- Gov, PDP, Falana, condemn attack on Justice Odili
- Oshiomhole, Sylva deny involvement
Davidson Iriekpen in Lagos, Chuks Okocha, Alex Enumah, Udora Orizu in Abuja and Onungwe Obe in Yenagoa
The All Progressives Congress (APC) Thursday approached the Supreme Court with a fresh application asking the apex court to reverse its judgment that voided the victory of its candidate, Mr. David Lyon, in the last governorship election in Bayelsa State.
The APC, in the application filed on its behalf by its team of lawyers led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), is praying the apex court to set aside the “wrong” interpretation given to its judgment of February 13, 2020 and the subsequent execution of the judgment by INEC, which led to the inauguration of Senator Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as governor.
The APC’s application came as more condemnations trailed the attack on the Abuja home of Justice Mary Odili, who headed the Supreme Court panel that deliberated on the Bayelsa appeal.
Among those who flayed the attack were PDP, Diri, human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) and the Deputy Minority Leader, House of Representatives, Hon. Toby Okechukwu.
However, Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, who was accused of being among the sponsors of the attack, denied any involvement in the protest.
Last week, the Supreme Court had voided the candidacy of Lyon and his deputy, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, on account of Degi-Eremienyo’s presentation of false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to aid his qualification in the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State.
The APC, in its application for the review of the judgment, said the apex court misinterpreted the November 12, 2019 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which it (the Supreme Court) affirmed.
The party averred that the Supreme Court acted without jurisdiction and denied it fair hearing when the court proceeded to disqualify its governorship candidate even though the trial court in the judgment ,which the apex court affirmed, refused the plaintiffs’ prayer to disqualify Lyon.
The party also faulted the interpretation given to the Supreme Court judgment by INEC in issuing certificate of return to Diri.
“In this honourable court’s judgment of February 13, 2020, the court erroneously and inadvertently stated that the trial high court consequentially disqualified the applicant‘s governorship candidate even though the trial court made no such order and when the trial court indeed refused to grant the express orders sought by the plaintiffs therein for his disqualification.”
The APC, asked the court to set aside portions of its judgment where it held that the Federal High Court, in disqualifying its deputy governorship candidate, disqualified its governorship candidate; and where it held that joint ticket of its candidates was vitiated by the disqualification of the deputy governorship candidate and that both candidates are deemed not to be candidates in the election.
It prayed the court to set aside the portion of the judgment where it ordered INEC to declare as winner of the governorship election, the candidates with the highest number of lawful votes; and where it ordered INEC to withdrew the certificate of return issued to its governorship candidate and issue a fresh one to the candidate with the highest number of lawful votes.
The APC argued that it was wrong for the apex court to have voided its candidates’ participation in the election, when the judgment by the Federal High Court, disqualifying its deputy governorship candidate, was stayed as at when the election was conducted.
“Applicant and its governorship and deputy governorship candidates timeously appealed the judgment of the Federal High Court to the Court of Appeal, and also applied for a stay of execution of the said judgment pending appeal.
“As at the time the governorship election in Bayelsa State was conducted on November 16, 2019 the order for stay of execution granted by the Court of Appeal was subsisting and there was no appeal against it.
“The judgment of the Court of Appeal was delivered on December 23, 2019 whereby the Court of Appeal set aside the decision of the trial High Court delivered on November 12, 2019.
“There was no cross-appeal to the Court of Appeal against the decision of the trial high court refusing to make an order disqualifying the governorship candidate of the applicant. (Lyon David Pereworimin).
“In the judgment of this honourable court delivered on February 13, 2019 this honourable court set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal and restored the decision of the trial high court.
“In the enrolled order of the judgment of the trial high court, no disqualification order was made against the applicant’s candidate (Lyon David Pereworimin), whether consequentially or otherwise.”
Bayelsa Gov, PDP, Falana, Condemn Attack on Justice Odili
Meanwhile, Diri, Falana and Okechukwu have condemned the attack on the residence of Justice Odili by political hoodlums over the verdict of the apex court on the Bayelsa governorship election.
Diri, in a statewide broadcast thursday, described the attack as sponsored and a desecration of a national institution.
The governor saluted the courage of the justices of the Supreme Court in their quest to uphold democratic principles.
He also thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for not yielding to pressure to interfere with the legal process as well as his legal team for putting up a sterling performance.
The governor contended that victory in a political contest should not be seen as an end in itself but as a means to foster peace, stability and development in all spheres.
A statement by his Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as stressing the need to make life more meaningful by creating an enabling environment that would engender economic activities and provide employment opportunities for the youth.
Okechukwu also decried the continued dwindling of the nation’s democratic credentials and fortunes, describing the incident as an ominous development for the nation’s democracy.
The lawmaker said judicial officers must be free to dispense justice without fear or favour.
He stated that the judiciary has come under attacks in recent years, saying that this is dangerous for our democracy.
On his part, Falana called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, to probe the invasion.
He said the invasion was an infringement on Justice Odili’s fundamental right to privacy guaranteed by Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution.
Falana, in a statement yesterday, described the right of Nigerian judges to decide cases without fear or favour as an integral part of judicial independence guaranteed by Section 36 (1) of the constitution.
He added that never in the history of Nigeria has a justice of the Supreme Court been subjected to such embarrassment over his or her decision.
He added that since both APC and PDP have accused each other of sponsoring the protest, the Inspector General of Police should investigate the incident.
He noted that upon the conclusion of the investigation, the report should be forwarded to the Attorney-General of the Federation with a view to charging the demonstrators with criminal trespass contrary to Section 349 of the Penal Code applicable in the Federal Capital Territory.
He also urged the National Judicial Council (NJC) to take up the invasion of Justice Odili’s official residence with Buhari.
He called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to follow up the investigation and prosecution of the invaders.
Also reacting, the PDP condemned the federal government’s delay in arresting APC National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, for allegedly inciting the attack on Justice Odili.
The PDP said it was clear that the attack on Justice Odili was part of APC’s alleged plot to intimidate, harass and cow the judiciary and judges to do only its bidding in delivering judgments on cases involving the PDP and its members.
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said the APC should know that Nigerians were not deceived by effort by its leadership to politicise the attack on Justice Odili by making flimsy and baseless allegations against the PDP, in a failed bid to divert public attention from their culpability in the attack.
The PDP described as distressing the Inspector General of Police’s alleged failure to arrest Oshiomhole for allegedly instigating the attack on Justice Odili.
Oshiomhole, Sylva Deny Involvement in the Attack
However, Oshiomhole and Sylva have denied any involvement in the protest at Odili’s residence.
Responding to PDP’s allegation that he is one of the sponsors of the attack on Justice Odili, Sylva said thursday he had nothing to do with the incident.
He also berated Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, for alleging that he and Oshiomhole were behind the protests.
Describing the claims of Wike as outright falsehood, Sylva said the governor could have organised the protests to blackmail the APC leadership before the Supreme Court knowing that the APC was prepared to approach the court for a review.
Sylva said Wike’s allegations amounted to adding salt to an injury because he had been so numbed since the judgment was passed that the only thing he could think about was to approach the court for a review.
Sylva, in the statement he personally signed, said: “I returned February 19th, 2020, from an official engagement abroad to read Governor Nyesom Wike’s statement to the effect that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and I are responsible for protests in front of Governor Peter and Justice Mary Odili’s house.
“There is no truth in that strange claim. Governor Wike should know in what high esteem I hold Governor Peter and Justice Odili whom I have known and worked with long before Governor Wike came into the picture. It will not occur to me to malign the person and image of people I hold up as role models.”
On his part, Oshiomhole, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Simon Egbulem, described the allegation by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Paulinus Nsirim, linking him (Oshiomhole) with the attacks on Odili’s residence, as a reckless defamation of character.
He also said the allegation was unbecoming of a state government that is supposed to operate under the rule of law including fairness and justice to all.
“For clarity, Oshiomhole was not in any way involved in the action that took place at the residence of Dr. Odili, a gentleman for whom Oshiomhole has tremendous respect as a friend of many years, despite political differences,” the statement said.
Oshiomhole said he condemned any harassment on Justice Mary Odili, adding that as a one-time beneficiary of judicial redress of injustice always, he also holds the judiciary in the highest esteem.
The statement added that the APC under Oshiomhole’s leadership has returned to the Supreme Court seeking the review of the judgment, adding that the step is the democratic culture to which Oshiomhole subscribes.
The statement argued that it is the police that should give account of what happened at the residence of Odili based on investigation and not the Rivers State government in Port Harcourt.