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Imo Guber Verdict: Recuse Yourselves, PDP Tells CJN, Others

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has told the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad that he, for the sake of fairness, should recuse himself from the hearing of the review application on the Imo State governorship election petition.
The main opposition also demanded that six other justices of the Supreme Court, who delivered the earlier judgement that sacked the its candidate, Emeka Ihedioha as the Imo State governor January 14, recuse themselves.
The party said the Justices who should not be involved in the matter again are Nwah Sylvester Ngwuta, Justice Olukayode Ariwola, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Justice Amina Adamu Augie, and Justice Uwani Musa Abba Aji.
The Supreme Court has fixed, today for the hearing of the application for review in its judgement that saw Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC), declared winner of the state’s governorship election
The PDP made its decision known in a letter to the CJN, dated February 14, 2020.
The letter was signed by PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, and National Secretary, Senator Ibrahim Tsauri.
The party made the demands on the grounds of likelihood of bias and the need to ensure fair hearing, adding that it was to ensure that fairness and justice is not only done, but also seen to have been done.
The letter said in part, “As a follow up to our earlier call on all members of the panel to recuse themselves, we have now sought to formalise that request or demand.
“We hereby request that the seven persons that heard the case earlier recuse themselves from participating in the consideration of this new application.
“We are not unmindful of the fact that a litigant cannot dictate to the court the panel that should hear its case. However, due to the extraordinary circumstances and the nature of this case, we think that our request is a fair one that meets the justice of the case.
“Consequently, we feel it as our patriotic duty to hereby humbly request that your Lordship constitute a different panel of this great court (other than the one that delivered the judgement) for the purpose of hearing this application.
“Your Lordship would recall that a panel of Hon. Justices of the Supreme Court presided by your good self on Tuesday the 14th day of January, 2020, delivered judgement on the above appeal.
“Your Lordship may further recall that on February 5th, 2020 the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) filed an application praying that the judgement of 14th January, 2020 be set aside on grounds of nullity of the judgment, among other grounds.
“The judgement sought to be set aside has generated so much misgiving not only among lawyers but in the general polity as a whole because of the uncertainty it has introduced into our electoral jurisprudence, its potential for crisis in our democracy, the irreconcilability of the calculations contained therein and their resultant effect.
“At the heat of the moment, the party addressed a press conference and expressed its displeasure and disagreement with the judgement, and called on the Justices that heard the case to recuse themselves during any possible future review of the case that may come before the court, the party even went further to ask the President of the court to even resign.
“As a follow up to our earlier call on all members of the panel to recuse themselves, we have now sought to formalise that request or demand. We hereby request that the seven persons that heard the case earlier recuse themselves from participating in the consideration of this new application.
“My Lord, our request is founded on Section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which guarantees fair hearing to every citizen or entity in the determination of his rights or obligations.
“Furthermore, the time honoured and tested principles of natural justice, particularly that no man shall be a judge in his own cause is particularly relevant to this solemn request.
“Allegation of bias or likelihood of bias goes to the root of fair hearing. Denial of right to fair hearing is a logical consequence of bias in any proceeding before a court or a tribunal.
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as Amended (Constitution) guarantees the right of an individual to fair hearing. An individual’s right to fair hearing includes the right to have his/her rights and obligations determined by an independent and impartial tribunal.
“The above is clearly enshrined in Section 36 (1) of the Constitution, which provides as follows: ‘In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality’
“The right to an independent and impartial tribunal is a major factor in determining if fair hearing has been observed by a court.
“The relevant question on the issue of bias is what an ordinary man on the street would think about the fairness of the proceedings conducted by judges accused of likelihood of bias.
“We may even be wrong on the allegations made against the learned justices of the Supreme Court that sat on the case in question. We may have been bitter about the clearly observed inadequacies in that judgment, but this is now beside the point.
“The relevant question is: can any reasonable person who heard the press conference and several protests by the party, the Civil Society Organisations and Nigerians generally, all over the country, including foreign embassies, the involvement of even the international community, feel that the same panel that has been the subject of these allegations, rightly or wrongly by the Party, can sit and deliver impartial justice on the same case on review? We think not.”
Meanwhile, the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP0, yesterday, claimed that the Supreme Court was misled in sacking Emeka Ihedioha as the governor of Imo State.
This is even as the party said there were facts not tabled before the apex court before it went ahead to declare the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma winner of the governorship poll.
The National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, who stated this in an interview with a select team of journalists in Abuja, yesterday, said the PDP and Ihedioha would avail the justices of the facts at its sitting in the nation’s capital today.
Secondus said it was wrong for Uzodinma to claim that the time within which the court was permitted to entertain the case which emanated from election petition had passed.

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North Can Live Without VAT Accruals, NEF Boasts …Backs Wike, Southern Govs On Fiscal Federalism, Restructuring

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has boasted that the North was a rich region, and can survive on its resources without the “billions” accruing to Southern states.
The NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known, yesterday, when he featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme.
He was reacting to the tussle between states and the Federal Government on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered, and charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Although Rivers and Lagos states have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal, in a ruling on September 10, ordered that status quo be maintained pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.
At the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in Enugu, last Thursday, the 17 governors insisted that they have the constitutional mandate to collect VAT, and vowed to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the matter.
While some northern governors like Aminu Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), amongst others, had kicked against the move, the 17 Southern Governors led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had unanimously supported the position that “the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”
Speaking, yesterday, during the television programme, Baba-Ahmed said, “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
“If we don’t do that now, then, we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the North, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate (it).
“The thing is: the North wants restructuring; the North wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region, and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”
According to him, the VAT war is a wake-up call to northern governors who need to recognise the fact that VAT or no VAT, they need to develop their resources and develop the human capital of the North.
The NEF spokesman added, “North, you said you have many people but you are under-developing your own people – the biggest liability of the North is that we have a huge population that is under-developed. You need to develop the human capital that you have.
“We need leaders; the current governors don’t recognise this. Otherwise, they won’t be involved in this argument; allow the court to decide.
“But for goodness sake, (they should) begin to think — what else can we do if the court decides now that Rivers State is right, Lagos State is right, and the Southern states are right, and they won’t be getting all these billions coming in from VAT? What happens?”
Baba-Ahmed said the Northern governors at this stage should not be sleeping, noting that the North is “sitting on wealth, we have massive resources in this country, we have to fight insecurity first, and the Federal Government has to help us, we need to clear the bushes, the forests and all the criminals that are there, and we need to go back to farming.
“Agriculture is a major asset; we have land, we have water, we have livestock, we have minerals that are literally begging to be picked from the ground but our governors are too focused on the pittance that they are getting. This is wrong”, he argued.

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Boxing: Joshua Facing Toughest Test In Usyk?

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Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua could face his toughest test yet when he fights Oleksandr Usyk in London on Saturday, says ex-world champion George Groves.
Joshua, 31, puts his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles on the line against Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion.
The 34-year-old Ukrainian has won all 18 professional fights, beating Tony Bellew and Derek Chisora on that run.
“Technically, Usyk is brilliant,” said Groves . “He showed that in unifying the cruiserweight division in great fights and I believe he could be Joshua’s toughest test to date. This is the first fight when I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua got beaten.
“Joshua has fought [Wladimir] Klitschko and been in with Joseph Parker and also been beaten [by Andy Ruiz] and the only question mark for Usyk Is he big enough to compete with AJ?
“If Usyk keeps a high pace and makes Joshua miss with a lot of shots, that will work to Usyk’s advantage as he has probably got a better engine.
“Joshua is a phenomenal athlete with tremendous punching power and strength but has a tendency to tire out if the pace is uncomfortable for him.”
A crowd of more than 60,000 is expected and it will be the largest attendance Joshua has fought in front of since his win over Alexander Povetkin with 80,000 at Wembley Stadium in September, 2018.
Since then, Joshua has lost to Ruiz in New York before winning the rematch in Saudi Arabia and gained a ninth-round victory over Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, with only 1,000 fans attending because of Coronavirus restrictions.
Both Joshua and Usyk won gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, at super-heavyweight and heavyweight respectively, with the Briton going on to win 24 of his 25 professional fights, including 22 inside the distance.
Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte, who lost to Joshua in 2015 and is pushing for a rematch with him or a shot at WBC champion, Tyson Fury, believes the key to beating Usyk on Saturday is to adopt an attacking strategy.
“I think it’s a great fight and Joshua will stop him in the first six or seven rounds,” Whyte told Tidesports source.
“Usyk will start fast and Joshua should be cagey as Usyk is a bit lighter. Joshua can sometimes lack confidence but hopefully he goes back to the old him, starts pressing, being the bigger, stronger guy and gets the job done early.
“If Joshua sets the pace, he can get an early knockout and if he is strong, confident and walks him down, then I don’t see Usyk’s punches troubling Joshua.”
Groves, who held the WBA Super-Middleweight belt in 2017 and 2018, added: “If I was Joshua, I would take control of the ring and try to dominate and bully off the front foot.
“Usyk will want to be off the back foot for the first couple of rounds, then try to pepper Joshua.
“If I was in the Joshua camp, I would say: You want to keep this guy in his box. You don’t want Usyk having any confidence, so hit him hard and early.
“In the first three rounds, you want to land something big on him.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn also suggested Joshua could get an early victory.
Hearn said: “I’m always nervous for an Anthony Joshua fight, especially when you’re fighting someone that really believes he is going to win”.

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2022 AFCON: ‘Cameroon On Track’

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, has said that Cameroon is “on track” to successfully host the Africa Cup of Nations early next year after visiting Olembe Stadium in Yaounde last weekend.
The venue will host the opening match and final of the AFCON in January and February of 2022.
A CAF delegation, including President Motsepe and General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, were joined by Cameroon’s Sports Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in inspecting progress made at the Olembe Stadium and various other facilities in the capital city.
“I’m very satisfied with the briefing I got and what I saw. I saw the Olembe Stadium and it is world class; we should all be proud as people of Cameroon and as Africans,” said Motsepe, as quoted by CAF’s website.
“We must applaud Cameroon [for] building such infrastructure. In partnership with the Government, the Minister of Sports, LOC, FECAFOOT President and CAF administration under Veron [Mosengo-Omba], I’m certain that in January next year, the rest of the world will be impressed. I’m very satisfied with what I have seen. We are on track.”
Motsepe continued: “The quality of football that will be played here will once again show the world that Africa has the quality to one day win the FIFA World Cup, that is the ultimate goal. The AFCON is special and I think it is important for us to set the tone in Cameroon.”
Mosengo-Omba also heaped praises on Olembe Stadium: “The infrastructure and architecture of the stadium is world class and can be compared to many other famous stadiums globally. In Cameroon, we have six beautiful match venues. Our job now is to ensure that we are ready with everything else.”

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