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JUDICIARY

Presidential Election: Group Kicks Against Inclusion of Nguta, Odili on Supreme Court Panel

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By Gabriel Atumeyi

As the Presidential election petition tribunal moves to the supreme court, a civil society organization, Citizens Awareness Against Corruption and Social Vices Initiative has called on Chief Justice of Nigeria, justice Umaru Tanko to resist pressure from any individual and groups in society and put in place a supreme court panel that can discharge justice without fear or favour.

This was made known to newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, in a statement made available by its Executive Director, Comrade Olumuyiwa Onlede, who disclosed that Justices Nguta and Mary Odili were not worthy to be on the supreme court panel that will oversee the case as they have been indicted for various offences in the past.

“Having watched the happenings surrounding the Presidential election petition tribunal (PEPT) that has shifted to the Supreme Court after the verdict of the Presidential Election Tribunal (PEFT), we deem it necessary and important at this critical time in our nation’s history to lend our voice and to also sound a note of warning against evil plot by enemies of our dear country, these elements are putting pressure on the Chief Justice of Nigeria to advance their greedy, selfish and personal interest to the detriment of the integrity of the judiciary.

“We are advising the Justice Mohammed Tanko, the Chief Justice of Nigeria not to succumb to their empty treat and resist any attempt of constituting a supreme court panel that will be seen as partisan and also seen as lacking in integrity.

“Our finger is pointing at Honourable Justice Nguta and Honourable Justice Mary Odili.

“Our complaints about Justice Nguta , having followed the activities that culminated to the raid on his residence by operatives of Department of State Services (DSS) and subsequent charges against him in the High court. We make bold to say that the decision of the court not to hear the case of a serving judge before disciplinary action by national Judicial Council (NJC) is not in any way enough to exonerate Justice Nguta from any wrong doing and money laundering charge against him considering the highly incriminating local and foreign currencies found in his house during the raid which he never denied.

“Having said this, we make bold to say that a man of this magnitude of accusation hanging on his neck is not fit to sit on the panel of a sensitive case like Presidential Election Tribunal Appeal. So we demand his exemption from the panel regardless his ranking among other supreme court judges.

“Our stand on Honourable Justice Mary Odili is simple as we refer your lordship to what happened between justice Zainab Bulkachuwa and the candidate of the People democratic Party in the 2019 general election where the later protested that Justice Bulkachuwa cannot sit on the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) even as the president of the court of appeal base on the fact that she has an interest in one of the parties involved in the litigation i.e. All Progressive Congress (APC), being the wife of a chieftain of the party and a senator, we totally agree with this assertion in its merit.

“Your lordship Honourable Justice Mary Odili is the wife of the former Governor of Rivers State and a chieftain of People Democratic Party (PDP), and by virtue of this relationship , Justice Mary Odili has an interest in one of the parties involved in the litigation just like Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa the president of the court of appeal that honourably disqualified herself from the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) and saved the integrity of the Panel and judiciary at large.

“We hereby declare Justice Mary Odili as unfit to sit on the supreme court panel on the election tribunal appeal.

Onlede urged Justice Mohammed Tanko to toe the line of honour and integrity and resist any pressure from within and outside the country to include Justice Nguta and Justice Mary Odili in the yet to be constituted presidential tribunal appeal panel as including them in the panel will amount to constituting a panel that lack integrity which will result to mockery of the arm of government call judiciary.

“That Nigerians are eagerly waiting with great interest and will use all legitimate and constitutional means within their right to resist every evil plot to undermine the judiciary,”

JUDICIARY

Man, 24, Jailed 6 Months for allegedly Stealing Canned Beer, Drinks

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An Abeokuta Magistrates’ Court on Friday sentenced a 24-year-old man, Wisdom Emmanuel, to six months imprisonment for stealing canned beer and other soft drinks valued N216,000.

The convict, whose address was not provided, was convicted on a one-count charge of stealing.

The Magistrate, Mrs B.

V Williams held that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt, while the defendant was guilty as charged.

She, however, sentenced Emmanuel to six months imprisonment without an option of fine.

Earlier, the Prosecution Counsel, Insp.Lawrence Olu-Balogun, told the court that the defendant committed the offence on May.

18 at about 2:30am at No 2 Olubara Road Housing Estate, Ibara in Abeokuta.

Olu-Balogun said that the convicts broke into the shop of one Mrs Taiwo Olayinka and stole different brands of can drinks, and cartons of Indomie

“Emmanuel entered the shop of the complainant at mid-night and stole one pack of canned Guinness valued N12,000, 12 pieces of Lord’s dry gin valued N18000, 12 pieces of canned Bullet valued N24,000.

“He also stole eight cartons of Indomie valued N64,000, five packs of Maltina valued N20,000, six pieces of Five Alive valued N18,000, six pieces of 33 canned beer valued N5000.

“12 pieces of Goldberg valued N12,000, twelve pieces of Legend Stout valued N12,000, two pieces of Coca-Cola valued N700, and a cash sum of N20,000 all valued N216,000,” he said.

He further explained that the convict was caught by the patrol team of the police, while some of the stolen items were recovered from him.

The prosecutor, however, said the offence contravened sections 383 and 390(9) of the Criminal Code Laws of Ogun 2006. (NAN) 

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JUDICIARY

Emirship tussle: Court rule against Kano govt, others challenging jurisdiction

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The Federal High Court sitting in Kano has on Thursday, ruled against Kano State government and others challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the issue of fundamental human rights instituted by a Kano traditional holder, Aminu Babba Dan’Agundi in connection with the Emirship tussle.

Recall that the applicant, who is the traditional title holder of Sarkin Dawaki Babba of Kano emirate, Aminu Babba Dan’Agundi had approached the court seeking for enforcement of his fundamental human rights claimed to have been violated by government action in the Emirship tussle.

The respondents in the suit are Kano State Government as 1st respondent, Kano State House of Assembly (2nd), Speaker of Kano State House of Assembly (3rd), Attorney General of Kano State (4th), Kano Commissioner of Police (5th), Inspector General of Police, IGP (6th), NSCDC and DSS as 7th and 8th respondents respectively.

Delivering the ruling on jurisdiction on Thursday, the presiding judge, Justice Abdullahi M. Liman, ruled that the court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter concerning the applicant’s fundamental human rights.

Justice Liman gave the ruling relying on Section 42 sub-section 1 and Section 315 of the 1999 constitution as amended.

However, reacting to the ruling, the Counsel to the 2nd and 3rd respondents, Ibrahim Isah Wangida, said he will meet with his client to decide the next line of action whether or not they will take the option to appeal the ruling in the Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, the judge, Justice Liman, adjourned the matter till Friday for hearing of all pending applications saying the case is too sensitive for it to be dragged for too long.

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COVER

LG Autonomy: S/Court Reserves Judgement on FG’s Suit against 36 Govs

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By Lubem Myeorny, Abuja

The Supreme Court yesterday reserved judgment in a suit filed by the Federal Government against the governors of the 36 states of the federation over alleged misconduct in the administration of Local Government Areas.

Justice Garba Lawal, who led a seven-member panel of Justices of the apex court reserved judgment after all parties, adopted their various written addresses earlier.

Lawal said the date for judgment will be communicated later.

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, had on behalf of the federal government sued the 36 states over the manner the governors are running the LGs funds.

In the suit marked SC/CV/343/2024, the AGF prayed the apex court for an order prohibiting state governors from unilateral, arbitrary and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected local government executives.

Fagbemi in the originating summons is praying the Supreme Court for an order permitting the funds standing in the credits of local governments to be directly channelled to them from the Federation Account in line with the provisions of the Constitution as against the alleged unlawful joint accounts created by governors.

He also sought an order of the apex court stopping governors from constituting caretaker committees to run the affairs of local governments as against the constitutionally recognised and guaranteed democratic system.

He applied for an order of injunction restraining the governors, their agents, and privies from receiving, spending, or tampering with funds released from the federation account for the benefit of local governments when no democratically elected local government system is put in place.

Fagbemi asked the apex court to invoke sections 1, 4, 5, 7, and 14 of the constitution to declare that the state governors and State Houses of Assembly are under obligation to ensure a democratic system at the third tier of government.

The suit also wants the apex court to invoke the same sections to hold that the governors cannot lawfully dissolve democratically elected local government councils.

In a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the originating summons deposed to by Kelechi Ohaeri from the AGF’s office, Fagbemi averred that he filed the suit under the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on behalf of the federal government.

The deponent asserted that the local government system recognised by the constitution is a democratically elected local government council and that the amount due to local government councils from the federation account is to be paid to the local government system recognised by the constitution.

That the governors represent the component states of the Federation with Executive Governors who have also sworn to uphold the Constitution and to, at all times, give effect to the Constitution, and that the Constitution, being the supreme law, has binding force all over the Federation of Nigeria.

Other prayers include: that the constitution of Nigeria recognises federal, state, and local governments as three tiers of government, and that the three recognised tiers of government draw funds for their operation and functioning from the Federation Account created by the Constitution.

By the provisions of the Constitution, there must be a democratically elected local government system, and the Constitution has not made provisions for any other systems of governance at the local government level other than a democratically elected local government system.

In the face of the clear provisions of the Constitution, the governors have failed and refused to put in place a democratically elected local government system, even where no state of emergency has been declared to warrant the suspension of democratic institutions in the state.

The failure of the governors to put a democratically elected local government system in place is a deliberate subversion of the 1999 Constitution, which they and the President have sworn to uphold.

Fagbemi also said that all efforts to make the governors comply with the dictates of the 1999 Constitution in terms of putting in place a democratically elected local government system have not yielded any result.

The AGF said that the federal government continued to disburse funds from the Federation Account to the governors for non-existing democratically elected local governments to undermine the sanctity of the 1999 Constitution.

He averred that in the face of the violations of the 1999 Constitution, the federal government is not obligated, under Section 162 of the Constitution, to pay any state funds standing to the credit of local governments where no democratically elected local government is in place. 

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