FG WILL OBEY SUPREME COURT RULING AGAINST BANNING OLD NAIRA NOTES, MOVES TO VACATE ORDER MALAMI
*Gives reasons why suit should be set aside
*CBN attributes scarcity of new banknotes to hoarding
*NSA tasks lawmakers to find solutions to crisis
Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, yesterday said while the federal government would obey the Supreme Court ruling, which put on hold the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) demonetisation policy, the government would take necessary steps to set aside the interim order.
The Supreme Court had in a ruling on Wednesday suspended the CBN deadline for demonetisation policy and fixed February 15 for hearing on the matter.
Malami clarified that the federal government, out of its regard for the rule of law, would abide by the order of the apex court, even though it intended to challenge it and would do so within the provisions of the law.
Malami spoke during an interview on ARISE News Channel, yesterday.
The comments by the minister came as THISDAY gathered that the federal government had filed reasons before the Supreme Court as to why the suit by three states challenging the February 10 deadline fixed by the CBN for phasing out the old N1, 000, N500, and N200 banknotes should be struck out.
Yesterday also, the CBN attributed the continued scarcity of new banknotes to hoarding in certain quarters.
But the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno, appealed to the House of Representatives to come up with practicable solutions to the attendant economic crisis arising from the scarcity of the redesigned naira notes.
However, a civil society group, the Alliance for Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) advised the CBN to obey the order of the Supreme Court, which temporarily restrained it from going ahead with the plan to phase out the old banknotes from today, until after hearing on the matter.
A seven-member panel of the apex court presided by Justice John Okoro had on Wednesday temporarily stopped the CBN from effecting the scheduled ban of old naira notes in N200, N500 and N1,000 denominations from February 10.
The order was issued during a ruling on an ex parte application brought by Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara states against the AGF. They had asked the court to issue an interim injunction against the government, pending the hearing and determination of their suit challenging the naira redesign policy of the CBN.
The three states argued, among others, that the policy had brought an excruciating situation upon the country and unless the Supreme Court intervened timeously there might be anarchy in the country.
According to them, since the announcement of the policy, there has been an acute shortage in the supply of the new naira notes in their states, thereby making it very difficult and nearly impossible for citizens to access the new notes.
While they argued that the notice period given by the federal government was inadequate, they claimed that the CBN did not follow laid down procedure for implementation of the policy.
In a short ruling, the apex court granted the interim order and restrained the federal government from banning the old naira notes, pending the determination of the suit. The Supreme Court subsequently fixed hearing for February 15.
But reacting to the interim order of the apex court, the AGF, while speaking with Arise News Channel yesterday, stated that it was within the right of the government to challenge any order it was not pleased with. He said the government would do so in this matter using the instrumentality of the law.
Malami stated, “The rule of law provides that there has to be obedience to the judgement and orders of the Supreme Court. The rule of law provides that when you are not happy with a ruling you can file an application for setting it aside and in compliance with the rights and privileges vested in us as a government, we are equally looking at challenging the order and seeking for it to be set aside.”
Malami disclosed that the federal government had already put machinery in place to challenge the jurisdiction of the apex court to hear the suit of the three states. He contended that the singular fact that the CBN was not joined as a party in the suit robbed the apex court of necessary jurisdiction.
He said when the court reconvened next Wednesday, the federal government, on one hand, would be challenging the jurisdiction of the apex court to entertain the suit, and on the other, see how the interim order would be vacated.
He said, “The order was granted by the Supreme Court and the order incidentally lapses on Wednesday, which is the day of the hearing, with that position in mind we have taken steps to file an objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.”
The minister explained, “Jurisdiction on the grounds that when you talk of monetary policy, regardless of the characters they take, the central bank is an indispensable and a necessary party for that matter.
“What we have at hand is a situation where the central bank was not joined as a party and if the central bank as an institution was not joined as a party, the position of the law is clear that the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court cannot be properly invoked.
“So we have given considerations to diverse issues, inclusive of the issue of jurisdiction, and come Wednesday we will argue the case from that perspective, among others.”
Malami added, “I think what we are talking about is not whether the ruling is binding or not binding, we are talking about what we intend to do, there is no doubt about the fact that the ruling of the Supreme Court, regardless of the prevailing circumstances, is binding and then within the context of the rule of law.
“You can equally take steps that are available to you within the context of the spirit and circumstances of the rule of law.
“And what we are doing in essence is in compliance with the rule of law both in terms of obedience to the ruling and in terms of challenging the ruling by way of putting across our own side of the story, putting across our case, challenging jurisdiction.
“So the issue of obedience to the ruling of the Supreme Court is out of it. We are wholeheartedly in agreement that naturally, we are bound by it and will comply accordingly. But within the context of compliance, we shall challenge the ruling by way of filing an application seeking for it to be set aside, it is all about the rule of law.”
Specifically, the federal government, in its preliminary objection to the suit, insisted that the Supreme Court lacked the necessary jurisdiction to entertain the suit in the first place.
It was the argument of the federal government that the agency (CBN), whose Act was being complained about by the plaintiffs, was a statutory body with legal personality that could sue and be sued in its name.
In the Notice of Preliminary Objection filed by its lawyers, Mr Mahmud Magaji, SAN, and Tijanni Gazali, the respondent claimed that the suit of the three states ought to have been instituted before a Federal High Court and not the Supreme Court, as done by the plaintiffs.
Besides, the respondent argued that “the plaintiffs have equally not shown reasonable cause of action” against it.
In the 11 grounds of objection to the suit, the respondent stated that the plaintiffs were challenging the powers of the Federal Government of Nigeria through its agency, the CBN, to withdraw old banknotes and introduce new ones.
The AGF further posited that the plaintiffs’ suit was about the powers vested on the CBN by the CBN’s 2007 Act to call in its banknotes and introduce new ones.
The respondent also submitted that the suit as presently constituted fell under Section 251(1)(a)(p)(q) & (r) of the Constitution (exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court) by virtue of the subject matter and parties.
While describing the instant suit as an abuse of judicial process, the AGF urged the apex court to strike out the suit in the interest of justice, adding that the plaintiffs will not be prejudiced if the preliminary objection is upheld.
The respondent submitted, “The plaintiffs have no grievance whatsoever against the Federation of Nigeria. This suit has disclosed no dispute that invokes this court’s original jurisdiction as constitutionally defined.
“This suit is an abuse of judicial process. The plaintiffs have no locus standi to institute this action. The plaintiffs have no reasonable cause of action against the defendant.”
Among the issues raised for determination are: whether having regard to the facts, it is the Federal High Court and not the Supreme Court that is vested with the exclusive jurisdiction to entertain this suit?
“Whether the provisions of Sections 17, 18 and 20(3) of the Central Bank (Establishment) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to do not exclude the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in view of the reliefs claimed?
“Whether the plaintiffs have the locus standi to institute this suit and have disclosed any cause of action against the Defendant.”
In the event the issues raised are decided in favour of the federal government, then the apex court should make an order striking out the suit, the respondent sought.
The reasons presented by the federal government as to why the court should set aside its ruling were contained in a preliminary objection to the suit filed by filed Mr. Mahmud Magaji and Tijanni Gazali, lawyers representing the AGF, who is the sole respondent in the suit.
CBN Attributes Scarcity of New Banknotes to Hoarding
The CBN attributed the continued scarcity of new naira banknotes to hoarding by certain persons in the country.
Director, Consumer Protection, CBN Ilorin Branch, Mrs. Rashidat Mongunu, made the disclosure during monitoring exercises of some microfinance banks at Offa, the headquarters of Offa Local Government Area of Kwara State.
The monitoring team first paid homage to the Olofa of Offa, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi, before heading to Stockcorp Microfinance Bank and Ibolo Microfinance Bank.
Gbadamosi said the redesigned notes were already made available by the CBN, “but it is those hoarding it that makes it look scarce and people now throng banks to collect money almost at the same time.”
She said, “Because of the attitude of some Nigerians in hoarding the money, even those that don’t really need the money are rushing to get it and keep, not to spend.
“Currency management is a cycle, but we have not allowed the cycle to mature, because when you issue out currency as CBN, what we expect is that the naira issued out will come back into the banking system again.
“But now, everybody collecting the naira is hoarding it. So, no matter how much naira we put out there, if we continue with this attitude and the CBN issue from now till December, it will still not be enough.
“And you know that in every economy, you must have a proper accountability on the indent.
“You just don’t issue out naira for the fun of it, you issue the amount that is commensurate with the level of activity you have in that country.”
The CBN director added that the situation could only get better when people start spending money already hoarded because enough money was already in circulation.
Mongunu said, “There is naira out there, I have been in Kwara for over three weeks and we have been allocating money daily.
“The truth is that if the currency is circulating the way it should and not being hoarded, we shouldn’t have a problem.
“The only thing is for us to change our attitude because it can only get better when people start spending the money they have hoarded.”
She added that the CBN was already engaging traditional rulers to sensitive their people to have a positive attitude and be confident that the naira redesign policy was not to punish anyone but to better the economy.
In his remarks, the Olofa of Offa, Oba Gbadamosi, said the extension of the legality of the old notes from January 31 to February 10 was responsible for the problems people were facing currently. He said people had already deposited all that they had on them as of January 30, in anticipation of spending the new notes on February 1, hoping that it would be available, but it was not so.
The traditional ruler advised that if the CBN wanted the policy to be successful, it should make the new notes available for people to spend.
NSA Tasks Lawmakers on Solution to Crisis
The NSA, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno, appealed to the House of Representatives to come up with practicable solutions to the attendant economic crisis arising from the scarcity of the redesigned naira notes.
Monguno, who appeared before the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on the policy of the CBN, said his office was also working on measures to assist the legislature in tackling the problem.
The committee in continuation of its meeting had invited the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed; Managing Director, Nigerian Security, Minting and Printing Company, Ahmed Halilu; Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mamoud Yakubu; and Director of Currency Operations of the CBN, to appear before it yesterday, but those invited gave excuses for their absence.
Represented by Rear Admiral Abubakar A. Mustapha, a director in charge of the secretariat that conducts general security appraisal of committee with special focus on elections and other security situations exigencies in his office, the NSA said the policy was affecting military operations in some areas, stressing that some soldiers on the battle fronts are having financial difficulties.
Speaking shortly before the press was excused for a closed door session, Monguno said, “Because of the sensitive nature of some of the information that will come, bordering on security, there are things you cannot say in the media. But that being said, globally, military operations, even in the First World countries, such policies if not well thought out will affect some things because some of our soldiers are deployed in places where they cannot actually access digital means of paying whatever daily subsistence.
“One of the main issues that the NSA has been talking about is that this committee sits down and articulates better ways of addressing these issues and he has directed a committee in his office, which I am part of, to write out his position to assist the committee to meet its mandate. On more detailed level, I will be able to talk to the committee when the press leaves.”
Earlier in his remarks, the chairman of the committee, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, said the meeting was in line with the mandate given to them by the House to interface with relevant agencies on the naira redesign. He said the CBN policy was unpopular and had subjected Nigerian to untold hardship, adding that it is a threat to the general election.
Doguwa said, “For the records, this is a continuation of our duties and obligations as an ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives in the specified matter of redesigned naira notes and swap policy of the federal government.
“I believe members would recall that on the last day of our sitting before we went for break, on the submission of our report, the House through the Speaker gave this committee an extended mandate to continue to follow up this matter so as to see to the implementation of this very important policy effective.”
Doguwa said those invited that couldn’t appear before the committee yesterday, were expected to appear today, warning against dishonouring the invitation.
Briefing newsmen after the closed door session, Doguwa added that the committee would be forced to use the legislative instrumentality to cause appearance of any invitee that refused to honour the invitation.
ASCAB Urges CBN to Obey Supreme Court Order
ASCAB advised the CBN to obey the order of the Supreme Court which temporarily restrained it from going ahead with its plan to phase out the old banknotes.
According to the group, the fact that the CBN was not made a party in the suit does not excuse it from obeying the orders of the apex court.
In a statement by its Interim Chairman, Mr. Femi Falana, ASCAB frowned on the alleged refusal of the CBN to obey the interim order, noting that the CBN cannot choose orders of courts to obey or not to obey.
Falana said, “We have just read a report that the authorities of the CBN have decided not to comply with the ex parte order issued by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in respect of the avoidable currency swap crisis.
“The reason adduced for the contemptuous disregard for the rule of law is that the CBN is not a party to the case of Attorney-General of Kaduna State & 2 Ors. v. Attorney-General of the Federation (Suit No: SC/CV/162/2023) pending at the Supreme Court.
“It is pertinent to remind the management of the CBN of the case of Nkwo Augustine Eddiego v. Board of Central Bank of Nigeria (Suit No: HCIK/38/2022), where the Delta State High Court granted an ex parte order, which restrained the Defendants from preventing the Governor of the CBN from seeking political offices pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice in the case.”
The group, in addition, cited the case of Incorporated Trustees of the Forum for Accountability and Good Leadership v. Attorney-General of the Federation & Ors. (Suit No: FCT/HC/GAR/CV/41/2022), where the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory granted an injunction restraining the State Security Service from arresting, investigating and prosecuting Emefiele for terrorism financing.
It observed that although the CBN governor was not a party to the suit, he was not arrested by the State Security Service on the basis of the court order.
The group said, “In view of the looming anarchy in the country, we are compelled to draw the attention of the CBN management to the rule of law, to the case of Attorney-General of Lagos State v. Attorney-General of the Federation (2005) 2 WRN 1 at 109 where Tobi JSC of blessed memory cautioned all authorities and persons in Nigeria thus:
“In a society where the rule of law prevails, self-help is not available to the executive or any arm of government. In view of the fact that such a conduct could breed anarchy and totalitarianism, and since anarchy and totalitarianism are antitheses to democracy, courts operating the rule of law, the life-blood of democracy, are under a constitutional duty to stand against such action.
“The courts are available to accommodate all sorts of grievances that are justiciable in law and Section 6 of the constitution gives the courts power to adjudicate on matters between two or more competing parties.
“In our democracy all the governments of this country as well as organisations and individuals must kowtow to the due process of the law and this they can vindicate by resorting to the courts for redress in the event of any grievance.
“It is public knowledge that the federal government has filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to hear and determine the case of the Attorney-General of Kaduna State & 2 Ors v Attorney-General of the Federation (supra).
“In the interim, the Federal Government of Nigeria and its agencies, including the CBN, are bound by the valid and subsisting ex parte order of the Supreme Court of Nigeria until it is set aside by the same court. The alternative is to compound the ongoing anarchy and chaos in the land.”
HOW LUTH BED SPACE SHORTAGE ABORTED FEMALE STUDENT’S DREAMS
Twenty-year-old Deborah Doofan had many dreams. She planned to graduate from the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, with honours in 2026, become a first-class banker in one of Nigeria’s prestigious banks at 25, get married two years after, and have a beautiful home with three lovely kids and a doting husband.
According to her elder brother, Prince, she vowed to help their family out of penury. But her dreams never materialised as her life was cut short by poor medical facilities.
Deborah was in an emergency and was rushed to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Surulere, Lagos, in the wee hours of Thursday, March 16, 2023, but the federal hospital could not provide her a bed space. She was left out in the cold; in the backseat of a car right in front of the hospital’s emergency centre, where she died.
Prince, who had yet to recover from the shock of the incident, said all his efforts to save his sister had been a waste of time and resources.
While fighting back tears, he said the family was still mourning their mother, who passed away last year and struggling to support their hypertensive father, when Deborah died.
He told Saturday PUNCH that when his father was informed about her death on the telephone, the handset slipped off his hand and the line went dead.
“I had to send somebody to check on him as I was told he almost collapsed. This is just too much for our family to bear,” he added.
On the circumstances surrounding Deborah’s demise, Prince said, “We got to LUTH around 2am and called the emergency number. The security officials at the emergency ward started asking what the emergency was about.
“A doctor later came out and I showed him our referral letter. He brought out his thermometer, checked her pulse and temperature, and returned inside.
“After a few minutes, he returned and told us that their beds were occupied and there was no bed space to treat her. I pleaded with him to give her first aid or something to stabilise her pending the time that there would be bed space for proper treatment to commence.
“But he said their policy does not allow them to give treatment outside the hospital. I then begged him that he should allow me to take her inside the emergency ward and that I would sit on the floor and carry her on my lap so he can give her first aid treatment, but he still said no. She died at the front of the emergency ward while I was looking for a bench or table to place her on.”
Deborah was a 100-level student in the Banking and Finance Department, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The 20-year-old was said to be studying in school when she collapsed and was rushed to the UNIPORT Teaching Hospital.
Prince said his sister was receiving treatment in the hospital when she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, a medical condition associated with overactivity of the thyroid gland, resulting in a rapid heartbeat and metabolism. That was in January 2022.
According to him, she was to undergo treatment when medical workers discovered that she had a swollen heart and thereafter referred her to LUTH to see specialists.
He said, “So, she left Port Harcourt and came to Lagos on December 24, 2022. We called LUTH to know if their specialists were on the ground but we were told that the machine that would be used for the hyperthyroidism treatment was not working.”
LUTH was said to have referred her to the University College Hospital, Ibadan.
At UCH, Ibadan, a doctor reportedly recommended lots of treatment to bring her swollen heart down.
“The doctor said UCH had the machine for the treatment but specialists were not on ground and she needed to see a cardiologist to certify that her heart was in a good position for them to put her on a machine for the treatment,” he added.
The Benue State indigene said the patient was referred back to LUTH to see specialists.
“To see a specialist is very expensive and because my funds were trapped in banks (due to naira scarcity), it became difficult for her to continue seeing specialists and continuing the treatment. So, she was just taking oral drugs, but the tablets were not effective, so her condition started getting worse.
“Before that, the swollen stomach and legs were going down, and she was getting better. She woke up one day and became restless; we tried to sort out funds to see a cardiologist in LUTH, but when we got there, we were told to go to UCH to get her admitted for doctors and specialists to treat her and monitor her condition,” Prince said.
Prince said his sister was making plans to resume the treatment when she suffered a crisis and was rushed to the Epe General Hospital, from where she was referred to LUTH.
However, upon getting to LUTH at 2am, she could not get bed space.
She was preparing for resumption
Deborah’s course representative at UNIPORT, Favour Nkwocha, described her as a vibrant and loving student.
Nkwocha, who spoke to our correspondent on the phone, also said fellow students had yet to recover from the shock of her death.
He said, “We gained admission in 2020 into UNIPORT, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, we started lectures in 2021. After our first-semester examination in late August 2021, we went on a six-month holiday because the school calendar was not balanced. Before we could resume, ASUU started an eight-month strike. So, we stayed at home for 14 months.
“When we resumed last year November, Deborah was healthy. She was not a noisy person, but very outspoken. We even had a group presentation and she spoke very well.
“In December when the school went on Christmas break, she gave me money to buy textbooks for her and I did because our second semester examination meant to start this January. But she called me and said she would not be coming to class early and that I should help her with attendance and talk to some lecturers too. I asked her what the problem was, and she told me that she was sick and would be going for surgery in Lagos. I even asked her if she would make it back to school before the exam started and she said yes.
“But the exam started and she was not back; her brother then called me to know if the school would allow her to sit the exam later and I told him yes, but with good reasons, and if he would write to the appropriate bodies. He sent a letter and other documents, which I submitted.”
Nkwocha disclosed that the school Christian fellowship organised a prayer session for Debby and wished her a quick recovery.
“During the exam, I spoke to her brother once and he told me that she was getting better; we even discussed her resumption.
“I haven’t spoken again with the brother until Sunday when I opened my WhatsApp and saw the message ‘Debby died on Thursday.’ I couldn’t respond to the chat. I didn’t know what to say. I was shocked. I am still feeling the pain.
“This is a start of a new session and we ought to have resumed the 200 level with her but we lost her,” he added.
According to medical experts, worldwide, thyroid disorders remain the second-most common endocrine disease, after diabetes.
The Chairman, Medical Art Centre and President, Academy of Medicine, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, said thyroidism could be caused by Graves’ disease.
He said, “Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in front of your neck. It makes hormones that control the way the body uses energy. These hormones affect nearly every organ in your body and control many of your body’s most important functions.
“For example, they affect your breathing, heart rate, weight, digestion, and mood. If not treated, hyperthyroidism can cause serious problems with your heart, bones, muscles, menstrual cycle, and fertility. But some treatments can help.”
According to Ashiru, hyperthyroidism will not kill once a patient seeks medical attention on time, adding that patients can live up to 90 years of age.
No bed space
The healthcare sector has always been plagued with the problem of poor infrastructure.
Nigerians regularly lose their lives after being denied adequate medical attention due to lack of bed space and sometimes non-availability of medical personnel.
A Lagos resident, Opeyemi Babalola, recently lost his loved one after the patient was reportedly turned back from both General Hospital, Ifako, and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, due to lack of bed space.
In pain, he stated, “May Nigeria not befall you and yours.”
The Deputy Provost, Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Dr Dele Omojuyigbe, narrated to the Sunday Telegraph how he navigated five Lagos hospitals in seven hours to save his dying wife from the no-bed-space syndrome.
“We had traversed five Lagos hospitals in seven anxious hours. Sadly, we got the same cold, lethal refrain, ‘There is no space,’” he stated. The woman later died
The Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee, LUTH, Prof. Wasiu Adeyemo, said the Federal Government was building a new facility in LUTH, which would give the hospital more space.
“But population is increasing; the problem is not limited to us,” he added.
Speaking on Deborah’s death, he said, “We won’t say because it is an emergency, we will then chase admitted patients away. As a policy, we have a very effective way of communicating with our patients; it is quite unfortunate that this patient died.
“In a few months, all these will be solved. We have many of our wards under renovation, and there is another building being constructed in the hospital. By the time we are done, we would have more space and avert possible dangers of this sort.”
He, however, noted that emergencies deserved attention irrespective of space or payment.
“When we see a patient like that, what we do is to investigate; patients sometimes come and there are no bed spaces and what we do is to refer them. But for a really serious, critical emergency, we inform them immediately that there is no space and give them options of where to go or take them to other wards. With or without money, it is the responsibility of the hospital to treat emergency patients in line with the policy of the Federal Government,” he added.
According to a biochemist at Green Springs Wellness and Maternity, Dr Nnaemeka Iwunze, the challenge of insufficient bed space in hospitals can be resolved if the government equip primary health care centres to detect and treat cases that usually develop into emergencies.
He said, “If the primary health care centres are properly developed and equipped, these emergencies that get to the general hospitals will not get to that level.
“These primary health care centres should have qualified and well-trained doctors to handle issues so they won’t get to emergency stages.
“Also, the government should develop the natural health sector. It’s been over 20 years since the World Health Organisation declared that this sector should be developed to help the health centres, so we will have a robust health sector and prevent these emergencies because the natural health sector has the potential to treat these chronic emergencies.
“The government should also construct more emergency wards in the various state and federal hospitals.”
Iwunze advised that doctors should be allowed to treat emergency patients outside wards and in temporary tents.
“Our policies should also be changed to accommodate the immediate action of a doctor to attend to an emergency irrespective of where the patient is, as far as the patient has been brought into the emergency centre.
“Setting up a temporary shelter can save a life in emergency situations within minutes when the wards are full. This is what we see outside the country; patients can be treated from anywhere,” he added.
BUS-TRAIN ACCIDENT: LAGOS TO CHARGE DRIVER WITH MANSLAUGHTER
The Lagos State Government is set to charge the driver of the staff bus involved in a collision with a train, Oluwaseun Osinbajo, with manslaughter.
The collision occurred on March 9 at the PWD railway crossing in Ikeja, the state capital.
The bus, which had employees of the state government onboard, was then dragged by the train which eventually came to a stop in the Sogunle area of the state.
The incident left six persons dead and 96 others injured and hospitalised across government hospitals in the state.
Osibanjo was immediately apprehended and handed over to the police for investigation and possible prosecution by the state.
According to a statement issued by the Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, at the end of investigation, findings were forwarded to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for further statutory actions.
“Upon the receipt and review of the case file by the DPP, a prima facie case of manslaughter, and grievous body harm was disclosed against the driver of the staff bus. Accordingly, he is to be charged with six counts of manslaughter and 10 counts of grievous body harm. Both offences are contrary to Sections 224 and 245 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
“The Office of the DPP will immediately file charges against the driver. However, his arraignment before the High Court of Lagos State shall be delayed until he is fully fit to stand trial, having sustained serious injuries during the accident,” the statement read.
JUBILATION IN OSUN STATE AS APPEAL COURT RESTORES ADELEKE’S MANDATE
*Join hands with me to build state, dancing governor tells Oyetola
There was wild jubilation across Osun State yesterday following the ruling of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which nullified the judgement of the election tribunal that voided the election of Ademola Adeleke as governor.
On the same day, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja gave the go-ahead to three presidential candidates – Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi and Chichi Ojei – to serve their suit against the outcome of the February 25 election on the winner, Bola Tinubu, through his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
A three-member panel of the appellate court led by Justice Mohammed Shuaibu held that the tribunal erred in law in arriving that Adeleke was not lawfully elected as governor in the July 16, 2022 governorship election in Osun State.
Adeleke had on February 9, appealed the judgment of the Osun State Governorship Tribunal which nullified his election on grounds of alleged over-voting.
The tribunal in a two-to-one decision had in January held that the petitioners; immediate past Governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola, proved their case of non-compliance and over-voting in some polling units in favour of Adeleke and his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Tertsea Kume, who read the majority judgment had disclosed that the excess votes were deducted following which Oyetola won the election.
Specifically, Justice Kume, noted that after deducting the over-voting figure, Oyetola scored 314,921, while Adeleke polled 290,26Justice Kume subsequently ordered INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Adeleke and issue a fresh one to Oyetola as the duly elected governor of Osun.
But Adeleke in his 31 grounds of appeal argued that the majority judgement erred in law in holding that Oyetola was the lawful governor-elect at the July 16, 2022 guber election and subsequently prayed the court for “an order setting aside the whole decision of the tribunal.”
Oyetola, APC, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were 1st to 4th respondents respectively in the suit at the Appeal Court.
Delivering ruling in the appeal yesterday, the appellate court in a unanimous judgement held that the tribunal was wrong in holding that there was over-voting in some polling units when such allegations were not proved.
According to the panel, before a case of over-voting can be established, the person making the allegation must present the Voters Register, the Bi-modal Verification Accreditation System (BVAS) – which contains the information of accredited voters, votes cast in each polling unit, results as entered into the forms EC8A, amongst others.
The panel further faulted Oyetola and the APC for hinging their allegation of over-voting on only information they obtained from a secondary source (INEC back-end server report).
Faulting further the tribunal’s decision on over-voting, the three justices in their separate judgments pointed out that the failure of Oyetola and APC to call witnesses, especially polling agents who witnessed the voting, was fatal to their case.
On the issue of jurisdiction raised by the appellant, Justice Shuaibu while observing that the law allows the tribunal to suspend decisions on Preliminary Objections until the end of the matter, faulted the tribunal for not showing in writing that it considered Adeleke’s preliminary objection in its merit.
Regarding Adeleke’s qualification to contest the July 16 2022 Guber election, the panel held that the tribunal was right in holding that Adeleke was qualified to contest the election, adding that allegations of supplying false and forged documents must be proved beyond reasonable doubt, which the 1st and 2nd respondents failed to prove.
Similarly, the appellate court added that since the Court of Appeal had since ruled that Adeleke was qualified, until a higher court rules otherwise, that is the position of the law.
However, the panel disagreed with Adeleke that the majority judgement was a nullity because the second judge on the panel, Justice Rabi Bashir, failed to write her opinion as required by Section 294(2) of the Constitution.
According to Justice Shuaibu, there is no law that mandates the judge to write a separate opinion, adding that the signature of the second judge appended in the face of the tribunal’s judgement document was enough evidence that she agreed with the lead judgement.
Similarly, the panel held that Adeleke failed to prove his allegation of bias against the tribunal.
Justice Shuaibu stated that although Justice Kume’s comments on Adeleke’s proclivity for dancing and particularly the Buga song, is “unwarranted and condemnable”, it does not in any way, prove bias against the appellant.
Having decided five of the eight issues raised in favour of Adeleke, the panel held that the “appeal on the whole is meritorious and is accordingly allowed.
“Judgement of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal is hereby set aside.”
The panel slammed a cost of N500,000 fine in favour of Adeleke.
Meanwhile, the appellate court in other judgements allowed the appeals filed separately by the PDP and INEC against the decision of the tribunal.
It however, dismissed the cross appeal filed by Oyetola and APC challenging the refusal of the tribunal to disqualify Adeleke on account of alleged provision of false and forged documents to INEC in aid of his qualification for the election.
The panel held that the issue surrounding Adeleke’s qualification was already resolved by the appellate court and was yet to be set aside by a higher court.
INEC had returned Adeleke as the winner of the poll.
INEC said Adeleke polled 403,371 votes, to defeat incumbent Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of the APC, who got 375,027 votes.
But Oyetola and the APC rejected the result of the poll and headed for the tribunal.
In its January 27, 2023 majority verdict, the Justice Tertse Kume-led tribunal annulled Adeleke’s victory and declared Oyetola the winner of the poll.
However, a minority judgment by Justice B. Ogbuli affirmed Adeleke as the winner of the poll.
Displeased, Adeleke and the PDP headed for the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal heard the appeal on March 13 and reserved its judgement.
Jubilation in Osun State
There was wild jubilation across Osun State yesterday after the Court of Appeal in Abuja, upheld Adeleke’s victory at the July 16, 2022 governorship election.
Many residents of Ede, hometown of the Osun State Governor, thronged his residence in jubilation.
Also in different parts of Ede town, residents trooped to streets to celebrate Adeleke’s victory.
The jubilant residents, who were also sighted around Oja Timi, Oke Gada and Total-all within Ede metropolis, were singing Adeleke’s praise.
In Osogbo, the state’s capital, it was also jubilation galore.
Join Hands with Me to Build State, Adeleke Tells Oyetola
Governor Adeleke has extended an olive branch to the immediate past governor, Oyetola, asking him to join hands with him in building the state.
Adeleke made the call after the Appeal Court reinstated him.
He said: “Let me use this opportunity to extend sincere hands of fellowship to former Governor Oyetola and the APC. Let’s build the state together. Let us unite for the good of our people. The State needs leaders across party lines to join hands for robust and accelerated development of the state.
“As brothers and sisters, we are all requested to start the process of healing. Forget party politics as the election is over. All members of the political class in Osun state should join hands with me to take our state to greater heights.”
Adeleke added, “I thank God Almighty and our good people of Osun state. I dedicate this victory to God and my people. This judgement confirmed my earlier position that the judgement of the Tribunal is a miscarriage of Justice. The judiciary has right the wrongs of the lower Court. This has rekindled the confidence of the nation in the integrity of the judiciary as the stabiliser and the last hope of the common man.
“I am particularly glad that the Court of Appeal has ruled that the BVAS machine and voters register are the primary sources, not the report from the server. This has strengthened our democracy and removed a time bomb which the judgement of the Tribunal had planted for our democracy.
“I appreciate Osun people for standing by me and my party through repeated validation of my governorship mandate at the recent federal and state elections. My party won three straight elections from July 16th 2022 to March 18th ,2023. It was a resounding vote of confidence in my governorship by the people of Osun State. The judiciary has now confirmed the will of the people that I am the validly elected Governor of my state.
“My appreciation goes to the civil servants, artisans, market people, clerics, students, women and youth. Osun people defended the mandate from 2022 to date.
“I commend the judiciary for resisting all pressure. Rule of law is strengthened when judgement affirms the will of the people. On behalf of the Osun people and my party, the PDP, we appreciate the judiciary and the men of conscience on the bar and the bench.”
Remain Calm, Oyetola Tells Party Members
Meanwhile, Oyetola has appealed to members and supporters of the APC to remain calm and not to be discouraged by the Appeal Court’s ruling, saying his abiding faith in God to reclaim his mandate remains undoubted.
Reacting to the Appeal Court judgement which overturned the decision of the Tribunal, Oyetola in a statement by his media aide, Ismail Omipidan, noted that his belief in the judiciary also remained unshaken.
He further said: “We have heard the judgement of the Appeal Court, but we are yet to receive a copy of the judgement.
“However, from the snippets we are getting, we believe we have a potential ground to approach the Supreme Court. Our belief in the judiciary remains unshaken, just as my abiding faith in God’s promise regarding the reclaim of my mandate remains undoubted.
“I, therefore, appeal to our supporters and party members to remain calm as we take the next step.”
Court Grants Obi, Atiku Permission to Serve Petitions on Tinubu
A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, has given the go-ahead to three presidential candidates to serve their suit against the winner of the presidential election, Tinubu, through his party, the APC.
The panel, led by Justice Joseph Ikyegh, gave the permission yesterday, while ruling in three separate exparte applications brought by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Mr Peter obi and Princess Chichi Ojei of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP) and the Allied People’s Movement, respectively.
The applications which were predicated on alleged inability to serve their suits personally on Tinubu as required by law, were supported by affidavits of non-service.
While that of Atiku was filed and argued by Mr Etitayo Jegede, SAN, that of Obi and Ojei were filed and argued by Mr Ikechukwu Ezechukwu, SAN, and Mr O. Atoyebi, SAN, respectively.
In a short ruling, Justice Ikyegh granted their request as prayed by ordering that the suit challenging the election of Tinubu be served on him through his party, the APC.
Atiku, Obi, Ojei and candidate of the Action Alliance (AA), Solomon Okangbuan are challenging the declaration of Tinubu as winner of the February 25 presidential election.
Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, had on March 1 announced Tinubu as winner of the presidential poll and accordingly issued him with a Certificate of Return.
According to Yakubu, the APC’s presidential polled 8,794,726 votes to emerge victorious.
While Atiku who came second scored 6,984,520 votes, Obi scored 6,101,533 votes, to come third.
However, dissatisfied with the outcome, five political parties had subsequently dragged the electoral body, Tinubu and the APC to court.
The first was the Action Alliance (AA) and its presidential candidate, Solomon Okangbuan with suit number: CA/PEPC/01/2023; and while the second is unknown as at press time, the third is the Allied People’s Movement (APM) and its presidential candidate, Princess Chichi Ojei with suit number: CA/PEPC/03/2023.
While the fourth; that of the Labour Party and Peter Obi is marked: CA/PEPC/04/2023, that of Atiku is marked: /PEPC/05/2023.
The petitioners have anchored their individual cases on alleged non-compliance with the electoral laws, as well as with the guidelines of INEC.
The petitioners also alleged that the February 25 presidential election was characterised by huge irregularities and electoral malpractices following INEC’s failure to electronically upload results immediately from its polling units to the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IREV).
While some of the petitioners are asking the court to, on one hand, declare them as the authentic winner of the February 25 presidential election; on the other, they are asking for the cancellation of the entire poll and an order for fresh election.
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