The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it has reviewed the judgement quashing the conviction of Mr Olisa Metuh and his company, Destra Investment Limited, and will approach the Supreme Court to challenge it.
It made its decision known in a statement posted on its verified Facebook page on Friday, two days after the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal gave the judgement in favour of Metuh, a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The anti-graft agency explained that it would ask the apex court to set aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the appellate court erred by restricting itself to only two grounds – 12 and 14 – of the appeal that dwelled on the alleged bias of the trial judge but failed to examine the merit of the judgement of Justice Abang.
The anti-graft agency believes that the alleged remarks by the trial judge were not sufficient to nullify the judgement which was based on material evidence and submissions of witnesses called by the prosecution.
It claimed that as an intermediate court, the Court of Appeal erred in ordering a retrial without considering the merit of the judgement of the lower court.
Metuh was prosecuted by the EFCC before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja on seven counts of illegally receiving monies to the tune of N400 million from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), under Colonel Sambo Dasuki.
On February 25, 2020, Justice Abang convicted and sentenced the former PDP spokesman to seven years imprisonment.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the court, Metah approached the appellate court with an application to set aside the ruling of the lower court.
In his argument, he alleged among others that the trial Judge was biased and failed to accord him a fair hearing.
Almost 10 months after the judgement of the Federal High Court, the appellate court agreed with the appellant that the trial judge was biased and nullified the judgement.
Justice Stephen Adah, who led a panel of three justices, then ordered a retrial of the case.
Maryam Sanda, the woman sentenced to death for killing her husband, plans to file an appeal at the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn the judgements of the lower courts.
Her counsel and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Joe Gadzama, disclosed this to reporters on Friday in Abuja.
This followed the judgement of the Court of Appeal in Abuja which upheld the verdict of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sentencing Sanda to death by hanging for killing Bilyaminu Bello.
Late Bilyaminu, who was stabbed to death, was the son of former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Haliru Bello.
While Sanda argued that she was denied a fair hearing by the trial court and insisted that she was innocent, the appellate court held that the appeal lacked merit.
In a two-hour judgement read by Justice Steven Adah, the court held that it was duty-bound to do justice according to law and not sentiments, stressing that the law does not leave room for irregularities and parties must conduct criminal trials according to the law.
The US state of Pennsylvania’s supreme court dismissed another legal challenge to the election by supporters of President Donald Trump on Saturday, further reducing his already near-impossible odds of overturning the results.
A Republican lawsuit had sought to invalidate mail-in ballots in the battleground state that President-elect Joe Biden won by about 81,000 votes — or to throw out all votes and allow the state’s legislature to decide the winner.
The court dismissed both claims in a unanimous decision, calling the second one an “extraordinary proposition that the court disenfranchise all 6.9 million Pennsylvanians who voted in the general election.”
The lawsuit argued that a Pennsylvania law from 2019 allowing universal mail-in voting was unconstitutional.
The judges said that their November 21 challenge to the law was filed too late, coming more than a year after it was enacted and with the election results “becoming seemingly apparent.”
Pennsylvania officially certified Biden’s victory there on November 24. The lawsuit had also sought to stop certification.
Saturday’s decision follows a long line of similar ones, including a ruling the day before in which a federal appeals court flatly dismissed Trump’s claim that the election was unfair and refused to freeze Biden’s win in Pennsylvania.
Trump has refused to give up on his claims of fraud in the November 3 election despite his repeated court defeats, tweeting bizarre conspiracy theories and vowing to continue his legal fight.
On Thursday, he said for the first time that he would leave the White House if Biden is officially confirmed the winner by the Electoral College on December 14.
But on Friday he tweeted that “Biden can only enter the White House as president if he can prove that his ridiculous ‘80,000,000 votes’ were not fraudulently or illegally obtained.”
Biden, who is to be sworn in on January 20, won 306 votes in the Electoral College to Trump’s 232.
The president-elect has said that Americans “won’t stand” for attempts to derail the vote outcome.
The Supreme Court has dismissed an application filed by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited seeking to set aside a January 11, 2019 judgement of the court upholding damages to the tune of N17bilion awarded against the oil company.
The apex court had on January 11, 2019 upheld an earlier judgment by the Court of Appeal, affirming a June 14, 2010 judgement of the Federal High Court which awarded the damages against Shell over an oil spill at Ejam-Ebulu in Tai Eleme Local Government Area of River State in 1970.
Dismissing the application on Friday, Justice Samuel Osuji who read the lead ruling of the Supreme Court’s panel prepared by Justice Centus Nweze, held that the application by Shell, asking it to revisit its earlier judgment, was unmeritorious.
Although the lawyer to Shell declined speaking to Journalists, lawyer to Ejam-Ebulu community, Mr Lucius Nwosu while applauding the verdict of the court said the judgment sum, with interest, now stands in the region of N160billion.
Justice Ngwuta, in his judgement, predicated the dismissal of the appeals on the withdrawal of the six appeals by lawyers of the appellants.
Diri’s victory has been challenged a number of times but the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja at different times affirmed Diri as the duly elected governor of the state.
Governor Duoye Diri was sworn in on February 14, a day after the Supreme Court sacked the former governor-elect of Bayelsa State, David Lyon, and his Deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo.
Lyon’s election was nullified after his deputy was accused of submitting forged certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
A US Supreme Court justice on Friday denied a request by Pennsylvania’s Republicans to immediately halt the counting of ballots arriving after Election Day — referring the challenge to the full court to consider on Saturday.
Samuel Alito ordered Pennsylvania in the meantime to continue keeping the late-arriving ballots separate, affirming a decision already made by the state’s top elections official Kathy Boockvar, who told CNN they were unlikely to affect the outcome in any case.
The last-ditch petition for an emergency injunction — filed as Democrat Joe Biden solidified his lead and was poised to defeat President Donald Trump — targeted thousands of ballots.
Most are believed to favor Biden, and Republicans say they should be disqualified under Pennsylvania state law.
As a first step, the party wanted the high court to order ballots arriving after 8:00 pm on election night to be kept apart from others and prevent them from being tallied.
The concern is that if they are mixed with other ballots, it would render any attempt to disqualify them impossible.
“Given the results of the November 3, 2020, general election, the vote in Pennsylvania may well determine the next president of the United States,” the Republicans said.
“It is unclear whether all 67 county boards of elections are segregating late-arriving ballots,” the petition added.
Republicans have for months been fighting a state decision to accept mail-in ballots postmarked by November 3 and arriving by Friday. Previously the deadline for acceptance was Election Day itself.
The state supreme court ruled the decision legal and it was then appealed in the federal system.
On October 19 the US Supreme Court, which had a vacant seat, let the state court’s decision stand in 4-4 split decisions along conservative-liberal lines.
But the high court indicated it could take up the case after the election, and now has nine members after the Trump-nominated conservative Amy Coney Barrett joined in late October.
Trump has explicitly said he wanted Barrett on the court for any election-related case.
Friday’s petition appeared more broadly aimed at delaying the eastern state’s vote tally from being finalized, which would effectively hand the election to Biden.
A delay could give the high court time to reopen the broader case of the legality of the late ballots.
Even if the court does issue a stay on counting, it might not make a difference. Election analysts say the number of late ballots could be far fewer than Biden’s lead over Trump in the state.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, has sworn in eight new Justices of the Supreme Court.
The swearing-in ceremony held on Friday at the Supreme Court in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Shortly after the eight justices took turn to take their oath of office and oath of allegiance to the Nigerian Constitution, the CJN gave his remarks.
Justice Muhammad warned the newly appointed justices of the apex court to shun extraneous considerations while discharging their duties.
The justices, who were recently elevated from the Court of Appeal bench, comprise seven men and one woman, as well as five appointees from the North and three from the South.
They include Lawal Garba (North West), Helen Ogunwumiju (South West), Abdu Aboki (North West), and Mohammed Saulawa (North West).
Others are Adamu Jauro (North East), Samuel Oseji (Souty South), Tijani Abubakar (North East), and Emmanuel Agim (South South).
He was also confident that the new justices would remain morally upright as judicial officers with high integrity.
The courtroom was filled to capacity as lawyers, friends and associates of the newly appointed Supreme Court justices thronged the court to witness the swearing-in ceremony.
Notable among those present was a former Director-General of the Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Professor Epiphany Azinge, as well as the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, among others.
The recent inauguration of the judicial officers has raised the number of justices of the Supreme Court from 12 to 20.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck out a suit filed by the Bayelsa State government over the disputed Soku oilfield belonging to Rivers State.
The apex court said the action of the Bayelsa State government, by seeking the nullification of the judgment of the Federal High Court delivered in favour of Rivers State, when the Court of Appeal has not even ruled on the matter, was an abuse of court process and forum shopping.
Bayelsa State government had filed Suit: SC/CV/649/2020 through its Attorney General against the Attorney General of the Federation and Attorney General of Rivers State, after the Federal High Court in Abuja ordered it to refund the 13 percent derivation it had received over the years from Soku oilfield, to Rivers State.
While leading a panel of seven justices to hear the suit, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, wondered why the Bayelsa State government decided to file the suit at the apex court since steps were being taken to challenge the judgement of the Federal High Court at the Court of Appeal.
Justice Ngwuta observed that the Bayelsa State government was jumping the gun and its action was tantamount to abuse of court process.
He asserted that there was no way the apex court could make pronouncement on a judgment that was given by a Federal High Court when the appellate court has not done so.
He explained that the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction on a matter relating to a High Court. To this end, he directed the Bayelsa State government to take its grievances to the Court of Appeal.
It was on the basis that the counsel to the Bayelsa State government, Kemsauode Wodu, applied for a formal withdrawal of the suit and it was struck out by the Supreme Court.
It will be recalled that Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, while delivering judgement in Suit Number FHC/ABJ/CS/984/19, filed by Attorney-General of Rivers State against the National Boundary Commission, based on documents from relevant government agencies, had declared that the Soku oilfields belong to Rivers State.
Ekwo had noted that the failure and refusal of the National Boundary Commission to rectify the admitted mistake in the 11th edition of the administrative map of Nigeria since 2002 which erroneously showed St Batholomew River instead of River Santa Barbara as the interstate Boundary between Rivers and Bayelsa States, was a breach of commission’s statutory duty and a flagrant disobedience of the order of the Supreme Court contained in its judgment delivered on 10/7/2012 in Suit Number SC. 106 /2009.
The judge explained that the continued reliance on the said defective 11th edition of the administrative map of Nigeria by the other government agencies/statutory bodies, particularly, the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission and the Accountant General of the Federation in the computation of revenue accruable to Rivers State from the Federation Account has resulted in the continued unjust denial of derivation funds accruing from the Soku oil wells situate within Rivers State to the detriment of the State Government.
Justice Ekwo then directed that notice be served of the decision of the Court on the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission and the Accountant General of the Federation.
The judge said the National Boundary Commission cannot unilaterally delineate boundaries between Rivers State and Bayelsa State after the Supreme Court judgment on the matter.
He also dismissed an objection to the suit raised by the National Boundary Commission because it lacked merit.
President Donald Trump’s struggling reelection campaign received a boost Monday with the confirmation of his latest Supreme Court nominee, tilting the top body to the right and clinching his judicial legacy in a landmark victory for American conservatives.
The Republican-controlled Senate elevated Amy Coney Barrett to the lifelong position in a 52-48 vote, capping a rapid and deeply contentious process that makes her the sixth conservative, and third Trump appointee, on the nine-member court.
“This is a momentous day for America, for the United States Constitution and for the fair and impartial rule of law,” the president, standing alongside Barrett, said before beaming lawmakers and others who had gathered on the South Lawn of the White House.
Barrett, 48, assures a strong conservative judicial legacy for Trump, who has also been able to appoint dozens of young, right-wing judges to federal courts in his four years in office.
Democrats have fumed over the process that confirmed a justice so close to a presidential election, and warn that Barrett might vote to overturn the landmark 1973 decision that protects abortion rights, or to gut health care provision for millions of Americans.
But Barrett, who took a constitutional oath at a Monday night ceremony, said she would keep her personal beliefs and judicial work separate.
“I will do my job without any fear or favor, and… I will do so independently of both the political branches and of my own preferences.”
– Game-changer? – With eight days until the November 3 election, the confirmation marks an undeniable victory for the president to tout as he barnstorms battleground states in a final bid to claw back ground against Democrat Joe Biden.
But it remains to be seen whether it can be a game-changer for the Republican president, accused by his rival of abandoning the fight against Covid-19 with polls showing voters overwhelmingly disapprove of his pandemic response.
Trump denied any surrender earlier Monday as he landed in swing state Pennsylvania for a trio of rallies and insisted, despite a new surge in infections, that the pandemic is in retreat.
“We’re absolutely rounding the corner,” he said in Allentown.
But the president betrayed his frustration at the health crisis dragging on his reelection hopes, with a tweet complaining about media coverage of “COVID, COVID, COVID, all the way to the Election.”
– ‘Doom and gloom’ – While Barrett’s confirmation provided a happy distraction for Trump, the virus is ever-present.
More than 225,000 Americans have died, cases are spiking in several states and hopes have dimmed that a trillion-dollar coronavirus relief package could pass Congress before Election Day.
Jitters over the resurgent pandemic weighed on markets, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing 2.3 percent down, the worst session in weeks.
Trump kept his game face on as he touted his economic record, saying voters had “a choice between a Trump super-recovery and a Biden depression.”
Complicating Trump’s argument that America has the upper hand against the virus, his chief of staff Mark Meadows conceded Sunday that “we are not going to control the pandemic,” and that the focus was now on mitigation.
Meadows’ comments drew a rebuke from the head of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who warned it was “dangerous” to give up on attempts to stamp out the virus.
Biden meanwhile, in a surprise campaign stop Monday at a polling station in Chester, Pennsylvania, seized on the “deadly admission” from the White House.
“The bottom line is, Donald Trump is the worst possible president — the worst possible person — to try to lead us through this pandemic,” Biden said.
Earlier Biden said Trump was waiving “the white flag of defeat” and hoping the virus — which has set records for new cases in recent days, with nearly 90,000 on Saturday — would just go away.
– Historic early voting – Biden, 77, has mounted a far more cautious in-person campaign than Trump due to coronavirus concerns.
But he said he will hit the trail in coming days beginning Tuesday in Georgia, a reliably red state that is suddenly in play, followed by battlegrounds Florida, Iowa and Wisconsin.
“In 8 days, we’re going to take our democracy back,” tweeted the former vice president, who leads Trump in the polls both nationally and in half a dozen key battlegrounds including Pennsylvania.
As of Monday, 64 million Americans — wary of the health dangers of crowded polling booths, and energized by a race framed as critical — had cast early ballots, far surpassing the total of 58 million pre-election ballots cast in 2016.
And with data showing Democrats have an edge in terms of early ballots cast, even Republican leaders have begun to recognize that Trump’s presidency may be imperiled.
“A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone, sooner or later, by the next election,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday.
But on Monday, as Democrats lamented Barrett’s confirmation, calling it an “unjustifiable” move that will shatter Republicans’ credibility, McConnell was blunt.
“You can’t win ’em all,” the Republican leader said in a floor speech, “and elections have consequences.”
Despite trailing in the polls barely one week from election day, US President Donald Trump on Monday will likely celebrate a monumental victory for the conservative cause: his third nominee confirmed onto the US Supreme Court.
Appellate Judge Amy Coney Barrett is all but certain to become the ninth justice on the nation’s highest court, after Democrats failed to derail the contentious process in a sharply divided Senate.
In a rare Sunday session, the Senate’s Republican majority overcame a filibuster by Democrats, and Barrett’s nomination cleared a procedural hurdle, 51-48, to set up a confirmation vote Monday evening.
“By tomorrow night, we’ll have a new member of the United States Supreme Court,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the chamber.
“The other side won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”
Barrett’s ascension to the seat left vacant by the September 18 death of liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg would essentially lock in a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the high court.
Democrats have warned that Barrett, 48, could vote to gut Obamacare, which has helped millions of Americans gain health insurance, and perhaps overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision protecting abortion rights.
They have been left steaming over the process. Senate Republicans blocked Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick in March 2016, arguing it was too close to an election still eight months away.
But when Trump nominated Barrett 38 days before the 2020 election, Republicans embraced the move.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer on Sunday called the confirmation rush a “glaring hypocrisy” that would leave “an in-erasable stain on this Republican majority.”
– Procedural fight ‘lost’ –
Two other Trump nominees, Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, are already on the court after bitter partisan fights.
The president’s first term has been controversial, but his Supreme Court confirmations are “at the top of the heap” of accomplishments, Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn told Fox News.
The current process has moved with uncommon speed, taking just 30 days from Barrett’s nomination to her likely confirmation — less than half the 69.6 day average from nomination to final Senate vote, according to a 2018 congressional report.
Trump, who trails his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, has said he wants the Barrett confirmed before the November 3 election and in place in the event the court hears an election-related challenge.
Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, voted against moving forward after saying in recent weeks that they opposed confirming a justice so close to an election.
But in a turnabout Saturday, Murkowski told colleagues she would vote to confirm Barrett given that there was no chance of blocking the process.
“I lost that procedural fight,” Murkowski said.
“While I oppose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it against her as an individual” and will vote for her confirmation, Murkowski added.
McConnell prioritized the confirmation over all other Senate business, including a new bill to provide relief to millions of Americans and companies ravaged by coronavirus.
The pandemic has brought a new wrinkle to the process.
Vice President Mike Pence, who also has a constitutional role as president of the Senate, is expected to preside over Monday’s vote, even though his chief of staff — and reportedly others in Pence’s circle — was diagnosed with Covid-19 this weekend.
The staffer entered quarantine, but a spokesman said Pence, who has tested negative for the virus according to a spokesman on Sunday, will maintain his current schedule.
That drew astonishment from Schumer, who warned Sunday that Pence’s decision puts senators and staffers at risk.
“The Republican Party is willing to ignore the pandemic to rush this Supreme Court nomination forward,” he said.
According to the letter obtained by Channels Television, the request was “in pursuant to Section 231 (2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and upon the advice of the National Judicial Council according to their ranking and seniority in the Court of Appeal.
The nominees are, Lawal Garba, (North West), Helen Ogunwumiju (South West), Abdu Aboki (North West), and M M Saulawa (North West).
Others are Adamu Jauro (North East), Samuel Oseji (Souty South), Tijani Abubakar (North East), and Emmanuel Agim (South-South).
The 36 states of the Federation on Monday took the Federal Government to the Supreme Court, challenging the presidential executive order signed in May by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The states are seeking an order of the Supreme Court to quash President Buhari’s executive order on the funding of courts, which he signed on May 20.
According to the states, Buhari’s executive order no. 00-10 of 2020 transferred the Federal Government’s responsibility of funding both the capital and recurrent expenditures of the state High Courts, Sharia Courts of Appeal, and the Customary Courts of Appeal, to the state governments.
They are contending that the order is a clear violation of sections 6 and 8(3) of the 1999 constitution, which makes it the responsibility of the federal government to fund the listed courts.
The 36 states, while claiming that they had been funding the capital projects in the listed courts since 2009, are also asking the Supreme Court to order the Federal Government to make a refund to them.
The suit was filed for the states by nine Senior Advocates of Nigeria, led by a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Augustine Alegeh.
Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami was listed as the sole respondent in the suit.