A Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, fixed December 5, 2022, for ruling on an application filed by the kidney donor, David Ukpo, asking the court to set aside its orders made on July 1 and July 6, which gave former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice, access to his bio-data.
Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date after counsel for parties in the suit adopted their processes and presented their arguments.
Ukpo, through his lawyer, Bamidele Igbinedion, had filed a motion on notice marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/984/202, urging the court to set aside the orders, directing some agencies of government and banks to release his bio-data to Ekweremadu and his wife.
Ukpo, who joined the Ekweremadus as applicants/respondents in the motion, also listed the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) (1st respondent); and four others in the application.
Others mentioned in the motion are the Comptroller General (C-G), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS); Stanbic-IBTC Bank; United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc as 2nd to 5th respondents, respectively, but the 5th respondent was later dropped from the charge.
Ukpo, who is currently in the United Kingdom (UK) in connection with the alleged organ harvesting charge against the Ekweremadus, had said that granting the couple’s request violated his fundamental rights to privacy guaranteed by Section 37 of 1999 Constitution (as amended).
But in a counter affidavit deposed to by the immediate younger brother to the ex-deputy Senate president, Bright Ekweremadu, the applicants said Ukpo was not entitled to the reliefs sought as the law does not permit such.
The counter affidavit was dated and filed on September 8 by their counsel, AdegboyegaAwomolo, SAN.
In a 20-point argument, Bright averred that though the court gave its ruling on July 1, Ukpo’s right to fair hearing was not breached.
He said that the documents which were released by the agencies and banks upon the orders of the court had been transmitted to the UK, and had been “tendered at the Uxbridge Magistrate Court, and at the Central Criminal Court in the UK, and have subsequently formed part of the record of the courts.”
At the resumed hearing, yesterday, EyitayoFalogun, SAN, who appeared for the Ekweremadus, adopted his applications, and urged the court to dismiss Ukpo’s request.
He said he was aware that a coalition of civil society organisations under the auspices of the Edo Civil Society Organisation (EDOSCO), initiated the motion on Ukpo’s behalf.
Falogun, who called the attention of the court to Ukpo’s motion, described EDOSCO as “a meddlesome interloper.”
MuazuDikwa, lawyer to NIMC, argued that the orders made by court on July 1 and July 6 were in line with Section 2.11 of the National Data Protection Regulation (NDPR), 2019.
According to him, the regulation says that every transmission of data to a foreign land shall be done under the supervision of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
He, therefore, prayed the court to dismiss Ukpo’s application.
Lawyers representing other respondents also asked the court to discountenance the motion.
But counsel for Ukpo, BamideleIgbinedion, disagreed with their submission.
He said that contrary to Dikwa’s argument, “Sections 2.2 and 2.3 of the NDPR requires that if anyone applies for another person’s bio-data, one must put the subject person on notice that there is an application for the disclosure of his or her personal information which is held by government.”
Igbinedion argued that there was no authority given to government to disclose personal information of any Nigerian without putting that Nigerian on notice.
He, therefore, contended that the court did not have jurisdiction to have ordered the release of Ukpo’s bio-data to the AGF for onward transmission to the UK in the first instance.
He added that the respondents, including the Ekweremadus, had not shown that the court had the statutory jurisdiction to order the disclosure of private information held by government.
The lawyer prayed the court to grant the reliefs sought and reverse the orders.
Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter until December 5 for ruling.
In an interview shortly after the hearing, Igbinedion told newsmen that public information was covered by the Freedom of Information Act which authorises the court to disclose public information where proper application was made.
“What Ekweremadu sought was not public information but private information of a Nigerian citizen,” he said.
He said if the court “grants their prayers, it means that the information was obtained illegally and the UK court cannot rely on it.”
Igbinedion, who said he had urged the court, in his reply on points of law, to disregard Bright Ekweremadu’s averment, said Ukpo’s documents that were released had not been used in the UK court because trial has not commenced.
“We said in our reply that you don’t rely on oral evidence to tell the court about what happens in another court.
“So, we urge the court to disregard that,” he said.
On June 27, Ekweremadu, who currently represents Enugu West Senatorial District, and his wife, Beatrice, had, in an application dated and filed on June 27, sued NIMC and four others following the criminal charge filed against them in the UK.
They had sought the order of the court directing all the respondents to release to them certified true copies of Ukpo’s bio-data information in their care to enable them present the documents before the UK court and the judge granted the request on July 1.
He directed that the documents should be released to the AGF for onward transmission to the UK.
Besides, Ekwo also made an order on July 6, directing NIMC to release Ukpo’s information to the Ekweremadus in line with the earlier court order.
I’ll Provide Solid Representation, If Elected -Banigo
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, has assured the people of Abua/Odual Local Government Area that she would provide undivided representation if voted into the Senate in 2023.
Banigo gave this assurance when leaders and critical stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party had a meeting with her, at the Government House in Port Harcourt to map out campaign strategies, yesterday.
The deputy governor said, she was excited that the meeting was held for the stakeholders to understand themselves, to ensure the party wins at the elections in 2023, adding that by the grace of God the local government area would be better than what it is now, if she emerges as the Rivers West senator.
In a related development, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, who is the Rivers West Senatorial District Candidate of the PDP in the upcoming polls, has also met with leaders of the PDP in Ahoada East Local Government Area, where she urged them to reach out to their constituents and encourage the collection of PVCs.
“We must realize that with this new Electoral Act, the votes will surly count, as this 2023 election is not going to be like the previous elections, there will be a difference, people should not be afraid to pick up their cards and vote, they should not be lackadaisical about it, they should keep their cards safe and on the day of election they should come up and cast their vote, because this time every vote will count”.
She said the campaigns would be unit based and urged them to reach out to those in their units.
“Make sure you have unit executives in each of the wards, so we can have a door to door campaign”, Banigo said.
In his remarks at the meetings, the Vice Chairman of the Rivers West Senatorial District of the PDP, Dr. Nname Robinson Ewor, said there is a need for members of the PDP to go out and establish their presence in all units’ wards and constituencies, stressing that the nature of this upcoming election would be different from previous elections.
Ariolu, Others Welcome Ex-Deputy Guber Candidate To PDP
Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council, Barrister George Ariolu, has led other party faithful, including Chairman of PDP, Ward 6, Kingsley Nna; Chairman of PDP, Ward 9, Collins Wobo Chukwu; and Obio/Akpor PDP Secretary, Kingman Ogbonna; to receive a bigwig and stakeholder of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Rumuogba in Ward 6, Chief Williams Igwe, into the PDP.
Receiving the former Deputy Governorship Candidate of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) at the Obio/Akpor PDP Secretariat, Rumueme, Ariolu expressed delight over his decampment from the APC to the PDP, describing it as an indication that the party was waxing stronger.
Ariolu, who was greeted with euphoria by the LGA PDP Chairman, Chidi Amadi, who also welcomed the former deputy governorship candidate at the secretariat, promised to work closely with Igwe to build the party ahead of the forthcoming election.
He pointed out that the foundation of the PDP was built on togetherness, stating that collectively, the party would achieve more.
Ariolu thanked Igwe for wholeheartedly accepting to come back to the party.
According to him, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has separated governance from politics following his relentless battle to promote the interest of Rivers people.
Also speaking, Chairman of the PDP in Obio/Akpor, Chidi Amadi, said the reception of Igwewas a fulfilment of an age-long dream, and a welcome development for members of the party, expressing joy over the event.
He further commended Ariolu for his strong support and leadership towards the sustenance and growth of the party.
In his remark, Chief Williams Igwe affirmed his loyalty and commitment to the PDP in its quest to oust the APC and fix the broken state of the country’s socio-economic and political fabrics.
He described the reception as a homecoming for himself and his supporters who would be formally received at a formal event which would be organised by the state party chairman, adding that PDP remains a major political party which will unite the nation.
He added that his decision to defect to the party was well-thought-out, and called on others to join hands with the Rivers State Government to rebuild the socio-economic fortunes of the state.
According to him, he believed that it was time for him to cross over to join hands with the Rivers State governor in moving the state forward.
The former Deputy Governorship Candidate was also received by PDP Chieftain, Barrister Temple Ejekwu; Obio/Akpor PDP Woman Leader,Gloria Wonodi; Barrister Kelvin Akani; and members of Obio/Akpor PDP Executive.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
NNPC Posts N674bn Profit
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) has declared a profit after tax of N674billion for the financial year ended December 31, 2021.
The profit represented a growth of 134.84per cent when compared with N287billion profit in 2020 which was recorded under the old Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), NNPC Ltd, Malam Mele Kyari, said this at a news conference, yesterday, in Abuja.
“NNPC progressed to a new performance level, from N287billion profit in 2020 to a N674billion profit after tax in 2021 climbing higher by 134.8per cent year on year profit growth,’’ he said.
Kyari also said that it recorded an increase in total assets from N15.86trillion in 2020 to N16.27trillion in 2021.
Speaking on the group’s financial position, Kyari said the corporation’s total liabilities decreased by 8.3per cent to N13.46trillion during the review period from N14.68trillion in 2020.
The GCEO said its shareholders funds position rose N2.81trillion representing 144per cent year-on-year.
“The performance would have been greater if the operations in the year under review were free from incessant vandalism, crude oil and products theft, among others.
“Details of the performance of NNPC and the respective subsidiaries as well as that of National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) will be published on our website www.nnpcgroup.com for stakeholder’s perusal.
“We look forward to achieving greater performance to support our growth aspirations and to create more value for our stakeholders as we drive full commercial operations under NNPC Ltd.,’’ he said.
He recalled that in September 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the publication of the 2020 NNPC Group Audited Financial Statement, in which NNPC declared a profit after tax of N287billion for the first time in 44 years.
Kyari said that in spite of the challenging operating environment, it strongly believed that the corporation had the potential to sustainably deliver better value to it esteemed shareholders.
He said it sought to become a dynamic global energy company of choice to its customers, partners and over 200million shareholders comprising of all Nigerians.
Kyari noted that the corporation in 2019 rolled out deliberate policies and initiatives aimed at reducing costs and eliminating losses while adopting technology to entrench transparency, accountability and performance excellence (TAPE) across its various functions.
He said the NNPC had recorded significant improvement over the past three years, turning up the curve from losses to profits.
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