Governor Chibuike Amaechi
By Akinwale Akintunde
The Supreme Court has fixed October 3 to consolidate the two appeals filed to challenge the date when Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State was sworn in as the governor of the state and when his re-election took place.
The court also fixed November 11 for the adoption of the brief of arguments by the parties in the case.
While the first appeal at the apex court was filed by Amaechi himself to challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal to join former Governor Celestine Omehia, in the matter, the second appeal was filed by Chief Cyprian Chukwu, against the same Omehia on the same grounds.
The substantive case started when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 2010 published a timetable for elections in Nigeria in 2011 and the governorship election in Rivers State was slated for August 2011.
This prompted Chukwu, who was Amaechi’s Legal Adviser in Port Harcourt, to file a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja, against Amaechi and INEC, contending that the date on the INEC timetable was wrong.
Chukwu, grouse was that since the Supreme Court in 2007 ruled that it was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that won the April 2007 governorship election in Rivers State, Amaechi’s tenure started on May 29, 2007 and not October 26, 2007 when he was sworn in after taking over from Omehia.
Purportedly dissatisfied with the judgment, Amaechi and INEC appealed against the judgment at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
Omehia later applied to be joined on the appeal the same time in 2010. His application for joinder was subsequently granted by the appellate after a long delay.
The appellate court ordered that the brief of arguments should be filed by all the parties, and a date to be fixed for adoption and judgment. Omehia filed his brief of argument accordingly.
Amaechi, who was an appellant at the Court of Appeal, applied to Supreme Court to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal on the grounds that Omehia was not a proper party to be joined. Chukwu also later followed suit with an appeal to the Supreme Court on the same ground.
Omehia is, therefore, urging the apex court to urgently intervene in the case since it had been four years when the matter started.
He equally prayed the court hear and conclude the matter once and for all instead of remitting it to the Court of Appeal.
The former governor implored the Supreme Court under the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, to take immediate action to dispose the pending pre-election matter, saying the appeal was deliberately filed to Supreme Court to buy time and derail justice.