How Supreme Court postponed fate of seven governors till today
• Court fixes Feb 25 for suit against Gbajabiamila’s seat
• Another adjourns trial of NBA president till Feb 11
The Supreme Court yesterday suspended some appeals before it, postponing the fate of seven state governors till today and causing apprehension among parties, who were either represented or physically present in the court. The appeals, which emanated from the March 2019 governorship election across the federation, had been slated for hearing and determination by the apex court. Typical of days when high-profile cases are heard, the courtroom was filled to capacity with parties to the appeals, party loyalists, families and friends of the appellants and respondents.
The unexpected, however, happened less than an hour into the commencement of the sitting when Chief Justice of the Federation, Ibrahim Mohammed Tanko, announced that one of the justices on the panel had suddenly become ill.He, therefore, stood down the matter, so that the sick colleague could be attended to. As the justices rose to take the bow, all eyes watched to identify the sick judicial officer. The crowed waited, hopeful that proceedings would somehow resume, until one of the court registrars returned with the final announcement adjourning the matter till today.
Other members of the panel besides Tanko are Justices John Inyang Okoro, Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, Uwani Musa Aba Aji, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Aminu Sani and Olukayode Ariwoola.
The affected governors are: Imo State Governor Emeka Ihedioha; Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto); Umar Ganduje (Kano); Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa); Bala Mohammed (Bauchi); Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Samuel Ortom (Benue).Meanwhile, a High Court in Jabi, Federal Capital Territory, yesterday fixed February 25 to hear a suit challenging the qualification of House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila to contest an election. The suit is also challenging his nomination as the Speaker of the Ninth Assembly.
When the matter, which was slated for the hearing of pending applications came up, the claimant’s counsel, Obed Agu, informed the court that he had a motion on notice before the court. He said his application was seeking to regularise his processes by way of asking for an extension of time, to enable him to file his reply.
The motion was brought in pursuant to the rule of the court dated November 18 and filed November 19, 2019 in a four-paragraph affidavit.Agu said he had filed his written address and wanted to adopt the same as an oral argument, urging the court to grant his prayers.The judge, Justice Charles Agbaza, asked the first defendant’s counsel, Femi Adedeji, if he had any objection to the application.Adedeji, on his part, did not raise any objection. In his ruling, therefore, Agbaza said the application had merit and granted it in the interest of justice.
The judge also directed that a hearing notice be served on the other defendants, who were absent from Monday’s proceeding.Also, a Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday adjourned until February 11 the trial of the president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro, charged with an alleged N1.4 billion fraud.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Usoro before Justice Rilwan Aikawa on 10 counts.He was first arraigned before Justice Muslim Hassan in December 2018, but the case was re-assigned to Justice Rilwan Aikawa. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges before Hassan. He also maintained his not-guilty plea before Aikawa and was granted bail.
The continuation of trial, earlier fixed for yesterday, has now been further adjourned to February 11, as Aikawa did not sit.Also mentioned in the charge is the incumbent governor of Akwa Ibom, Emmanuel Udom, who is described as “currently constitutionally immune from prosecution”.Others are: the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance, Nsikan Nkan; Accountant General of Akwa Ibom State, Mfon Udomah; the Akwa Ibom Attorney General, Uwemedimo Nwoko and Margaret Ukpe.
The aforementioned names were described in the charge as being at large.In the charge marked FHC/418c/18, the anti-graft agency alleged that the defendant committed the offence on May 14, 2016. Usoro was alleged to have conspired with others to commit the offence within the jurisdiction of the court.
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