The attempt by the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, to stop the state’s election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja has proved abortive.
The tribunal in its ruling, dismissed the petition for lack of merit, saying it was misconceived and misplaced.
It ruled that while Akwa Ibom State succeeded in terms of proximity to the venue of the election, it failed in terms of accessibility, especially in a situation where the security of lives and property of the members of the tribunal and litigants could not be guaranteed.
The Governor, through his counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, had challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal for sitting in Abuja, instead of Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State, as provided by section 285 (2) of the 1999 Constitution.
The Governor’s counsel, in his objection to the sitting of the tribunal in Abuja, argued that his client had been denied fair hearing, as provided in Section 36 of the Constitution.
He argued that Section 285(2) is specific that the tribunal shall consider proximity and accessibility to where the election was conducted before the venue for sitting to adjudicate on any petition.
However, in his ruling, the Tribunal Chairman, Justice Sadiq Umar, agreed with Counsel to the Petitioner, Mr Woke Olanipekun, that the issue of security was recognised in law, to decide the location where an election tribunal shall seat.
Justice Umar also agreed with the petitioner that the issue of fair hearing could not take the front burner, when tribunal members and litigants security were being considered by the Court of Appeal in determining the venue for the sitting.
The tribunal disagreed with the authorities cited by the defendants in the case of Ibori and Ogboru, adding that while Ibori’s case took place in 2005, the constitution had since been amended and had provided time limit to hear and decide a petition, unlike in the Ogboru’s case where there was no time limit. He also cited the level of insecurity in the country as a factor to consider.
It was agreed that the issue of proximity and accessibility could only be considered when the security of the tribunal and litigants was guaranteed in line with the provision of the law.
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on Thursday told a Federal High Court, Lagos that a former Delta Governorship Candidate, Great Ogboru “is a chronic debtor”.
Counsel to AMCON, Kunle Ogunba disclosed this in reaction to two motions filed by Mr Ogboru, one, seeking to set aside a court order, which allowed the appointment of a receiver manager to his properties
On the second leg of the motion, Mr Ogboru is challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit, which he described as an abuse of court process.
Justice Okon Abang had made the order on 13 January, appointing a receiver manager to the defendant’s property, following a suit filed by AMCON over an unpaid loan transaction.
AMCON in their affidavit had affirmed the indebtedness of Mr Ogboru to Equatorial Trust Bank (now Sterling bank), and his unwillingness to liquidate the debt.
Arguing the motion, Mr Ogboru’s counsel, McCarthy Mbadugha said the suit was an abuse of court process because there was a pending suit before a Federal High Court, Abuja on the same subject matter.
Mr Mbadugha added that the Abuja court had earlier issued an order restraining AMCON perpetually from taking over Mr Ogboru’s properties.
He also faulted the appearance of Mr Ogunba in the matter, saying the lawyer already has financial interest in the matter, having been appointed as receiver/manager.
Mr Mbadugha, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the suit.
Responding, AMCON’s counsel, told the court that the action of people like Mr Ogboru was responsible for the collapse of some banks in the country.
He said the defendant had agreed that the principal loan sum of N33 million was outstanding.
The AMCON lawyer argued that Mr Ogboru had not even liquidated his debt, but wants the court to determine the interest.
He told the court that Mr Ogboru’s motion was misconceived, and ought not to see the light of day.
Justice Abang has fixed March 22 for Mr Ogboru’s reply on point of law to AMCON’s argument.