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Court restrains EFCC from arresting a SAN over his professional services

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The Federal High Court, Abuja, last week granted an order against the EFCC for the “maintenance of status quo ante bellum as at 7th of February, 2022, in favour of the Applicant” (Prof Joseph Nwabueze Mbadugha, SAN), over matters “which he knows nothing about, or facts to the like effect, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive originating motion.”

Prof Mbadugha, SAN, had approached the court presided over by Hon Justice Inyang Ekwo, through his Counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, to restrain the EFCC from inviting, arresting, or detaining and keeping in custody, the Applicant over some frivolous allegations made against him concerning a case he handled and won for his client, Innoson Nigeria Ltd, from the High Court, through the Court of Appeal, and now at the Supreme Court. The appeal at the Supreme Court was at the instance of some Appellants, including Guaranty Trust Bank PLC (GTB), which had lost the in both lower courts.

Chief Ozekhome, SAN, argued before Justice Ekwo, that the EFCC does not have the legal competence to compel Prof Mbadugha to disclose the source of information regarding an affidavit filed during the proceedings in 2011, as that is unconstitutional, illegal, wrongful, overreaching and is capable of prejudicing the appeal at the Supreme Court.

He also argued that it was wrong for the EFCC, on the instigation of Guarantee Trust Bank PLC, and others, to serially invite Mbadugha, first on the 1st, then 7th and again on 21st February, 2022, for the purpose of forcing him to disclose the source of his information in an affidavit filed and argued in court in the course of his strictly professional duties.

Ozekhome complained that his client had earlier been detained between 11am and 6pm on the 1st of February, 2022, and told to report again on the 7th, and later, 21st of February, 2022.

By subjecting Prof Mbadugha to mental torture, with attempts at further arrest and detention, including unsolicited calls by the EFCC and its operatives, without any attempt at arraigning the Applicant before a court of law, Ozekhome argued that the actions are in clear breach of the Applicant’s fundamental human rights enshrined in section 35(1) of the 1999 Constitution and Articles 5 and 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Justice Ekwo therefore granted the order for maintenance of status quo ante bellum from 7th of February, 2022.

When the case came up on 25th February, 2022, the EFCC was represented by Attah Ochibi, while Martins Abang appeared for GTB. Maliki Sylvanus and Queen Umana held Chief Ozekhome’s brief the Applicant.

The Respondents agreed that the processes had been served on them, but requested for five days each to respond to same.

While granting the Respondent’s request, Justice Ekwo warned that none of the parties before the court must take any further steps in the matter, including inviting or re-arresting the Applicant. The court also granted accelerated hearing and subsequently adjourned the matter to 29th March, 2022, for hearing.

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Oyowoli Vs Delta Governor: Court fixes March 27th to hear preliminary objection

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High Court 2 in Asaba, Delta State, Presided over by Justice G. Brikinns Okolosi, has slated March 27, 2024, to rule on preliminary objection for extension of time, raised by Counsels to two defendants in the case instituted by Prince Oyowoli Emiko against Prince Utienyioritsetsola Emiko, Delta State Governor, Hon Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori and 23 others.

The Court took the position at its proceedings on Monday.

Prince Oyowoli Emiko, in a suit
had dragged Prince Utienyioritsetsola Emiko, Pa Akoma Dudun (The Olare-Ebi of Ginuwa 1 Ruling House, Warri Kingdom) Chief Ayirimi Emami (the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom/member of the Olu Advisory Council) Prince Emmanuel Okotie-Eboh (The Olori-Ebi of Ginuwa 1 Ruling House, Warri Kingdom) The Governor of Delta State, The Attorney General of Delta State and Chief Johnson Atseleghe (the Iyatsere of Warri/member of the Olu Advisory Council) and 18 others to the court in Asaba as defendants
He is praying the court to declare him as the rightful heir to the throne of Warri Kingdom, following the transition of the then Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli.
The stool had since been occupied by His Majesty, Ogiame Atuwatse III.
At the Court proceedings, Counsels to some of the defendants in the suit had challenged the jurisdiction of court to entertain the matter and sought for preliminary objection for extension of time.
Findings revealed that at the last
adjourned date, the court made an order, setting down the preliminary objection for hearing and subsequently gave defense Counsels seeking the preliminary objection, two weeks to file in the objection.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, Chief Emmanuel Uti, who is counsel to Chief Ayirimi Emami, opposed the application brought by Barrister Orhiaki and Chief Robinson Ariyo, on the ground that a new law that is called Administration of Civil Justice Law of Delta State 2022.
The law provides that if a preliminary objection is to be filed, it should be done within 30 days upon being served with the statement of claim.

Chief Robinson Ariyo argued that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter, which according to him has been discontinued by the claimant.

Chief Emmanuel Uti, however argued that since the preliminary objection wasn’t filed, within the aforesaid time, the court can as well hear the matter on merit and decide at the end of the day, that both the preliminary objection and the substantive matter should be heard on merit.

Speaking to newsmen shortly after the court proceedings, Chief Emami, the erstwhile Prime Minister of the Warri Kingdom likened his role in the case to that of an electrical umpire like the INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) which according to him, is to supervise the electoral process for the emergence and crowning of Olu of Warri Kingdom.

When asked about the presence of some persons who wore branded T-shirts to the court premises, Chief Emami, explained that “their action was occasioned by happenings in Warri kingdom, especially because I stand for truth and fairness as it relates to the succession controversy in Warri Kingdom.”
Spokesperson of the Ologbotsere Descendants Worldwide, Mr. Alex Eyengho and other supporters of Chief Emami, were in the court premises to show solidarity .

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Tension in 7 States as Supreme Court delivers judgements on Friday

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Apprehension has gripped Seven States, as the Nigerian Apex Court has hinted it will deliver judgements in seven governorship appeals on Friday, January 12, 2024, beginning from 9am.

The states includes Lagos, Kano, Zamfara, Plateau, Ebonyi, Bauchi and Cross River.

Sanwo-Olu VS GRV, Jandor
The Appeal Court in Lagos in November affirmed the judgment of the tribunal, confirming the return of Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Obafemi Hamzat as the Governor and Deputy Governor of Lagos state.

The justices of the court of appeal in a unanimous decision dismissed the appeal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) for lack of merit.

In March, INEC declared Sanwo-Olu as the winner of the Lagos governorship election.

Sanwo-Olu polled 762,134 votes to defeat his close challenger, LP’s Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour also known as GRV, who scored 312,329 votes. PDP’s Abdulazeez Adediran popular as Jandor came a distant third with 62,449 votes.

Not satisfied, the LP and PDP candidates approached the Lagos State Election Petitions Tribunal to nullify Sanwo-Olu’s victory.

In its ruling on September 25, the tribunal dismissed Adediran and Rhodes-Vivour’s suit seeking to nullify the victory of Sanwo-Olu at the poll.

Displeased with the verdict, the duo approached the appellate court but the higher court dismissed their suits. Both men subsequently approached the apex court which is expected to deliver a judgement on Friday.

Nwifuru VS Odii
The Supreme Court had on Tuesday reserved judgement in the Ebonyi State governorship election appeal.

Last November, the Court of Appeal in Lagos had affirmed the election of APC’s Fran­cis Nwifuru as the duly elected governor of Ebonyi State in the March 18 governorship election.

The three-member panel presided over by Justice Jummai Sankey, in its unanimous decision, dismissed the appeal filed by PDP’s Chukwuma Odii and upheld the earlier verdict of the tribunal but the PDP candidate approached the apex court to seek redress

Yusuf VS Gawuna
Late December, the apex court reserved judgement in the appeal filed by the Kano State Governor, Abba Yusuf, challenging the verdict of the Court of Appeal and the State Election Petitions Tribunal, which removed him from office.

The five-member panel led by Justice John Okoro reserved the judgement after the parties adopted their brief of arguments.

In September, the tribunal nullified the victory of Yusuf, the candidate of the New Nigeria’s Peoples Party (NNPP) in the March 18 governorship election.

The tribunal also affirmed Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the duly elected governor of Kano.

On November 13, the Court of Appeal upheld the verdict of the tribunal. In its ruling, the Appeal Court agreed with the judgement of the tribunal, ruling that the fielding of Abba Yusuf was in breach of the Electoral Law as he was not qualified to contest that election. But the governor proceeded to the Supreme Court to seek redress.

Lawal VS Matawalle
Last November, the Appeal Court nullified the election of Zamfara State Governor Dauda Lawal.

Lawal, of the main opposition PDP, was declared the winner of the March 18 governorship election. In a shocking victory that dislodged then-incumbent Bello Matawalle of the All Progressives Congress (APC), he polled a total of 377,726 votes. Matawalle scored 311,976 votes.

The PDP candidate, now serving as the Minister of State for Defence, had accused INEC of subverting his victory at the poll by failing to include the results of some ward areas.

In an earlier ruling on September 18, the Zamfara Election Petitions Tribunal held that the petition was devoid of merit. While upholding Lawal’s victory, the tribunal awarded the N500,000 fine against the petitioners.

An unsatisfied Matawalle, as observers expected, took the matter to the Court of Appeal in Abuja, to challenge the decision of the lower court.

Respite came for Matawalle on Thursday as the three-member panel led by Justice Oyebisi Folayemi, nullified the return of Governor Lawal as the winner of the governorship poll.

Justice Sybil Nwaka ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in three local government areas of the state, where elections had not been held previously or where results from various polling units were not counted.

But the governor proceeded to the apex court to seek redress.

Mohammed VS Abubakar
Also in November, the appellate court affirmed the victory of Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State in the March 18 governorship election.

The appeal was filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Sadique Abubakar, following the tribunal judgment upholding Mohammed’s victory.

The panel of three justices were unanimous, awarding no cost as the court ruled that each party to the matter should bear their costs.

The presiding judge, Justice Chidi Nwaoma Uwa, read the judgment in the order of the appellant’s plea before the appeal court.

On plea number one, the appellant pleaded that the election be nullified because the forms and booklets used in the election were not properly filled. The court ruled that the appellant failed to prove this allegation with the needed evidence.
Mutfwang VS Goshwe
On January 9, 2024, the Supreme Court reserved judgement in the appeal filed by the Governor of Plateau State, Caleb Mutfwang, seeking to overturn the verdict of the Court of Appeal which nullified his election.

A five-member panel of justices led by Justice John Okoro reserved judgement after hearing arguments from parties for and against the appeal.

The governor through his counsel, Kanu Agabi, prayed the court to uphold the judgement of the Tribunal and set aside the judgment of the appellate court because the respondents have no right to question how a party elects its state executives.

He said the respondents (Nentawe Goshwe and the All Progressives Congress) can not plead that the governor did not score the number of lawful votes ascribed to him at the same time say the election was invalid.

In November, the Appeal Court in Abuja sacked Mutfwang and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to Goshwe but the governor proceeded to the apex court to seek redress.

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Deputy Speaker confirms that efforts are ongoing to release Nnamdi Kanu

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Benjamin Kalu
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****Demands an end to sit-at-home

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has raised the hope for possible release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu from detention.

This is comjng against the backdrop that the Supreme Court recently ordered the retrial of the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) who has been in detention for a long while now.

Hence his incarceration has continued to generate a lot of agitatons including the Sit-at-Home observed on Mondays in the south east region.
A statement by his Chief Press secretary, Levinus Nwabughiogu, quoted the speaker while speaking virtually on the “South East political Roundtable”, a current affairs radio programme on FLO FM in Umuahia on Tuesday, to have confirmed that talks were ongoing to free Kanu.

He however advised the youths of the south east to ensure that the observance of sit-at-home must stop, emphasizing that it was scarying many investors who want to contribute to the development of the region.

Kalu who also spoke on the gains of the recently unveiled Peace In South East Project (PISE-P) in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State asked those carrying arms to lay down their weapons and join in the non kinetic approach being canvassed by the initiative to end the security challenges and other agitations of the people.

Kalu called for support to enable the government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to deliver optimally, saying that the President is interested in the development of the south east.

He said: “We can’t put all our programs and plans on social media. He’s my brother. Is he in the mix of what we are trying to do? Yes! It’s one of our agendas to ensure he’s released. Who wants their brother to be in jail? 

“We are working underground. There’s a detailed strategy. It’s not by violence, you can’t coerce the government through violence. It has never worked and won’t work. Let’s be wiser. The wisdom is in peace. Let’s quench the violence.

“If it’s chaotic, it won’t work.  Let’s cool down. Let the man see that you’ve recognised he didn’t contribute to locking him up and that he has not done anything to the south east. We should support him and his government and not attack him. I’m standing firmly against the voice of violence, preaching peace. That is what I’m here for, this voice of peace will echo through the Villa and he will come out. Mr President was happy with what happened in Bende. That the whole country can gather together and support this project.

“Our strength does not lie in how many guns we carry, on how many people we threaten not to come out on Monday, that is not the display of the strength of an Igbo man. Igbo men are not lazy people who like sitting at home from Saturday to Sunday to Monday and go to work only Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, that is not us; we are hard working, we are rebuilders, we are never down and when we are down, we find a way to stand on our feet and raise our shoulders and rebuild again, that is my call to our people.

“We can bring you in to the rebuilding that we are doing. We can bring you in to the reconciliation. We can bring you in for rehabilitation and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is interested in the Igbos. Look at what he has done by giving us the Chief of Naval Staff which we never got in the last eight years. Did I just mentioned the Naval Chief, what about the minister of works, Senator Dave Umahi, my good friend?

“Mr President gave the minister of works to an Igbo son that proves himself in Ebonyi and he said, come and build what you did in Ebonyi in the entire Nigeria starting from the five states of the South East and the only way we pay the president back is to say there will be no work on Monday?

“Look at what happened for the very first time, 15 billionaires of Igbo extraction gathered in Bende. That is to tell you that they are ready to bring their industry here, they are ready to build factories that will employ you, so why do you scare them away? Government cannot do everything for you. Our brothers who have money want to bring it back home. Some of them want to do it but you are scaring them away. How long are we going to sell fear to our people?

“This is a new year. This is a new era. This is a new dawn and I urge you come and join hands with us. We will make you the leaders of this project. Don’t lead those carrying guns, come and lead those who will call the peace marshals, let’s give you responsibility, let’s give you a task.

“And I call on all of you who are support of the sit at home on Monday, it is time to stop. It is time to stop the sit at home on Mondays.

“If your agitation is about the release of Nnamdi Kanu;  we love our Igbo land and we love our brother and he is my brother. That he is locked up does not make him less of my brother and that you are agitating does not make you less of my brother. But I am saying that there is a better way to get it done. There are many ways to kill a rat. Let us look for the other ways that we can kill this rat without destroying our home.

“Let us come together and unite and I can assure you that once we unite, there is nothing we ask this government that we cannot get including the one you are asking for our brother, it is also achievable.”

Kalu also appreciated the governors of the 5 eastern states for the support they are giving to PISE-P.

The deputy speaker said that there is nothing political about the project, stressing that it was all about community service.

“The Governors of the various states of the south east, you can’t do without them. I can assure you they all want peace for the south east. None of them is against this. They are in full support.

“You don’t leave the job only for the governors. Let them play from the top, we play from the bottom, then we meet halfway. Then, solve our problems.

“The peace in southeast project is not politics, it’s about community project anchored on peace. That’s why members of the PISE-P are from different political parties.

“I can assure you, through this project the southeast will not remain the same. All the boys who are carrying guns, there’s hope for them, because We will get them gainfully employed, they won’t wasted”.

Kalu also stated that there is no clash of interest between PISE-P and Ohaneze Ndi Igbo.

According to him, the idea of the project was first communicated to the President-General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural body, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, adding that he is in full support of the project.

“Which clash of interest? He’s in full support of this project. He’s passionate about the peace and unity of Igbo land. We are partnering with him”, Kalu said.

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