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100 Days: Wike Declares Projects Ready

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, used the first two days of last week to inspect ongoing projects in the state to ascertain their readiness for commissioning as part of activities to mark the first 100 days of his second term administration.
Last Monday, Governor Wike inspected the Mother and Child Hospital, Birabi Road, and the Judges Quarters. He also inspected the Rumuwoji Market, popularity known as Mile One Market, as well as the Port Harcourt Fruit Garden Market.
The State Chief Executive continued his project inspection last Tuesday as he visited the Real Madrid Football Academy and the Craft Development Centre, both in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
The governor who addressed Government House Press at the end of the inspection expressed satisfaction at the  quality and speed of work at the project sites. He particularly noted that the quality of work at the Craft Development Centre shows that indigenous contractors also have the capacity to deliver in line with approved specification.
He expressed satisfactions with the operations of the Taskforce on Street Trading, saying: “ With what we have seen, it means they will do well”.
He declared that the state government would employ additional 450 youths to be involved in the operation to clean up Port Harcourt city.
Wike explained that offenders were not prosecuted so far, because his administration is a friendly one but that from this week the era of grace would be over and those caught contravening the state street trading law, will be made to face the law.
The disquiet created last week in the state by   the false allegation by  the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), that Rivers State Government demolished a mosque in the state  forced the state governor to visit site of the controversial mosque last Monday.
Wike who confirmed the allegation to be false, said,  “ It is most unfortunate that fickle-minded persons will claim that a mosque was demolished at this place, when no mosque existed”, adding that the story was concocted by mischief makers to score cheap political points.
The Brick House landlord, played host to three high profile visitors who were in Government House, Port Harcourt last week. They are; the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Ms Callamard Agnes , the British new Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms Gill Atkinson and the National Programme Coordinator, World Bank Better Education Service Delivery for All ( BESDA), Prof Gidado Tahir.
Wike who spoke last Wednesday, while granting audience to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, called for the establishment of state police in the country.
He said the present security structure makes it difficult for the federal police to respond quickly to security challenges against a state police system that would guarantee swift and a more effective approach to security challenges.
“ We believe that there should be state police for us to effectively fight crime in the country. Our system is fashioned towards the United States, which has federal, state and local police. Each of them have their responsibilities”, he said.
Wike further stated that his administration established the Neighborhood Safety Corps Agency which would have helped the security agencies with information, but that the federal government politicised it by sending the Nigerian Army to ensure that it did not come to fruition.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Ms Callamard Agnes had earlier stated that she was interested in documenting the nature and extent of killings by state and non-state actors.
“ I am interested on how the federal and state governments respond to the challenges of violence by state and non state actors “, she said.

Speaking during a courtesy visit by the World Bank Better Education Service Delivery for All ( BESDA), Thursday in Government House, Governor Wike said his administration temains committed to creating access to basic education for rural and oceanic communities.

He said his administration has embarked on reconstruction and furnishing of 253 basic schools mostly located in the rural areas, trained over 3000 teachers, approved the employment of 10,000 teachers and abolished all forms of fees in both primary and seconfary school levels among other laudable efforts.

 

Chris Oluoh

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Taraba Guber Poll: Tension Mounts As Appeal Court Decides, Today

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The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal will today deliver its verdict in the appeal brought by the All Progressive Congress (APC) seeking to reverse the judgment of the Taraba State Governorship Election Tribunal, which affirmed the re-election of Governor Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party in the March 9, 2019 governorship poll in the state.
Already, there is mounting tension in the state among supporters of the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, ahead of the judgment.
This is demonstrated by their large turn up in Abuja where the judgment will be delivered.
A three-man panel of the tribunal led by Justice M.O. Adewara had in a unanimous judgment of September 20, 2019, dismissed the petition by the APC and its candidate, Abubakar Danladi on the grounds that the petitioners failed to prove their claims that the election was marred by irregularities and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
The tribunal further held that Danladi was not qualified to contest the March 9 governorship election.
It would be recalled that before the March 9, 2019 governorship election, the Federal High Court sitting in Jalingo, Taraba State, had disqualfied Danladi and equally restrained his political party, the APC from Fielding him as a governorship candidate.
Attempts by Danladi to overturn the order of the Federal High Court that disqualified him were unsuccessful at Court of Appeal and Supreme Court respectively.
Following the above development, the petitioners had on July 10, 2019, withdrew the petition on ground of the disqualification of Abubakar Danladi by the Supreme Court and the petition was accordingly disimissed.
However, on July 13, 2019, the petitioners filed a motion and prayed for an order setting aside the order of dismissal and asked that the petition be relisted.
The tribunal on August 9, 2019 granted the petitioners motion, set aside the order of dismissal of the petition and  same was relisted, thereafter, Danladi ceased to participate in the proceedings.
Delivering its judgement after close of hearing, the tribunal held that a Federal High Court in Taraba State had given a judgment on March 6, 2019, in a suit marked FHC/JAL/CS/01/2019, disqualifying Danladi from contesting the election.
It noted that the affirmation of the judgment by the Supreme Court implied that the APC had no valid candidate in the election.
Besides, the tribunal explained further that even if the petition was to be considered on the merits, the petitioners failed to lead  sufficient evidence to establish their claims that the governor was not validly elected by a majority of lawful votes.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the tribunal, the All Progressive Congress, without its candidate, Danladi, approached the Court of Appeal marked CA/A/EPT/934/2019, on October 3, 2019, in petition No: EPT/TR/GOV/01/2019, for an order setting aside the decision of the tribunal.
In the said notice of appeal, the party contended that the tribunal erred in law and occasion a miscarriage of Justice in arriving at its decision dismissing the petition.
Meantime, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the Court of Appeal to dismiss the appeal with punitive cost as same is frivolous and unmeriterious.
The party in its brief of argument filed by its counsel, Chief Solo Akuma (SAN) noted that the appeal by the APC did not include the name of its candidate, Danladi as a person who would be directly affected by the outcome of the appeal.
Citing several case laws, Akuma argued technically,  that a party to a suit is not allowed to unilaterally alter a case as constituted from the trial court and that names of parties must be maintained on appeal except as may be ordered by the court.
He submitted that, the unilateral alteration of the parties in the petition, as shown on the face of the notice of appeal, without the name of Danladi, who was  the first petitioner at the tribunal renders the said notice of appeal incompetent and liable to be struck out.
Akuma specifically drew the attention of the Court of Appeal to its decision wherein it held thus: “It is now trite law that an appellant or a party seeking to appeal as an interested party cannot rearrange or reconstitute the parties to an action as constituted in the lower court at appellate court. The parties on record at the lower court must be retained at appellate level…the structure of the parties cannot by unilaterally changed or amended by any of the parties to an appeal.”
On the merit of the appeal, the PDP urged the Court of Appeal to hold that the appeal lacks merit and should be accordingly struck out.
The Court of Appeal is expected to give judgment today after the adoption of briefs of arguments by counsel to parties in the appeal.

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Cleric Tasks Leaders On Citizens’ Welfare

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A High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State capital, presided over by Hon. Justice E. Ita has ordered Governor Ben Ayade to conduct local government elections in the State.
The Court in a Suit No: HC/514/2018 filed by the APC through their Lawyer, Chief (Barr.) Utum Eteng against Governor Ben Ayade and the State Attorney-General, frowned seriously on the action of the defendants and stated that there was no alternative to obeying the constitution and the law in the matter of this nature.
The Court held that it is a breach of section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution for Gov. Ayade not to conduct election to usher in a democratically elected Local Government as stipulated by section 7(1) of the constitution and section 2(1) of the CRS Local Govt. Law 2007. The Court said that more than three years after the expiration in December, 2018 of the democratically Local Government Councils put in place in December, 2015 by the Gov. Liyel Imoke led State Government the Ayade Government had not found it proper to do the needful by conducting Local Government elections into the 18 Local Government Councils in the State.
The Court also held that the representation put in place by APC members, Engr. Obono Onen, Ekaha Effiom, Hon. Polycab Effiom, Rt. Hon. Mkpanam Obo Ekpo and Benedict Lukpata, representing other APC Chairmanship candidates to the 18 Local Government Councils was in order pursuant to the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2008.
The APC had stated that Gov. Ayade and the CRSG had no constitutional power to stop conducting local government elections in the eighteen local government areas in the state. The APC was represented by Chief Utum Eteng, who led two other lawyers from his chambers, Barrister Jude Otakpor and Ihua-Maduenyi.
They commended the Court for being on the side of the clear and unambiguous provision of section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution.

 

By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar

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Polls: SERAP Wants ICPC To Probe APC, PDP, Security Officials

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate whether the persistent crimes of corruption, violence and killings during elections in Nigeria, most recently in Bayelsa and Kogi states, and the repeated failure of the Nigerian authorities to address the crimes amount to violence against Nigerians and crimes against humanity.
The petition dated 16 November, 2019 was sent to Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor, ICC.
The organization urged Ms Bensouda: “to push for those suspected to be responsible for these crimes, mostly security officials, officials of the two main political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and other actors who contributed to the corruption, violence and killings during the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, and are therefore complicit in the crimes, to be tried by the ICC.”
In the petition signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The events in the Bayelsa and Kogi elections suggest criminal conduct within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
“The incidents of bribery and corruption, intimidation and violence witnessed in Bayelsa and Kogi states also strike at the integrity of the democratic process and seriously undermine President Muhammadu Buhari’s oft-expressed commitment to fight corruption and end impunity of perpetrators.
“The desire for power at all costs by politicians undermines Nigerians’ rights to open, transparent and accountable government that respects human rights and observe the rule of law. Election-related corruption and violence make public officials susceptible to corrupt incentives.
“The Nigerian authorities over the years have been unwilling and/or unable to prosecute suspected perpetrators of election-related corruption, violence and killings, which in turn has promoted the sense of impunity and emboldened those politicians and their accomplices who continue to commit these crimes against the Nigerian people during election periods.
“The violent events witnessed in the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states suggest the lack of political will by the authorities and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to respect the sanctity and integrity of the electoral system and to apply criminal sanctions to perpetrators of corruption, violence and killings during elections.

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