Malabu Oil: Ruling On Shell, AGIP Applications Stalled

malabuThe Ruling on two separate applications filed by Shell Oil exploration Nigeria LTD and Agip Oil seeking to vary an order made by the Federal High Court in Abuja, on January 26, 2017, which granted temporary forfeiture of the oil prospective license 245 bloc to the Federal Government has been stalled.

The ruling could not go on because of the three fresh applications filed by Malabu Oil, principally seeking to be joined in the suit as well, as a party in the already heard applications filed by Shell and Agip.

Counsel to Malabu Oil, Mr. Abdullahi Haruna told Justice John Tsoho that, the joinder application was aimed at delaying the ruling in the application filed by the two oil giant, so Malabu Oil can become one of the plaintiff in the suit.

However, the application was objected by lawyers to Agip and Shell because it is frivolous and a waste of the courts time.

Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Johnson Ojogbane, did not file any application but rather left the issue at the court’s discretion.

Nevertheless, after taking submissions from counsel, Justice John Tsoho adjourned the ruling on Malabu’s application to March 17, 2017.

Rivers Rerun: Court Didn’t Stop Us From Probing Violence – Police

INECThe Nigeria Police Force has stated that there is no court order preventing it from investigating the alleged violence that occurred during the legislative rerun election in Rivers State.

A statement by the Force’s spokesman, CSP Jimoh Moshood, also affirmed that there was no directive stopping the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris, from performing his statutory duties under the law.

Contrary to a report in the media, the Police maintained that the court said the force had the option to either continue with its investigation or not, pending the determination of the suit.

They added that the case was consequently adjourned to February 10, 2017.

The Police urged Nigerians to disregard the caption posted by news platform which they said was misleading, insisting that IGP Idris is committed to riding Nigeria of all forms of criminality within the ambit of the law.

What Transpired In Court

The Police statement reads: “The attention of the Nigeria Police Force has been drawn to an online/social media publication by Breaking Times on January 31, 2017 captioned ‘HIGH COURT STOPS THE INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE FROM PROBING RIVERS STATE RE-RUN VIOLENCE’.

“The said publication, which is in respect of an ongoing Civil Suit NO. FHC/ABJ/CS/13/2017 between the Governor of Rivers State (Mr Nyesom Wike) and the Inspector General of Police, pending at the Federal High Court Abuja, purportedly claimed that ‘the Federal High Court has asked the Inspector General of Police to maintain status quo in the investigation of the violence that rocked Rivers State during the Re-Run Legislative Election on December 10, 2016’ among others.

“It is however, pertinent to make the following clarifications in order to keep the general public informed of what transpired in court on January 30, 2017 when the case came up for hearing:
a. That counsel to the Inspector General of Police raised a preliminary objective to the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the motion,
b. That the counsel to the Governor of Rivers State informed the court that the needed time respond to both the counter affidavit and the preliminary objection.

“The court, however observed that the Nigeria Police Force has the option to either continue with their investigation or not, pending the determination of the suit. The case was then adjourned to February 10, 2017.

A Misleading Caption

“In the light of the above, it is very clear that the Federal High Court has not in any way stopped the Nigeria Police Force from investigating the alleged violence during the said rerun election in Rivers State. In this regard, no order was given by the court stopping the Inspector General of Police from performing his statutory duties under the law.

“Consequently, the caption posted by Breaking Times is misleading and should be disregarded by the public. A careful perusal of the full content of the said publication reveals the true outcome of the Justice Kolawole’s ruling. It only goes to show that the motive behind such a caption is to draw attention of the public.

“The Inspector General of Police wishes to restate his unalloyed commitment to rid the country of all forms of criminality bearing in mind the obligation of the Force within the ambit of the law.”

Court Adjourns PDP Leadership Suit Indefinitely

Justice Ademola’s Trial Stalled In AbujaThe Court of Appeal in Abuja has adjourned indefinitely the hearing into the leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

A three-man panel of justices led by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, suspended hearing on the matter to await the outcome of a related case pending before another court in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital.

The decision followed a motion filed by the Ali Modu sheriff faction of the party.

The group’s counsel, Akin Olujinmi, asked the court not to attend to the suit filed by the senator Ahmed Markafi-led faction.

The defense counsel’s argument was based on the fact that the Port Harcourt division of the court has already reserved judgement on the matter.

In that suit, the appellants are challenging a verdict that Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja delivered on June 30, which recognized Sheriff as national chairman of the party.

PDP Shuns Court Order, Says All Is Set For National Convention

Nyesom-Wike-Governor-of-Rivers-StateThe Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says all is now set for its planned national convention scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, shunning a court order asking it to shelve the convention plan.

Hours after a Federal High Court in Abuja gave a ruling that proscribed the party from holding the national convention, the Chairman of the Planning Committee and Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike, told reporters that the planned convention would hold.

While the Federal High Court in Abuja has banned the party from holding the convention, another Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, has ruled that the PDP could hold the convention as planned.

The latest of the contradictory orders were issued on Tuesday by both courts.

In his ruling on a case filed by the factional chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the presiding judge of the Abuja court, Justice Okon Abang, restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission from supervising or monitoring the planned convention, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The trial judge in the ruling also ordered the Inspector General of Police to enforce his order which put paid to the planned convention.

He also directed Senator Sheriff to obtain and fill form 48 so as to commit anybody or group, who may disobey the order to prison.

Aware that a Port Harcourt court order contradicts that of his court, he said: “This division is not struggling with Port Harcourt division for jurisdiction but the Port Harcourt division should not have assumed jurisdiction because the Supreme Court has made it clear, that when a situation like we have at hand arises, a judge should consult with the Chief Judge before taking any step.

“If my brother in Port Harcourt is vast with this Supreme Court decision he would not have assumed jurisdiction. Let me make it clear here that Port Harcourt division cannot over rule me”.

“Any party or person that fails to comply with my decision will have himself to blame,” he warned.

In an earlier ruling on the same day, the court in Port Harcourt said that since the July 4, 2016 judgement of Justice Lima that ordered Senator Sheriff or his agents from parading themselves as the chairman and leaders of the party was not appealed, the judgement still subsists.

The ruling by Justice Ibrahim Walifa was in connection with originating summons of a matter between the National Convention Planning Committee of the party and the Independent National Electoral Commission, the police and Department of State Services.

Justice Walifa said that it was an abuse of court processes for the defendants to carry on as if nothing has changed and sought to originate a similar matter in a sister court.

He believes the High Court judgement of July 4 and August 16 have made it abundantly clear that the Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee was on the right side of the law.

Amidst theses contradictory orders, however, the PDP said convention planning committee is carrying on with its plan to hold the convention, with Mr Wike saying that the seeming conflicting judgements from the High Court in Abuja was simply a distraction.

“All the legal organs of the party have arrived for the event,” he said.

Billed to hold on Wednesday, the convention, according to the party, will see the election of officers of the Party drawn from the six geo-political zones of Nigeria to fill in the vacant positions that occurred following the dissolution of national officers due to the expiration of their tenure at the last National Convention on May 21.

The planned convention will hold at the Sharks Stadium, Moscow Road in Port Harcourt. .

More Contradictory Court Orders Trail Planned PDP National Convention

Court on PDP National ConventionMore contradictory court orders are still coming on the planned national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) less than 24 hours before the convention.

While a Federal High Court in Abuja has barred the PDP from holding the national convention slated for August 17 in Port Harcourt, another High Court in Port Harcourt re-affirmed that the party’s National Convention Planning Committee was duly constituted and that ‘the planned convention stands valid’.

In its ruling, the Abuja court also barred the party from presenting, electing or recognising anybody as its national officer.

The ruling was on a motion on notice filed by factional national chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, seeking to stop the convention that is scheduled to hold in Rivers State.

Reading the court’s ruling, Justice Okon Abang restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission from supervising or monitoring the planned convention, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

‘Not Struggling With Port Harcourt Court’

The trial judge in the ruling also ordered the Inspector General of Police to enforce his order which put paid to the planned convention.

He also directed Senator Sheriff to obtain and fill form 48 so as to commit anybody or group, who may disobey the order to prison.

Aware that a Port Harcourt court order contradicts that of his court, he said: “This division is not struggling with Port Harcourt division for jurisdiction but the Port Harcourt division should not have assumed jurisdiction because the Supreme Court has made it clear, that when a situation like we have at hand arises, a judge should consult with the Chief Judge before taking any step.

“If my brother in Port Harcourt is vast with this Supreme Court decision he would not have assumed jurisdiction. Let me make it clear here that Port Harcourt division cannot over rule me”.

“Any party or person that fails to comply with my decision will have himself to blame,” he warned.

In the Port Harcourt court, however, the judge, Justice Ibrahim Walifa said that since the July 4, 2016 judgement of Justice Lima that ordered Senator Sheriff or his agents from parading themselves as the chairman and leaders of the party was not appealed, the judgement still subsists.

The ruling was in connection with originating summons of a matter between the National Convention Planning Committee of the party and the Independent National Electoral Commission, the police and Department of State Services.

Justice Walifa said that it was an abuse of court processes for the defendants to carry on as if nothing has changed and sought to originate a similar matter in a sister court.

The judge therefore granted the prayers of the plaintiffs and re-affirmed that the party’s National Convention Planning Committee was duly constituted and that the convention was valid.

The contradictory court orders are coming less than 24 hours to the planned national convention, which the party said on Monday it was going ahead with.

EFCC Arraigns Nigeria’s Former Head Of Service

efccThe Former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr Steve Oronsaye, is to appear before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court Abuja, to answer charges of corruption, bordering on 1.2 billion Naira fraud.

Mr Orosaye on Thursday returned to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s custody ahead of Monday’s arraignment.

He had earlier been arrested on Wednesday by the anti-graft agency but granted an administrative bail after several hours of questioning.

He was thereafter asked to return the following day to be formally charged to court.

The former top civil servant was appointed the Head of Service of the Federation in 2009 and is alleged to have been involved in bogus contract award between 2009 and 2010

Court Places Clause On Lawmakers’ Investigation Of Diezani

PowerA Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, has set aside the letter of invitation issued by the House of Representatives to the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke, to appear before the House to account for the 10 billion Naira allegedly spent by her on a private aircraft charter .

The court voided the invitation by the House on the ground that condition precedent in line with section 88 of the constitution were bridged by the lawmakers

The condition were that the House has to publish in the National Assembly journal and the gazette of the Federal Government the resolution directing the probe of the minister.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed, in the judgment, held that until the conditions precedent are followed ,the National Assembly cannot issue summon on any public officer for the purpose of investigation.

However, the court ruled that in the instant case, the permission of the President was not needed before the Minister could appear before the House, because the allegation against the Minister was on unofficial use of public fund to charter private aircraft .

The court, however, advised the minister or any public officer to always honour invitations once the conditions precedence are followed because the National Assembly has power to summon any public officer.

Sealing Party Office Will Not Break Our Spirit, Baraje Tells Tukur

The Abubakar Baraje led PDP has described the closure of its head office in Abuja by the police as the height of impunity.

A statement issued by the National Secretary of the Baraje-led group, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola said security forces were mobilised to seal off the office on Saturday based on a non-existent court injunction which the Tukur faction claimed to have obtained on Friday.

“The whole world knows that Justice E. Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday refused to grant Alhaji Bamanga Tukur’s application for an ex-parte injunction against our party’s executive. The Judge asked parties to maintain the status quo. His judgment was a reinforcement of an early order of the Lagos High Court which also asked parties to maintain the status quo. Now, should Nigerians conclude that Tukur’s interpretation of status quo is this crude display of naked power and undisguised impunity?

“We are not at all surprised at this occurrence given the fact that Tukur issued a statement on Friday evening deliberately seeking to mislead the media and the public that Justice Chukwu granted him an injunction against us. We are happy that the ever vigilant Nigerian press ignored him and his falsehood. Now, he is not only wilfully disobeying the various courts which have made pronouncements on this matter, he is spicing up his love for impunity with this reckless misuse of state power by misleading the police.

“We call for an immediate removal of the siege to our secretariat. We call on the Inspector General of police to order the immediate removal of his men from our office. Doing so, we believe, will serve the interest of justice, rule of law and democracy. Nigeria is a country ruled by law and not by might and force.

“We hasten to say that if this move is aimed at breaking our spirit, that goal is definitely off the mark. We are determined to rescue our party from the lawlessness and crass arrogance that have defined the character of the Tukur leadership since inception. Our party needs that deliverance, its members deserve the change we have brought into it,” the statement said.

The statement wondered why Tukur, who appeared before the party’s elders on Friday ostensibly in search of peace, could, in less than 12 hours, start another round of acts of impunity.

Felony Charges: FG Withdraws Lawsuit Against Leadership Newspapers

The federal government has withdrawn the six count charge filed against Leadership Newspapers and two of their reporters, Tony Amokeodo and Chibuzor Ukaibe.

Leadership Newspaper Journalists charged with felony

In a notice of withdrawal and discontinuance of charges dated thirtieth of April and filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, the federal government through the office of the attorney general of the federation applied for the withdrawal and discontinuance of criminal proceedings consisting of six count charge against the accused persons.

The federal government had filed amended charges against leadership newspaper and two of its journalists, accused of forging a presidential directive, to a six-count of felony.

The journalists were initially detained by the police for refusing to name their sources for a story alleging a presidential attempt to botch the merger of some opposition parties in Nigeria.

The journalists, Tony Amokeoda, Chibuzor Ukaibe, and Taiwo Omilani, who is now at large, were charged before a Federal High Court Abuja by the federal government for allegedly forging a document titled ‘Presidential Directive’ which had the seal of the Office the President of Nigeria.

Falana, Aturu To Defend Non-Removal Of Fuel Subsidy In Court

 A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted leave to two Lagos-based lawyers, Femi Falana and Bamidele Aturu to be joined as co-defandants in a suit filed by a former governorship aspirant in Anambra state,  Stanley Okeke seeking an order of the court to compel the federal government to remove fuel subsidy.

Ruling on the motion for joinder, Justice Adeniyi Ademola allowed the duo to be joined as fourth and fifth defendants while President Goodluck Jonathan remains the first defendant.

Other defendants are the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke and the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

In the applications for joinder by both Messrs Falana and Aturu, the duo expressed how adversely they will be affected by the withdrawal of fuel subsidy.

Mr Okeke, who is the National Coordinator of Citizens Club, had in December 2012 dragged President Jonathan to a Federal High Court seeking for an order compelling the president to stop fuel subsidy and refund to the federation account such sum earlier appropriated and or approved under the sub-head of fuel subsidy funds because same cannot be justified in the face of the pervasive corruption, perennial fuel shortage and long queues being witnessed in some part of the country.

The plaintiff  also asked the court for an order directing the 3rd defendant (Ms Okonjo-Iweala) to stop further payment of fuel subsidy money predicated on the corrupt, illegal and unlawful fuel subsidy regime.

He also wants the court to declare that the fuel subsidy currently being funded by the federal government was a waste of public funds and therefore unlawful and illegal to sustain same.

The judge consequently adjourned the suit to May 22, 2013 for hearing of the originating summons

Court Fixes Hearing On Asset Declaration Case

The National Coordinator of the Legal Defence And Assistance Project (LEDAP), Chino Obiagwu has said that the hearing for the case filed by the organisation against the Code of Conduct Bureau has been fixed for April 4 2013 by the Federal High Court Abuja.

LEDAP had filed a suit in July 2012 against the Code of Conduct Bureau demanding copies of the asset declarations of all federal ministers, state governors, the President and Vice President.

LEDAP had filed the suit to enforce its request to the bureau under the Freedom of Information Act.

However, the bureau claimed in its response that the Freedom of Information Act exempted it from disclosing declaration of assets of public officials because the asset declaration forms contain personal information about the assets of the officials and of their spouses and unmarried children.

In a letter signed by the Chairman of the bureau to LEDAP in July 2012, the agency said that it would not allow the public to know about the personal information of public officials because it has been exempted under sections 13(1)(v) and 15(1)(ii) of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Code of Conduct Bureau in the letter stated that “we note that Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act, as a general principle, guarantees the right of any person to access or request for information whether or in written form, which is in custody of Code of Conduct Bureau or indeed any public agency.  However, by Section 13(1)(v) of the Act, the Code of Conduct Bureau has power to decline your request as it will constitute an invasion of the personal privacy of the honourable ministers under section 15 of the Act. The asset declaration forms contain personal information about them and their properties, assets and liabilities and those of their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 18 and consequently comes under the exemption
under Section 13(1)(v) and 15(1)(ii) of the Act.”

In a statement released to Channels Television, LEDAP’s lawyer, Chino Obiagwu says that the claim by the bureau is not correct under the law. The information that the Bureau says are exempted under the FOI Act are the main target of the asset declaration law.

According to Mr Obiagwu, “the purpose of assets declaration laws is to enable the public and citizens know the worth of its public officials and their close relations so as to monitor how they acquire assets while in office and whether or not public funds are used for such acquisitions. This purpose cannot be achieved if the declarations are not accessible to the public. There is nothing private about the assets declaration. Any person who assumes public office must be ready to face public scrutiny”

LEDAP has now called on the judiciary to decide once and for all on the right of citizens to know the assets of their elected leaders and their spouse in order to monitor and report unlawful acquisitions. There is no way we can tackle corruption in this country if the civil society and indeed the citizens cannot have access to information on assets declared by the public officials and their dependants who they can use for unlawful acquisition of assets from misappropriated public fund”.

Court Sacks Oyinlola As PDP Secretary

A Federal High Court in Abuja has sacked the National Secretary of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

Presiding judge, Justice Coram AbdulKafarati ruled that he could not have emerged as the nominee of the PDP in view of the two court judgement which nullified the congress.

The Judge held that the action of PDP and Mr Oyinlola amounted to criminal conduct and liable to be condemned to prison, being a flagrant disobedience to two court orders.

He further noted that Mr Oyinlola is not worthy to be recognized as the national secretary of the party and should vacate the office.

He therefore dismissed the preliminary objection brought by the defendants and granted all the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs.

The Ogun state chapter of the party had through its chairman, Adebayo Dayo instituted a suit challenging the nomination of Oyinlola by the South West Caucus on ground that two court judgments had nullified the South-West zonal congress through which he was nominated.