A caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the House in Representatives, has suggested the appointment of Justices Ibrahim Tanko, Rhodes-Vivour, Mary Odili, Sylvester Ngwata, Olukayode Ariwoola, Musa Mohammed and Kumai Akaahs to hear and determine the appeal filed by the PDP Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar challenging the judgement of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal declaring President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the 2019 Presidential election.
The factional caucus accused the leadership of the Supreme Court of trying to thwart the convention of selecting the most senior Justices of the Supreme Court to hear and determine such matters.
The caucus said that the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of Nigeria must abide by that norm and resist the pressure to appoint justices who they alleged would favour the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari in deciding the appeal.
In a statement signed by PDP Caucus Leader, Hon. Kingsley Chinda; Deputy Leader, Hon. Chukwuma Onyema; Caucus Whip, Hon. Umar Barde; and Deputy Caucus Whip, Hon. Muraina Ajibola; the PDP Caucus said post-Chief Justices of Nigeria since 1979 have set the precedent of appointing the most senior Justices to hear the Presidential election appeal.
The caucus stressed that the first seven senior Justices should be appointed to hear the appeal and listed them to Justices Ibrahim Tanko (CJN), Justice Rhodes-Vivour, Justice Mary Odili, Justice Sylvester Ngwata, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Justice Musa Mohammed and Justice Kumai Akaahs.
The statement reads in part: “The hearing of the appeal on the decision of the Presidential Election Petitions filed by Alhaji Abubakar Atiku against President Buhari and our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), begins a few weeks at the Supreme Court.
“The practice of selecting Justices to hear the appeal is expected to precede the hearing, going by age-long convention. What isn’t conventional is the present attempt to influence Chief Justice Ibrahim Tanko, going by reports in the media, to subvert the age-long and time-tested practice, precedent and convention of selecting the most senior Justices of the Supreme Court to hear the presidential election appeal.
“Chief Justices of Nigeria through time have never in the selection of the Supreme Court’s Election Petitions Appeal Panel surrendered to the phoney dictates of the ruling parties”.
According to the statement, “We are proud to state here that never in our great party’s time in power, did it or its personages, dictate the selection of panel members to Chief Justices; Never.
“In 2008, when President Buhari, defeated by late President Umaru Yar’Adua, appealed the decision of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, the then Chief Justice, Legbo Kutigi, empanelled Justices Katsina-Alu, Aloma Mukhtar, Dahiru Mustapha, Walter Onnoghen, George Oguntade and Niki Tobi to hear the appeal that year.
“He was never dictated to, nor was any attempt made by our great party to influence CJN Justice Legbo Kutigi, who stuck to a conventional practice that consistently secured the seal of approval of past Chief Justices: CJN Fatai Williams, 1979; CJN George Sowewimo, 1983; and CJN Muhammad Uwais, 20033 .
The caucus added that “CJN Katsina-Alu also followed CJN Kutigi’s steps in 2011 and kept to the age-long conventional practice. If there is an arm of government that regards precedents and practices as almost sacrosanct, it is the judiciary. Nigerian Judiciary cannot reverse that internationally accepted practice of stare decisis just to please the Buhari government and serve the interest of a select individual or group.
“Selecting the Supreme Court panel isn’t about witch-pricking-pricking Justices who suck the blood out of justice isn’t about going outside the order of seniority to select Justices, witch-prickers, without independent jurisprudential thoughts and whose singular attribute for selection is that they demonstrate permanent dislike for justice and passion for doing the bidding of power”.
The statement further buttressed that, “Selection, shorn of pressure and influence of the government and the present ruling party, is about demonstrating and holding firm to the constitutional powers of the Supreme Court to conduct its own affairs and not succumb to pervasive power and corrosive external influences.
“To sidestep precedents and convention is to provide legitimacy to the ruling party whose stock-in-trade is ridiculing the judiciary. Chief Justice Ibrahim Tanko must stick to precedents and conventions to preserve the integrity of the courts as the last hope of the common man and of citizens of our great country.
“We are, however, gladdened that on Monday, 14th October, 2019, through its Director, Press and Information, Dr Festus Akande, the Supreme Court refuted this intent and reassured the Nigerian public that it is out to ‘Serve the interest of the generality of the Nigerian masses and not select individuals or groups’. We, therefore, pray and hope that the Supreme Court does not allow itself to fall into this gobble trap.
“We wish to state that selection of Justices to hear the appeal of our great party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, against Buhari must be in accordance with the conventional practice admitting only of the selection of the first seven most senior Justices of the Supreme Court: CJN Ibrahim Tanko, Justice Rhodes-Vivour, Justice Mary Odili, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Justice Musa Muhammad and Justice Kumai Akaahs. No More”.
Sowore, Bakare’s Sureties Not Subject To DSS Verification, Falana Insists
Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has faulted the claim by the Department of State Services (DSS) that it could not release #RevolutionNow protest convener, Omoyele Sowore, and Olawale Bakare on bail until it sees and verifies their sureties.
Falana, who is a lawyer for the two detained activists, said in a statement, yesterday, that the judge, who admitted Sowore and Bakare to bail and ordered their release, did not assign the DSS with the responsibility of verifying their sureties.
The two men had perfected the bail conditions given them by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu since November 6, according to Falana, but more than two weeks after, the DSS had refused to let them out of its cells.
In a statement made available to newsmen, yesterday, Falana said, “Pursuant to the verification of the sureties of Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare by the Federal High Court, the trial judge, Honourable Justice Ifeoma Ojukwu, made an order on November 6, 2019, for the release of the defendants from the custody of the DSS.
“The court order has not authorised the DSS to approve the sureties before releasing Sowore and Bakare from custody.
“Kindly find below the court order being treated with contempt by the DSS which has continued to parade itself as a law-abiding security organisation.”
Ize-Iyamu, Other Rebel PDP Members Join APC
A former Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Hon Bright Omokhodion, former Deputy Speaker, Festus Ebea, former state chairman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, Mr. Tony Omoaghe, yesterday, joined Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Others were Mrs. Tawa Idubor, Chief Blessing Agbomhere, Etinosa Ogbeiwi, Emmanuel Momoh and several others.
They had announced their mass resignation from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) through a voice vote after motion was moved and seconded by Hon Festus Ebea (Edo Central) Emmanuel Momoh (Edo North) and Tawa Idubor (Edo South).
Giving reasons for leaving the PDP, Hon Omokhodion said they had an intense and exhaustive deliberation on the political wrangling and demise of internal democracy in the Edo State chapter of PDP as well as consulted widely across the three senatorial districts of the state.
He noted that the present leadership of the Edo PDP lost its political directions and all attempts to suggest ways of redirecting the fortunes of the party was resisted by the leadership of the party.
Omokhodion said the action of suspending top leaders of the party on spurious allegations were undemocratic and has reduced the morale of members to its lowest.
“That as a result of leadership failure, Edo State PDP no longer command the electoral sentiment of the Edo people.
“We, therefore, in our numbers collectively resolve that Edo state PDP has failed in its objective mission to the people and we have this day resigned our membership of the PDP and have resolved to join the All Progressives Congress.”
Internet Celebrity, Mompha, Sues EFCC, Demands N5m
Internet celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha, alias Mompha, has filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleging unlawful detention and a violation of his rights.
He was arrested by the EFCC in October on allegation of cybercrime and money laundering.
In the suit he filed before the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere, Mompha is urging the court to award N5million against the EFCC for detaining him beyond the constitutionally-allowed period without being charged to court.
He prayed the court to order the EFCC to either immediately charge him to court or release him if it was not ready to charge him to court.
His lawyer, Mr Gboyega Oyewole (SAN), said his client, as a Nigerian, was entitled to the protection of his fundamental rights under Sections 34, 35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
Oyewole said his client was arrested on October 19 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja by the EFCC which accused him of money laundering.
He said the remand order which the EFCC obtained to keep Mompha had since expired and he ought to be released.
In a 20-paragraph supporting affidavit, one Olumuyiwa Ajidagba claimed that, “The applicant (Mompha) has been subjected to physical, mental and psychological torture in the underground cell of the EFCC’s detention centre.”
The court has yet to fix any date to hear the case.
The EFCC had said in October that it arrested the internet celebrity in Abuja on his way to Dubai, based on “actionable cross-border intelligence received from collaborative law enforcement agencies about his alleged involvement in the criminal activities.”
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