipe out the horrible tears and replacing the tears with laughter.
“I must thank Governor Wike for keeping to his promise”.
Similarly, Ms Gloria Fineface, described the project as a historic one.
She said; “Honestly, I must tell you this is historic for those of us in this city when the former market was gutted by fire
“Yes, subsequent administrations in the state made one effort or the other, but I think this is the mother of them all.
“From make-shift arrangements for traders around Rumuwoji community hall, former Obi Wali Cultural Centre and others, the governor has finally provided a permanent market for us.
“I commend Governor Wike for this huge concern to the people especially the traders who were mostly affected”.
To Mr Jackson Bassey, it is not the new market Wike built that excites him most.
According to him, “I saw raw care and concern for the people when the governor said he was even going to build another market for those helpless street traders around.
“This goes to tell you that Wike, unlike most selfish political leaders we have in Nigeria, thinks of the common people.
“Let God bless Governor Wike for us and also turn the minds of self-centred politicians in the country to emulate Governor Wike”, he prayed.

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Reps Minority Leader: PDP’s BoT Chair, Secretary Disagree Over Report

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It was all drama as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoTs) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Walid Jubril and its Secretary, Senator Adolphus Wabara, disagreed over the submission of an investigative report on the minority leadership position in the House of Representatives, yesterday.
Briefing journalists shortly after a marathon meeting of the board at the party’s Abuja secretariat, yesterday, the two elderly chieftains contradicted each other on the status of a report of the committee that investigated the embarrassing sell-out.
At issue was a report of a five-man committee set up by the BoT on July 9, to investigate why PDP members in the House of Representatives elected Hon Ndudi Elumelu of Delta State in the Green Chambers as minority leader, against the party’s choice of Hon Kingsley Chinda of Rivers State.
Miffed by the action, the leadership of the party had suspended Elumelu for one month.
Besides Elumelu, others affected by the suspension order were Lynda Ikpeazu, Wole Oke, Anayo Edwin, Gideon Gwadi, Toby Okechukwu and Adekoya Abdul-Majid.
The BoT investigation committee, chaired by a former Senate President, Dr Iyiorchia Ayu also had two other former Senate Presidents, Chief David Mark and Chief Adolphus Wabara as members.
A former Deputy President of the Senate, Alhaji Ibahim Mantu was also a member while a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Austin Opara served as secretary of the committee.
However, Opara resigned from the committee before it concluded its assignment.
During a question-and-answer session at the briefing, the BoT chairman said the board had received the Ayu committee report but had yet to submit same to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
Jubril said: “We have received the report from the Ayu committee but we have not submitted it to the NWC because we are still deliberating on it, and we have not taken a decision on it yet.”
But he was swiftly countered by BoT secretary, who said that the board had, indeed, submitted the report to the NWC.
Wabara said: “We have considered the report and we have submitted the report on Elumelu to the NWC”.
This was followed by muffled disagreement between the two elderly party chieftains with the BoT chair raising objection to the secretary’s statement even as the latter stood his ground.
Their verbal exchange was in hushed tones but was audible enough for journalists to hear their voices.
The disagreement dragged till the end of the media briefing, with the two board members frowning and mumbling at each other as they left the venue and walked through the drizzling rain into their waiting cars.
Curiously, however, while the BoT meeting was still ongoing, the leadership of the party had issued a statement regarding the disputed report.
The statement, signed by the spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the NWC had not received the said report from the BoT.
The statement reads in full: “In the light of public enquiries and conflicting reports on the position of the leadership of our great party on issues related to the minority leadership of the House of Representatives, the National Working Committee (NWC) hereby clarifies that it has not yet received any report from the Board of Trustees (BoTs) concerning the outcome of the five-member committee it set up to intervene on the contentious matter.
“Consequently, the NWC maintains that it has not taken any decision to review its subsisting stance on the minority leadership of the House of Representatives.
“The NWC, therefore, urges critical stakeholders, party members and the general public to completely disregard any report to the contrary”.

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