Supreme Court sacks Niger Senator

Supreme court sacks Umaru, declares Musa senator for Niger East

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie,

The Supreme Court, yesterday, declared Alhaji Mohammed Sani Musa winner of the Niger East Senatorial election. The apex court also set aside the April 8 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which declared the ex-chairman of Senate Committee on Justice, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru, the valid candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and winner of the election.
In a unanimous judgment, the five-man panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, upheld arguments by Musa’s legal team, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), to the effect that Musa, the actual candidate for the election, won the APC primary election.

The apex court upheld the appeal filed by Musa and affirmed the February 7 judgment by Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which declared Musa the validly nominated candidate of the APC for the election.

Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, in the lead judgment, faulted the Court of Appeal’s finding that the case was statute barred. Justice Ariwoola upheld Olanipekun’s argument that the suit was filed at the trial court within time and that the Court of Appeal was in error to have held that the cause of action was the outcome of the primary election, saying the course of action, as argued by the appellant, was the submission of Umaru’s name to INEC, instead of Musa, who won the primary.

Olanipekun, who led Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Ahmed Raji (SAN), for the appellant, had, while arguing the appeal on May 17, prayed the court to uphold the appeal and restore the judgment of the Federal High Court in favour of the appellant, arguing that the Court of Appeal was in error when it held that the appellant was out of time and that the cause of action arose from the day the primary was held.

Olanipekun said: “The appellant could not have complained about the primary election that he won. The cause of action accrued when the first respondent’s name (Umaru) was sent to INEC as the candidate of APC. The cause of action arose when the APC sent the name of the first respondent (Umaru) to INEC as its candidate, instead of the appellant who won the primary.

“The primary election was conducted on October 2, 2018, the 14 days could not have started counting, because the name of the first respondent has not been sent to INEC. “If the 14 days is calculated from their position that the cause of action arose from October 2, 2018 when the primary was held, the cause of action would not have arisen as at October 16, 2018. The cause of action only arose on October 18, when the first respondent’s name was sent to INEC and we are within time when we filed our suit at the trial court on October 26, 2018.”

Olanipekun noted that the Court of Appeal only set aside the judgment, but failed to upturn any of the findings of the trial court in the judgment of February 7. Both Babatunde Ogala, who represented the APC, and Taminu Inuwa (SAN), who represented INEC, urged the court to allow the appeal. After the February 7 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Umaru approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which reversed the trial court judgment and declared him winner. Aggrieved by the decision, Musa appealed to the Supreme Court, an appeal that was upheld yesterday.

Source: The Guardian

Closure of AIT, others: Court orders maintenance of status quo

BREAKING: Closure of AIT, others: Court orders maintenance of status quo
*Says NBC,others deserve to be heard
by Eric Ikhile, Abuja   

A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted an order ex-parte for the maintenance of status quo, pending the determination of a motion filed by DAAR Communications Plc in its suit challenging the suspension of its operating licence by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling a moment ago, rejected two prayers by DAAR, for restraining orders against the respondents – NBC, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture (FMIC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

DAAR Communications had, in the reliefs turned down by the court, sought to restrain the respondents from interfering with its operations pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunctions.

Instead, Justice Ekwo granted the alternative relief: “an order for the maintenance of status quo ante bellum as at 30th of May, 2019, pending the hearing and final determination of the motion on notice filed along with this application.”

Justice Ekwo said the applicant, DAAR would be penalised should it turn out, at the end of the day, that the order ought not to have been made.

The judge noted that, by the issues raised in its application by DAAR Communications, the respondents deserved to be heard.

He ordered the respondents – NBC, FMIC, AGF – “to appear in court on the next date to show cause why the prayers in the applicant’s motion should not be granted.”

Justice Ekwo adjourned further proceedings till June 13, 2019.

Credit: The Nation

Who Will Save the Judiciary?

Who Will Save the Judiciary From PDP’s Assault?

By Shuaib Shuaib

It happens in every election cycle: Somewhere in Nigeria, a candidate runs for an elective office despite being closely related to a prominent public servant or even anyone likely to be on election duty. At times, they are two very talented individuals from different generations who won’t let family ties get in the way of their future. There was an instance like this leading to an election.

In April 2011, Mohammed Sani Idris was elected member of the House of Representatives from Lavun/Edati Federal Constituency under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Politics has come naturally to him and was always going to be his calling. When he kicked off his campaign for the seat, his late father, Idris Legbo Kutigi, was still Chief Justice of Nigeria. But that wasn’t an issue back then and nobody made it one.

Today, the former lawmaker is a top official of the PDP and impressively still has siblings serving at the Court of Appeal, High Courts and Magistrate Courts in different parts of the country.

Ironically, his party – the PDP – is looking to make families like Idris’ have to choose between the aspirations of one member over the career of another. In Nigeria that could spell trouble for millions of people who have relatives in the army, police, judiciary or civil service and choose to go into politics.

Character assassination has been the hallmark of the PDP’s presidential campaign in the just-concluded elections. Along the way, there have been dozens, maybe more, that have fallen victim to the party’s smear campaign simply for being in a position to preside over electoral matters. The chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, has been on the receiving end of PDP attacks. But it is probably Amina Zakari, a commissioner in INEC, who has suffered most from the party’s constant aggression aimed at damaging her reputation.

All throughout the electoral process, the opposition party has tried to pick and choose the officials who are acceptable to it and those who are not. Others too have faced the wrath of the party, including the service chiefs, former IGP Ibrahim Idris, police commissioners, resident electoral commissioners of INEC and joining that list now are officers of the courts. In its quest to reclaim the presidency, the PDP seems ready to bring down the whole house. Virtually everyone it has attacked is someone in service of the nation and has a track record going back decades. But they have simply been made casualties of a political contest.

The name of Justice Bunmi Oyewole has been tarnished. The PDP has gone to the extreme to paint the picture that he made it to the Appeal Court not on merit but rather because of ties to former governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu. For the opposition party, just the fact the Oyewole, a native of Osun, served as a High Court Judge in Lagos is enough to make him indebted to Tinubu thus disqualifies him from any position of responsibility. And for millions of Nigerians who have no means of understanding the workings of the National Judicial Council and how judges are elevated, that idea that Oyewole didn’t get there on his own and that Tinubu can place whoever he wants in any court has forever been implanted into their minds.

Never mind that a lot of the actions attributed to Tinubu happened when the PDP was in power. The party wrongly accused Justice Oyewole of being on the appeal panel that was set up to determine the petition on the governorship election campaign in Osun. And when it was discovered that he wasn’t, PDP expressed no remorse. Yet, his reputation has suffered some damage and all his years of service have been rubbished by the party.

The judge is just one more victims.

Now, the target of the PDP and its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, is the President of the Court of Appeal, Zainab Bulkachuwa. According to Ologbodiyan, to have a husband elected to the Senate on the platform of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) is enough to disqualify the justice from heading the presidential election panel. But it’s important to understand if the PDP has always adhered to this standard: Other than ex-governor Murtala Nyako and Justice Binta Nyako, maybe the most popular couple with one leg in politics and the other in the judiciary is Dr. Peter and Justice Mary Odili. They have faced their fair share of political pressure as their politics overlaps with Justice Mary Odili’s duties as a justice of the Supreme Court.

The pressure was particularly intense when the apex court had to rule on the outcome of the governorship election in Rivers where Dr Odili, a two-term governor of the state, was linked to Nyesom Wike’s legal strategy in defending his victory at the 2015 elections. But the pressure wasn’t coming from PDP. If anything at all, the party turned a blind eye to what was a potential conflict of interest. Yet, Mary Odili still recused herself from the case on the Rivers governorship election. It was however, the only case she felt a need to so.

Zainab Bulkachuwa didn’t become President of the Court of Appeal under normal circumstances. She was in reality the steady hand that the then ruling PDP had to rely on after a tumultuous period. After going to war with Ayo Salami, who was the Appeal Court President, over his alleged romance with the opposition party, the PDP found itself in a legal bind. Salami was suspended from office and replaced with the late Justice Dalhatu Adamu who served in acting capacity for only 15 months before being forced to retire due to constitutional limitations.

It was to Justice Bulkachuwa that the NJC and Goodluck Jonathan-led PDP government turned to. Even before then, Justice Bulkachuwa had ruled in several cases that benefited the PDP, including cases challenging PDP governors and even a senate president. So there has never been an issue of bias or conflict of interest against her. And in the entire period she was made head of the Court of Appeal, essentially bringing closure to a feud that engulfed heads of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, she was married to Adamu Bulkachuwa who was at the same time, a strong member of opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari’s APC. Not once did the PDP complain about her marriage to Bulkachuwa or her husband’s membership of the APC. After two decade in the Appeal Court, it has suddenly become an issue.

In fact, ever since the couple got married, Adamu Bulkachuwa had been a politician after retiring from diplomatic service several years earlier. While she was a judicial officer in Bauchi, he ran and lost a race to be governor in 1993. And the Justice was already in the Appeal Court when he was elected to serve in the House of Representatives in 1999. So, should he as a politician have given up his aspirations for his wife’s career? Or was it Justice Bulkachuwa that should give up her professional career?

As senator-elect, Adamu Bulkachuwa has a pre-election case against him in court. The APC senatorial ticket in Bauchi that was handed to him by the party is being challenged by Usman Tuggar. Here, there is an undeniable conflict of interest and the justice will have to disqualify herself from the case. But it is a case the PDP doesn’t care about. What the party wants is to drag her name in the mud, make her collateral damage out of desperation.

The PDP tendency to turn its ire towards anyone remotely resembling a stumbling block to its goals has gotten the attention of the presidency. Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, has admonished the PDP attacks on the Appeal Court President. It was Shehu that even labeled the attacks on her as character assassination suggesting the whole exercise was aimed at driving a wedge between the executive and judicial arms of government. It is what it appears like. Every judge the party suspects won’t play to their tune, they blackmail and paint black. In doing that, it’s enough just to insinuate that she is under investigation by the SSS even if the claim is false.

The PDP cannot continue to hurt and ruin the lives of good people and excuse their actions in the name of politics. There have to be limits to how far PDP is willing to go in denigrating institutions and individuals for its own interest.

Shuaib, a former editor of Leadership newspaper, writes from Abuja

Osun Governorship: Court of Appeal nullifies tribunal judgment, pronounces Oyetola winner

Osun Governorship: Court of Appeal nullifies tribunal judgment, pronounces Oyetola winner

BREAKING: Court of Appeal nullifies Adeleke’s electoral victory

Halimah Yahaya
The Court of Appeal on Thursday in Abuja nullified the electoral victory of Ademola Adeleke in the Osun State governorship election petition tribunal.

This was after the appeal filed by the governor of Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola, challenging the declaration of Ademola Adeleke as the duly elected governor by the state election petition tribunal.

The appellate court also set aside the judgement of the tribunal of March 22, which declared Mr Adeleke winner of the election.

A five-member panel of the appeal court led by Jummai Sankey delivered the judgement with three members of the panel agreeing with the lead judgement.

A panel member, Justice Mbaba, is currently giving a dissenting judgement.

Mr Adeleke contested the governorship election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The Independent National Electoral Commission declared Mr Oyetola winner after a supplementary poll but the tribunal said Mr Oyetola won the election at the first ballot.

Specifically, he faulted the judgment as unknown to the law because Justice Peter Obiorah who prepared and read the lead judgement did not participate fully during the hearing of the petition.

Mr Oyetola whose appeal was first heard by the court of appeal drew the attention of the court to the February 6 proceedings in which Mr Obiorah was absent at the tribunal and did not sign the proceeding of that day.

The appellant contended that what Mr Obiorah did amounted to judicial hear-say because the proceedings of February 6 when he was not in court was copiously copied in his lead judgement.

Insisting that judicial hear-say has no place in law, Mr Oyetola asked the appeal court to quash the judgement, allow the appeal and uphold the governorship election.

On his part, the counsel to APC, Akin Olujinmi, also faulted the judgment of the tribunal led by Ibrahim Sirajo, on the ground that the petition was based on the rerun election of September 27.

Credit: Premium Times

Buhari won’t accept Onnoghen’s resignation –Presidency

Buhari won’t accept Onnoghen’s resignation –Presidency

By Anule Emmanuel and Tunde Oyesina

The Presidency has confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari will not accept the voluntary resignation request from the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen. President Buhari had, on January 25, 2019, suspended the CJN on the orders of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) given on January 23. The CCT, last Thursday, convicted the suspended CJN and ordered for his removal from office, having breached the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) Act. The decision of the CCT came despite an earlier recommendation by the National Judicial Commission (CJN) to President Buhari, for his compulsory retirement from service.

Onnoghen had also reportedly sent his resignation letter to President Buhari barely 24 hours after the NJC concluded investigating him for various allegations of misconduct. A senior aide to the President, who prefers not to be mentioned in print, yesterday, told New Telegraph in an interview that the case of the suspended CJN was a closed matter. He said there is no way Onnoghen would have expected President Buhari to accept his resignation when the issues surrounding his case were already in court. The presidential aide also explained that the NJC, in its recommendation letter to President Buhari for compulsory retirement of the suspended CJN, failed to cite the issue of alleged gross misconduct. He said the NJC’s recommendation was not appropriate with regards to the matter as it affected the suspended CJN. “There is no way the President would have acted on the letter of the NJC which recommended for compulsory retirement of the suspended CJN. They were silent on the issue of gross misconduct.

“But the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is clear on the basis upon which the President can sack a CJN. They were silent on this. If the President acted on it, someone would have said that he acted against the Constitution. Some people would even say that he is looking for a short cut on the matter. “Now, he has been convicted by the CCT. The President will allow the court process to go on since Onnoghen himself has also filed an appeal at the Appeal Court,” the president’s aide noted.

The Federal Government had, in January, on the strength of a petition filed a six-count criminal charge bothering on nondeclaration of five accounts domiciled with Standard Chartered Bank on Onnoghen. About four months later, the Danladi Umar-led threeman panel of tribunal, last Thursday, convicted Onnoghen of the six-count criminal charge and consequently removed him as the CJN. The tribunal equally barred him from holding public office for 10 years for contravening the CCB laws on asset declaration for public officers. In addition, the tribunal also ordered the forfeiture of various sums of monies in naira, euros, pounds and dollars denominations found in his five bank accounts with the Standard Chartered Bank which he was said to have failed to declare.

The forfeited sums are N26.8 million, $137,700 and £13,730. However, not satisfied with the judgement, Onnoghen, who described his conviction as unconstitutional and premeditated, had approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division to challenge same. In his 16 grounds of appeal filed through his counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), Onnoghen prayed the court for an order that the lower tribunal lacks jurisdiction to entertain the case in the first place. He also prayed the court to make an order that the lower tribunal ought to have recused itself from the proceedings before it.

Onnoghen equally prayed the court for an order that the charge has become an academic exercise and should set aside the conviction of the appellant. He also wants the court to set aside the order of forfeiture of assets made by the tribunal. He equally prayed the appellate court to discharge and acquit him. There are about five different appeals filed by Onnoghen pending before the Appeal Court at the moment. Earlier, before the final judgement, the tribunal had refused Onnoghen’s no case submission, application challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the matter and another application praying the chairman of the tribunal to recuse himself of the matter on the allegation of bias.

Credit: New Telegraph

Buhari extends tenure of acting CJN Tanko Muhammad

Buhari extends tenure of acting CJN Tanko Muhammad

By Solomon Fowowe |

President Muhammadu Buhari has extended the tenure of acting Chief Justice of Nigeria Tanko Muhammad by three months.

The National Judicial Council approved the appointment of Justice Muhammad following a recommendation sent by President Buhari.

Muhammad was sworn in as the acting CJN on January 25 by Buhari after the president suspended Justice Walter Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria following the directive of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The first three months of Muhammad’s tenure expires on April 25.

A statement released by the NJC confirmed that it considered and approved the request for the extension of appointment sent by the president.

It also debunked a report that the council would meet to decide on the extension of the acting CJN’s tenure.

“The attention of the National Judicial Council has been drawn to an online newspaper and daily newspaper report stating that the council would meet next week to deliberate on the extension of the Acting Appointment of Honourable Dr. Justice I. T. Muhammad CFR, as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria,” the statement signed by Soji Oye, NJC spokesman, said.

“Contrary to the above, the Council actually met on Thursday 18th April, 2019 and at the 88th Meeting considered and approved the request of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for the extension of the Appointment of Hon. Dr. Justice I. T. Muhammad, CFR, as the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria for another three (3) months and Council has since forwarded its approval to the President.”

Former CJN Onnoghen, on Thursday, was convicted by the CCT on a six-count charge of false declaration of assets and was barred from holding any public office for the next ten years.

Onnoghen has denied the charges and appealed the judgement.

Credit: The Guardian

Assets Declaration: CCT sacks Onnoghen, forfeits his accounts

BREAKING: CCT convicts Onnoghen, sacks him as CJN

Justice Onnoghen

Ade Adesomoju

The Code of Conduct Tribunal has convicted the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen of breach of Code of Conduct for Public Officers.

Reading the lead judgment, the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, ordered the immediate removal of Onnoghen, 68, from office as the CJN.

The Tribunal also stripped him of all offices earlier occupied, such as the Chairman of the National Judicial Council and also the chairmanship of the Federal Judicial Service Commission.

The tribunal also ordered the forfeiture of the five accounts which defendant failed to declare as part of his assets.

The tribunal also ordered the forfeiture of the money in the five accounts which Onnoghen failed to declare to the Federal Government.

Three punishments were imposed on him as the sentence for his offences as charged.

Although Onnoghen had been on suspension since January 25, 2019 and had reportedly resigned on April 4, the tribunal ordered his removal from office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and also as the chairman of both the National Judicial Council and the Federal Judicial Service Commission.

Reading the judgment of the three-man bench, its chairman, Danladi Umar, also ordered the forfeiture of the funds in the five bank accounts which the defendant was said to have failed to declare as part of his assets in breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.

Onnoghen was convicted on the six counts preferred against him.

Specifically, the Federal Government, acting through the Code of Conduct Bureau, had, in the charges filed on January 11, accused Onnoghen in the first count of failure to declare his assets to the bureau between June 2005 and December 14, 2016.

In the rest of the five counts, the defendant was alleged to have falsely declared his assets on December 14, 2016, by allegedly omitting to declare his domiciliary dollar, euro and pound sterling-denominated accounts, as well as his two naira accounts, all maintained with the Standard Chattered Bank (Nig.) Ltd.

Before passing the sentence, the tribunal chairman noted that Onnoghen, who only called one witness, failed to dispute the evidence of the three prosecution witnesses.

He said, “The tribunal, having considered the case of the prosecution and documents tendered without objection, find the exhibits tendered worthy of consideration.

“The evidence of Prosecution Witness 1, Prosecution Witness 2 and Prosecution Witness 3 was not disputed.

“The statement of the defendant made in his handwriting alluding to forgetfulness to declare the five accounts is enough to hold that the defendant clearly contravened the Code of Conduct for Public Officer.”

Convicting the erstwhile CJN, the tribunal chairman said, “Having regard to Section 23(2) of the Code of Conduct Tribunal and Bureau Act, the defendant has clearly contravened the Code of Conduct for Public Officers and he is here by convicted.”

Credit: The Punch

Onnoghen knows fate Thursday as CCT fixes date for judgment

CCT fixes Thursday for judgement in Onnoghen’s trial

by Dyepkazah Shibayan

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has fixed Thursday for judgement in the case against Walter Onnoghen, suspended chief justice of Nigeria (CJN).

Umar Danladi, CCT chairman, gave the ruling on Monday after the prosecution and defence counsels adopted their written addresses.

Onnoghen is standing trial for six-count charge bordering on false asset declaration.

Umar Danladi, CCT chairman, gave the ruling on Monday after the prosecution and defence adopted their written addresses.

Onnoghen is standing trial for six-count charge bordering on false assets declaration.

Earlier, in his address to the tribunal, Okon Efut, counsel to Onnoghen, said the six counts levelled against his client were contradictory and “mutually exclusive.”

“The first is on failure to declare assets. Count two to six complain of false declaration. It [first count] presupposes the declaration, so false asset declaration cannot arise,” Efut said.

“The counts are contradictory in terms and mutually exclusive. They can’t go together. We urge your lordship to dismiss all six counts.”

On his part, Aliyu Umar, counsel to the federal government, argued that the declaration is false since the embattled justice admitted that he made an omission in his assets forms.

“It is his actions and omission that your lordship will consider if he is guilty of the offence,” he said.

“We urge the tribunal to hold that the prosecution has proved it’s case beyond reasonable doubt.”

After listening to submissions of counsels, the CCT chairman fixed Thursday for judgement on the substantive matter.

Umar also said he would rule on applications that he should recuse himself from the matter and whether the tribunal has jurisdiction to entertain the case.

Credit: TheCable

Ekiti: Fayemi wins as tribunal throws out PDP’s petition

Ekiti tribunal upholds Fayemi’s election

Governor Kayode Fayemi

Says PDP, Olusola fails to prove allegation of irregularity
by Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

The Ekiti State governorship election tribunal sitting in Abuja has upheld the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate in the last governorship election in the state, Kayode Fayemi.

The Justice Suleiman Belgore led tribunal, in a judgment that lasted for about five hours on Monday, dismissed the petition by the PDP and its candidate, Kolapo Olusola on the grounds that the failed to prove their case.

Justice Belgore, who read the judgment, found that the evidence led by the petitioners was insufficient to prove their claim the election was held in substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

Credit: The Nation