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Okorocha’s certificate of return: Sen. Izunaso narrowly escapes prison

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Sen. Osita Izunaso, the third defendant in the ongoing certificate of return suit filed by Gov.  Rochas Okorocha of Imo, narrowly escaped being sent to prison on Wednesday.

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja said that Izunaso ought to have been remanded in prison for putting up an attitude before the court which could best be described as “rascality of the highest order”.

At the resumed hearing of the matter, the judge announced that he received an affidavit of facts filed by Izunaso that he had an application at the Court of Appeal for stay of proceedings in the matter.

While all counsel to the defendants prayed the court to honour the said application for stay of proceedings, Okorocha’s counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN, urged the court to dismiss it because it was incompetent.

Having listened to submissions from all counsel in the matter, the judge then asked the court registrar to ask Izunaso to stand in front of the court in order to listen to his ruling properly.

The judge in his ruling held that putting the name of a presiding judge as one of the parties to be served a court process filed at the Court of Appeal was scandalous and embarrassing and showed that Izunaso had no respect for the court.

“The motion filed at the Court of Appeal where my name is recorded is before me, tagged as exhibit c, attached to the third defendant’s affidavit of facts.

“The third defendant is also before me so I have jurisdiction over him summarily, if that was not sufficient, he deposed to an affidavit that the motion was duly served on me.

“This is only to ridicule the court and lower the esteem of the the judge in the eye of the public as if the judge is a party in the matter.

“This shows the level of disregard Izunaso has for the court which is established by the constitution.”

According to the judge, the conduct of the senator that is before me is contemptuous; it is contempt to the face of the court not outside the court.

“I have jurisdiction to deal with him summarily because he is the contemnor and he is before the court.

“The senator ought to have been remanded in prison today for contempt of court, he is before me and the offensive affidavit is also before me.”

Justice Abang held that in the case of contempt before the court, the judge was the complainant, the prosecutor and remained the judge.

He, however, held that the plea of the counsel to Okorocha had saved Izunaso and so he should “go home and sin no more”.

“Having regards to the passionate plea from the learned senior counsel, (Ogunwumiju),I will let the distinguished senator go home today, not because the court is weak or cowardly.

“We have been trained to use our summary powers sparingly, I will leave the senator to his conscience, he is accordingly discharged even though I find his conduct before the court contemptuous,” the judge said.

With regards to the issue of the motion filed by Izunaso for stay of proceedings, the judge said that the court records showed that he only became aware of the motion on Tuesday.

He, however, said that even though he agreed with Ogumwumiju’s submission with respect to not staying proceedings, it was safer and neater to adjourn proceedings in the matter.

“However, notwithstanding the argument of the SAN, it is safer to,adjourn proceedings in this matter for mention, to abide the decision of the Court of Appeal with respect to the pending application for stay of proceedings.

“The Court of Appeal did not order stay of proceedings so I can’t stay proceedings, I will only adjourn for mention.”

The judge also said that he was aware that his staff made photocopies of his handwritten proceedings without his knowledge and permission.

He said that the only authentic certified true copy of the proceedings was the one that contained his signature.

He adjourned the matter until May 30 for mention and or to abide the outcome of the Court of Appeal with respect to Izunaso’s motion for stay of proceedings.

Okorocha filed a suit asking the court for an order compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue him with a Certificate of Return as the Senator- elect for Imo West Senatorial District.

Izunaso applied to be joined as a party in the suit after which he petitioned the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati saying he felt shut out of the matter and was being denied fair hearing.

The court however, ignored the petition and proceeded with the matter on Tuesday but had to adjourn on Wednesday to await the outcome of the application for stay of proceedings at the Court of Appeal.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

Judiciary

Breach of fundamental right:s: Court admits applicant to N10m bail

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An FCT High Court Maitama, Abuja, on Friday admitted one Hamidu Abuh, to N10 million bail.

Abuh has been in detention for one year over an unknown offence.

The vacation judge, Peter Affen, in his ruling granted Abuh bail under section 32(1),(2) and section 159 (2) (3) of the Administration of Criminal Justices Act, 2015.

Affen said that the law does not allow the detention of any person more than 24 hours without being brought to court for arraignment.

He held that the court served the police an order to produce the suspect to court on Aug. 23 or show cause why they cannot bring him, but they failed to comply with that order.

However, Affen, ordered Abuh to produce a reasonable surety in like sum

The judge also ordered that the surety must be a civil servant not below GL10 and must reside within the jurisdiction of the court.

Abuh of Kogi State, who resides in  Kubwa, Abuja, filed a suit of Breach of fundamental rights against the police for arresting and detaining him since July 17, 2018 till date for an undisclosed allegation.

Earlier, Mr Owobi Alexander, Counsel to Abuh, made an oral application for the bail of the applicant, citing Section 32(1)(2) and section 159 (2) (3)  of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act.

Amufu prayed the court to use its discretion to admit the applicant bail in libera terms.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

 

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Judiciary

Impeachment : CJ constitutes panel to investigate Kogi Deputy Governor

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The Chief Judge of Kogi, Justice Nasir Ajanah has constituted a seven-man panel to investigate the allegations of gross misconduct levelled against Deputy – Governor Simon Achuba by the state House of Assembly.

Ajanah disclosed this in a statement on Friday in Lokoja.

He said the constitution of the panel was in line with the provisions of section 188 of the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria , 1999 (as amended).

” By virtue of section 188 (7) (b) of the 1999 constitution, the panel has three (3) months within which to submit its report to the assembly,” he said.

The Chairman of the panel is Mr John Baiyeshea , (SAN), while Hajiya Bilikisu Abdulmalik Basher, Mr William A. Aliwo, Canon Z. A. Asun, Alhaji Isa Adeboye, Muhammed A. Aikoye and Mr Ada Shaibu are members.

Mr Bamidele Aina, Depuy Chief Registrar, Special Duties, at the state high Court will serve as Secretary of the panel.

Ajanah said that the panel would be inaugurated on Monday, Sept. 26 at the Conference Hall of the state High Court complex, Lokoja.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that state House had during its plenary on Aug. 20 called on the Chief Judge, to constitute a panel of Inquiry to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against Achuba.

The House made the request following adoption of a motion by Majority Leader, Abdullahi Bello-Balogun (APC-Ajaokuta), calling for investigation into the allegations towards impeachment of the deputy governor.

NAN reports that the House request came simultaneously with an interim restrainig order from a state high court, asking the Chief Judge not to act on the request for the constitution of the panel.

The court presided over by a Vacation Judge, Justice Abdul Nicodemus Awulu issued the interim restrainig order on Aug. 20, while ruling on a suit filed before it by the embattled deputy governor.

Achuba also sought to restrain the defendants from taking further steps in investigating the said allegations pending the final determination of the case.

The House asked that the ruling be set aside because the court lacked the jurisdiction to disallow it from performing its constitutional duties and that the claimant misrepresented facts.

NAN further reports that the Chief Judge vacated the order before constituting the panel.

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Judiciary

OML 11 controversy: Court orders FG to renew Shell licence

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The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, ordered the Federal Government to renew the operating licence of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who delivered the judgment, said that though the company had applied for a term of 30-year period for the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11, he could only grant a 20-year period in accordance with the Petroleum Act.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, who is also President Muhammadu Buhari, is the 1st defendant while the 2nd defendant is the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.

SDPC had sought to compel the two ministers to renew OML 11, in addition to 14 other oil mining leases approved for it in June 30.

President Buhari had ordered the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to take over the operatorship of the entire OML 11 from SPDC.

NAN reports that the FG had, on Aug. 15, told the court that its decision not to renew the operating license of the company was in the interest of the nation’s security.

Counsel to FG, Mohammed Diri, while objecting to the SPDC’s suit, said that the primary objective of any responsible government was to guaranty the safety of lives and property.

He said that the refusal to renew OML 11 was a pre-emptive measures to prevent the occurrence or escalation of security breach in Ogoni area.

He argued that the OML 11 covered an area of 3,095.25 square kilometers that stretched between Rivers and Imo with 14 oilfields , 10 out of which are located in Ogoni area of Rivers.

He said that besides the security challenges, SPDC tried to compel the government to commit an illegality because an approval by the Minister of State for Petroleum of “a single oil block size of 3, 095.25 is tantamount to facilitating illegality in contravention of the (Drilling and Production ) Regulation which limits the size of OML block to 1.295 square kilometers.(500 miles).”

The lawyer therefore urged the judge to hold that SPDC suit was destitute of merit and suffered incurable legal deficiency and should be dismissed.

However, the judge adjourned till Aug. 23 to enable the government respond to issues of facts raised by the plaintiff in its further and better affidavit.

Diri had told the court that he had not seen the further affidavit and reply which SPDC Counsel, Funke Adekoya, SAN, told the court was served on the respondents.

Delivering judgment on Friday, Justice Taiwo said he had gone through all the processes before him.

He said it was the duty of the court to ensure that it was bounded by the law.

Justice Taiwo noted that the provision of the law makes it mandatory for the Minister of Petroleum to grant a renewal of license if an applicant met all the conditions.

“My understanding of paragraph 13 (1) of the first schedule to the Petroleum Act states that it is mandatory for the minister to grant a renewal if all the conditions have been met,” he said.

The judge held that there was no evidence before him to prove that the plaintiff had not met with the conditions stated in the provision.

On the number of years sought for by the plaintiff, he said he could not go outside the provision of the law.

According to him, Paragraph 10 of the first schedule of the Petroleum Act is very clear.

“I see no conflict in these two paragraphs. I am of the view that what these paragraphs say is that a term of mining lease shall not exceed 20 years.

“This to me, is mandatory,” he said.

He also said that the” Drilling and Production Regulation cannot be upgraded to the position of the Petroleum Act and the issue that the defendant cannot grant more than 1, 295 square metres as the case with the total area covered by the OML 11 which had been in existence before the regulation came into being.”

“I therefore find that having fulfil all obligations require for the renewal of Oil Mining Lease 11, including the payment of rent and royalties and having applied for the renewal of the lease in line with the law, the plaintiff should be granted the renewal.

“I hereby order that the defendants are hereby compel to grant the application for the OML 11 but it shall be in accordance with Paragraph 10 of the first schedule to the Petroleum Act as regard the number of years stated therein and that there shall be no reduction in size of OML 11 as being contemplated by the defendants,” Justice Taiwo ruled.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Judiciary

OML 11 controversy: Court orders FG to renew Shell licence

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The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, ordered the Federal Government to renew the operating licence of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who delivered the judgment, said that though the company had applied for a term of 30-year period for the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11, the judge however granted a 20-year period in accordance with Petroleum Act.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, who is also President Muhammadu Buhari, is the 1st defendant while the 2nd defendant is the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.

NAN reports that the Federal Government had, recently, told the court that its decision not to renew the operating license of the company was in the interest of the nation’s security.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

Details later……

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Musician, who allegedly assaulted 2 men with bottle, gets N50, 000 bail

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A musician, Peter Ojo, who allegedly stabbed a customer and manager of Winco Hotel Bar, Alapere, Lagos, was on Friday granted N50,000 bail by an Ikeja Magistrates’ Court.

The Magistrate, Mrs H.B. Mogaji, said that Ojo, 44, should provide two sureties as part of his bail conditions.

Mogaji directed that one of the sureties must be gainfully employed and show evidence of tax payment to Lagos Government.

The Nigeria News Agency , reports that Ojo is standing trial on a two- count charge of assault and assault occasioning harm.

Earlier, the Prosecutor, Insp. Donjor Perezi, told the court that the defendant committed the offences on Aug. 12, at 11.00 p.m., at WinCo Hotel Bar, No. 11, Adesa Balogun, Alapere, Lagos.

According to Perezi, the defendant had arguments with some customers that led to a brawl; and in the process of separating the fight, the defendant stabbed one of the complainants, Mr John Okite, on his hand with a broken bottle, causing him grievous harm.

Perezi alleged that Ojo also stabbed one Mr Osas Ojaeburu, a customer of the hotel with the broken bottle, also causing him serious injury.

He said the alleged offences contravened sections 172 and 173 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The case was adjourned until Sept. 26, for further hearing.

LAW/DOR

Edited by Nyisom Fiyigon Dore

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