Appeal Court Reaffirms Election Of Gov Udom

A file photo of Governor Udom Emmanuel.

 

The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar over the Governorship election petition tribunal judgements have reaffirmed the election of Governor Udom Emmanuel as duly elected and winner of the March 9, 2019 election in Akwa Ibom State.

In a unanimous judgement on Wednesday in Calabar, the five-man Appeals Panel preceded over by Justice Adzira Gana Mshehia all concurred with the lead judgement read by Justice Tunde Awotoye.

The judgement which awarded a cost of N500, 000 against the appellant in favour of the only the first respondents, Governor Udom Emmanuel read in parts, “the appellants complained of irregularities in 756 polling units, they called a total of 43 witnesses. 17 of whom were polling agents. So in over 700 units complained about, the appellant did not lead any evidence of non-compliance alleged.”

“It’s at the polling units that votes are cast. The primary evidence of a result of an election is the results from the polling units. The evidence adduced was not substantial enough to affect the result of the election. Any proven irregularity and non-compliance has not been shown to be broad-based, and substantial enough across the polling units in Akwa Ibom State, in order to result in the nullification of the entire election.”

“It seems to be a fallacy, a delusion for the appellant to believe that the quality of the evidence, he adduced established non-compliance and substantially affected the result of the election.”

“The election had already been won and lost”. One of the judges asserted in his contributions. Adding that “when the return of an election is being questioned, on the grounds of non-compliance with the provisions of the electoral Act, it does not suffice to prove non- compliance without more, the petition we must be able to go further to prove that the non-compliance was substantial and affected the result of the election. The authorities in this regard are legion. The petitioner must not only assert but must be able to satisfy the court that the non-compliance affected the result to justify nullification.”

“The non-compliance has to include the polling units, wards and local government complained about. And where documentary evidence is relied upon, it has to be demonstrated in court through the testimony of witnesses”.

“The law stipulates that an election shall not be invalidated by the reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the electoral act if the election was conducted substantially in accordance with provisions of the Act. And that the non- compliance did not affect the result of the election, substantially – See section 139, sub section one of the Electoral Act”.

All the legal counsels representing both the appellants and the respondents in the case accepted the judgement and no indication was given if the APC governorship candidate will challenge the judgement to the Supreme Court.

Giving his reaction to the judgment, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Akwa Ibom State, Uwemedimo Nwoko Esq, said the judgment “is exactly what was expected in the sense that by the time we went through the trial processes and procedures in the trial tribunals, it was very evident that the petitioners now appellant did not make any conscious efforts to prove their case. The case they brought to the court was full of contradictions and the evidence lacked legal principles.”

Counsel to Governor Udom Emmanuel of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, Assam Assam SAN told journalists that “the Court of Appeal dismissed the case and declared His Excellency Emmanuel Udom as the elected governor of Akwa Ibom state.

“The petitioners brought a petition based on allegations and brought documents that does not relate to the Court. The petitioner himself came to the court and told them that there was no election in Akwa Ibom state but brought votes registers and there was nobody in the court to testify the fact that those registers were not used in the election.”

“He could not tell the court how the results were when there was no election. No evidence adduced at all. When you look at all the documents tendered none of them was certified as provided for in the electoral Act.

The people were waiting for the judgement. It is their judgement. They voted for Gov. Udom in their numbers and they are very happy over this judgement”.

PHOTOS: Buhari Meets With Calabar Leaders

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday met with leaders of the Calabar community.

They include His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi, Otu V, Obong of Calabar, at the State House in Abuja.

The President said that though the City had lost its preeminent status as the first capital city of Southern Nigeria to Lagos but his administration will not lessen ongoing efforts to open the City to the rest of Nigeria but will increase the efforts to ensure happiness and betterment of the people of the City in particular and Cross River State in general.

See Photos Below:

 

 

Buhari Promises To Make Calabar Historic City

Buhari Meets with His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Abasi, Otu V, Obong of Calabar

 

President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja assured full Federal Government’s support for the development of the historic City of Calabar.

At an audience granted His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi, Otu V, Obong of Calabar, at the State House, the President said that though the City had lost its preeminent status as the first capital city of Southern Nigeria to Lagos, his administration will not lessen ongoing efforts to open the City to the rest of Nigeria, but will increase the efforts to ensure happiness and betterment of the people of the City in particular and Cross River State in general.

“We will open up that part of Nigeria to the rest of the country,” President Buhari assured, adding that a number of projects are being executed by the Federal Government in the State.

According to him, “three road projects – Calabar-Ugep-Ikom-Ogoja; Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene and Sapele-Ewu – are at various stages of completion.”

The President noted that in order to speed up work on the Calabar-Ugep-Ikom-Ogoja road, plans are underway to incorporate it in the Sukuk Bond to increase the level of funding of the construction work.

He assured that the dredging of the Calabar harbour will be undertaken as soon as some legal issues are settled by the Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Ports Authority with the contractor.

President Buhari pledged full support to the Calabar Deep Sea Port project of the State, adding that a number of electricity projects would soon follow after a visit to the State by the Ministers of Power in the upcoming two weeks.

Enumerating other projects in the State being undertaken by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs such as the Industrial Park which is one of the three set up through the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board, the President also noted the construction of roads and water projects by the Niger Delta Development Commission; the development of a Skills Acquisition Centre for youths; and the construction of houses among others.

In his address, the Obong of Calabar decried the disregard and neglect of the Calabar Kingdom in spite of its national historical significance, and called for the reversal of the “demotion” through the execution of projects in the areas of roads, power, maritime access, security and border issues as well as the plight of displaced persons from the Bakassi Islands.

The Royal Father congratulated President Buhari on his “overwhelming victory” in the February election and at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, and urged his administration to restore Calabar to what it lost to Lagos and Abuja.

 

Gas Deal: FG To Appeal British Court Orders Over Seizure Of $9bn

 

The Federal Government has said that it would appeal Friday’s ruling of a British ordering that about Nine billion dollars ($9bn) worth of its assets be seized by the Process and Industrial Development Limited following a breach in contract.

According to the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata, the government has instructed its lawyers to appeal against of the court which sat in London.

The ruling on Friday is the latest development in the case which started in 2010, regarding an agreement to build a gas processing plant in Calabar, Cross River State.

The project collapsed between Nigeria and the Irish firm after the former is said to have failed to meet its end of the bargain.

In his statement on Friday, Mr Apata noted that as regards the recent Judgment of the English Court, the Federal Government’s Counsel have been instructed to pursue an appeal, as well as seek for a Stay of Execution of the said judgment.

He added that the Federal Government of Nigeria is making vigorous efforts to defend its interest in this matter and would not relent in exploring every viable option in doing so.

READ ALSO: Natural Gas Deal: UK Court Approves $9bn Claim Against Nigeria

Below is a full statement by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Dayo Apata.

PRESS STATEMENT

PROCESS & INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT LIMITED V. FGN

  1. Please recall the dispute that led to Arbitration between Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and Process and Industrial Development Ltd which arose from a 20 year Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) entered in 2010 between FGN (through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources) and P & ID in respect of an accelerated gas development project in Nigeria’s OMLs 67 and 123. P&ID never began the construction of the project facility although it alleges it incurred about $40 Million in preliminary expenses.

 

  1. P & ID’s claim in the arbitration proceedings was mainly for loss of profit for the entire twenty-year term of the GSPA, initially claiming the sum of US$1.9 Billion and later increasing its claim to US$5.9 Billion.

 

  1. The Arbitral Tribunal on 31st January 2017 rendered its Final Award against the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in the sum of US$6.597 Billion together with pre-award interest at the rate of 7% per annum effective from 20th March 2013 and post award interest at the same rate till date of payment.

 

  1. In granting the huge arbitration award against Nigeria the tribunal decided the following:

 

  1. that the project would operate at 93% uptime during the twenty year of the GSPA despite the well-known risks of operating such a project in the Niger-Delta.

 

  1. that the average price of Natural Gas Liquids (the main revenue earner for P&ID assuming the GSPA had been implemented), should be based on an average oil price in excess of $100 per barrel over the twenty-year life of the project;

 

  • to apply a discount rate to P&ID’s supposed lost profits of 2.65 %, the same interest rate paid on United States treasury notes thereby adjudging P&ID, a start-up company that never commenced any physical work on the project but planned to operate in the midst of the Niger-Delta crisis, using a novel and unproven technology, a virtually “risk free” investment.

 

  1. Upon the Award, P & ID commenced recognition and enforcement proceedings of the arbitration award against FGN in March 2018 in both the United Kingdom (“UK”) and the United States of America (the “United States”).

 

  1. The FGN is duly represented in the proceedings in the United States by the Law Firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP which also represented it in the UK proceedings of which judgement was given on 16th August, 2019 in favour of the P&ID to commence enforcement proceeding against the FGN assets in the UK.

 

  1. Recall further that this matter was inherited from the previous Administration by the present one. Upon inheriting this matter, this Government engaged the renowned US Law Firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP to defend the interest of the FGN. The Law Firm has taken step to defend the proceedings in the United Stated by urging the District Court to dismiss the P&ID application for enforcement of the award on the ground that Nigeria as a sovereign state has an absolute right to obtain an authoritative determination of its sovereign immunity. The FGN therefore demanded that the jurisdictional issue must be conclusively resolved before Nigeria may be required to litigate the merits of P&ID’s petition.

 

  1. P&ID has variously challenged Nigeria’s position urging the District Court to direct Nigeria to file both its jurisdiction and merit defenses as a consolidated defense so that the proceedings may be disposed of by the District Court summarily.

 

  1. The FGN has however pursued the validity of its jurisdictional defense as a preliminary matter which must be conclusively resolved prior to any consideration of the merit argument up to the Court of Appeal.

 

  1. In a ruling on 9th October 2018, the District Court granted a stay of proceedings pending a determination of the appeal.

 

  1. P&ID has also subsequently filed motions to have Nigeria’s appeal certified as frivolous and to have proceedings in the District Court continue pending determination of the appeal at the Court of Appeal.

 

  1. On 1st November 2018, the US District Court issued a decision in favour of FGN denying P & ID’s further attempt to certify Nigeria’s appeal as frivolous and denied P&ID’s attempt to lift the stay of proceedings.

 

  1. On 15 February 2019, the Court of Appeal issued a decision in favour of FGN by dismissing P&ID’s motion requesting the court to dismiss Nigeria’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction or to summarily affirm the scheduling order of the District Court.

 

  1. The proceedings therefore are currently on-going in the United States and the FGN will ensure that its interest and that of the people of Nigeria are vigorously defended.

 

  1. As regards the recent Judgment of the English Court of 16 August 2019, the Federal Government’s Counsel have been instructed to pursue an appeal on the judgment of the English Court dated 16 August, 2019 and at the same time seek for a Stay of Execution of the said judgment.

 

  1. In view of the above, please be informed that the Federal Government of Nigeria is making vigorous efforts to defend its interest in this matter and would not relent in exploring every viable option in doing so.

Dayo Apata, Esq.

Solicitor General of the Federation and

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja.

Court Sacks Owan-Enoh As Cross River APC Gov Candidate

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, has sacked Senator John Owan Enoh as the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state.

The court also sacked the factional leadership of the party under Mr John Ochalla, which is loyal to Owan-Enoh.

Apart from removing Senator Enoh and Ochalla, the court rejected other candidates of the party currently recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In a two-hour judgment, Justice Simon Amobeda, ordered that Usani Usani, be recognised as the legitimate candidate of the party.

He also ordered that “INEC should only receive and accept the names and candidates for the 2019 elections that emerged from the lawful executive led by Godwin Etim John”.

Justice Amobeda also ordered that persons parading themselves as the executive members of the APC in the state should forthwith cease to do so, ruling that the lawful executive of APC in Cross River remains that which is led by Godwin Etim John.

“The judgment clearly is in support of the rule of law as it also supports the yearning of the common man,” counsel to the claimants, Ayei Okpa, told journalists after the judgement.

“Once a judgment is delivered in a court of law, everyone affected by that judgment is supposed and ought to comply with the said judgment and that is what this court today, has confirmed”.

Okpa added that INEC is to use and publish only the names that emerged from the lawful executive and not any other name that emerged from any other executive in Cross River State APC.

According to him, the court has every power under its disciplinary jurisdiction to undo what has been done unlawfully and the Electoral Act commands INEC to obey court orders.

“INEC has every reason to comply with that order, what INEC did by publishing unlawful names is unlawful,” he said.

Reacting to the judgement, Ntufam Godwin Etim John said, he is very pleased with the court’s ruling and is not surprised with the judgment because according to him, there is no way that one will disobey court injunction, ruling or judgement and expect to go anywhere and get a contrary judgment.

Meanwhile, counsel to the John Ochalla faction of the party, Egire Osim, declined to speak with Journalists.

Fake Naval Officer Nabbed In Cross River

 

A man identified as James Solomon, who has been parading himself as a naval officer attached to the office of the Chief of Naval Staff in Calabar, the Cross River State Capital, has been arrested.

The commander, Nigerian Navy Ship Victory, Rear Admiral Julius Nwagu, confirmed this to journalists on Monday.

According to Nwagu, the 25-year-old imposter, who hails from Abi Local Government Area of the state, has admitted to the crime and would soon be handed over to the Police for prosecution.

Read Also: Troops Arrest Political Thugs In Sokoto

Some of the items recovered from him included the Nigerian Navy camouflage which he was putting on at the time of arrest, a fake Nigerian Navy Identity Card, copies of recruitment forms and applicants credentials for the Navy, ATM cards, and a computer.

INEC Fixes Nov 10 For Bye-Election In Ikom After Cross-River Lawmaker Dies

Underage Voters: INEC Probe Committee Lacks Credibility – PDP
File photo

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed November 10 for the bye-election of the Ikom (2) constituency seat in the Cross-River State House of Assembly, following the death of the lawmaker representing the constituency.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Dr. Frankland Briyai, disclosed this on Thursday at a meeting of stakeholders drawn from all political parties, at the INEC office in Calabar, the state capital.

He assured the different parties of a smooth, free and fair exercise.

According to him, the election would allow a level playing field for all parties and their candidates.

Briyai also used the opportunity to warn parties and their agents against vote buying.

Calabar Health Workers Protest Against Old Salary Scale

 

Workers of the College of Health Technology Calabar, (COHTECH) have taken to major streets of the Cross River state capital, demanding the implementation of a seven-year-old salary scale which was approved in 2011.

The protesting workers include members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP).

According to them, COHTECH remains the only tertiary institution in the state that is yet to benefit from the Consolidated Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Academic Salary Structure, (CONPCASS).

In order to ensure their demands are met, the two unions on Wednesday shut down the school located at Mary-Slessor in Calabar as they commenced a three-day warning strike.

They also took their protest to the Government House, where they were addressed by the state’s Special Adviser on Labour and Productivity, Mr Effiong Ita Umo.

He assured them that the state government will the matter and appealed to them to be patient.

Calabar Traders Blame Government As Fire Destroys Electronics Market

Over fifty shops were burnt down to ashes on Monday, November 28 at the electronics section of the Watt Market in Calabar, the Cross River State Capital.

With property worth, millions of naira were lost to the incident and now the victims are appealing to the state government to assist them to start life all over again as their major source of livelihood is now been destroyed.

The traders lamented that no fire agency was on the ground to put out the fire, forcing the victims to use manual means of preventing the fire from escalating which achieved nothing.

READ ALSO: Traders Lament As Fire Destroys Goods Worth Millions In Ondo

The electronic section at Calabar’s popular Watt Market which was consumed by fire on Monday Night is located directly behind the Atakpa Police Station. Police personnel had to rush to the area to prevent hoodlums from taking advantage of the situation to rub other shops not affected by the fire.

Although the cause of the fire disaster is unknown, the victims blamed the extent of destruction on the part of fire service that was not on the ground to put out the fire when it just began. They claimed that several calls were put through without any positive response.

One of the traders, Mr Kayode Oweheh narrated his ordeal to Channels Television.

He said, “I have closed already, I was in my house when someone just called me that there is a fire in the market so I ran and went to the state fire service, they said their vehicle is not in order and they don’t have water.

“I have to go to airport fire service, still the same thing they said there is no vehicle, that they cannot come so, we are very confused we didn’t know what to do, if not for the help of able boys here that are using water to quench the fire, it could have been more than this.”

They want the government to assist them to start life all over again as on their own, they can do nothing following the hard times.

On his part, the Director General of the State Emergency Management Agency, Mr Austin Inaku regretted the extent of destruction. He, however, assured the traders of government’s intervention following the disaster.

“So far you can see that being here, it was the State Governor himself who called me, he got the signal the signal first and called me and asked that I should move in immediately.

“Basically what we are doing now is to see how we can now have exact figures of traders affected and what really went wrong to enable us to know to see how to quantify what to give to who,” he said.

Most of the traders were seen trying to put off the fire manually as security agencies were also on ground to safeguard the area and also calm the victims.

Fallen Power Cable Electrocutes Two, Starts Fire In Calabar

 

Two persons a woman and a 15 year-old-boy have been confirmed dead due to electrocution and properties worth millions of naira burnt down at Adak Uko, Calabar South Local Government Area of Cross River State.

Both persons were electrocuted in the early hours of Tuesday when a power cable fell to the ground, sparking flames which engulfed properties as well.

The incident, according to eyewitnesses, and some victims who narrowly escaped being electrocuted is due to improper connections and negligence on the part of the power company.

A landlord, whose compound and property were razed by the fire, said that between August and September, they witnessed series of threats after a high-tension pole fell.

Complaints and reports made to the power authorities were ignored according to him.

Had appropriate action been taken, he believes the loss of lives and destruction of property would have been averted.

The electrocution occurred less than a year after a major tragedy occurred at a football viewing centre. Scores of fans watching a football game had been electrocuted when a power cable fell on the centre.

Osinbajo Commissions Garment Factory, Other Projects In Cross River

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has described the Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, as a man of credible ideas.

Professor Osinbajo also described the governor as a great achiever who has inspired a generation of young people by availing them the opportunity to be gainfully employed.

He said this on Thursday in Calabar, the Cross River State capital while in the state on an official visit to commission some major projects embarked upon by the State Government.

One of the projects is the Cross River Garment Factory which presently has a staff number of 3,000 and an additional 1,000 persons to be absorbed soon.

The Acting President was also taken on a guided tour of the Ayade Industrial Park, the Rice City and the Cala Pharmacy, all located in the state capital.

Commissioning the projects, he commended Governor Ayade for creating an avenue for employment and money generation in the state.

Also commissioned by Acting President Osinbajo was the State Monorail where he alongside the governor took a tour on the rail to the Calabar International Convention Centre.

He further visited the palace of the Obong of Calabar, His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, where he paid homage to the first class ruler of the Efik Kingdom.

The traditional ruler used the occasion to call on all political office holders to unite in building a stronger Nigeria, irrespective of political affiliations.

He also urged the present administration to keep fate with their campaign promises, two years after being voted into office.

In his response, the Acting President assured Nigerians of a better and developed country under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

On his part, Governor Ayade commended Professor Osinbajo for the visit which he described as memorial.

Before his departure from the palace, the Acting President was conferred with one of the highest traditional titles of the Efik Kingdom, Ada Idaha Ke Efik Eburutu.

We Are Greater Together Than Apart, Says Osinbajo

The Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has again emphasised the need for Nigeria to remain one united country.

He said this today in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, where he was giving a rousing welcome by citizens of the state.

According to Osinbajo, those seeking division in the country must understand that Nigeria is great today because of its population, size, and unity despite the odds.

“The reason why this country is as great as it is, is because of its diversity. It is because we have here people of every race, people of every tribe bringing in their different cultures, their different strengths (together). All of the different things that make each one of our ethnic groups great comes together in one country,” Osinbajo said at the Palace of the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu.

“We are greater when we are together than when we are apart. This country is greater together than apart. Every one of our ethnic groups needs the support of the other.

“When people speak of Nigeria and respect this country, it is because of the diversity; because of the strength in numbers. That is why we are considered great; that is why the rest of Africa looks up to us for direction. If we are one small conclave, nobody will look at us with the seriousness that they look at us today.”

The Obong of Calabar on his part called on all political office holders to unite in building one Nigeria irrespective of political affiliations.

He also called on the Federal Government to fulfill the campaign promises.

The traditional ruler conferred the Acting President with one of the highest traditional titles of the Efik Kingdom, Ada Idaha Ke Efik Eburutu.

Also, Governor Ben Ayade praised the Acting President for the visit, which he described as memorable.