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.
FG Mulls Introduction Of Private Firefighters
The Federal Government says it is proposing to broaden the scope of the National Fire Academy to accommodate private firefighters to address fire incidents across the country.
The plan, if carried out, would lead to the emergence of private firefighters in the country.
Speaking after his first official inspection tour of the academy, the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, said the fire service could have certified private firefighters like the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps’ private guards.
He added that private firefighters were needed to enhance the fire service’s operations as well as improve their response time.
This was contained in a statement by the Minister’s Media Adviser, Alao Babatunde, yesterday.
The statement partly read, “Today, we have over 3 million private guards certified by the NSCDC. We can have something similar for the fire service. We need private fire service men to enhance our service and response time. The President’s #RenewedHope agenda has charged us to be innovative if we must change the narrative.
“As a matter of fact, this is another innovative way to generate revenue because we expect that anyone looking to become a safety or security guard should get trained and certified by this academy.”
Tunji-Ojo urged all institutions and recreation centres to engage certified fire and safety personnel trained by the academy when the plan materialises.
He said: “A lot has been done, but there is still a lot more to be done. With what I have seen here, I can guarantee you that we will work very hard to see that this facility will not only be useful in training officers of the fire service but also for the private sector.
“We must make fire safety a personal affair. Every institution, commercial and social recreation centre should have certified fire and safety personnel, trained by this facility.
“All public and commercial buildings and infrastructure such as banks, hotels, malls, restaurants, or even government buildings should have first responders that can administer basic fire fighting remedy while waiting for the arrival of a full operation squad of the country’s Fire Service”.
Decentralise Pipeline Surveillance Contracts, Ondo Ex-Militants Urge Tinubu
A group of ex-militants in Ondo State, on Wednesday, called on President Bola Tinubu to revisit the pipeline surveillance project and decentralise the awarding of the contract.
The group, under the auspices of the Ondo State Niger Delta Coastal Vanguard, said decentralisation of the contract would enhance the security of pipelines on waterways.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the group, Chief Lucky Ajiroba.
The statement is titled, ‘Call on His Excellency President Bola Tinubu to re-visit the pipeline surveillance contract.’
The group faulted the last administration for awarding the contract to only one company, saying the purpose for which the contract was awarded was not achieved as the security situation of the pipelines was getting worse.
The statement read, “We are the members of Ondo State Niger Delta Coastal Vanguard. The group led by Akogun Job Omotuwa comprises ex-militants in the state who voluntarily submitted their arms and ammunition in response to the good gesture of the Federal Government of Nigeria under the amnesty programme in the year 2017, and we have shown our unwavering allegiance to the terms of the amnesty initiative of the government.
“The overall effects of all these are: it has increased considerably the quantum of oil production, it has substantially increased the revenue accruable to the Federation account, and ultimately it allows peaceful coexistence among the people of the oil-producing communities of the country.
“We are aware of the sterling enterprise of this administration to improve on the security architecture of the Nigeria state and all its apparatus, with a particular reference to the pipeline surveillance and secured waterways.
“The last administration made a giant stride by awarding the pipeline surveillance to a sole company in the Niger Delta Area. It is not out of place to state that the purpose upon which the contract was awarded for was not achieved as the situation of the security of the pipeline was worse than ever before since their collaborative effort was not enough to support the constituted military authorities.
“The failure of this was ascribed to the centralization of the contract. In view of this perennial failure, there has been avalanche of agitation from every quarter that the pipeline security contract should be decentralized for the purpose of achieving the desired goal of the Federal Government which is in the best interest of the entire citizens.”
The group, which commended the President for its efforts in repositioning the country’s economy, opined that each ex-militant leader in the Niger Delta Region be identified, and the pipeline security contract be split among them.
Assembly Tasks Delta Govt On Rising Prostitution, Drug Abuse
The Delta House of Assembly has passed a resolution urging the State Government to take drastic measures against rising cases of drug abuse and prostitution in the state.
This followed the adoption of a motion by Mrs Bridget Anyafulu (PDP-Oshimili South) at plenary in Asaba.
Presenting the motion, Anyafulu decried rising cases of open sex trade and use of illicit drugs among youths in the state, especially in Asaba and environs.
“Open sex trade and use of illicit drug is not a good example for our children.
“The situation is worrisome considering the fact that both issues are illegal,” she said.
Anyafulu, also the Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, Community and Social Development said that urgent measures must be taken to address the situation.
“The twin evil of drug abuse and sex trade represents great danger to the lives of our young people and the society at large.
“They both underline the physical, mental and social well-being of our young people and this will also jeopardize the development, peace and security of our dear state.
“So, I want to state that no nation survives without the youth, the youth and the young general are the life wire of our nation.
“Any nation that ignores the youth is heading for doom, so the importance of the young people cannot be over emphasized, it is therefore very important that we address this ugly trend,” she said.
Also speaking, Mr Oboro Preyor (PDP-Bomadi) decried the negative impact of rising drug abuse and prostitution, saying it must be addressed.
‘‘If this ugly trend is not addressed, it would attract more young people into their folks,’’ he said.
He also urged the government to rehabilitate youths who were addicted to drug and to create other avenues of engaging them in productive activities.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers when put to voice vote by Speaker Dennis Guwor.
The lawmakers also called for support from law enforcement agencies to ensure the arrest and prosecution of illicit drug dealers and commercial sex workers in accordance with the law in order to curb the rising trend.
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