•Diri donates N40m fines to church
By Onungwe Obe in Yenagoa and Victor Ogunje
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Wole Olanipekun, has said that he did no wrong in seeking the review of Supreme Court’s judgment on the outcome of Bayelsa State governorship election.
Olanipekun was the head of the legal team of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. David Lyon, who sought the review of the judgment earlier delivered against the APC.
But the Supreme Court rebuked him and another counsel, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), for bringing such a frivolous application before it and slammed a N60 million cumulative fine on the duo.
It ordered Babalola and Olanipekun to pay N10m each to the three respondents in the suit: Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri; his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Diri said yesterday in Yenagoa that he and Ewhrudjakpo would donate their share, amounting to N40 million, to a church.
Olanipekun said yesterday in Ikere, Ekiti State during the donation of a 1,600-capacity church auditorium to Saint Peter’s Anglican Church that he would speak more about the judgment review at the appropriate time.
He said: “I have never regretted any of my actions since I started my legal practice because I always abide by the ethics of the job.
“The truth about the matter will be revealed soon; but I have the conviction that I have done no wrong because this is a profession I love so much.
“I saw the legal profession as a ministry. I am convinced and knew that what we did was within the best tradition in law. I can tell anyone about this.
“But I will speak about the whole thing at the appropriate time, I won’t say more than that now.”
On the killing of Christians by terrorists in the North, Olanipekun urged the church against being antagonistic neither should they act cowardly in handling of the vexatious matter.
“I could see the leadership of the church is not speaking up loud enough. Though, I believe we need prayers to overcome insurgency and terrorism, I know the Christians must be cautious about their actions; but they should not act cowardly.
“But I know that no matter how strong the evil forces are, they won’t overrun the power of God, because the power of God is not run through the power of man.”
Olanipekun added that the church auditorium he built and donated was part of his contributions to the spiritual growth of his people and for the development of tourism potential of the state.
“You are all aware of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Saint Paul Church in London and many others that are tourist centres. There is no tourist that will come to Ikere today that won’t ask of this church and that is the joy and benefit of it,” he stated.
However, Diri yesterday gave an insight into how he and his deputy would spend their share of the fine.
He said the N40 million would be given to the unnamed church.
Diri spoke during a thanksgiving service at the King of Glory Chapel, Government House, Yenagoa, where he also vowed to deal with the opposition if they refuse to accept his offer of peace and work with the new government.
Diri, who did not name the beneficiary church, however, said he was making the donation to the church to promote the work of God.
He attributed his victory at the Supreme Court to the handiwork of God, adding that the lawyers and their clients got the anger of the Supreme Court because they tried to challenge what God had declared through the court.
He thanked the people for their support and prayers as well as the Supreme Court for its wisdom and courage in handling the Bayelsa case.
He said:”What has happened only proves the fact that there is God that rules in the affairs of men. His decisions are final and supreme. There is no supreme court greater than the supreme court of God.
“He gave that judgment through the learned justices and some people felt they had to question Him. And God spoke through that woman that delivered the judgment. According to her, who are you to question the supremacy of the Supreme Court?”
Diri said intelligence at his disposal indicated that some opposition elements were still bent on fomenting trouble over the victory of the PDP at the Supreme Court.
“As a people, let us learn to move ourselves upward. We need to build on the prevailing peace in this state so that investors can come in and we can also create employment for our young ones who want to work.
“That is why we have offered the olive branch and we expect them all to accept it. But for those who refuse to accept it but rather are planning evil, they should realise that we are now on the seat of power,” he added.