The Federal High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, yesterday dismissed the suit filed by former Governor Segun Oni challenging the eligibility of Governor Kayode Fayemi to contest the July 14 governorship election.
Delivering judgment, Justice Uche Agomoh held that Oni’s originating summons challenging Fayemi’s eligibility to stand as the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate is “completely lacking in merit”.
Defendants in the suit are Fayemi (first), APC (second) and Independent National Electoral Commission (third).
The suit started at the Federal High Court, Abuja, but was later referred to the Ado-Ekiti Division of the court.
The court held that Fayemi was eligible to contest, though he was a sitting Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, because he was not in the category of public officers envisaged by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the APC Election Guidelines to resign from office before contesting.
The court further ruled that Fayemi was qualified to run, having been validly nominated as the flag bearer by his party, the APC, for the primary conducted on May 12.
Fayemi won the primary with 941 votes to defeat Oni, who garnered 481 votes and 32 other candidates.
Filing the suit on June 21, Oni averred that Fayemi was not qualified to contest for the governorship poll, claiming that he did not resign as Minister of Mines and Steel Development 30 days before the APC primary.
He also said Fayemi was not eligible by virtue of his indictment by the Justice Silas Oyewole-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry empanelled by former Governor Ayodele Fayose.
Justice Agomoh held that Section 318 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which defines who is a public officer, was not applicable to Fayemi as a serving minister.
The judge held that the provision did not refer to the Office of the Minister of the Federal Republic, adding that Oni also failed to provide the court with evidence that Fayemi did not resign from office, as he claimed in his (Oni’s) originating summons.
She held that Fayemi was not in the category of officers of the party (APC) who must resign before contesting for an elective public officer, as Oni claimed.
The judge refused to grant Oni’s prayer that Fayemi is declared ineligible to run for governor on the basis of his purported indictment by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Fayose administration.
The judge held that her court did not have the legal right to sit on an appeal of a matter that had been determined by a court of coordinate jurisdiction, as the case had been dismissed by a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court.
Justice Agomoh said: “There must be evidence that he was served and called upon to defend himself. Looking at all pieces of evidence before me filed by parties therein, I am not satisfied that this condition was met in this case.”
Lagos state to arraign killer cop
The Lagos State Government on Monday took over the prosecution of dismissed Inspector Olalekan Ogunyemi, who is accused of killing a football enthusiast, Mr. Kolade Johnson on March 31. Ogunyemi will now be tried at the high court following the recommendation of Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
He has been in prison since April 5 following his remand by an Ebute-Meta Magistrates’ Court pending the DPP’s advice. The remand order was obtained by the police.
When the case was mentioned on Monday, Magistrate A.O. Salawu said the DPP advised that the case be transferred to the high court.
The DPP, she added, advised that Ogunyemi should be prosecuted in accordance with Section 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
But the DPP absolved the second suspect, Godwin Oji, of complicity in the case and asked that he should be released.
The magistrate adjourned till August 6 for the case to be filed at the high court.
Ogunyemi, of No. 17, Alhaji Ede Street, Igando, was brought before the court on April 6, on a temporary one-count charge of murder.
Prosecuting Inspector Kehinde Olatunde alleged that he committed the offense on March 31, at about 5:10 pm, at Onipetesi Estate, Idi-Mangoro, Lagos.
Olatunde alleged that Ogunyemi, who served in the Anti-Cultism Unit of the Lagos State Police Command, shot Johnson, a 36-year-old father of one, to death, with his AK47 rifle.
Onnoghen: NJC hails Buhari
The National Judicial Council (NJC) has hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for accepting the voluntary retirement of former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen. It gave the commendation at its emergency meeting yesterday, during which members deliberated on the President’s decision in relation to Justice Onnoghen’s exit from the Bench.
President Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had, in a statement on Sunday, said: “President Buhari has accepted the voluntary retirement from service of Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria, effective from May 28, 2019.
“The President thanked Justice Onnoghen for his service to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and wished him the best of retirement life.”
NJC’s spokesman, Soji Oye, said in a statement that members of the judicial body noted that Buhari’s acceptance of Onnoghen’s retirement was in line with its recommendation to the President on April 3.
The statement reads: “The NJC held an Emergency Meeting today (yesterday) to take formal note of the acceptance of the voluntary retirement of Hon. Mr. Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen, GCON, as Chief Justice of Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
“The President’s acceptance of the retirement is in line with the Council’s recommendation to the President on 3rd April 2019.
“Council at the end of its deliberations thanked the President for the acceptance which was in the best interest of Nigeria.”
He claims that Buhari’s acceptance of Onnoghen’s retirement was part of its recommendations creates doubt as to the actual position of the NJC on the issue.
The NJC had, after concluding its investigation of allegations of “financial impropriety and infidelity to the constitution” raised against Onnoghen in a petition by the economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), kept sealed lips on its findings, but announced that it has sent its recommendations to the President.
In their recent response to a suit by the Incorporated Trustees of Malcolm Omirhobo Foundation, challenging Buhari’s appointment of Justice Ibrahim Muhammad as acting CJN, the President and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (OAGF) disclosed that the NJC recommended Onnghen’s compulsory retirement.
They stated that NJC’s recommendation that Onnoghen be compulsorily retired preceded his retirement letter to the President on April 4, 2019.
LPPC queries Malami
The Disciplinary Panel of the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) has summoned the immediate past Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to appear before it on June 14 over a prejudicial statement made against the detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
The notice read in part: “Take notice that the above matter is fixed for hearing by the Disciplinary Committee of the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee of the Office of Registrar Supreme Court of Nigeria Abuja on June 14, 2019, at 11a.m. in the forenoon.”
Malami is expected to face the panel for investigation in a statement credited to him in the Voice of America (VOA) Hausa Service on July 13, 2018, in which he was quoted to have said that Dasuki would not be released despite all subsisting court orders for his release on bails.
In the audio recording of the interview he granted VOA, Malami had accused Dasuki of being responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 Nigerians during for President Goodluck Jonathan’s era.
In the interview, Malami had said: “Remember, we are talking about a person who was instrumental to the deaths of over 100,000 people. Are you saying that the rights of one person are more important than that of 100,000 who lost their lives?”
A notice of hearing in the petition filed by Dasuki’s family against former AGF indicated that Malami would be interrogated by the committee of the Legal Practitioners at the Office of the Chief Registrar, Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja.
The Dasuki family had petitioned the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) praying for an investigation and sanction of the minister over his unprofessional conducts and utter disregard to the rule of law likely to cause anarchy in the country through his promotion of disobedience to the lawful order of court by the federal government.
In the petition dated July 23, 2008, and received by the NBA the same day, the family wanted Malami to be investigated in the resolve of the federal government not to comply with any order of court admitting the former NSA to bail and has been unjustly detained for almost four years.
Education: Okorocha loses in court
An Imo State High Court has ruled against the Governor of the State, Rochas Okorocha on the demolition of staff quarters of Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri.
The court presided over by Justice K. A. Ojiako, described the forceful entry, demolition of the staff quarters and rendering of the institution’s pensioners homeless, as “illegal, unconscionable and portrayed the defendants as people that have no respect for the rule of law.”
The judgement lasted more than two hours on Monday.
Justice Ojiako delivered the judgement in a suit HOW/406/2016, instituted by Dr. A. M. Iwuoha and others, against Imo State Governor, the state Attorney General, the Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Urban Planning and others.
The suit was filed by AIFCE retirees challenging to contest, among other things, their forceful ejection from their quarters and destruction of their property, as well as prayed for consequential damages to assuage their losses.
The judge held that the actions of the defendants “clearly negates beliefs and contradicts the rule of law mantra in the often sung Imo Anthem.”
The judge added that what was more intriguing was that the property which the defendants destroyed, do not belong to them.
Ojiako said, “In view of this reprehensible, reckless, atrocious and cruel conduct of the defendants, which also amounts to condemnable self-help, I will award exemplary damages against them.”
Apart from awarding the plaintiffs the sum of N400 million as consequential damages, Justice Ojiako also ordered that the plaintiffs should take possession of all structures built in the area.
“The defendants shall jointly and severally pay the plaintiffs the sum of N400 million only as exemplary damages for the forceful eviction of the plaintiffs and demolition of their properties, subject matter of this suit”, Ojiako said.
The Court restored the possession of the plaintiffs to the property erected in their premises.
He also, “restrained the defendants, their servants, preview, agents, officers from claiming, forcibly ejecting or further ejecting the plaintiffs from the said property, or interfering or further interfering with the plaintiff’s possession and/or occupation of the said property”.