The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has sworn in Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem as the President of the Court of Appeal.
The swearing-in ceremony held on Friday at the conference room of the CJN’s office in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
He asked the newly sworn-in appellate court president to discharge her duties to the court without fear or favour.
Justice Muhammad also advised her to work closely with presiding justices of the Court of Appeal to achieve great strides in the nation’s judicial system.
He said, “Certainly, you will see that there is no court in this country that has the number of justices that the Court of Appeal has.
“Therefore, that shows you that the Court of Appeal is home of work, the Court of Appeal is home of cooperation; you have to cooperate together, all of you from top to bottom so that the work will continue to progress.”
After taking the oath of office, Justice Dongban-Mensem promised the CJN that she would contribute her quota to the growth of the nation’s judiciary.
On their part, Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, and Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, outlined their expectations from the Court of Appeal going forward.
The event had in attendance families, friends, colleagues of Justice Dongban-Mensem, as well as top government officials who stormed the venue to celebrate with her.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday elevated Sen. Abiola Ajimobi to serve as its acting National Chairman after the Court of Appeal upheld the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole.
Sen. Ajimobi was the party’s Deputy National Chairman for the southern region and is a former Governor of Oyo state.
In a statement signed by party spokesman Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu late Tuesday, the APC said its National Working Committee (NWC) had been guided by the party’s legal department in line with the provisions its constitution.
“According to Section 14.2. (iii),of the APC constitution, the Deputy National Chairman, North/South ‘Shall act as the National Chairman in the absence of the National Chairman from his zone’,” the statement said.
The Court of Appeal, earlier on Tuesday, had upheld the suspension of erstwhile National Chairman, Oshiomhole, by an Abuja High Court.
Ruling on the interlocutory appeal filed by Comrade Oshiomhole, the appellate court upheld the decision of the Federal Capital Territory High Court delivered by Justice Danlami Senchi which in March ordered the suspension of Oshiomhole as well as restraining him from parading himself as the National Chairman of the party.
Read the full statement:
Sen. Abiola Ajimobi to Serve As APC Acting National Chairman
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has received the news indicating the Appeal Court has upheld the suspension of the Party’s National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole by an FCT High Court pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Guided by advice from the Party’s legal department in line with the provisions of Section 14.2. (iii) of the Party’s constitution, the Deputy National Chairman (South), Sen. Abiola Ajimobi will serve as the Party’s Acting National Chairman.
According to Section 14.2. (iii),of the APC constitution, the Deputy National Chairman, North/South “Shall act as the National Chairman in the absence of the National Chairman from his zone”.
SIGNED Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu National Publicity Secretary All Progressives Congress (APC)
The Acting President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem has called on the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) to work out modalities for early and pragmatic training of Justices and Judges on the usage of the Manual for Election Petition Tribunal (EPT) as a way of broadening their scope of understanding its application.
She said: “I would like IFES to consider having more regular workshops for Justices and not just when elections are around the corner. This will also allow for proper feedback on how well people appreciate this effort and how your organisation intends to implement the issues raised to ensure that the process is better executed for positive result”.
Justice Dongban-Mensem made the plea when the Country Director of IFES, Mr Hermann Thiel, led the Deputy Country Director, Seray Jah and the Project Manager, Mr Simon Fanto to brief her on plans being made to convene a debriefing conference of the Justices and Judges who participated in the 2019 Election Petition Tribunal Processes as well as review the Manual for Election Petition Tribunal (EPT).
The IFES Country Director, Mr Hermann Thiel disclosed that their visit was of dual-purpose, first to familiarise himself with the new Acting President of the Court of Appeal and intimate her on the organisation’s activities.
The second purpose was to chart a new beginning on the way forward on how to overcome the challenges the COVID-19 poses in bringing back the 250 Judges drawn from the 36 states of the Federation, who participated in EPT for a debriefing conference especially, with the Federal Government’s guidelines on social distancing, which bans movement and official gatherings in the country.
In their contributions, the IFES Project Manager, Mr Simon Fanto and the Deputy Country Director, Mr. Seray Jah informed Justice Dongbam-Mensah that apart from training judges, IFES also collates feedback from the judges which helps in the review of the manual for election petition tribunals.
“As a tradition, at the end of the tribunal sittings, the post-election conference takes place where all the Judges come together to share experiences on what had happened while in the field, with a view to understanding the best processes that assisted them and those that posed challenges” Mr Fanto reiterated.
Specifically, the Project Manager informed the Acting President that the fall-out from such interface formed the bases for future reforms.
“Now that there are a lot of reforms that are ongoing, especially at the National Assembly as well as the legal components, we are primarily here to discuss and seek your Lordship’s guidance on how to reconvene the Post-Election Petition Tribunal Conference, review the recommendations from the discussions; this will trickle down to the production of the 2023 fourth edition of the Manual.”
“We also would like to brainstorm on what strategies to evolve, considering the realities on ground, because IFES brings all the Judges together-about 250 in number for the debriefing Workshop/Review, but the realities on ground may not permit that to happen. So, we are suggesting the use of ICT tools as the key strategy on the way forward the Deputy Country Director added.”
On the way forward, while commending IFES for a job well done in partnering with the Court of Appeal, the Acting President, observed that although it is a difficult period now necessitating thinking out of the box, on how things can be done differently, to achieve same results irrespective of the pandemic while leveraging on ICT tools to reach out to these Justices and Judges, suggested a decentralisation of the project to the six geopolitical zones of the country.
For emphasis, Justice Dongban-Mensem noted that enormous documents are presented before these Judges during the tribunal sittings, saddling them with a lot of paperwork which according to her is not a good time for the manual to be given to them.”
She suggested that if these manuals are made available ahead of time for the Judges to study and, follow-up workshops are organised specifically to address issues to be raised by the 250 Judges who participated in the Election Petition Tribunal, it will ease the tension being faced due to insufficient time for the study and assimilation of the guidelines, as contained in the Manual.
Justice Dongban-Mensem remarked that the idea whereby a lot of documents were dumped on Judges, who were expected to go through such materials without proper guidance, did not augur well for smooth justice delivery and urged IFES to take a closer look and find ways to address the issue. “In our rules, we say that briefs should not be more than a certain number of pages; yet they will reduce the font size of such briefs, compressing 60 pages to 30 pages, thereby putting excess pressure on our eyes.
“In planning the next edition of the manual, I think the Senior Advocates of Nigeria and lawyers should be involved because their roles are crucial in such decision-making process,” the Acting President suggested.
Highlighting the point raised by the Acting President, the Chief Registrar, Mr Ibrahim Aliyu recalled that in 2015, IFES had seminars and interactions with the tribunal Judges where they shared their experiences in the field.
He said through the feedback, updating the manual will give first-hand information to the tribunal Judges for improved adjudication on electoral matters.
This was after the lawyer representing Senator Ubah adopted his written address urging the court to sustain their appeal.
Lawyers to two of the respondents, while adopting their written addresses urged the court to dismiss the appeal on the ground that the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the appeal and that it is status barred.
Justice Bello Kawu of the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting at Kubwa, had in a judgment delivered on April 11, 2019, sacked Senator Ubah from the senate on the premise that he allegedly used a forged National Examination Council (NECO) certificate to contest the senatorial election that held in Anambra South on February 23, 2019.
Justice Kawu directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return which it issued to Senator Ubah and issue a fresh one to Dr Uzoh of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who came second at the election.
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem as the acting President of the Court of Appeal.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, announced this in a statement on Thursday.
He explains that the appointment, which takes effect from Friday, is for an initial period of three months.
Shehu added that Justice Dongban-Mensem would act in an acting capacity until when the incumbent president of the court, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, would statutorily retire from service.
“Justice Dongban-Mensem, who is the next most senior judge of the Court of Appeal, will be acting pending when a substantive appointment to the position of the President of the Court of Appeal may be made by President Buhari subject to the confirmation of the Senate,” the statement said.
The presidential aide said the approval of Justice Dongban-Mensem appointment followed the recommendation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad.
The recommendation, Shehu said, was made in line with the provisions of Section 238(4) & (5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan has fixed April 1 for the hearing of the appeal filed by the Oyo State government challenging a court order not to dissolve the 33 local government chairmen and 35 Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) in the state.
The adjournment followed withdrawal and striking out of three different applications which the lead counsel to the applicants, Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) filed earlier.
The justices believed the suits would stand as obstacles to the main substantive matter.
The appeal marked CA/IB/300/2018 was instituted by the governor of Oyo State, the Attorney General of Oyo State, and the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters.
Others are the Accountant-General of the state, the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, the Oyo State House of Assembly, and the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC).
Its respondents are Mr Mojeed Bosun Ajuwon and 10 others.
The legal battle was renewed after May 6, 2019, when Justice Aderonke Aderemi ruled that the Oyo State government should not sack the chairmen as planned, but the judgement was appealed by the state government.
At the resumed hearing, counsel to the respondents, Niyi Akintola (SAN), told the court that he filed his brief of argument out of time and prayed the court to grant an extension of time.
He added that his brief of argument was supported with an 18-paragraph affidavit and the same served on the respondents.
In his submission, counsel to the claimant, Kunle Kalejaiye (SAN), expressed displeasure at Akintola’s move but noted that he would not oppose the application.
The three-man panel headed by Justice Jimi Bada, thereafter, granted the application for extension of time until April 1, 2020.
The Court of Appeal complex of the Asaba division in Delta State will be completed and inaugurated on February 3, 2020.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa disclosed this on Tuesday after inspecting the ongoing work at the complex located at Mariam Babangida Way in Asaba.
He also expressed satisfaction with the level of work done so far on the project, noting that the court would bring relief to Deltans who previously had to travel long distances to other states to seek justice.
Delta State is one of the four states which have been approved to have Courts of Appeal – a development that the governor says would help ensure speedy delivery of justice for the people.
Okowa also inspected the Traditional Rulers Council Secretariat project where he acknowledged the contributions of traditional rulers to the development of the state, particularly in ensuring peaceful co-existence in their domains.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja has acceded, to the request of the detained former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki for the variation of the terms attached to the bail earlier granted him.
In a unanimous judgment, a three-man panel of the court expunged the requirement that Dasuki produced a Level 16 civil servant, who must own a property worth N100million within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as surety.
Justice Stephen Adah, in the lead judgment, said the inclusion of civil servants as surety was an oversight on the part of the court.
He ordered that Colonel Dasuki should instead; produce two sureties, with property worth N100 million within the FCT.
Colonel Dasuki, who is currently being held in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) despite being granted bail, challenged his continued detention (since December 2015) before the Federal High Court in Abuja via a fundamental rights enforcement suit.
In a judgment on July 2, 2018, the Federal High Court granted Dasuki bail but attached conditions, which the ex-NSA found too stringent to meet.
He asked to the appeal court on that issue and sought a review of the bail conditions, a request the appellate court acceded to in its decision of June 13, 2019.
Part of the new conditions set by the Court of Appeal was that Dasuki produces a surety, who must be a Level 16 official in the Civil Service of either the Federal or state government, who must own a property worth N100m within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Dasuki found this part of the latest conditions difficult to meet and returned to the court, via an application, and prayed for a further review.
He stated, in the application that it was difficult to find a Level 16 Civil Servant who could own N100m worth of property in Abuja through his legitimate earnings.
Justice Adah, in the Appeal Court judgment, said the court’s decision to request that Dasuki produce a civil servant as surety was an oversight.
He said: “Of concern to us is that we as a court must be ready and sensitive enough not to do anything that will run against the laws of the land.
“The issue of involving civil servants or public officers in the service of the federation or the state in bail of people accused of offences has never been the practice anywhere that is civilised, and we should stop it at this level.
“It was an error that we allowed that to stay. So, it is in this respect that we will act ex debito justitiae (as a matter of right) ensuring that aspect of the condition is removed from the conditions of bail that were granted.
“It is in this respect that we grant this application, thereby inaugurating a new regime of bail. Bail is now granted to the appellant/applicant in the sum of N100m with two sureties in like sum.
“The sureties shall be resident within the jurisdiction of the trial court and each of which shall furnish evidence of ownership of the property in Abuja. This shall be the order of the court,” Justice Adah said.
Justices Abubakar Yahaya and Emmanuel Agim, who were also on the panel, agreed with the lead judgment.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has upheld the judgment of the Taraba state governorship election petition Tribunal, which affirmed Mr Darius Ishaku of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), as the duly elected Governor of the state.
A five-man panel of the court led by Justice Chidi Uwa held that the All Progressive Congress (APC) had no candidate in the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Taraba state, by virtue of the disqualification of Mr Abubakar Danladi, by a Federal High Court in Jalingo on the 6th of March 2019.
The Taraba State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had on the 20th of September 2019, delivered a judgment that Mr Danladi was not qualified to contest the 2019 election and that the appellants failed to prove their claims that the election was marred by irregularities and failure to comply with the electoral act. It dismissed the appeal for lacking merit.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja has dismissed the case filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Great Ogboru on the March 2019 Governorship Elections in Delta state for lacking in merit.
A unanimous decision by a panel of five justices affirmed the decisions of the tribunal which upheld the victory of Ifeanyi Okowa as Governor of the state.
Mr. Ogboru had approached the appellate court in a bid to upturn the September judgement of the elections tribunal that dismissed its petition seeking the cancellation of the March 2019 elections in which Okowa was declared a winner for lacking in merit.
The APC candidate who appealed on 37 grounds stated that the tribunal erred on the point of law.
He contended that the total number of votes declared for the PDP candidate outnumbered the total number of accredited voters during the elections.
But the appeal court ruled in favour of the respondent, Ifeanyi Okowa on the ground that the appellant is unable to prove the case.
The panel also held that the appellant was unable to mention at least one accredited voters who did not vote in the election, nor was he able to call at least an agent of the political party who on the point of law is the most qualified person to testify in a case of over-voting.
The court, however, dismissed the entire appeal for lacking in merit.
It affirmed the decisions of the tribunal which upheld the victory of Ifeanyi Okowa in the March 2019 governorship election.
No cost was however awarded against the appellant.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has reserved judgment in the appeal filed by the candidate of the All Progressive Congress, Chief Great Ogboru, against the election of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as the Governor of Delta State.
A five-man panel of the court led by Justice Uzo Ndukwe-Anyanwu, reserved judgment on Monday after the lawyers to the parties in the appeal adopted and argued their final briefs.
Chief Ogboru is seeking a reversal of the decision of the Delta State governorship election petition tribunal which returned Senator Okowa as the winner of the March 9 governorship election.
He had raised 37 appeals through his lawyer, Mr Nicholson Ichekor, upon which he is asking the court of appeal to set aside the entire judgment of the tribunal.
The APC candidate alleged over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
The Kaduna Division of the Court of Appeal has nullified the election of spokesman of the Senate, Senator Dayo Adeyeye.
The Appellate Court subsequently upheld the tribunal judgment which declared Senator Biodun Olujimi and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party as winner of the Ekiti South Senatorial election held on February 23.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Dayo Adeyeye of the All Progressive Congress as winner of the February 23 , 2019 National Assembly election , but Mrs Olujimi challenged the result at the tribunal on the grounds that she scored the highest number of votes cast.
In her petition, Senator Olujimi asked the tribunal to nullify Adeyeye’s victory on the grounds that the election was marred by massive irregularities .
In her written address, the petitioner claimed that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Acts, having been allegedly fraught with all manners of irregularities. The tribunal in its judgment nullified elections in some polling units and declared Mrs Olujimi the authentic winner of the polls.
Dissatisfied with the tribunal judgment, both Adeyeye and His party, APC filed a petition at the court of appeal asking it to set aside the ruling of the lower court.
However, while delivering a unanimous judgement on Wednesday in Kaduna state, , Justice Uzor Anyanwu upheld the judgment of the tribunal and ordered INEC to issue fresh certificate of return to Senator Biodun Olujimi.