Gov. Rotimi Amaechi
Appeal court slams judge over judgment, declines to deliver ruling
Ake Group: We’re still in PDP despite governor's defection
Rivers State Governor, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, last night dissolved Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
A statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Hon. George Feyii, said Amaechi took the action in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by the state Local Government Law, 2012.
The statement directed the Chairman of the council to handover to the Head of Personnel Management of the council with immediate effect.
The two-paragraph statement read: “Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the Governor of Rivers State, in exercise of the powers conferred on him by the Rivers State Local Government Law, 2012, has approved the dissolution of the Obio/Akpor Local Government Council with effect from today, November 28.
“Consequently, the Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council is hereby directed to handover to the Head of Personnel Management of the council immediately.”
Laminkara had on Monday delivered judgment in the suit and ordered the reinstatement of the elected chairman, vice chairman and 17 councillors of the council who were last April suspended from office by the state House of Assembly over allegations of financial impropriety and breach of security.
THISDAY gathered that the action of the governor might not be unconnected with the refusal of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt to stay action execution of the judgment.
The court had expressed anger over the delivery of the judgment by Justice Lamikanra of the state High Court in the suit instituted against the state government by the suspended elected officials of the council when she was aware that the matter was before the appellate court.
At the resumed hearing on the application before it by the governor seeking an order for a stay of execution of the judgment of the lower court yesterday, the justices of the court of appeal said it was no more necessary to give their rulings on the application since Lamikanra had gone ahead to deliver judgment in the suit.
In his ruling yesterday, Justice Mohammed Ladan Tsamiya, on behalf of the other two judges, Justice Modupe Fasanmi and Justice Jonah Adah, on a further application for stay of proceeding by counsel to Amaechi, said the trial court had made their efforts an “academic exercise”.
Tsamiya said the judge of the High Court disobeyed the directives of the appellant court by going ahead to deliver judgment on a matter before it.
He described the judgment of the lower court as a bad precedence and a show of disrespect for the appellate court, and said ruling on the application for stay of proceedings had become a mere academic exercise and could not be taken.
He said; “Today, November 28, 2013, our ruling is ready, and we are ready to deliver the said ruling; but, only to be informed by counsel to the appellant/applicant that the same judge of trial court hurriedly delivered the final judgement in the matter, without waiting on the ruling of this court.
“We were also told by the learned SAN, Mr. B.I. Nwofor, that none of the respondents was served with hearing notice on the judgement delivered. Worst of all, we were told that the judgement was read with rechargeable lantern to show how desperate the trial judge was.
“Get it now, the ruling of this appellant court has been rendered negatory by the trial court presided over by the same judge. Although, we have painstakingly written the ruling, we can no longer deliver it.
“This is an unfortunate event and gross disrespect to court, because in our jurisprudence, once an appeal is entered, the lower court ought not continue until the appellate court determines it. It is desirable to do so and not to render the decision of superior court a mere academic exercise.”
The court did not deliver any further ruling on the development.
Earlier, when the matter came up in court, counsel to Amaechi, Olusola Dare (SAN), informed the court that judgment had already been given on the matter at a lower court.
However, the presiding judge adjourned sine dine, saying that the court would communicate to the parties on new date(s).
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has hailed the Court of Appeal for not ruling on the applications sought by Amaechi.
The party, in a statement issued by the media aide to the chairman, Mr. Jerry Needam, said it was pleased by the decision of the court of appeal “to set aside Governor Amaechi’s oral application against the reinstatement of the suspended chairman of Obio/Akpor, Hon. Timothy Nsirim, seeking to stop him from resuming office”.
“The PDP describes the unanimous decision of the three Judges of the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt as a further justification of the judgment in favour of the duly elected Chairman of Obio/Akpor Council, Timothy Nsirim, his Vice and the 17 Councilors, who were unjustly removed from office by Governor Amaechi and his rubber stamp House of Assembly,” the statement said.
Needam also said, “The party also expresses satisfaction over the position of the Appeal Court judges who described Amaechi’s application against the earlier judgment by Justice Iyayi Lamikanra of the State High Court Port Harcourt on Monday November 25, 2013 as an academic exercise which the Appeal Court cannot go into.
“The PDP therefore commends Justice Modupe Fasanmi, Justice Muhammed Ladan Tsamiya and Justice Jonah Adah for their bold step in the determination of the matter and urges them to continue in such spirit of service to God and humanity, particularly the oppressed.”
Meanwhile, members of the PDP in the state loyal to the ousted chairman of the party, Chief Godspower Ake, have said they have no intentions of leaving the party.
The group has been a major supporter of Governor Amaechi, and have refused to recognise the executive of the party led by Chief Felix Obuah.
They however said it was wrong for the PDP to celebrate the exit of the governor from the party.
Referring to the press briefing by the PDP on Wednesday, the spokesman of the group, Mr. George Ukwuoma-Nwogba, said: “The likes of the state secretary, Ibibia Walter and Kenneth Kobani are mere political contractors and cannot be speaking for our party.
“It is only a fool who continues to chase rat when his house is on fire. I think the two should be sorrowful over what is happening to our party today instead of the show of ignorance as being demonstrated by their unguarded utterances and public display of shame yesterday (Wednesday) on the streets of Port Harcourt over the defection of our dear governor, Amaechi, to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ukwuoma-Nwogba described Amaechi as the pillar of the PDP in the state and said his exit might affect the fortunes of President Goodluck Jonathan if he decides to run for a second tenure.
Also, the member of the state House of Assembly representing Ogu/Bolo constituency, Mr. Evans Bipi, has said Amaechi would be made to account for all that the state received from statutory allocations for the past six years.
Bipi, who was ‘elected’ speaker during the fracas that led to the takeover of the state assembly by the House of Representatives, also warned that any member of the assembly that defects to another party would lose his seat.
In a statement he issued yesterday, Bipi alleged that Amaechi awarded contracts to his political cronies in the APC as a way of funding the party to the overall detriment of the Rivers people.
“I want to assure all of us in the state that by the time we resume seating in the House, governor Amaechi will be summoned to give account of every kobo accruable to the state.
“Let me also say here that any lawmaker who chooses to defect to the APC will have his seat declared vacant and bye-elections would be conducted to fill them up,” he said.
Bipi, former aide to the First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, also warned the governor to desist from what he described as the governor’s knack for insulting and casting aspersions on the person of Jonathan and his wife.