Counter Court Orders Emerge On PDP Leadership     

PDPThe battle for the leadership of the Nigeria’s main opposition political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears to have shifted to the courts, with counter orders emanating from different courts.

In one case, a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has granted an interim injunction restraining the immediate past National Chairman and National Secretary of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and Professor Adewale Oladipo from parading themselves as national officers of the party.

The duo were among the party officers removed from office at the PDP national convention held on Saturday, May 21, in Port Harcourt.

The court says this is pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice brought before it by the PDP.

A statement personally signed by the presiding judge, Justice A. M. Liman, says INEC has been restrained by the court from according or continuing to accord any recognition to Senator Sheriff, Professor Adewale Oladipo or any or all members of the National Working Committee of the PDP removed from office at the party’s national convention in Port Harcourt, as officers or organs of the PDP.

The court went on to ask INEC to recognise the National Caretaker Committee of the party headed by Senator Ahmed Markarfi.

But in a counter ruling, a Federal High Court in Lagos has declared as invalid the caretaker committee constituted to take over the affairs of the PDP from its acting National Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff.

Justice Ibrahim Buba directed the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, to enforce its order, barring the members of the committee, headed by former Governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi from running the affairs of the party.


PDP National Convention Is Illegal, Gulak Claims

Ahmed-GulakThe former Political Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Ahmed Gulak, has described as illegal, the National Convention held by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Mr Gulak made the declaration on Sunday’s Politics where he noted that Saturday’s convention was not held in line with the PDP constitution.

“First and foremost, the party cannot be run by common sense, experience or by the powers that be. The party must be run in accordance with the provision of the constitution.

“Chapter 33 of the party’s constitution only mandates the Chairman to surmount and preside over the convention while Chapter 35 gives the National Convention powers to elect the new officers under the chairmanship or presided over by the national chairman,” he stated.

Violation of Court Orders

Claiming that Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff was still the present Chairman of the party, Mr Gulak said that the former Borno State Governor was slammed with a court order by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos and another by Justice A.B. Mahmud of the FCT High Court, which made it illegal for such convention to hold.

“These two orders prevented the PDP and any of its officers from conducting convention to elect its first three officers that is the secretary, chairman and the auditor (and) while another order by the Abuja High Court, prevented the party from electing 18 officers including all the NWC.

“With these orders still valid and subsisting, no reasonable law abiding party officer will go ahead in violation of these court orders,” he said.

The former President’s aide explained that that was why the former PDP Chairman in the early hours of Saturday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State’s capital, convened a meeting with some of the members of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC), where they resolved that the convention was illegal.Ali-Modu-Sheriff-former-PDP-chairman

He said Senator Sheriff subsequently issued a press conference to suspend the convention until the issues of the court judgments and orders were sorted out.

Despite Senator Sheriff’s suspension of the convention, some members of the party insisted that the convention must be held as planned.

They further removed the Chairman and set up a working committee.

Trial of Lagos Speaker Stalls Again

The ongoing trial of the current Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, has yet again stalled as the Federal High Court in Lagos was for the umpteenth time unable to sit.

The sitting scheduled for Tuesday November 19, failed to hold because of the absence of the prosecuting counsel of the EFCC, and the case may soon go into history as one of the longest cases ever, if the situation continues.

It was learnt that the EFCC Counsel, Mr. Godwin Obla had written the court and the Defence Counsel that he would be absent from court because he was to deliver a paper at an undisclosed event on Tuesday.

Mr. Edward Okpe, who represented Obla at the proceedings, reminded the court that the letter was dated November 13, 2013.

The counsel, who represented the accused persons, Mr. Tunde Akinrimisi, however told the court that he only got Obla’s letter seeking an adjournment just some moments before the court sitting.

He did not oppose the application for adjournment, but noted that the prosecution of the case ought to be paramount.

The Speaker, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his aide are standing trial for money laundering at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

NLNG Accuses NIMASA Of Scuttling Out of Court Settlement

The Nigerian Liquefied and Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited has accused the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) of frustrating its move to amicably resolve the protracted dispute between them.

NLNG and NIMASA have been locked in a fierce battle over the issue of non-payment of certain statutory levies and charges which NIMASA claims are due to it from NLNG.

On Thursday, Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court Lagos had granted a short adjournment for the parties to conclude their out of court settlement talks, a development that prompted the court to fix Friday for the report of settlement.

When the case however came up, Counsel to NLNG, Mr. Wale Akoni (SAN) told the court that settlement talks had failed.

In an interview with Channels TV, Mr. Akoni alleged that NIMASA actually frustrated NLNG’s settlement efforts.

“It appears to us that NIMASA is bent on stifling our business. NLNG has paid dividends to the Federal Government in billions.

“We even offered to continue to pay but they rejected our offer,” Akoni explained.

Justice Idris, it would be recalled, had on June 18, 2013 in Suit FHC/L/CS/847/2013 between NLNG and Attorney General of the Federation and Global West Vessels Specialists, granted an ex-parte order restraining the defendants from charging, imposing, demanding or collecting the 3% of gross freight earnings or any other sums further to section 15(a) of NIMASA Act 2007 on all of NLNG’s international inbound or outbound cargo ships owned, contracted or subcontracted by it.

After Mr. Akoni’s submission, lawyer representing the Federal Government, Fabian Ajogwu (SAN) moved his application seeking to discharge the ex-parte order on the grounds that the order was essentially made against NIMASA, which was not joined as party to the suit.

NIMASA has also filed an application seeking to be joined as a party to the suit.

According to Mr. Ajogwu’ application, the government contended that NIMASA is a body corporate with statutory powers to sue and be sued in its own name and that its non-inclusion as a party was a violation of the principles of fair hearing.

Ajogwu added that the fact that the other side was not heard before the order was made was fatal to the case of NLNG.

He further contended that an order cannot be made against a person who is not a party to the suit as it is necessary that such party must be given the opportunity to present its case.

Besides, Mr Ajogwu added that the dispute that gave rise to the suit was essentially between NLNG and NIMASA, and that the non-inclusion was a deliberate move by NLNG to circumvent the provision of Section 53(2) the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act of 2007, which makes it mandatory for an intending plaintiff to give the statutory body a 30-day pre-action notice.

According to Ajogwu: “The reliefs granted the Plaintiffs ex-parte are indeed, in form and substance essentially the reliefs being sought in the substantive suit;” and that the Court would not have granted the exparte order if not for the misrepresentation, concealment and non-disclosure of material facts by NLNG.

Justice Idris has fixed July 8, 2013 for ruling.

Money Laundering: Court Refuses Plea To End Ikuforiji’s Trial

The Federal High Court, Lagos on Monday refused an application by the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his aide, Oyebode Atoyebi, seeking to terminate their trial.

The Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji

Messrs Ikuforiji and Atoyebi were arraigned before Justice Okechukwu  Okeke on March 1 2012 on the charges filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

They were accused among others, of conspiring to commit an illegal act of accepting cash payments amounting to N273.3m from the Lagos State House of Assembly (LAHA) without going through a financial institution.

Mr Ikuforiji is also accused of using his position to misappropriate about N500m belonging to LAHA.

Justice Okeke, in a ruling on the application, refrained from dismissing the 20-count money laundering charge on which the duo was being tried, holding that he would be guided by public interest.

He therefore granted an accelerated hearing in the case and adjourned to 8 April.

The lead defence lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo had asked the court to dismiss the charges after realising that the prosecution lawyer, Godwin Obla was absent in court.

Mr Obla had sent a letter to the court to explain his absence.

Mr Oyetibo however argued that the prosecution had, since his clients’ arraignment in March 2012 treated the case with much levity.

He submitted that most adjournments granted in the matter had been at the instance of the prosecution, who he accused of exhibiting visible reluctance to prosecute the case.

He consequently urged the court to dismiss the case for lack of diligent prosecution.

In his ruling, Justice Okeke said he would adjourn the matter again in the overriding public interest.

He then adjourned the case to the 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of April for continuation of trial.

Capital Oil Advises Access Bank To Cease Media War

Capital Oil & Gas Industries Limited has described recent media statement credited to Access Bank PLC, over disputed loan facilities, as a breach of the terms of settlement signed by the two parties on February 9, 2013.

Capital Oil in a statement issued on Friday expressed displeasure that Access Bank is still conveying erroneous impression to the public by stating that its legal disputes with the bank and Coscharis Motors Limited are on-going.

It will be recalled that a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on February 18, 2013, voided and set aside an interim report by the police dated November 2, 2012 and the Presidential Committee report which purportedly indicted Capital Oil & Gas Industries Limited/Ifeanyi Ubah and Staff of oil subsidy fraud.

The court also awarded N10million damages in favour of Capital Oil & Gas Industries Limited and Ifeanyi Uba.

In a statement released on Tuesday by the Access Bank’s Secretary/Legal Compliance, Sunday Ekwochi, the bank had claimed that its on-going effort to recover debts allegedly owed it by businessman, Ifeanyi Ubah and his company, Capital Oil and Gas Limited would not be hampered by the judgment.

Wondering what the bank is trying to achieve by provoking an unnecessary media war, Capital Oil expressed the hope that the action is not an indication that Access Bank intends to back out of the terms of the settlement agreement.

The oil company also stated that the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police Force has cleared its chairman, Ifeanyi Ubah and the company of the indictment by the Presidential Committee on the Verification and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy Payments (PC) chaired by Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, the Managing Director of Access Bank.

According to the statement, the clearance by the Police was contained in a letter dated February 12, 2013 written to the Minister of Finance, the Inspector General of Police, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Debt Management Office and PPPRA.

Pipeline Vandalism: Suspects Ask Court To Grant Them Bail

Suspects charged to court over the alleged vandalism of the Arepo pipeline and the murder of three NNPC officials have asked the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to grant them bail.

Trials commenced on Friday, 25th January at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The 6 accused persons on the 5th of September, 2012 at about 6:00 p.m., at Arepo,  allegedly conspired to vandalise an Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), oil pipeline located in the vicinity and in the process murdered three employees of the NNPC.

They were subsequently arraigned on the 29th of November, 2012, where they all pleaded not guilty to a seven count charge preferred against them by the police.

Four of six suspects charged with the offence have asked Justice Mohammed Idris to grant them bail pending the determination of their case.

The suspects are facing a seven count charge which also includes the murder of three engineers of the NNPC.

Defence counsel argued that Some of the accused persons are in poor health and would need to seek treatment.

Prosecuting counsel has however told the court that even the first son of one of the accused was killed in the recent Arepo pipeline explosion.

He argues that the offences carry capital punishments and urged the court to refuse to grant bail and instead use the case to send out a message that offences of this nature should not be treated lightly.

After listening to the arguments of both lawyers, justice Idris has adjourned ruling till the 11th of Feb.


Court reserves ruling on contempt case against PDP Chieftains, OGSIEC

Ogun State High Court sitting in Ilaro has reserved Ruling till July 26 in the “contempt proceeding” filed against Chieftains of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Chief Ireti Oniyide, Hon. Fasiu Bakenne and Ambassador Oladunjoye and members of the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC).

This latest contempt proceeding which is before Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu of the Ilaro Court exposes Chief Oniyide, Bakenne, Oladunjoye and members of the electoral body to the risk of being sentenced to another jail term if found guilty.

Chief Oniyide, Mr Fasiu Bakenne and Oladunjoye who carry on as members of the State Caretaker Committee of PDP in Ogun State, were last July 4, committed to six months jail term by Justice Charles Effanga Archibong of the Federal High Court, Lagos, for alleged serial contempt of court order regarding which organ of Ogun PDP should submit list of candidates for the July 21 Council polls in the state.

It will be recalled that their sentence followed a motion filed before Justice Archibong by a faction of the Ogun State PDP led by Engr. Adebayo Dayo (Chairman) and Alh. Semiu Sodipo (Secretary) which derived its legitimacy from several favorable court pronouncements.

A fresh application before Justice Dipeolu  seeking an order  for the “committal” of same Chief Ireti Oniyide, Ambassador Tunde Oladunjoye and Fasiu Bakenne  was heard but the Judge adjourned till July 26 for ruling, saying the adjournment would afford her the time to  sift through all the arguments and submissions all of parties involved.

Oniyide, Bakenne and Oladunjoye were perceived by the applicants as treating valid court order with contempt by submitting names of candidates for Local Government polls to OGSIEC, had the candidates’ names published in a national daily and thereby allegedly undermining the role of the Adebayo Dayo led Executive Committee of PDP in ogun state.

Also listed for “committal” in the ” contempt proceeding,” are the Chairman, Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC), Alhaja Risikat Ogunfemi, Alh. Korede Lawal, Bisiriyu Adekambi, Mutiu Agboke, Oyediran Aina, Kolawole Odesanya, Adetokunbo Williams – all members of OGSIEC, and OGSIEC as a body.
The said application for the committal of the “alleged contemnors” was filed by same Engr. Adebayo Dayo and Alh. Semiu Sodipo on behalf of themselves and Executive Committee of Ogun State PDP through their Counsel, Mr Ajibola Oluyede.

When the matter came up for hearing before justice Dipeolu, Oluyede told the court that the matter was for the committal of the alleged contemnors and that by their action held the Court out as being “irrelevant” whose valid order and pronouncements are not binding on them.

But Counsel for the PDP National Secretariat, Mr Gboyega Oyewole, who held brief for Otunba Kunle Kalejaiye, urged the court to dismiss the contempt on grounds that it lacked competence and constitute abuse of court process.

Also, Mr. Abraham Adeoye, counsel for OGSIEC and its members, prayed the court to discountenance the application and dismiss for being procedurally defective.

According Adeoye, the application failed to follow the Sheriff and Civil procedure but justice Dipeolu after listening to all parties adjourned till July 26 for Ruling.

Court orders INEC to recognise Bayo Dayo led PDP EXCO

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise the Adebayo Dayo-led executive committee of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State.

In the ruling delivered by Justice Charles Archibong, the court ordered INEC to delete the name of Bode Mustapha and replace it with that of Alhaji Fatai Adeyanju as the National Auditor of the party.

Mr. Bayo Dayo and Alhaji Semiu Sodipo, through their counsel, Ajibola Oluyede, filed an application dated the 26th of May, 2012 to give effect to the May 2 judgment of the court which declared the Dayo-led EXCO as the authentic officers of the state.

Justice Archibong ordered INEC to accept the list of the Bayo Dayo-led state EXCO and its list of the local government and ward EXCOs of the party and to recognise and deal with them from March 2012 till March 2016 when their tenures will be deemed expired.

It also granted an order of injunction prohibiting INEC from according “any recognition whatsoever to any other congress or action taken by the NEC of the party for the election of new officers to replace the Dayo-led EXCO.

The court then dismissed the preliminary objection filed by the defendants through their counsel, Chief Kunle Kalejaye (SAN).

The defendants had claimed that they were not appropriately served with the processes of the suit and that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Court awards N2 million damages to Elizabeth Atuche over illegal detention by EFCC

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday, awarded damages of N2 million in favour of Mrs. Elizabeth Atuche, wife of Mr. Francis Atuche, former Managing Director of Bank PHB, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).

Also joined in the suit is the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

The presiding judge, Justice Binta Nyako held that Elizabeth Atuche was wrongly arrested and detained by the anti-graft agency in violation of her fundamental human rights to freedom of movement and fair hearing.

The court observed that although the commission which arrested Mrs. Atuche on May 3, 2011, later took her to court for arraignment before a Lagos High Court, the time she was kept in detention, exceeded the constitutionally prescribed period of 24 hours.

Justice Nyako said “the reason given by the respondents is that the investigation was ongoing” but she noted that “the Supreme Court has said suspects should not be detained while investigation is ongoing.”

“A person arrested should be charged to court within 24 hours as in this case, there are a number of courts within Lagos jurisdiction.

“It appears to me that the arrest and detention of the Applicant (Elizabeth) has not been justified by the respondents.

“She was subsequently arraigned before a Lagos High Court; however, this was not within 48 hours of the arrest. This is a violation of her right.”

“Is she entitled to damages,” the judge asked, to which she gave a resounding “Yes!”.

She further explained that “her illegal arrest and detention in excess of the statutorily allowed period is without justification.” “Consequently, I hereby award damages of N2 million jointly and severally against the respondents” she rule.

Mrs. Atuche, who was arrested and detained by the EFCC on May 3, 2011 had filed the action to challenge her detention.

She had prayed the court for a declaration that her arrest and detention by the EFCC was illegal and unconstitutional.

She further claimed a sum of N10 million as damages from the respondents.

Elizabeth had also urged the court to restrain the EFCC from interfering with her liberty henceforth.

Release Atuche’s properties

In what seems as yet another blow to the EFCC in its trials on corruption charges, Justice Nyako also ordered the release of some of the properties seized from Francis Atuche by the EFCC.

The order of release was made sequel to two separate applications brought by two parties.

The parties, Murphis Burgher Nigeria Ltd and Messrs Eva and Efa Imoke, claimed that two of the properties attached on the order of Justice Ajakaiye (Rtd) on March 10, 2010 through an ex parte order by EFCC belonged to them and not Mr. Atuche.

The properties in question are No 27, Sanusi Fafunwa Street, Victoria Island, and No 14, Anifowoshe Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

While giving orders releasing the properties back to the Applicants, Justice Nyako said that they must not dispose of the properties until the criminal trial against Mr. Atuche has been concluded.

Mr. Francis Atuche is being tried for alleged corrupt practices during his tenure as the boss of Bank PHB while his wife Elizabeth is facing trial at the Lagos High Court for alleged conspiracy and stealing.

Court asked to revoke Lagos-Ibadan Expressway concession to Bi-Courtney

The Federal High Court in Lagos has been asked to revoke the concession agreement between the Federal Government and Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited on the reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

The suit was filed on Tuesday, by two individuals, Mr Olawale Fapohunda and Mr Richard Akinola, along with their group, Legal Resources Consortium.

The plaintiff contended that incessant accidents and destruction of lives and properties on the road “are direct consequences of Bi-Courtney’s negligence and failure to execute the contract” awarded since 2009.

In the originating summons filed by their counsel, Norrison Quakers, the lawyer set five questions for the court’s determination and sought five declarative reliefs.

Jointly sued by the plaintiffs are the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Minister of Works, Attorney-General of the Federation, the Federal Road Maintenance Agency and Bi-Courtney.

The plaintiffs contend that the court reserves the power to revoke the concession “for non-performance, occasioning gridlock and incessant destruction of lives and properties along the expressway.”

They are also seeking an order of mandatory injunction, compelling the government, the Minister of Works,  and the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to “immediately repair and maintain the Lagos-Ibadan expressway sequel to their obligations, legal and statutory duties so as to stem or curb the gridlock and destruction of lives and properties on the expressway.”

The 105-kilometre highway was conceded to Bi-Courtney in a public private partnership policy of late President Umaru Musau Yar’Adua, in May 2009.

The road, stretching from Lagos to Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, through Ogun state, has become a nightmare for its users as tankers loaded with petrol frequently trip on the pot-hole ridden road, causing huge carnage, claiming dozens of lives.

Since signing the agreement, Bi-Courtney has failed to construct the road which is one of the nation’s most important highway, linking the Southern region of the country to the east.

Regular obstruction of traffic is also a common feature on the narrow expressway, with several religious organisations, setting up their camps by the expressway.


Court strikes out SNG suit on fuel subsidy protest

The Federal High Court sitting in Ikeja has struck out a suit by the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) instituted against the Federal Government over an alleged violation of its members’ rights while protesting against the removal of fuel subsidy in January.

Presiding judge, Justice Steven Adah struck out the suit in his ruling on the preliminary objection filed by the Federal Government.

The SNG had asked the court to award the sum of N100 million against the Federal Government for allegedly violating  its members’ rights by deploying military troops to stop its week-long protest on the 16th of January at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park, Ojota, area of Lagos.

The Federal Government had countered with a preliminary objection, insisting that the suit was not competent because the mode of commencing it was defective.

Justice Adah upheld the argument by the Federal Government’s counsel, Mr. Taiwo Abidogun.

He held that the commencement of the suit through a motion on notice application instead of an originating processes was a fatal defect and could not be overlooked as a mere irregularity.

According to the judge, the non-compliance with the rules “has robbed the court of the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.”

“Rules of court are meant to be obeyed and obeyed strictly” he said.

Counsel for the SNG, Mr Babatunde Ogungbamila, has however said that the group was going to re-file the suit.