The Federal Government has arraigned before a Federal High Court, alleged kidnap kingpin, Mr Kevin Eziegbe.
Mr Eziegbe, alongside two others, was slammed with a 13-count charge for allegedly masterminding kidnapping and terrorism activities in the South-South region.
Kelvin and the two other accused persons are being accused of masterminding the kidnapping of constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Mike Ozekhome, in August 2013, which led to the killing of 5 policemen.
The Federal Government had in November 2013 withdrawn a suit it filed against the alleged kidnappers before Magistrate Usman Ahmed Shuaibu of Abuja Magistrate Court.
Counsel to the FG, Clifford Osagie, had told the court that further investigations conducted by the SSS revealed that the suspects were involved in acts of terrorism with elements of kidnapping and murder, hence the need to approach a Federal High Court.
The trio pleaded “not guilty” to the allegations levelled against them by the Federal Government.
However, the oral application made by their counsel, Bala Dakum, to secure bail for them was rejected by the court, which instead ruled that the suspects be remanded in the custody of the State Security Services till the next adjourned date of July 1.
Trial Judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, however, ordered the SSS to grant the accused persons access to their counsel pending the commencement of their trial.
The suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, on Wednesday, filed an appeal challenging the decision of Honourable Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja declining jurisdiction to hear his suit essentially seeking to re-instate him as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The Federal High Court had in a judgment delivered on May 20, 2014 agreed with the submissions of Counsel to the President, Dr. Fabian Ajogwu, as well as that of Counsel to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) who had argued that the Sanusi’s suit which bothered on employment issues ought to have been brought before the National Industrial Court and not the Federal High Court.
In a Notice of Appeal filed on May 28, 2014, by Sanusi’s Counsel, Kola Awodein, the suspended Governor challenged the Judgment of the Federal High Court on 20 grounds. It was the contention of Sanusi that the Federal High Court ought not to have held that it lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
Sanusi’s Counsel also contended that the transfer of the suit to the National Industrial Court by the Federal High Court was wrongful. Sanusi’s major prayer to the Court of Appeal was to set aside the judgment of the lower court as well as to allow his appeal.
However, Counsel to the President, Dr. Fabian Ajogwu, as well as Counsel to the Attorney-General have also filed Notices of Appeal challenging the decision of the Federal High Court transferring the suit to the National Industrial Court.
It was there view that the Federal High ought to have struck out the matter when it held that it did not have jurisdiction. They have also filed Motion for Stay of Proceedings at the National Industrial Court.
Kola Awodein has also filed a Motion on Notice to stay proceedings at the National Industrial Court pending the determination of the Appeal filed at the Court of Appeal by parties.
As at Press time, it is not clear whether the planned hearing of Sanusi’s suit will go on as fixed for May 30, 2014 by the National Industrial Court in the light of the Motion for Stay of Proceedings filed by parties to the suit.
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Account has issued fresh summons to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deziani Allison-Madueke, to appear before it over the alleged expenses of 10billion Naira on private jets.
Also summoned are the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Andrew Yakubu; Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Engr. Saleh Dunoma; the Managing Director of Pipeline and Petroleum Products Marketing Company, PPPMC, Mr Haruna Momoh; Vistajet International Limited and other stakeholders.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Zakari Mohammed, said that all those summoned were to appear between June 15 and 17 to shed light on various aspects of the alleged N10 billion expenses.
He added that anyone who refuses to appear would face a subpoena under the law.
You Can’t Probe Deziani For Now, Lawyer tells House
Meanwhile, Constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, has warned the House of Representatives against making any move to resume probe of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, on the alleged N10B aircraft charter scam.
The senior lawyer asked the House to put the probe on hold for now since the Minister has a legal action before a Federal High Court in Abuja, challenging the legality of the House of Representatives’ decision on the over-sight function.
In a letter of protest delivered to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambawal, Mr Ozekhome faulted the announcement of the fresh move to begin the probe, warning that the move would amount to an affront to the law court where the legal action was pending.
The human rights activist, in the letter also copied to the Senate President, Senator David Mark, said that the practice in the world especially in a civilized society is for both parties in a dispute to take their hands off the disputed matter once a law court has been invited for adjudication on the issue.
He said that it was wrong and abnormal for the House to proceed to probe the Minister even when the House has already joined issued with her in a law court of record and in competent jurisdiction.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has declined jurisdiction on a suit filed by the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, essentially challenging his suspension by the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, on February 20, 2014.
In a ruling spanning over 2 hours, Justice Kolawole upheld the submissions of the Counsel to the President, Dr. Fabian Ajogwu, and that of the Counsel to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mike Ozekhome.
In his preliminary objection filed in opposition to the Plaintiff’s Originating Summons, Counsel to the President, Dr. Fabian Ajogwu, argued that the Federal High Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit between Lamido Sanusi and the President since it bothers on labour matters.
Accordingly, he had urged the court to decline jurisdiction on it.
Towing the same vein, the Counsel to the Attorney-General of the Federation, sued as the 2nd Defendant, Mike Ozekhome, had in the hearing of the matter urged the Judge to wash his hands off the case as the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
Upholding the submission of Counsel to the Defendants, the court declined jurisdiction and accordingly referred the matter to the National Industrial Court. The Judge, in the course of delivering the ruling, faulted the submissions of Counsel to Lamido Sanusi, Mr. Kola Awodein, and Mr AB Mahmoud, who in their pleadings had said that Mr Lamido Sanusi was not an employee of the Federal Government but that of the Board of the Central Bank of Nigeria, which he incidentally headed.
Upholding the arguments of the Counsel to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Solomon Umoh, the court also struck out the name of the IGP sued as 3rd Defendant holding that there was no cause of action against the IG.
A delegate at the ongoing National Conference in Nigeria, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, says the composition of the National Conference has been skewed in favour of certain interests, a development that has necessitated that some certain measures must be taken in the interest of Nigerians.
He said that the voting pattern contained in the draft modalities of the conference was not absolute and depended hugely on what was being discussed.
He stressed that what should be done at the moment was to put Nigeria first and consider how to liberate the nation and ensure that we move forward.
“The way to go is to consider a give and take strategy. Consensus may be the best but if you cannot have a consensus, the closer you get to it the better.
“In my own view, consensus is the best. It is critical but may not have been necessary if the membership had not been hijacked and skewed in favour of a section against the other section of the community.
“Let us put Nigeria first and I believe that the president in his template says the decision should be taking by three-quarter of the delegates.
“If we want to throw what the president had decided out, let us do so totally and throw every rule that had been set aside and make new ones.
He insisted that nothing was sacrosanct in what the president had given to the delegates as modalities.
Biased And Fixated Mind
Countering Professor Oloyede’s assertions, another delegate at the National Conference, Mr Mike Ozekhome, described, Professor Oloyede as “one of those that came to the conference with fixation with prejudices with biases and with stereotypes, with a believe that the conference itself is ‘skewed against certain sections or certain religions’”.
Mr Ozekhome said that the professor was introducing the dangerous element of religion into the conference, saying it was very unfortunate.
“From the way the professor has spoken, it is very clear to all Nigerians that he does not believe in the conference or its outcome.”
He questioned what he was doing in the conference if he had little or no confidence in the composition of the conference at all.
“He is not discussing as a Nigerian. I thought that we came to the conference as Nigerians to re-tune Nigeria to re-engineer Nigeria and re-fabricate the fabric with which the country is made up of that has made us to be a very sick country over the years,” Mr Ozekhome stressed.
He had kicked against one of the set rules in the conference centred on how decision would be taken, insisting that the Nigerian constitution stipulates that two-third majority should decide issues and that the conference should go by that set rule in the constitution.
“The issue of two-third or three-quarter voting pattern was not mentioned by the President when he was giving his speech.
“Seventy-five per cent of individuals – 369 delegates – at the conference to vote for an issue is not achievable.
“I can predict that you can never, never get to resolve issues looking at 75 per cent support for a decision,” Mr Ozekhome insisted.
He pointed out that issues bordering on fiscal federalism and resource control, state police, indigeneship, citizenship and devolution of power, were issues that were highly emotive and critical and should be decided by two-third majority which he claimed was more realistic.
The House of Representatives on Monday stressed its stand in the on-going controversy over the suspension of the Central Bank Governor by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Through its spokesman, Zakari Mohammed, the lawmakers pointed out that they had nothing against the president for exercising his powers under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act to remove the CBN Governor.
“We are concerned that people read that CBN Act just by half and then stop. That is worrisome,” he said.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily on Monday, Mr Mohammed expressed the House’s concern about the President’s disregard of the rules of removing the CBN Governor, as stated in the CBN Act.
“Section 11(2F) of the Act states categorically that the CBN Governor can be removed provided it’s supported by two-third majority of the Senate and in this case, we don’t know whether a communication has been sent to the Senate, requesting the removal of the CBN Governor. That is what we are worried about,” he said.
He further stated: “We, in the House of Representatives, want institutions to be built and not individuals. We are not bothered by all the misconducts put together. We are worried about the process of removal because if we as the parliament brought out an Act in 2007 and the Act is being abused, we should stand by it and insist that the right thing should be done.”
Mohammed, who stressed that the President had the right to remove Sanusi, insisted that such an act must be approved by the Senate before it was carried out, contrary to assertions of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, who had aired his views earlier on the programme.
He further accused the President of being selective in the laws he chose to follow as he had sent the names of his nominees to the National Assembly following the suspension which he went ahead to execute without due process.
“The House of Representatives is not saying that a public officer should not be sanctioned but we are saying that the right procedure should be followed,” he said.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, on Monday said President Goodluck Jonathan’s action against the suspended CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi, was long overdue and should have been an outright sack.
Several arguments trailed the President’s decision to suspend the Governor without the required two-third vote from the Senate.
However, speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Ozekhome argued that Jonathan followed due process under the law.
According to him, the power of the President to remove Sanusi is inherent in the power of an employer to suspend an employee and so it doesn’t even have to be written.
“The CBN Act simply talks about removal from office in Section 11(2F) but it did not dwell on the issue of suspension,” he said and stressed that suspension was a step towards removal or dismissal.
He commended counter arguments by some lawyers that “one of the legal principles of statutory interpretation is that whatever is not stated is excluded and since suspension was not specifically mentioned in the CBN Act, it means it was excluded.”
He, however, gave a counter argument saying “such argument forgets its sister principle of statutory interpretation that what is not forbidden or outlawed is allowed. In other words, if a law does not specifically say you cannot do this, it means you can do it.”
The lawyer went further to say that the suspended CBN governor, who was employed directly by the President under Section 8 of the CBN Act, failed in regards to the ethical and behavioural tendencies expected of him and that the autonomy of the institution was subject to the President’s leadership.
“Section 8 says it is the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that employed the CBN governor and the deputy governors” adding that “the CBN is autonomous to the extent that it reports to the President” he said.
Ozekhome further argued that the President had followed due procedure in removing Sanusi, as approval by the Senate should come after the deed had been done. “One comes before the other,” he said and maintained that; “dismissal takes place then you go to the Senate for confirmation.”
Ozekhome, who compared Sanusi to unpopular Governors in other countries of the world, said the position of the CBN governor was conservative and that he should not have criticised a government he worked for publicly. “A CBN Governor is supposed to be seen and rarely heard, if at all he should be heard.”
“If you must be a sentinel at the apex bank of Nigeria, like Caesars’ wife, you must be above board,” he said, insisting that “the right thing to do out of self-respect, character and dignity is to put in your letter of resignation” if he had differences with the system.
According to the senior lawyer, Sanusi’s criticism of the Federal Government led to disinvestment and the instability of the Naira. “That is why the Naira has been dancing a ‘yoyo dance’.”
He faulted Sanusi’s inconsistency in reeling out figures, insisting that it undermines the confidence in the economy and currency of the country. “As a CBN Governor he should be master of figures, he shouldn’t stumble because you are playing with figures in the realm of international politics.
“A CBN governor does not have to raise an alarm to the country. There are in-built mechanisms in any government.
“I don’t agree with you that when you work in a system, that the way to work in that system is to flip-flop with figures to the whole world which undermines the economy of that country,” he added.
Kinsmen of prominent lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, who was kidnapped on Friday, have staged a peaceful protest in Benin City to demand the unconditional release of their kinsman.
Addressing newsmen at the Nigeria Union of Journalists’ secretariat in the Edo state capital, Mr. Isa Adidi who spoke on behalf of the people of Iviukwe community in Etsako-east local government area of the state, appealed to the lawyer’s abductors to release him unhurt.
He explained that Ozekhome is a human rights activist who has been fighting for the people and cannot afford whatever ransom his abductors may request for.
Ozekhome was abducted by men suspected to be kidnappers on the Benin-Auchi expressway, in an operation that left four policemen dead.
The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar has directed the Edo State Police Command to commence a vigorous manhunt for the gunmen who abducted Mike Ozekhomen and killed four policemen in the process in Benin City.
Legal Practitioner and Human Rights Activist Mike Ozekhomen was abducted on the Ehor Stretch of the Benin Auchi Road at about 3pm yesterday in Edo State.
A statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the Edo State Police Command Moses Eguavoen said four policemen lost their lives in the ambush by the kidnappers, when they responded to distress call from residents who witnessed the abduction.
The statement called on residents of the state to provide the Police with whatever information that could lead to the capture of the kidnappers.
Meanwhile, a group, Project Nigeria condemned in strongest terms the unfortunate act against the legal practitioner.
The group urges that the growing insecurity in the country calls for urgent national dialogue to build a consensus on the restructuring of the Nigerian nation for justice, equity and economic empowerment of the Nigerian people, that it believes this is the first step towards addressing the problems afflicting the Nigerian Nation, which includes youth restiveness, unemployment and brigandage.
According to the group, the legal practitioner who is one of the leading advocates for the forth-coming National Summit which is expected to create a platform for a national consensus on the re-birth of Nigeria should not be a victim of this heinous act, warning however that law enforcement agents should ensure that no harm comes to Ozekhome,while seeing to the immediate release of the lawyer.
Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of an Abuja High Court on Friday dismissed an application by former Inspector General of Police, Sunday Ehindero, which urged the court to stop Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) from arraigning him.
Justice Oniyangi also dismissed similar application filed by the suspended Commissioner of Police in charge of Budget at the Force Headquarters, John Obaniyi.
The judge further refused to vacate the leave granted the ICPC to arraign the duo.
The duo had filed separate notices of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court as well as the leave granted the ICPC to file charges against them.
They had prayed the court to quash the six counts preferred against them by the anti-graft agency. The ICPC had filed a charge of alleged corrupt embezzlement of N16 million against them.
The ICPC said the amount was the interests generated from N567 million donated to the Nigeria Police by the Bayelsa State Government for the purchase of arms, ammunition and riot control equipment.
The accused persons could be imprisoned for seven years if convicted.
Delivering his ruling, Justice Oniyangi held that the anti-graft agency had, by the proof of evidence before the court, successfully established a prima facie evidence against the accused to warrant their being put to trial.
“Prima facie evidence has been shown by the ICPC through the exhibits and statements of witness to proceed with trial,” he said.
Justice Oniyangi also held that the ICPC was competent to prosecute the accused, adding that the ICPC Act 2000, under which the duo were charged, was a valid law.
He said that the submission of Mr Ehindero’s counsel, Mike Ozekhome, that the ICPC Act 2000 was a non existing law, was not tenable.
He said that the offence the suspects were charged with were known to written laws, stressing that it was not correct to say the ICPC was charging the accused under non-existent law.
The judge further held that the commission is empowered to prosecute offences which fall under the penal and criminal codes.
Justice Oniyangi, therefore, dismissed the objections and subsequently ordered that Misters Ehindero and Obaniyi be arraigned.
After the ruling, Justice Oniyangi read the charges to accused persons who pleaded not guilty.
Justice Oniyangi, refused to grant bail to Misters Ehindero and Obaniyi on liberal terms as made in an oral application by Mr Ozekhome.
He granted them bail in the sum of N10 million each and one surety in like sum and ordered that the surety must swear to an affidavit of means.
He also said the accused persons should be detained in prison if they failed to meet the bail conditions.
Justice Oniyangi adjourned the case to 12 November for accelerated hearing.