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Imo Verdict: CSO Alleges Use Of Same Panel To Review Judgement

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A civil society organisation (CSO), Concerned Nigerians Group (CNG), yesterday, alleged that the Supreme Court was making moves to use same panel that gave the judgment on the Imo State Governorship Election in favour of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Hope Uzodinma, to review the same judgment, tomorrow.
This alleged move by the apex court was contained in a statement signed by the Convener, CNG, Comrade Deji Adeyanju, who also called for holistic review of the judgment.
According to Adeyanju, “CNG berates the apex court for putting itself in a position where citizens would now have to question its judgment, making the revered institution to been seen by Nigerians as fallible”.
It would be recalled that Supreme Court had sacked the main opposition candidate, the PDP in the 2019 general election in Imo State, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, and replaced him with the ruling APC’s candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma.
The statement reads in part, “We have been reliably informed that the Supreme Court is going to use the same panel that was used to carry out the injustice in the first place to review the judgment.
“They’ve decided to fix both Zamfara and Imo review on Tuesday so they can strike a political balance, and no amount of political correctness and expediency can solve the injustice done in Imo where the Supreme Court awarded votes that do not exist to the APC.
“How can the apex court explain how it awarded votes to Hope Uzodinma of APC beyond the number of registered voters and accredited voters in the election?
“The Supreme Court relied on the supposed fake result sheets that had only APC and PDP on the results sheets when 70 political parties contested the election.
“The attempt of the apex court to redeem its image by gifting the opposition in Bayelsa State will still not correct the injustice done in Imo. The irreducible minimum the Supreme Court can do in ensuring that justice is done in Imo is to ensure that the mistake done by the judges be corrected, especially as regards the numbers that are not adding up.”
According to the statement, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who came a distant fourth with 96,458 votes with no clear chances of being declared winner, was surprisingly declared winner by the Supreme Court.
“In the election, INEC had declared Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner with 273,404 votes, ahead of Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance (AA) with 190,364, and Ifeanyi Araraume of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) with 114,676. In a distant fourth was Hope Uzodinma of the APC with 96,458”, it added.
However, the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma has filed a preliminary objection to challenge the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to review its January 14 judgement that brought him to power.
In a motion he jointly filed with the All Progressives Congress (APC), Uzodinma, maintained that the apex court has lost its powers to hear and determine any application relating to the governorship election that held in Imo State on March 9, 2019.
Consequently, he urged the court to dismiss the fresh application that was filed by ousted governor of the state, Emeka Ihedioha and the PDP, which is seeking to set aside the judgement that declared him as the valid winner of the Imo governorship contest.
In the objection dated February 6, which Uzodinma filed through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Damian Dodo, SAN, he contended that Ihedioha’s application, “being a proceeding relating to or arising from election of a governor is barred by effluxion of time”.
According to him, “The application constitutes an invitation to the Supreme Court to sit on appeal over its final decision.”
Uzodimma and APC further argued that: “Having delivered its final decision on the 1st and 2nd Respondents’ Appeal No. SC. 1462/2019 between Senator Hope Uzodinma & Anor v Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha & 2 Ors, the Supreme Court has become fuctus officio and divested of jurisdiction over the same subject matter.
“Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules 2014 prohibits this Honourable Court from reviewing its judgment once given and delivered, save to correct clerical mistakes or accidental slip.
“The judgment sought to be set aside having been given effect by the inauguration of the 1st Respondent/Objector as governor of Imo State; this Honourable Court lacks the jurisdiction to grant the prayer sought”.
Besides, Uzodimma stated that Ihedioha’s application “constitutes an abuse of court process” and “is against public policy”.
He insisted that the application seeking to restore Ihedioha amounts to an invitation for the Supreme Court to indulge in an academic exercise that was merely directed as gaining answers to hypothetical questions.
Uzodinma contended that the apex court ordered that a Certificate of Return should be issued to him forthwith and that he should be sworn-in immediately, stressing that the order had since been made effective by his inauguration as the governor of lmo State.
He, therefore, asked the court to invoke Section 6(6)(a) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended and dismiss Ihedioha’s quest to invalidate the judgment that brought him to power.
Meanwhile, the apex court has fixed February 18 to hear the motion Ihedioha filed to set aside its judgement that removed him as Imo State governor.
A seven-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, had in a unanimous decision, declared that Senator Hope Uzodinma of the APC was the bona-fide winner of the Imo governorship election.
The CJN-led panel, in its judgement, noted that valid votes that accrued to Uzodinma from 388 polling units were illegally excluded during the computation process.
It held that if the excluded votes were added, Uzodinma, who was the appellant, would have secured majority of valid votes cast at the governorship election.
Consequently, it ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which was the 1st Respondent in the matter, to immediately issue a fresh certificate of return to Uzodinma who initially came fourth in the governorship election.
Ihedioha, had in the five grounds he raised in his appeal, insisted that the Supreme Court lacked the jurisdiction to declare Uzodinma governor in the absence of any proof that votes ascribed to him met the mandatory geographical spread.
In his brief of argument, Ihedioha contended that: “This Honourable Court did not have the jurisdiction to declare the 1st Appellant/Respondent as elected in the absence of any proof that the votes ascribed to him met the mandatory geographical spread stipulated in Section 179 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“This Honourable Court did not have the jurisdiction to declare that the 1st Appellant/Respondent met the constitutional geographical spread without providing in its judgment the reason(s) for that conclusion”.
He argued that the panel had no jurisdiction to hand victory to Uzodinma “in an election petition which was based on two inconsistent and mutually exclusive grounds”.
He drew attention of the apex court to the fact that one of the grounds of the petition Uzodinma lodged against the outcome of the Imo State governorship election, was that he (Ihedioha) was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election, “the implication of which is that the majority of votes cast at the election were valid”.
He said the second ground was that the election was invalid for non-compliance with the Electoral Act, “the implication of which is that the election be annulled”.
Besides, Ihedioha argued that the CJN-led panel failed to consider a subsisting judgement of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal that dismissed Uzodinma’s petition.

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COVID-19: RSG Quarantines Caverton Pilots

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The Rivers State Government has announced that the two pilots arraigned before a Chief Magistrate Court for contravening the Executive Order signed by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to check the spread of the novel Coronavirus are being detained at a state government facility for the protection of inmates of Port Harcourt Correctional Centre.
In a statement, the Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof Zacheaus Adangor said the two Caverton Helicopters’ pilots remanded by a Magistrate Court, last Tuesday, were not sent to the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre but were quarantined in Delta Hotels.
Adangor explained, “after the demands were made, I had to return back to the court, and applied for a variation of that order changing the place to any Rivers State Government facility, including Delta Hotels. The court considered that, and granted that application for variation.”
He maintained that ab initio, the state government knew that remanding the pilots in the Correctional Centre would jeopardise the lives of inmates and would put the lives of its citizens at risk.
Currently, he said, the two pilots are being attended to by health officials attached to COVID-19 medical team, to monitor them and ensure they are isolated to ascertain their health status.
“The truth of the matter is that the Honourable Attorney-General of Rivers State applied for and obtained a variation order from the Chief Magistrate Court, Port Harcourt, changing the place of remand from the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre to any Rivers State Government-owned facility or building including Delta Hotels, GRA, Port Harcourt.
“Based on that order of variation of the remand order, the two pilots are being remanded at Delta Hotels, Old GRA, Port Harcourt, and are attended to regularly by medical personnel attached to the Rivers State COVID-19 medical team.”
The statement added: “For the avoidance of doubt, we want to restate that none of the two pilots spent a second at the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre.

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COVID-19: Palliative C’ttee Doles Out Foodstuffs To Obio/Akpor

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The COVID-19 Palliatives Distribution Committee in Rivers State has commenced the distribution of foodstuffs in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area (LGA), aimed at cushioning the effects of the Stay-at-Home order by the state government and closure of markets across the state.
Making the presentation of the food items to representatives of the various wards in the LGA, Chairman of the committee, Amb Desmond Akawor, noted that the gesture was in accordance with the covenant the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has with Rivers people.
According to the chairman, it is also done in acknowledgement of the fact that everything possible has to be done to prevent the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic from either infecting anyone in the state or spreading, knowing how vulnerable the state was.
“We are well aware of the prevailing global COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the whole world. Our Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike was the first governor in the country that had the political will to lock down our environment, so that the spread of this virus will not extend to Rivers State.
“With all the entry points from other parts of the world into Rivers State, through the sea and international airport … For us, we consider it as a covenant he (governor) has made with Rivers people to protect their life.
“Due to the excruciating pains Rivers people are going through because of the closure of markets, the governor has considered it necessary for food items to be made available to communities. We started with the social welfare homes”, he said.
Handing over the food items to the representatives of the various wards, which included clergy men, youth leaders, and leaders of gender groups, Akawor urged them to ensure that the items get to the downtrodden in their midst, saying that the process would be monitored to ensure that the aim was not defeated.
In each ward visited, the clergy men among them spoke on behalf of the recipients, thanking the state government for the timely response and provision of supplies to enhance the welfare challenges communities have been faced with in terms of food, with a promise that it would get to everyone in their domains.
Akawor was accompanied by members of the committee, comprising religious and political leaders, non-partisan and military personnel.
The distribution continues, today, to other parts of the 23 local government areas of the state.
“We are proceeding to all wards, what we are doing is that we are handing over these items to the community leaders. It has no political undertone”, Akawor added.
However, the Rivers State Government, yesterday, concluded the distribution of palliatives to the different wards of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
This is in order to cushion the effect of measures in place to check the spread of Coronavirus.
The Chairman of Rivers State COVID-19 Palliative Committee, Amb Desmond Akawor, stated that the committee has involved traditional rulers, clerics and civil society leaders to ensure that the foodstuffs get to the people.
Speaking at the Palace of Nye-Weli of Akpor Kingdom, Amb Desmond Akawor, said the driving force for Governor Nyesom Wike was his determination to serve Rivers people.
At the Obio/Akpor Local Government Council Secretariat, Amb Desmond Akawor urged those sharing the palliatives to work in line with the dream of the governor to reach out to everyone.
Nyeweli of Akpor Kingdom, Eze Aniele Orlu Oriebe expressed appreciation to the Rivers State governor for investing in the welfare of Rivers people.
He said that the foodstuffs donated by the Rivers State governor will solve the problem of hardship and hunger being faced by the people during the implementation of the COVID-19 precautionary measures.
In his remarks, Rev. Cannon Chukujekwu Okoli thanked the Rivers State governor for the kind gesture, saying that God will be with him.
He prayed God to grant the governor the strength and courage to continue to reach out to the downtrodden affected by the measures aimed to check the spread of Coronavirus.

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COVID-19: US Repatriates 997 Citizens Back Home

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The United States Mission in Nigeria has helped 997 Americans return home to reunite with family and friends during this time of unprecedented challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
From April 6-8, three U.S. Consulate-organized chartered flights operated by Delta Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines repatriated 850 American citizens from the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, to the United States.
This is in addition to the 147 U.S. citizens who departed Abuja on April 4.
A statement by the US Mission in Nigeria, made available to The Tide, yesterday, indicated that, “These repatriation flights were made possible by a tremendous effort by the U.S. Consulate team and great cooperation from Nigerian partners, including the Ministry of Aviation, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigeria Immigration Service, and the Lagos State Government.
“The State Department’s effort to bring Americans home during the COVID-19 pandemic has required a remarkable diplomatic and logistical effort. As of April 8, 2020, the Department of State has coordinated the repatriation of 50,339 Americans from 94 countries since January 29, 2020,” it added.
The United States Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, noted in the statement that “in times of emergency, the United States Department of State has no greater priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas.
“This has been three weeks in the making. We had more than 50 people working on this on a daily basis to make sure that we can find the Americans, get the planes, secure flight clearances for the planes to land here, and also ensure safe passage of the Americans travelling to the airport since the city is on lockdown.
“It was an enormous effort, and I am incredibly proud of my team. We appreciate all the help from our Nigerian partners. We couldn’t have done this without them,” Pierangelo said.
She noted that U.S. Mission remains committed to working closely with the Government of Nigeria and the various health authorities to keep everyone healthy and safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It would be recalled that the U.S. government has pledged more than $7million in health and humanitarian funding to Nigeria in response to the pandemic that will go toward risk communication, water and sanitation activities, infection prevention, and coordination.
This assistance joins more than $5.2billion in health assistance and more than $8.1billion in total assistance for Nigeria over the past 20 years.
The United States is providing nearly $274million to help dozens of countries to combat the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), furthering America’s commitment to humanitarian assistance and global health.
The U.S. citizens who remain in Nigeria seeking COVID-19 information are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Programme @step.state.gov and check the U.S. Mission Nigeria website and social media handles for messages and updates.

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