For the second time, the Supreme Court on Thursday shifted hearing in the four appeals on the rivers state APC primary election for the nomination of candidates for the 2019 general election to Monday, April 8th and Thursday, April 11th for a hearing.
The Apex Court adjourned hearing in the matters for various reasons but mainly for the absence of counsel to INEC who was said to have missed his flight from Porthacourt.
The Appeals are those of Senator Magnus Abe against INEC and others, Mr. Tonye Cole against Senator Magnus Abe, the all progressive congress against the Peoples Democratic Party and the last one by the ap. Seeking consolidation of all the pending appeals.
Senator Magnus Abe in his appeal prayed the Apex Court to make a pronouncement on the authenticity of the direct and indirect primaries of the APC in Rivers State for the nomination of candidates.
The appellant specifically wants the court to determine which of the two appeals is known to law and should be recognized by INEC.
However, when the matter came up counsel to Senator Abe, Mr. Henry Bello informed the Apex Court of his motion seeking to amend his appeal.
The matter was stalled as a result of the absence of the INEC counsel who is the first respondent.
Although Bello sought an order to stand down the matter to enable the counsel who was said to be airborne arrive, the Acting CJN who presided over the panel ruled that the Apex court does not stand down matters for anybody or group.
This prompted the Acting CJN to adjourn the matter to Monday, April 8.
In the two other appeals by Mr. Tonye Cole, a factional governorship candidate of the APC and the party, justice mohamlad shifted hearing in the matters to april 11 to enable parties file and exchange necessary processes.
The Acting CJN who led the seven-man panel of the Apex court also abridged time for the parties to file and exchange papers because the matters are time bound, being pre-election matters.
However in a fourth appeal by the apc seeking a consolidation of all existing apoeals relating to the primary elections, the court adjourned the matter indefinitely for the party to regularise their processes.
The Supreme Court has adjourned till April 4 to hear all pending appeals relating to the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
A seven-man panel of justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Ibrahim Muhammad fixed the date for hearing on all the various appeals after addressing some preliminary issues on the appeals.
The appeals are SC/ 1972019 filed by Senator Magnus Abe and some others, with APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) listed as the respondents; SC 295/ 20019 filed by APC, with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) listed among the respondents.
Other appeals are SC 266 filed by APC with Senator Abe and others as respondents and SC/267/2019 filed by Mr Tonye Cole with Senator Abe and 48 others as respondents.
The court granted the motion by the APC, represented by Mr Jibrin Okutepa for permission to merge the different respondents’ briefs, earlier filed by the second to the thirty-fifth respondents, into a single brief.
But it rejected a similar motion filed by the appellants’ lawyer, Henry Bello, for leave permission to amend the notice of appeal on grounds that Mr Bello failed to attach the old notice of appeal to the motion, as required.
The apex court ordered appellants to file their reply to the respondents’ brief of argument within 48 hours.
The three appeals were adjourned till April 4 to allow the formal service of hearing notices and all other processes on INEC, which was not represented in court.
Senator Abe, a factional leader of the APC in Rivers, is praying the apex court to make a final pronouncement on the legality of both direct and indirect primary polls conducted by the two factions of the party in 2018.
The motion dated March 1 was predicated on eight grounds and affidavit of urgency among which was that the matter, being a pre-election suit, must by law be fully determined within 60 days.
The Presidential and National Assembly elections have come and gone with as many controversies trailing the outcome as the several crises that characterized the conduct of the exercise in various parts of the country.
Although 73 presidential candidates were fielded by political parties in the election, the exercise was a two horse race, between the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, and his opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Atiku Abubakar.
Many analysts had predicted a win for the incumbent, President Buhari, given the popular support he enjoyed especially in the North from where most of the votes were expected to come. However, others saw his main challenger, Atiku, giving him a good fight in the North had come from the same region as Buhari.
The announcement of Buhari by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the presidential poll, defeating Atiku with about four million votes, put paid to the debate over who between the gladiators was more popular.
The governorship election scheduled for this Saturday, March 9, promises to be even more dramatic, with many unable to predict which direction the pendulum will swing in some states.
While the governorship election will not hold in seven states – Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Bayelsa, Edo, Kogi, and Anambra — the election in Rivers, Ogun, Imo, Kwara and, to a large extent, Benue, will be interesting to watch on Saturday.
Up until his disqualification from the governorship election in Rivers State by the Supreme Court, the APC candidate, Tonye Cole, was poised to present the biggest challenge to the incumbent, Nyesom Wike, of the PDP.
But with the Supreme Court’s decision, the coast appeared clear for the PDP candidate to emerge victorious. However, the emerging scenario in the oil-rich state seems to validate the popular saying that, in politics, it is never over until it is actually over.
If anyone expected the APC in Rivers State to take its disqualification from the race lying low, that was taking a joke too far. The party has thrown its weight behind the African Action Congress (AAC) governorship candidate, Biokpomabo Awara.
According to the APC leader in the state and Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, the AAC fits the bill in APC’s quest for a change in the leadership of the state.
On Wednesday, the former Rivers State governor addressed supporters of his party in Eleme asking them to back the AAC governorship candidate. “This morning, the leadership of the party met and agreed that we would work with a party called the African Action Congress, while we are still in court to reclaim our mandate.
“So, on Saturday, we will vote for the AAC. You must go home and vote for the AAC. There should be no excuse not to vote because there will be security for everybody. You must prepare and make sure you win the governorship election.”
So, in Rivers State, the die is cast and Governor Wike may have to forget the fact that the APC would not be on the ballot and ensure that he does not let his guard down as the electorate head to the poll on Saturday if he wants to avoid the shock of his life.
The Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, may have emerged victorious in his bid to represent Ogun Central in the Senate, beating his closest rival, Solomon Sanyaolu of the PDP with 54,834 votes, his support for the governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Adekunle Akinlade, against the candidate of his own party, Dapo Abiodun, is likely to attract a backlash from APC supporters in the state.
Many voters in the state may be torn between casting their ballot for the APM candidate who is riding on the back of Mr. Amosun, considered by many in the state to have performed well as the governor, and Mr. Abiodun of the APC, which is the party seen to be dominant in Ogun.
Besides, coming from the Ijebu stock which constitutes the majority sub-ethnic group in the state, Mr. Abiodun may win the support of more voters based on this ethnic affiliation, especially given that many Ijebus may not be swayed by the rotational system being championed by Governor Amosun.
However, another dynamics has just evolved in the struggle for who takes over power in the state. The Ladi Adebutu faction of the PDP in the state on Thursday announced its support for the APM candidate, having lost the legal battle with Buruji Kashamu, the PDP candidate recognized by INEC in Ogun State.
How all this will pan out may be difficult to determine until after the election on Saturday.
The scenario in Imo State, South East Nigeria, is similar to what is playing out in Ogun State. Just like the Ogun State governor, Governor Rochas Okorocha insists he remains in APC despite his suspension by the party.
He is also headed for the Senate to represent Imo West Senatorial District having defeated his closest rival, Jones Onyereri, of the PDP.
But he has also thrown his full weight behind his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, who is vying to replace him as the state governor, under the platform of the Action Alliance (AA), against the APC candidate, Hope Uzodinma, who has the backing of the APC leadership at the national level.
Some say the division in the APC in Imo State presents the opposition PDP a chance to re-launch itself to reckoning in the state, as many APC supporters would also be turn between voting for Uzodinma of the APC and Nwosu of the AA party. How far the power of incumbency will go in advancing the cause of the AA in the state, remains to be seen.
The North Central State of Kwara also presents an interesting picture. With the uprooting, or so it seems, of the once “undefeatable” Saraki political structure in Kwara State, voters in the state appear prepared to ride on the wave of the “O To Ge” revolution sweeping across the state to dismantle the vestiges of PDP’s hold on power in the state.
Depending on what card the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, may decide to play before Saturday, APC seems set to take over the seat of power in Kwara. But whether this will indeed mark the end of Saraki’s influence in the state’s politics will be determined by what APC does with power if it wins eventually.
In Benue State, an intriguing race is set to come to a head. It is a race that revives old rivalry, one that has pitted friends against each other and forced rivals to close ranks to defeat common foes.
Incumbent Governor Samuel Ortom of the Peoples Democratic Party and Emmanuel Jime of the All Progressives Congress are leading candidates in the race.
Their rivalry is not a new one. It started in 2014 when Ortom dumped the PDP for the APC after being defeated in the party’s primary.
Jime who was the leading candidate for the APC primary for the 2015 governorship race suddenly lost his “star” status as APC leaders welcomed Ortom to the party, handed him the ticket and he emerged as governor. Although Ortom’s victory in the primary was challenged legally by Jime and others, he ultimately retained the number one seat in the state.
In the four years since he emerged as governor, however, a lot has changed for Ortom. His relationship with President Buhari deteriorated and collapsed in 2018 on the back of the murderous attacks by suspected herdsmen in the state.
Claiming he had been frozen out of the APC, Ortom returned to the PDP in the same year and fell out with Senator George Akume, who many believe facilitated his rise to power.
Although many have rallied behind the governor for his actions during the killings in the state and for standing up to the Federal Government to the detriment of his relationship with the President, there are many others who are unsatisfied with his performance as governor. The latter group comprises pensioners and others who are being owed salaries.
With the slim victory recorded by PDP in the state during the Presidential poll, Saturday’s election is too close to call and Jime, who many believe was handed a raw deal in 2015, remains in the race with a shout.
Although the APC has control of the reins of power in Lagos, Kaduna, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Plateau, and Oyo, the party is not in a position to take anything for granted if it must retain power in those states. The same is applicable to Delta, Akwa Ibom, Abia and perhaps Cross River States where the PDP is in control.
A lot is at stake in Saturday’s governorship election, especially in the states highlighted here, a situation that has triggered some form of desperation on the part of candidates and their supporters ahead of the polls.
As the countdown to the crucial moment reaches a crescendo, the authorities in charge of security must be on top of their game to ensure Nigerians go to the polls on Saturday without fear.
According to the court, the appeals were filed outside the time allowed under Section 285(9) and (12) of the Constitution as amended by the 4th Alteration Act.
Justice Amina Augie who read the ruling of the court, said the appellants were not parties to the original suit and were not allowed by the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt to appeal the October 10, 2018 judgment, because they filed their appeal out of the required time.
Augie noted that the appeals are statute-barred.
The ruling comes as a major setback to Tonye Cole, who had expected the court to get INEC to officially recognise him as the APC governorship candidate for Rivers state.
A governorship aspirant in Rivers State, Mr Tonye Cole, has reacted to the ruling of an appellate court which granted a stay of execution of the judgement nullifying all primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
In a statement he personally signed on Monday, Mr Cole described the ruling of the court as one “placing all APC candidates back on the ballot” in the state.
He lauded the ruling moments after the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt stayed of execution of the Federal High Court judgement nullifying all Rivers APC primaries and restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from fielding the party’s candidates in the general elections.
Cole said, “I just want to take a minute to thank the Almighty God for his grace upon us all. I know without Him, this would be totally impossible.
“We were up against it. We still are but our God who has been with us throughout this journey will see us to the end.”
A Federal High court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, has nullified the direct and indirect primaries conducted by the two factions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
The court, presided over by Justice Kolawole Omotosho, also restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from presenting Tonye Cole and Magnus Abe as governorship candidates in the general elections.
The judge said none of the primaries were conducted according to the law. He noted that the INEC did not do well by submitting names of candidates without consideration of previous court orders.
One of the counsels to the APC factions however told journalists that the judgement will be appealed at the Supreme Court.
Crisis erupted in the Rivers APC during the governorship primaries held in 2018 in the state.
Senator Abe in a direct governorship primary conducted by a faction of the APC was declared winner after he got 144, 929 votes. In an indirect primary held in the state by another faction of the APC, Cole was declared the winner with 3,329 votes.
The national leadership of the APC, however, submitted Cole’s name as its candidate insisting he emerged from the primary conducted by the party.
Having cemented its status as the foremost business personalities meeting dedicated to the development of the African private sector, the Africa CEO Forum is set to kick off its 5th edition, themed: “re-thinking Africa’s business model”.
The 2017 edition, set to take place in Geneva, would focus on how to succeed in this new economic cycle on the continent.
Slated to hold between March 20 and 21, the programme would bring together more than 1000 personalities, key decision makers in industry, finance and politics from the African continent and around the globe.
The Africa CEO forum 2017 would open the debate with the economic boom of the 2000s, the context of economic growth in Africa and the critical decisions that must be taken to reach rapid and sustainable growth.
Other themes to be discussed include: Unleashing innovation and the entrepreneurial potential of youth and women, making Africa more attractive for international investors, turning African stock exchanges into competitive powerhouses and creating the next generation of African exporters.
The forum would also offer 20 sessions for debate and reflection, allowing participants to hit strategic topics for driving African corporate growth including: digital transformation, fintech, agri-business, private equity, emerging African champions, electricity and innovation.
Some of the African and international personalities slated to take part in the discussion and debate include:
President, African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, CEO Unilever, Paul Polman, President, Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Mo Ibrahim, CEO, OTMT Investments, Naguib Sawiris, Chairperson, MTN, Phuthuma Nhleko, Co-Founder and Group Executive Director, Sahara Group, Tonye Cole, CEO, United Capital, Oluwatoyin Sanni, Chairperson, Firstbank, Ibukun Awosika, CEO, Mohammed Enterprises, Mohammed Dewji, CEO, Africa and Middle East, Orange, Bruno Mettling, CEO, MSC, Diego Aponte, CEO, Afreximbank, Benedict Oramah, CEO, Rougier, Marie-Yvonne Charlemagne, CEO, Stanbic IBTC Holdings, Sola David-Borha, CEO, Uchumi Supermarkets, Julius Kipng’etich, CEO, Cevital, Issad Rebrab, CEO, Casablanca Finance City Authority, Saïd Ibrahimi, CEO, NSIA, Jean Kacou Diagou.
The Federal Government has been asked to enact a Leadership Development Policy that would aid the mentorship of young Nigerians for leadership roles.
The President of Guardians of the Nations International (GOTNI), Dr. Linus Okorie, gave the advice on Friday at the ongoing leadership conference of the organisation in Abuja.
He also suggested that the Federal Government should commit a part of its budget to building capacity of young persons.
Backed By Mentorship
At the gathering were young Nigerians between 20 to 30 years, meeting with much older Nigerians who have excelled in their professions.
The meeting was part of efforts to groom young Nigerians to prepare themselves for leadership positions both at home and abroad, the GOTNI said.
The organisers of the event criticised the Nigerian government for failing to commit a small percentage of its budget to building the capacity of young persons to occupy leadership positions.
Another issue that was raised by the Chief Executive Officer of the Sahara Group, Tonye Cole, was the involvement of fresh persons into governance. This, according to him, should be backed by mentorship.
A political counsellor at the United States Embassy in Nigeria, Shawn Flatt, told the gathering how mentorship for young persons had fared in his country.
Several meetings like of this sought have served as an agenda setting for previous government on how to harness the potentials of young Nigerians.
It is expected that resolutions reached at the meeting would be translated into action by the government.
He also said that pipeline vandalism in Nigeria had contributed hugely to the poor power supply.
“Anybody that vandalises a pipeline may vandalise the pipeline to go and sell crude somewhere thinking that he is making money, but each time he vandalises a pipeline, whether it is a gas pipeline or an oil pipeline, it affects everyone.
“But before we can get to a point where we don’t have to think about power because it is just there, it requires a lot of investment, a lot of capital has to go into that,” he stated.
Mr Cole pointed out that the power sector had taken a new shape with the taking over of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria by private owners, saying that the private companies still have to work with the government and the regulators to achieve realistic results.
“It is a new area and it is expected that laws and relationship between the regulators, investors and customers will be shaped along the way.
“We will begin to see improvement within six months, but improvement in communication is the first thing that we need,” he explained.
According to him, people need to understand the difference between generation and transmission and then the difference between transmission and distribution.
“Most people don’t know what these things are and as far as the customer is concerned, he wants just one thing, power, power, that is all,” the Sahara Group boss said.
Sahara Group is a conglomerate present in over 13 countries with interests in trading, storage, energy and power resources, aviation, farming and real estate.