The Supreme Court is expected to fix hearing date anytime soon in a motion filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking to sack the Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma.
It was learnt that parties have filed some additional processes in relation to the motion filed last year and that the PDP, through its lawyer, Phillips Umeadi recently filed a fresh document, requiring the Supreme Court to set the case down for hearing.
Information at the court’s Registry revealed the motion by the PDP, in which it’s praying the Supreme Court to reverse its decision sacking Emeka Ihedioha, is now ripe for hearing because some processes were recently filed by some of the parties.
It was gathered that the next step is for the Deputy Registrar (Litigation) to liaise with the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) for a hearing date, which would soon be communicated to parties.
Listed as respondents to the motion on notice, filed by the PDP in an earlier appeal by Ugwumba Uche NWosu, marked: SC/1384/2019 are: Nwosu, the Action Peoples Party (APP), Uche Nnadi and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
It is PDP’s contention that it was wrong for the court to declare Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) the winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Imo State after disqualifying Nwosu from contesting the election on the grounds that he allowed himself to be nominated as the governorship candidate of both the Action Alliance and APC for the same election.
It wants the court to declare that both the AA and the APC did not sponsor any candidate for the election in view of Nwosu’s double nomination by the AA and APC and his subsequent disqualification by the court in its judgment given on December 20, 2019
The PDP also wants the court to order that Hope Uzodinma was not a candidate by himself or of any political party at the election; and to order INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Senator Hope Uzodinma.
The party is equally praying the court to order INEC to issue a certificate of return to its candidate in the election, Emeka Ihedioha “as the duty elected Governor of Imo State, having scored the second highest number of votes in the said election sequel to the judgment of this court in Appeal No: SC/1462/2019 – Senator Hope Uzodinma & another v. Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha & others delivered on 14th January, 2020.
It is further praying the court to issue an order, directing that Ihedioha be immediately sworn-in as the governor of Imo State.
The grounds relied on by the PDD in seeking the reliefs includes that the court had, in its December 20, 2019 judgment, found that the Nwosu was nominated by both APC and AA as their candidate for election held on March 9, 2019, and conclusively held that he was disqualified by the provisions of Section 37 of the Electoral Act for double nomination.
It stated that although Ihedioha was declared winner of the election and subsequently sworn-in, the Supreme Court in its judgment delivered on January 14, 2020 in the appeal, marked: SC1462/2019, filed by Uzodinma, held that the appellant (Uzodinma) and not Ihedioha that scored the highest number of votes in the election and ought to be returned as the duly elected governor.
The PDP added that by the clear terms of the Supreme Court’s judgment of December 20, 2019 in the appeal by Nwosu, it was obvious that neither the AA nor the APC fielded any a candidate for the election held on March 9, 2019 and as such Uzodinma could not have been returned as the election as a candidate of the APC.
It said, “APC could not have substituted the appellant (Nwosu) with a view to further nominating the said Senator Hope Uzodinma as their candidate because that right is not available to the party under the Electoral Act.
“Senator Hope Uzodinma could not have been a candidate in the election as an independent candidate as such right is not available to him.
“Rt. Honourable Emeka Ihedioha, who is the candidate nominated by the third respondent/applicant (PDP), and who scored the second highest number of votes after Senator Hope Uzodinma, from the judgment of this court, ought therefore to be issued a certificate of return by the fourth respondent (INEC) and sworn in accordingly”.
A legal officer in the PDP, Adedamola Farokun stated, in a supporting affidavit, that by virtue of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Uzodinma’s appeal, Ihedioha scored the second highest votes after Uzodinma.
Farokun added that by virtue of the Supreme Court’s earlier judgment in the appeal by Nwosu, which nullified the candidature of Nwosu as the duly nominated candidate of the APC, the APC had no candidate for the governorship election held on March 9, 2019.
He argued that it was Ugwumba Uche Nwosu who was the duly nominated candidate of the APC, which nomination was on the records of INEC up to and after the election, but whose nomination was nullified by the December 20, 2019 judgment Supreme Court.
Farokun contended that as at when Nwosu’s candidacy was nullified, the APC could not have validly substituted its candidate as there are no provisions for post-election substitution of candidates.
RSHA: Amaewhule-Led Lawmakers Defy Court Order, Elect New Leaders
The crisis rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly took a new twist on Wednesday as lawmakers loyal to the former Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, sat under tight security in the complex.
This is contrary to the court order asking the two factions of the State House of Assembly to maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit filed by the Edison Ehie faction.
Recall that Ehie faction had obtained a court order that parties should maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit seeking to sack Amaewhule as the House Speaker.
The Rivers Assembly had become factionalised following an unsuccessful move to impeach Governor Siminialayi Fubara.
The Amaewhule-led lawmakers are believed to be loyal to Fubara’s predecessor and political godfather, Nyesom Wike.
It was learnt that ahead of Wednesday’s sitting, cleaners had on Tuesday been deployed to clean up the Assembly complex, which had been under locks, since October 29, following an explosion in the complex the night before.
One of the cleaners said they were instructed to tidy up the complex ahead of a sitting on Wednesday.
It was gathered that the Wednesday sitting was held for about two hours as a team of riot policemen and security vans were stationed in front of the House to prevent any breaches.
It was gathered that the lawmakers elected a former Chief Whip as the new Majority Leader of the Assembly.
The member, representing Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Constituency 1, Frankline Nwabochi, was named the new Chief Whip.
An unsigned statement sent to the Assembly Press Corps obtained by The Tide said the two new principal officers accordingly took their oath of office.
Amaewhule congratulated them, charging them to be committed to their new responsibilities.
According to the statement, the lawmakers also passed the first reading of a Bill seeking to amend the Rivers State Local Government Law, No. 5 of 2018.
They also debated on the Rivers State House of Assembly Funds Management (Financial Autonomy) Bill, 2023, which passed second reading on Wednesday.
Amaewhule who described the Bill as important, expressed his conviction that Governor Fubara would assent to it after the lawmakers finally pass it.
He hinted that the governor had withheld funds meant for the Assembly for the month of November.
He said the lawmakers were determined to perform their constitutional duties despite the distractions.
He thereafter referred the Bill to the House Committee on Public Accounts for public hearing and further legislative scrutiny.
The other faction of the Assembly led by Ehie, and loyal to Fubara, had yet to react to the Wednesday development as of the time of filing this report.
Ogoni Group Mulls Recall Of Lawmakers Over Foiled Fubara’s Impeachment
An Advocacy group in Rivers State, Ogoni Development Drive (ODD), says it has begun the process to recall four Ogoni lawmakers from the Rivers House of Assembly over their alleged roles in the botched impeachment of Governor Similanayi Fubara.
The lawmakers are Dumle Maol (PDP, Gokana constituency), Barile Nwakoh (PDP, Khana), Aforji Igwe (PDP, Eleme) and Bernard Ngba (PDP, Tai).
The group’s Convener, Comrade Solomon Lenu, made this known at a news conference in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Recall that Fubara survived an alleged impeachment plot on October 30.
ODD said it had on November 10 issued a seven-day ultimatum to the four Ogoni lawmakers who partook in the plot that attempted to serve an impeachment notice to Governor Fubara.
The four lawmakers, now suspended, were asked to apologise to the Ogoni people whom they represent and to Gov. Fubara for denigrating his exalted office or risk being recalled.
“Instead of heeding this advice and embracing the olive branch extended to them, they rather embarked on an egocentric escapade,” the group said.
Lenu further said the lawmakers rather than heed to the advice by ODD, engaged in various meetings that purportedly plotted to unseat the governor.
“Governor Fubara was collectively voted for by the entire Rivers people, and as such, the action by the lawmakers has not gone well with all men and women of conscience.
“It is illogical for the erring assembly members to think it is right to impeach an innocent governor for no just cause but wrong to recall them for erring against their constituents.
“The suspended lawmakers called a bluff of ODD ultimatum, and so, we have decided to carry out this recall process in earnest, to put our democracy aright,” he said.
Lenu said the group had already reached an advanced level in sensitising and mobilising the lawmaker’s constituents to recall them.
He said that ODD had also obtained the comprehensive voters’ register of all voters in the four local government areas and constituencies.
According to him, an electronic capture form has also been created to make the petition process easier for students at various tertiary school campuses and those on holiday to sign the petition.
“So far, the response from the aggrieved constituents has been very impressive, and we shall in a few weeks’ time complete the compilation of the required signatures.
“The signatures are required for INEC to call for a referendum, which shall be carried out in branches with strict security guidance, to abort any sinister counterplot against democracy.
“We know this process is not going to be easy, but we are ready to go all the way, to create a sense of responsibility in our elected leaders,” he said.
Lenu said instilling a sense of responsibility in politicians and elected leaders would further entrench democratic tenets in the country.
The ODD convener called on the people of Ogoni to come forward and sign the petition, to end political “jamboree and illicit godfatherism” in the state.
The Tide reports that 26 lawmakers on Oct. 30 proceeded to impeach Fubara but were stopped by four pro-Fubara lawmakers led by Ehie Edison (PDP-Ahoada East II).
Mr Martins Amaewhule (Obio Akpor constituency), a close ally of a former governor, was later ousted as Speaker and Ehie sworn in as the new Speaker.
However, Amaewhule insists that he is still the Speaker of the House of Assembly, resulting in some form of confusion over the office of the Speaker.
FRSC Commander Faces Sanction Over Unauthorised Comments
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), yesterday, disowned the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, over his recent statement on Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services.
Ibrahim was quoted to have said that VIO officials did not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
But Deputy Corps Marshal, Bisi Kazeem, in a statement, yesterday, said Ibrahim’s comment was not the position of the Corps.
Kazeem added that the concerned official had been recalled to the national headquarters for necessary disciplinary action.
The statement read, “The Federal Road Safety Corps wishes to make a pertinent clarification regarding the pronouncement by the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, that Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services, do not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
“The general public is advised to disregard the statement as it had no approval of the Corps Marshal, Dauda Ali Biu, and does not in anyway reflect the corporate or general position of the Corps.
“It is important for the public know that the laws establishing VIOs/State Traffic Management Agencies give them the statutory mandate to make arrests on different offences depending on the state within which they operate. As such, the agencies should be given the maximum cooperation for the enhancement of safety on our roads.
“On this note and in line with sustaining the Corps’ resolve that road safety is a collective responsibility, and in acknowledgement of the roles the State Traffic Management Agencies like the Vehicle Inspection Officers play in complementing the statutory responsibilities of the FRSC through enforcement of traffic laws, the Corps Marshal has ordered the immediate withdrawal of the Unit Commander to the national headquarters for necessary administrative and disciplinary actions.
“The public is admonished to always comply with all established traffic regulations and cooperate with security agencies deployed to maintain law and order on the highways, irrespective of their corporate mandate.”
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