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S’Court Verdicts: ‘Blame Political Parties, Not Justices’

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria, at the weekend, warned against what it called unguarded statements targeted at the integrity of the apex court and its Justices.
The apex court in a statement hit a United States based Nigerian journalist, Prof. Farooq Kperogi, who had been “venting convoluted anger”, following its recent pronouncements, which affirmed a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, and Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, as senatorial candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 25 elections.
The court, in the statement signed by Mr Festus Akande, its Director of Press, warned purveyors of such attacks on the judiciary and Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, especially the United States-based Professor Kperogi and a group called Progressive Minds Forum, to desist and channel such energies to political parties, which “fail to organise themselves well”.
According to him, as of the moment, over 600 cases have so far gone to the court from just party primaries which were conducted by political parties without any encumbrance or interference from any external bodies.
The statement reads, “We have watched with utter dismay some unfortunate events that have been unfolding in the country, particularly within the political landscape, for some days now.
“It is so disheartening to learn that some individuals and groups of persons who ought to know better and even assume the revered positions of role models to a larger proportion of the citizens are now sadly, the very ones flagrantly displaying ignorance and infantilism in the course of defending the indefensible.
“In an ineptly scripted toxic article, one Farooq Adamu Kperogi, who described himself as a Nigerian-American Professor, decided to plunge into an abysmal pit of irredeemable ignorance by venting convoluted anger on Supreme Court Justices with a view to pleasing his paymasters.
“We have made it abundantly clear on different occasions that Judicial Officers are neither political office holders nor politicians that should be dressed in such robes.
“Our silence must not be mistaken for weakness or cowardice.
“Certainly, every Nigerian citizen has an inalienable right to express his or her opinion without any encumbrance; but even in the course of expressing such fundamental right, we should be circumspect enough to observe the caution gate of self-control in order not to infringe on another person’s right.
“Even in a state of emotional disequilibrium, we should be reasonable enough to make a good choice of decent words, as every word employed by the pen-happy Kperogi only succeeded in portraying the kind of vacuum that sign-posts all that he has as academic accomplishment.
“I believe those who possess similar credentials with him are obviously ashamed of celebrating any form of affinity with such a character that has an odious reputation for being a serial verbal assailant over the years, as he sees nothing good in anything good.
“He has only succeeded in inflicting upon himself a mood of bellicose jingoism which does not represent a mark of honour for any discerning mind or academic, the world over.
“Courts don’t advertise or scout for cases for adjudication; but at the same time, we are duty-bound to adjudicate on all matters that come before us with a view to giving justice to whoever justice is due, irrespective of status.
“No court in any clime is a Father Christmas; so, no one can get what he or she didn’t ask for.
“Similarly, all matters are thoroughly analysed and considered based on their merits and not the faces that appear in Court or sentiments that attempt to becloud the sense of reasoning.
“So, for anyone in his or her right frame of mind to insinuate that the Justices have been bought over by some unknown and unseen persons is, to say the least, a bizarre expression of ignorance, which definitely has no place in law or even in the realm of pedestrian reasoning.
“We are not surprised with the surge of these well-orchestrated verbal assaults on Judicial Officers across the country at this period of elections.
“It is a thing we are used to and are ever ready to absorb whatever comes our way, but there should be some level of decorum and dignity in what we say and do. Politics should not be played without recourse to good conscience and acceptable moral conduct, as everything is evolving globally.
“Calling on the Chief Justice of Nigeria to resign or attacking Justices that sit on various panels, as exhibited by a faceless group that calls itself ‘Progressive Minds Forum,’ is rather prosaic.
“If political parties fail to organise themselves well by managing their internal wrangling maturely and now chose to bring themselves to the court, we are duty-bound to adjudicate in accordance with the provisions of the law and not the dictates of any individual or deity, as some people would want us to do.
“If political parties conduct themselves well and orderly too, the courts would definitely handle fewer cases and the political atmosphere will be much healthier than it is currently.
“We shall continuously do our best to discharge our constitutional responsibility to keep the country together and move the nation along the path of peace, progress and development.
“Attacks by groups, political parties or individuals under any guise will not deter us, rather it will boost our resolve to do more for the country.
“It is not only petty but equally very unreasonable for anyone to hurriedly link CJN Ariwoola to his state of origin and tribe simply because of a particular judgment of the court.
“The major problem of Nigeria has always been the undue emphasis on religion and ethnicity in all our dealings. As long as we continue along that path, progress will remain a mirage.
“As of this moment, over 600 cases have so far gone to court from just party primaries which were conducted by political parties without any encumbrance or interference from any external bodies.
“So, will the political parties, Kperogi or any individual now accuse the court of causing such unpleasant intra-party wrangling that defied all internal conflict resolution mechanisms?
“Most times, some people try as much as possible to disingenuously stand logic on its head to show their level of unimaginable dexterity.
“Those who have cultivated the unfashionable penchant of always attacking the Judiciary over every judgment or ruling given should better have a rethink and start channelling such robust energy into some ventures that are more developmental than destructive.
“We are not politicians and should not, by any stroke of imagination, be cast in that mould either. Nobody’s interest can ever supersede the interest of everybody. Nigeria is bigger than every one of us. A word is enough for the wise.”

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Your Appeal Needless Distraction, Stop Denigrating Judiciary, Diri Admonishes Sylva

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Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has described the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 11, 2023 poll in the state, Chief Timipre Sylva, as a needless distraction.
In his reaction shortly after the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja dismissed the application of Chief Sylva and the APC for lacking in merit, Governor Diri said the case was not only a distraction for him but for the entire state.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as saying that he was not surprised about the outcome of the case given the character of the APC candidate.
He said the verdict was a victory for the people of the state and that he was ready to meet Chief Sylva at the Supreme Court.
“It (the appeal) is a distraction not only to me but also to the government and people of the state. You also know the character of the person involved. So this is not unexpected.
“However, it is victory for Bayelsa State and I do not think I want to waste my time calling on anybody to work with us. They already said they are going to the Supreme Court. So, we will meet them there”, he said.
Meanwhile, speaking with journalists shortly after the court session, counsel to Governor Diri, Mr. Chris Uche (SAN), explained that the appellant (Sylva) failed to provide evidence and that the verdict of the appeal court vindicated his legal team and the election tribunal, which earlier upheld Governor Diri’s election.
Mr Uche said by the victory, the governor can now concentrate on his service to people of the state and expressed the confidence that, given the facts of the case, the verdict of the Supreme Court will not be different.
Meanwhile, Governor Douye Diri, has admonished Chief Timipre Sylva to face the reality of his serial losses at the courts and stop casting aspersions on the judiciary.
The Tide reports that the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja last Thursday, July 18, upheld the judgement of the Bayelsa State Election Petition Tribunal and affirmed the re-election of Senator Diri as governor of the state.
The appellate court ruled that Chief Sylva’s case lacked merit as he could not provide convincing evidence to invalidate the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that election did not hold in 182 polling units.
But, Chief Sylva, in a statement reacting to the judgement, accused the appellate court Justices of breaching several portions of the Nigerian Constitution.
He also said the judgement “sadly reflected some of the concerns expressed by the CJN recently.
“By referencing the “concerns” of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Sylva was trying to be smart by half. To be sure, there were no conflicts or inconsistencies in the judgement of the Appeal Court as the verdict was clear as crystal and consistent with the earlier judgement delivered by of the state election tribunal.
“After losing the November 11, 2023 governorship poll, Sylva poured dirt on INEC. Having lost at the tribunal and the appellate court, the APC candidate now acts the bad loser he is by denigrating the judiciary.
“For a man whose party already accepted defeat in the election, one wonders the “stolen mandate” that Sylva lays claim to. For us in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the governorship poll was won through the overwhelming support and endorsement of the Bayelsa electorate. The well-delivered verdicts of the tribunal and appellate court have equally put a seal to the votes of the Bayelsa people. Sylva can only play to the gallery by whipping up sentiments to deceive those gullible enough to believe him.
“There are no two mandates in Bayelsa State and the overwhelming majority of people of our state know who has it. Sylva can only lay claim to a phantom, non-existent mandate.”

 

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Ndume Hails Zulum For Resettlement Of IDPs In Borno

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Senator representing, Southern Borno and immediate past Majority Whip of the Senate , has hailed Borno State Government for its efforts in the ongoing Reconstruction Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RRR) project which led to the resettlement of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) back to their ancestral homes in 10 communities of Gwoza Local Government Area.
For over a decade, insurgency in the State and its environs led to exodus of the people of Gwoza including those in the Mandara Mountains from their homes. Gwoza was declared Boko Haram caliphate, until troops recaptured and liberated the town few years ago.
Senator Ndume noted that since the return of peace in the areas, Governor Babagana Zulum has not only resettled displaced people, but has also embarked on monthly distribution of food and non-food items as palliatives to the people.,
According to the Senator, resettled communities include Pulka, Limankara, Warabe, Ngoshe, Kirawa, Izge and Bitta. Others are Hambagtha, Modube and Yamtake villages, even as he said, the people of Ashgashiya, Wala and other communities would return to their ancestral homes soon.
His words “I want to specifically appreciate Borno state government under the leadership of Governor Babagana Zulum who injected huge resources that led to the resettlement of thousands of IDOs back to 10 liberated communities of Gwoza.
“These include not only Gwoza, but Pulka, Limankara, Warabe, Ngoshe, Kirawa, Izge and Bitta. Others are Hambagtha, Modube and Yamtake villages. I am happy to inform you that very soon, the people of Ashgashiya, Wala and other communities would return to their ancestral homes by Allah’s grace.”

Nneka Amaechi -Nnadi

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Edo Guber: If APC Does Not Allow Free, Fair Poll, It’ll Trigger Crisis – Obaseki

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The Edo State government has condemned attempts by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state to negatively spin comments made by Governor Godwin Obaseki, where he warned that if the APC does not allow for a free and fair election in the state, it will be a recipe for crisis in Nigeria.
In a statement, the Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, who clarified the view expressed by the governor during a recent political meeting in the state, accused the opposition party of trying to exploit the instrument of violence to influence the outcome of the September 21 governorship election in the state.
Mr Nehikhare said the governor spoke at a stakeholders meeting, on Sunday, July 21, 2024, in Benin City, the Edo State capital, and warned that “if a free and fair election is not allowed to hold sway in Edo State on September 21, 2024, it will trigger a major cri­sis in Nigeria.”
The commissioner said: “The attention of the Edo State govern­ment has been drawn to the negative spin that the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is fruitlessly attempting to put to the comments made by His Excellency, Governor Godwin Obaseki, at a stakeholders meeting, on Sunday, July 21, 2024, in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
“For the records, we want to restate the comments of the governor on that occasion which is that: “If a free and fair election is not allowed to hold sway in Edo State on September 21, 2024, it will trigger a major crisis in Nigeria.
“Recall that on Thursday, July 18, 2024, ahead of the rally to inaugurate the APC National Campaign Council in Benin City, which was held on Saturday, July 20, 2024, the party assembled a large number of people believed to be thugs, most of them bearing firearms around the precincts of the Benin airport, on Airport Road, Benin City, to cause mayhem in the state, resulting in the unfortunate death of a police officer, Inspector Akor Onuh, attached to MOPOL 45 Abuja and the wanton destruction of properties and injuries to several citizens who were going about their lawful businesses.”
He added, “The mob then moved around the city, attacking other institutions, including the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) secretariat, inflicting violence and terror on the lawyers in their secretariat, with one of the lawyers, Mr. Israel Idahosa, being severely injured and his property destroyed.
“They also intimidated and harassed private citizens who were putting on any material that had the insignia of the ruling Peo­ples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Dr. Asue Ighodalo, within the Benin metropolis.
“As they say, the morning shows the day and the APC has clearly shown their plan for the September 21 governorship election in the state, which is to cause mayhem, make the state ungovernable, and take advantage of the chaos to manipulate the forthcoming governorship election.”
Mr Nehikhare noted, “We howev­er want to advise the APC to, for once, read the mood of the nation and understand that with the current hardship, unattainable cost of living, and pervasive hunger in the country, a slightly irresponsible behaviour by the political class can ignite a crisis that will have a domino effect and cause a conflagration across the nation.
“This note of caution is even more appropriate with the ominous threat of a nationwide protest with the potential to degenerate into a widespread breakdown of law and order.”
He urged residents in the state to go about their activities lawfully, noting, “While we urge all Edo people to go about their lawful businesses without fear, we call on the Nigeria police to do their job and apprehend the hoodlums, most of whom have been positively identified and captured in videos, carrying firearms at the location of the crisis.

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