A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered the President of the Court of Appeal, the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, the defeated Governorship Candidate of African Action Congress (AAC), Engineer Biokpomabo Awara, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and others not to take any steps that will render nugatory the outcome of an originating summons filed before it.
Ruling on Suit Number: FHC/PH/CS/203/2019 filed by the African Action Congress (AAC) against the President of the Court of Appeal, the Rivers State Election Tribunal, defeated Governorship Candidate of African Action Congress (AAC), Biokpomabo Awara, INEC and others for the interpretation of Section 233 (1), Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Justice J.K Omotosho said: “That all parties in this suit are hereby ordered not to make any act or take any steps that will render this suit nugatory or overreach the outcome of the originating summons.
“That the originating summons is hereby adjourned is hereby adjourned till the 13th day of September, 2019 for hearing.
“That if this matter is not ripe for hearing on the 13th of September, 2019, as a result of the failure on the part of the plaintiff, this court will not hesitate to strike out this suit as time is of the essence in post election matters”.
The court granted leave that the suit filed by the AAC be heard during the 2019 vacation period of the court.
Justice Omotosho ordered: “That the originating summons shall be served on all parties within 24hours from today.
“That the respondents shall respond to the originating summons within 72hours of service of same on them.
“That the plaintiff shall reply to the response of the defendants within 24hours of being served with the response of the defendants.
“That the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal that sat on 7th of September, 2019, is not precluded from continuing its proceedings”.
Justice Omotosho further ordered that: “That the pending suit shall not stop the said Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal that sat on the 7th of September, 2019 from continuing its proceedings “.
The defendants in the suit include: the President of the Court of Appeal, the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, defeated Governorship Candidate of African Action Congress (AAC), Biokpomabo Awara, INEC, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike and the PDP.
The court made the ruling upon reading the nine paragraphs affidavit in support of motion ex-parte sworn to by Wisdom Thompson and after hearing Henry Bello (Esq), counsel to the AAC.
The AAC in its originating summons is seeking a declaration that by virtue of the provisions of Section 233 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the President of the Court of Appeal is not conferred with the powers to review the judgments of the Court of Appeal.
The AAC is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the President of Court of Appeal from reviewing the judgments of the Court of Appeal by setting up a new panel based on a letter by the defeated Governorship Candidate of AAC in Rivers State, Engr Biokpomabo Awara.
The AAC further sought an order of the Federal High Court setting aside any administrative directive of the President of the Court of Appeal for the setting up of the said new panel of the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has assured that he would continue to deliver key projects across the state all through his second term with the aim of improving the living standard of the people who gave him the mandate to govern.
Commissioning the rebranded Government Secondary School, Ubima (former Community Secondary School, Ubima), yesterday, Wike said that he would not be affected by the second term syndrome.
The governor said: “We will continue to work as if this is our first term. We will never go to sleep all through our second term.
“For us, we shall continue to deliver projects for our people. There will be no stoppage in the execution of projects. Our people will continue to see new projects”.
Wike called for the prayers and support of Rivers people, so that he can continue to work towards improving the state.
“We seek your prayers and support as we continue to develop Rivers State. God has been kind to us, so nobody can intimidate us with propaganda and blackmail. We shall remain focused”, he said.
Wike, who changed the name of the school from Community Secondary School, Ubima, to Government Secondary School, Ubima, explained that he had promised to rebuild the school during his electioneering campaign, and to the glory of God, that promise has been fulfilled.
The state chief executive emphasised that the state government would develop boarding facilities for students of the school.
He reiterated the commitment of his administration to the construction of educational facilities across the state to expand access to education.
The governor commended the Rivers State Ministry of Education for its wonderful supervisory role in delivering the project.
Wike upgraded the traditional stool of Ubima to first class status, and announced that the Paramount Ruler of Ubima, Eze I.E. William is now a first class traditional ruler.
In his remarks, the former Rivers State Governor, Sir Celestine Omehia, said Governor Wike has delivered a brand new school for the town, adding that the governor added several new facilities to the institution.
He said that with the upgrade of facilities in the school, it is now one of the best in the whole of Ikwerre land.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr Adonye Dagogo-Hart, said that Wike added new blocks of classrooms, laboratories, staff quarters, administrative block and computer centre to the institution.
He said the investment of Wike has turned around the fortunes of the school.
The Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area, Mr Samuel Nwanosike, described Wike as a leader who understands the developmental needs of his people.
He said that the people of Ikwerre Local Government Area are happy that the governor has done what nobody thought is possible.
The commissioning of the project attracted traditional rulers, politicians, youth groups, women groups, staff and students of the school.
PDP Inaugurates 15 Convention Sub-Committees –
Wike Chairs Special Duties Committee
6,000 Delegates Expected To Attend
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention Committee, yesterday, in Abuja inaugurated 15 sub-committees for its national convention scheduled for October 30.
The sub-committees as read by the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Duoye Diri, include the National Convention Organizing Committee, chaired by Adamawa State Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri.
Others are Constitutional Amendment Committee, chaired by Akwa lbom Governor, Udom Emmanuel; Zoning Committee chaired by Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Screening Committee, chaired by former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke.
Sub-committees and their chairmen also inaugurated were Screening Appeal Committee chaired by Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Special Duties Committee chaired by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Accreditation Committee chaired by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; and Security Committee chaired by former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase.
The Electoral (Statutory) Committee, with Adamawa Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri as the chairman; Publicity Committee chaired by Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; and Venue Committee, chaired by Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed are also among them.
Others include: Welfare and Entertainment Committee with Mariya Waziri as chairperson; Transportation Committee, with Ibrahim Dankwambo as chairman; and Contact and Mobilization Committee with Taraba Governor, Darius Ishaku as chairman.
The rest are, Protocol Committee with Sen. Biodun Olujimi as chairperson; Medical Committee — Nuhu Zagbayi; and Secretariat Committee — Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri.
Inaugurating the sub-committees, Fintiri expressed belief that the October convention would be successful and lead PDP to victory in 2023.
Fintiri said that the leaders and members of the sub-committees were carefully selected to organize a credible convention for the party.
The Adamawa governor urged them to make the necessary sacrifices to deliver the best convention to the party.
Fintiri, fielding questions from newsmen after the inauguration, said that by PDP’s new constitution, over 6,000 delegates were expected at the convention.
“We are fully prepared for that. We are expecting everybody in every ward that is a delegate to attend the convention.”
He said that the sub-committees had been given directions and they were expected to go back, adequately prepare and submit their report to the main committee for approval.
On which part of the party’s Constitution would be amended, Fintiri said he could not pre-empt the Constitution Sub-Committee, but allow them do their job.
On how far the zoning committee had gone after the one-week appeal he gave them, last week, Fintiri said the committee was in a meeting in Enugu carrying out its responsibilities.
“You can see the party is working, and it is a turning point for all of us,” Fintiri said.
According to him, the leadership tussle in the party has largely been addressed even as he came short of saying the PDP has moved on from the crisis.
He said, “We are moving on. I am the chairman of the convention committee and you can see that we are doing our work. Everybody is happy and participating. I don’t see any crisis in this party.”
The party’s national elective convention is slated for October 30 and 31 this year in Abuja.
RSG Recommits To Building Agric Sector
The Rivers State Government has said that it was committed to building the agricultural sector and utilise the huge potentials the state has for the benefit of Rivers people.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, stated this while speaking at a seminar of the Norwegian Seafood Council at Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Wike said, “In the face of dwindling oil prices, and the need to diversify the economy, we see a lot of potentials in the seafood industry especially post Covid-19. This is an important industry for creating employment opportunities, generate revenue and boost economic activities in our area”.
Wike, who said that Rivers State was one of the coastal states in the Niger Delta endowed with valuable seafood resources, revealed that Norway and Nigeria have had a long history of relationship and trade.
According to the governor, “Rivers State, known as the oil and gas hub of Nigeria, is open to do business in all sectors including maritime and welcome more partnerships and investments from stakeholders who wish to do business in the state”.
Wike further said, “In the effort to grow our economy, the Government of Rivers State supports making laws that work for us all, by putting laws in place to improve society’s efficiency. Hence, the assent and signing of the VAT law”.
The Rivers State chief executive, who commended the Norwegian Seafood Council for conducting the seminar in the state, stressed that stock fish was enjoyed across Rivers State by all groups, including low and high earners, while both men and women are involved in the sales in our markets.
“I believe this seminar will examine the many advantages and gains of seafood as well as anticipated support from the Norwegian Embassy in the areas of encouraging deep sea fishing, trawlers, good storage for sea products, training to grow and nurture fish production standard, fish ponds and open fish farms, use of technology and encouragement, support to artisan farmers.
“We believe that the gains for removing stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the FX windows far outweigh the losses if any.
“For all the reasons stated above and many more, we anticipate Federal Government and the CBN’s removal of stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the Central Bank of Nigeria FX window”, Wike further stressed.
In his remarks, the Ambassador Royal Norwegian Embassy, Knut Lein, who described the history of stock fish in Nigeria and Norway as fascinating, said it creates a bond between both countries, and expressed the desire to foster increased cooperation, build on bilateral relations and inform the government of Norway about the opportunities in the country.
He said, “together we could create lots of jobs”, insisting that “doing what we can to promote stock fish trade was a win-win for all of us”.
Highlights of the occasion were the presentation of papers by the Director Africa, Norwegian Seafood Council, Mr. Trond Kostveit, and other stakeholders.
The Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Knut Lein, had earlier paid a courtesy call on Governor Nyesom Wike, at the Government House in Port Harcourt, where the state chief executive expressed the state government’s desire to continue to partner with the Norwegian Embassy to facilitate economy growth and development of both countries, and the state in particular.
Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.
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