From Chris Gaga, Makurdi
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has said he is optimistic of victory at the governorship tribunal in a case filed by Emmanuel Jime of the All Progressives Congress(APC) against his re-election.
Gov. Ortom spoke to Journalists shortly after he closed his defence through his Counsel, Sabastine Hon (SAN), in the same petition on Saturday.
DAILY ASSET reports that Ortom appeared in court on Saturday, day after his lone witness had testified before the governorship tribunal.
He said he was confident that the governorship elections that re-elected him were free and fair.
Earlier at resumption of hearing in Court on Saturday, counsel to the
Governor, Sebastine Hon, SAN, told the court that Governor Ortom had closed his case after taking a look at the evidence of the petitioners.
Hon also noted that the burden to prove the petition rests on Jime who is the petition.
“We have critically look ed at the evidence so far led by the petitioners and we have come to the inevitable conclusion that we need not call any more witnesses.
“The burden (of proof) is on my learned brother and his team (for the petitioners). We hereby close the case of the 2nd Respondent,” Hon told the Tribunal.
Ortom’s Counsel also applied for the Registers of Voters tendered by Jime. He was however, told by the Tribunal to make a formal written application and it would be granted.
The Tribunal Chairman, Honourable Justice Henry Olusiyi, therefore adjourned the petition for Monday, August 19, 2019 for the defence of the 3rd Respondent.
Sabastine Hon again told reporters after sitting that Ortom has done
justice to his case.
“We are very hopeful. In our humble estimation, in the course of cross-examination we did justice to the case of the 2nd Respondent.
“Under our laws, the petitioners have the sole and singular duty to prove their case and we don’t have any duty at all except they prove to some extent then, we will have to disprove.”
According to Jime’s lead counsel, Kehinde Eleja (SAN), “if you go by the records contained in the card reader (report) vis-á-vis the votes returned, there is irreconcilable difference, which is evidence of irregularities among others.
“We have put our case across and they (Ortom) call a witness in response to the 59 witness that we have called and we cross examined him accordingly. I believe that we have done the needful and we are hoping for the best.”
Counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Oba Maduabuchi, (SAN), who was next in line to open his case asked the court to grant him Monday, August 19,2019 to open his defense, adding that he will call only five witnesses.
There was no objection from any counsel to the parties in the suit. The tribunal Chairman, Justice Henry Olusiyi thereafter adjourned the matter to Monday, August 19, 2019.
Justice Ariwoola Becomes Third CJN in 7 Years
By Eze Okechukwu and Mathew Dadiya Abuja
President Muhammad Buhari yesterday at the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja swore in Justice Olukayode Ariwoola as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, to replace Bauchi-born Justice Tanko Mohammad who resigned from the position early yesterday on health grounds.
By the swearing in Chief Justice Ariwoola, who hails from Iseyin District of Oyo State becomes the third CJN in the seven years of President Buhari administration cumulatively in both in acting and substantive capacities.
Justice Ariwoola, born on August 22,1958 started out at the Local Authority Demonstration School, Oluwole in Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State between 1959 – 67. Afterwards, he proceeded to the Muslim Modern School in Iseyin between 1968-69, before going to Ansar – Ud – Deen High School, Saki in Oyo North District of Oyo State.
He studied Law at the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State where he bagged his bachelor of law’s degree with honours in July 1980. In July 1981, Ariwoola was called to the Nigeria Bar and he got enrolled at the Supreme Court of Nigeria as a Solicitor and Advocate soon after. The jurist served as a Justice of the Court of Appeal between 2005 -2011 in Kaduna, Enugu and Lagos divisions within the period. He was also a judge of the High Court of Oyo State, a position he was appointed to in 1992 from private legal practice.
Justice Ariwoola was the next most senior among the Supreme Court justices after the voluntarily retiring Justice Mohammad. Observers had watched out if the administration of President Buhari would flout orderly procedure in the appointment of Justice Mohammad’s replacement.
Former senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani had urged the government not to cut corners “in order to find a person who will fit into the political, sectional, religious or ethnic peg of the ruling establishment” but rather do the needful by following the established order for such appointments by the Apex Court.
Though the resignation of Justice Mohammad has been put down to Ill health, it’s in the public glare that crisis of monumental proportion has bedeviled the Supreme Court for a while now, leading to an allegation of corruption by 14 Justices of the Supreme Court against him. The allegations, which the justices conveyed in writing to Justice Mohammad captured non replacement of run down vehicles, accomodation challenges, epileptic power supply to the Supreme Court, lack of drugs at the Supreme Court clinic, increase in the electricity tariff, non- increase in the allowance for diesel, lack of internet services to residences and chambers.
But in a swift response to the allegations, Justice Mohammad through his media aide, Mr. Ahuraka Isah berated the fueding justices for taking the issue to the public realm; an action he likened to “dancing naked in the market square”. His spokesman would later advise the public that there’s no hostility or ill feelings among the justices of the Apex Court, adding that Justice Mohammad had held a meeting with the aggrieved justices to assuage their grievances.
Meanwhile, prior to the climax of the feud, Justice Ejembi Eko who retired from the Supreme Court on May 23,2022 had called on the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC and other investigative agencies in the country to probe and expose what he described as internal fraud in the management of the budgetary resources of the judiciary.
” The vandalization of the judiciary budget, despite increase of the budgetary allocation calls for investigations by the ICPC and other investigatory sgencies, “he said.
Similarly, Justice Walter Onnoghen who was forced out out of office by the President Buhari administration in 2019 and replaced with Justice Mohammad had at a book launch on June 16,2022 warned that the Supreme Court was gradually turning to “a glorified High Court”, owing to the ill treatment of the justices.
DAILY ASSET recalls that in a bid to restore calm and order at the Supreme Court,both the Body of Benchers and the Nigeria Senate, through the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters,as mandated by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan waded into the crisis “to as a matter of urgency intervene and bring normalcy to the troubled Apex Court.
CJN Tanko Mohammed Resigns￼
Mohammed resigned in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari swore in Mohammed as the acting CJN in January 2019 following the suspension and later sack of former CJN Walter Onnoghen.
CJN’s Special Assistant on Media, Isah Ahuraka, confirmed his resignation to the News Agency of Nigeria.
Justice Olukayode Ariwoola is the next most senior judge to Justice Mohammed following Justice Mary Odili retired on May 12 after attaining the retirement age of 70.
Mohammed’s resignation comes amid the corruption allegations leveled against him by some Supreme Court judges.
Fourteen Supreme Court judges in a protest memo accused Mohammed of not giving justices their legitimate entitlements.
The justices said their annual foreign training, meant to enhance capacity building for the country’s judicial process, had been blocked by Muhammad.
The main issues put forward by the justices in their letter through a welfare committee were; non-replacement of poor vehicles; accommodation problem; lack of drugs at the Supreme Court clinic; epileptic electricity supply to the Supreme Court; increase in electricity tariff; no increase in the allowances for diesel; lack of internet services to residences and chambers.
In response, Mohammed told the judges that the Supreme Court was cash-strapped and cannot grant their requests.
CJN noted that the Supreme Court, like any other establishment in the country, has been hit by a devastating economic crunch.
As a result, he said the leadership of the court under him could no longer meet some of its obligations to Justices, especially in the area of welfare.
He, however, said that the memo sent to him by the aggrieved Justices, notwithstanding, there is no rift between him and Justices of the apex court.
Reps Hail Supreme Court Judgment on Electoral Act
The House of Representatives has hailed the Supreme Court judgement which struck out the suit by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami seeking to void the provision of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.
Benjamin Kalu, the Spokesperson of the House gave the commendation while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.
The Supreme Court on June 24, ruled that the President lacked the power to direct the National Assembly to amend or enact an Act, adding that it violated the principle of separation of power.
According to the judgement, there is no part of the Constitution that makes the exercise of legislative power subject to the directive of the President.
Kalu l said that the House of Reps was happy with the Supreme Court judgement, adding that the House was not expecting anything less because the judges were erudite scholars.
“These are people who have followed the trend of event and understand the separation of power and the mandate of each arms of government.
“They understand that the separation of power is one of the tools of democracy and each arms focuses on the responsibilities of their mandate,” he said.
He said that the mandate of the House was law making with the intention of breaching a gap created in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that was not captured.
He said that the House of Reps could only do this by looking at Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Amendment Act.
“Although, many of you thought that it was either self-serving or targeted at individual but the law is made to advance our democracy, especially to increase the competitive elements in our democracy for credible election.’’
He added that the competitive element was necessary to advance the country’s democracy.
“This judgement is unequivocally embracing and heart-warming, it not a victory for the House of Reps but victory for the advancement of our democracy and the rule of law.
He described the judgement as victory for the supremacy of law making and the National Assembly.
“Let us celebrate this victory, the judiciary has added its own quota to the advancement of democracy, the Electoral Act, nation building is a joint task,” he said (NAN)
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