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PDP Expresses Lack of Confidence in FHC Judge, Seeks to Withdraw, Transfer Its Cases

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused Justice Inyang Ekwo of bias in his handling of cases involving it and has consequently asked the Chief Judge to transfer all their cases to another judge.

The accusation was contained in a letter written to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and signed by the party’s National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, and National Secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu.

Specifically, the PDP had demanded for the transfer of suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2023; between  Siminialayi Fubara and others vs PDP & 5 ORS; suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/112/2023- between Amb. Desmond vs PDP & 2 ORS; suit number: FHC/ASJ/CS/215/2023- between Send Sandy and anor vs PDP & 5 ORS; and all other cases involving the People’s Democratic Party.

The PDP in the application had said, “We are constrained to bring this application to your Lordship to transfer the above listed cases and ail other cases involving our Party from Hon. Justice I. E. Ekwo due to circumstances showing or demonstrating manifest bias/grave likelihood of bias on the part of Hon. Justice I. E. Ekwo against the party.

The PDP claimed that Justice Ekwo “is in the monotonous alternative habit of issuing injurious ex parte Orders against the Party”.

According to them, in the build up to the 2022 primary elections of the Party, the judge had issued “series of harmful ex parte Orders against the Party which eventually caused the Party huge electoral misfortune at the 2023 general elections”.

They mentioned suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/598/2022- between Hon. Monday Iyore Osagie & Ors Vs Peoples Democratic Party & Ors as one of the cases the judge had issued damaging ex parte Orders against the Party.

Ekwo was said to have issued ex parte order on May 6, 2022 restraining the lawful ad hoc delegates who emerged from the Ward congresses conducted by the National Leadership of the Party from participating in the Party’s Primary Elections in Edo State.

“This singular Order caused deep division and disaffection in the Party which eventually affected the fortune of the party in Edo State.

“Suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/123/2023- between Siminialayi Fubara and other vs PDP & 5 ORS. This is a case filed by all the Candidates of the Party in Rivers State praying that they should not be suspended from the Party.

“The case borders on the internal affairs of the Party over which the Court has no jurisdiction to entertain yet Justice I. E. Ekwo granted ex parte Order against the Party.

“Suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/215/2023- Between Sen. Prof. Sandy Onor & Anor VS PDP & 5 Ors. This is a case filed by the Cross River State Governorship and Deputy Governorship Candidates of the Party asking that they should remain members of the Party. The case borders on the internal affairs of the Party over which the Court has no jurisdiction to entertain yet Justice I. E. Ekwo granted ex parte Order against the Party”, the party stated.

In the case between Amb. Desmond Akawor VS PDP & 2 Ors, the PDP pointed out certain alleged “strange developments which leave no one in doubt that Justice I. E. Ekwo has predetermined the case”.

According to the petitioner, the Plaintiff filed its Originating Summons on January 25, 2023, while filed its counter affidavit and Notice of

preliminary Objection challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to hear and determine the matter on February 6.

“When the matter came up for hearing on the same February 6, 2023, the Judge refused to hear the party’s preliminary objection and instead made an order that parties should maintain status quo till the final determination of the matter in the face of the pending objection challenging his jurisdiction.

“On March 9, 2023, the Plaintiff filed motion for amendment of the Originating Summons alongside motion on notice. The reliefs introduced in the amendment being sought and the Motion on Notice is to restrain the Party and its National Officers from denying the Rivers State Legal Adviser of the Party the right to represent or appoint External Solicitors to represent the Party.

“While Notice of Preliminary Objection challenging the jurisdiction, Motions for amendment and for interlocutory injunction are pending, Justice Ekwo on March 13, 2023 entertained another ex parte application seeking the very reliefs contained in the pending Motion on Notice and strangely made ex parte Order asking the Party to show cause why the reliefs should not be granted.

“In his haste to perpetrate injustice against the Party, Justice I. E. Ekwo in the ex parte Order of March 13, 2023 spelt the name of the Party as “la PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PD 21”. As if that is not enough mischief, Justice I. E. Ekwo equally announced himself as Counsel for the Applicant in the case thus: “And after hearing DR. J. Y. Musa, SAN with Hon. Justice I. E. Ekwo Douglas Moru, Esq) of Counsel for the Applicant”. Find attached copy of the ex parte order. This show clearly, that Justice Ekwo is not only bias but has also stooped from the sacred judicial office into handling the brief of the Plaintiff”.

The petitioners stated that apart from being unable to understand the motivation for the ceaseless ex parte Order being granted against the PDP by Justice Ekwo, the party has noted with displeasure the thread with which cases involving the Rivers, Cross Rivers and Edo State Chapters of the Party always find their way to Justice Ekwo.

Adding that in all of these cases, the outcome is always certain an ex parte Order and eventual judgment against the Party.

“Even when it is obvious that the Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain

the matter, Justice I. E. Ekwo always foist jurisdiction on himself in his voyage of injustice against the Party.

“Justice is rooted in confidence and that confidence is destroyed where right minded people go away with the impression that the Judge has a preconceived opinion or predisposition to decide the cause or an issue in a certain way which does not leave the mind perfectly open to conviction.

“The Peoples Democratic Party as a Political Party has lost in Justice I. E. Ekwo and we are convinced that he has a preconceived predisposition to always decide cases involving the Party with bias”.

They prayed the CJ to in view of the forgoing, transfer the above cases and all other cases involving the Party from Hon. I. E. Ekwo.

“We further request that cases involving the Party should no longer be assigned to him”, they prayed.

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Atiku Hails Judgment on Full Financial Autonomy for LGs, Says It’s a Win for Nigerian People

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general elections, and a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has hailed the judgment of the Supreme Court, ordering that henceforth local government allocations be paid direct into various local government accounts, saying it is a win for the people of Nigeria.

The Waziri Adamawa made his views public via his social media handle, saying categorically that “I align with the decision of the Supreme Court that the structure of the Nigerian government is portioned in three layers, and of these, the local governments should be centres of development.”

He wrote:

The judgment of the Supreme Court earlier today affirming fiscal autonomy to local government councils in the country is a win for the people of Nigeria.

The court’s ruling is a step in the right direction and a major corrective action in greasing the wheels of national development across the country.

The decision by the Federal Government to consolidate disbursements of local councils’ revenues into the state government accounts was a decision that was borne out of politics of hasty compromise.

I align with the decision of the Supreme Court that the structure of the Nigerian government is portioned in three layers, and of these, the local governments should be centres of development.

I also share the belief that fiscal autonomy to the local governments should not be limited to revenues from the Federation Accounts, but indeed, should apply to Internally Generated Revenue from the respective local government authorities.

Many of our states, especially those in the ultra urban areas with high density economic activities, have become notorious in muscling local councils from generating revenue on items that border on motor parks, outdoor advertising, rents and many more.

The verdict of the court is in tandem with the core functions of the Supreme Court as an arbitration court between and among governments. -AA

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Supreme Court Grants LGAs Full Financial Autonomy

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria has ruled that the 774 local government areas (LGAs) be given a full financial autonomy across the federation.

A seven-man panel of Supreme Court Justices led by Justice Garba Lawal delivered the ruling on Thursday, July 11, 2024.

The apex Court initially heard the suit between the Federal and State government on the autonomy of local government on June 13 and reserved judgment.

The suit marked SC/CV/343/2024 was filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), and it sought full autonomy and direct fund allocation to the 774 local government areas (LGAs) in the country.

Fagbemi requested the Supreme Court to order that funds for LGAs managed by caretaker committees appointed by governors, rather than elected chairmen and councillors, be withheld.

However, the 36 state governors, represented by their attorneys general, oppose the suit on various grounds, including their argument that the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case.

In its ruliing on Thursday (today), the Supreme Court ordered that full financial autonomy be granted to the LGAs, recognizing them as an independent segment of the federation.

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Wike vs Ireti Kingibe: Time to Stop the Bully

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By Eric Elezuo

It is an understatement to say that there’s no love lost between the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Nyesom Wike, and the Senator representing the FCT, Mrs. Ireti Kingibe. Their relationship has turned more soured than the proverbial cat and rat. In fact, both cannot see eye to eye, in as much as they are saddled with the same responsibility of promoting and developing the FCT.

While Kingibe, one of the four female senators in the Senate, is operating on the mandate of the people, having been duly elected under the Labour Party in a well contested election in the 2023 General Elections, Wike is an appointee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

No one has been able to explain the origin of the beef between the two political figures, but source close to The Boss, has said that differences in political affiliation may have triggered the initial animosity before it blossomed into full time hatred and cross verbal attacks, leading to the bullying of the Senator.

Senator Kingibe had complained earlier in the life of the administration that the FCT has shun all her approaches to synergise for the benefit of the Abuja residents, since she’s a direct interface of the people as an elected representative. But Wike, in his response tackled the Abuja Senator, asking her to stay away from him that he does not wish to be friends with her.

Wike had lambasted the Senator, accusing her of blackmailing him instead of communicating her problems through the right channels or better still focusing on her oversight functions.

He stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, stating that the lawmaker is aggrieved because the Senate President snubbed her for the position of the Senate Committee on FCT.

“I don’t want to be personal…she’s the Senator for FCT. She went around saying ‘oh, oh Wike is busy scraping roads…I should leave the roads till when the potholes come?” Wike said.

“Somebody wants to be your friend and you say ‘I don’t want to be your friend. Is it by force?’ The problem is that she wanted to be Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT and the Senate President said ‘I’m not giving you’.

‘What are you going to supervise me? You cannot supervise me. What is her interest, that I must see her? If I have a problem I’ll go and see her. I don’t have a problem. Nobody can intimidate me. Look, I was a Minister before. I became a governor of one of the most important states in Nigeria and she thinks that the only way you can bring me down is to go to Channels, TVC, saying the Minister is not carrying me along.

“I don’t have the back to carry. It’s not about blackmailing. Do the right thing. You know her problem? She ran election with my friend Philip Aduda and she sees me taking Philip everywhere instead of her being the Senator. Should I abandon my friend because he failed election?” Wike queried.

However, while the Senator has refused to stay bullied, Nigerians have said that time is now to tame the bully, and save the bullied from any further acts of disrespect.

Kingibe has made it clear however, that she is not in any interested in the friendship of Wike, who she only knows from a distance, but in working together to answer to the needs of the FCT residents, whom both of them have been mandated to serve at the moment.

Speaking on Arise News interview, the Senator reviewed as follows, taking into cognizance that Wike addresses her as one, who claims her senatorial role:

“That’s what he says. I am the senator, but he said in interviews that I claim that I am the senator of the FCT, and he is not obliged to deal with me. But I am saying that by sections 122 and 124 of the Evidence Act, he is bound by the judicial notice of the occupier of the seat of the senator of the FCT.

“I am also saying that section 24 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, imbues on him a duty, that is, the honourable minister, (I am not calling any names because anybody who is the minister is bound by those same laws and duties) to abide by the constitution, to respect all its ideals, institutions and legitimate authorities entirely.

“So just the same way that some Nigerians would have voted for the president, and some would not have, but as soon as he is declared the president, he becomes the president for everybody, and nobody can pick and choose who would rather be the president. And therefore, same applies to all offices regardless of party or any other position.”

She added, “Please what constitutes friendship between two people who have never met each other? I have never sat in the same room with the minister except in the senate committee. So how does friendship arise? Why would I want to be the friend of somebody I do not know?

“The truth of the matter is that the minister refuses to speak or communicate in any way with the senator representing the Federal Capital Territory. So, how are the wishes and the needs of the people to be communicated to him? Please tell me if you know a way.”

Responding while inaugurating the construction of Mabushi Bus Terminal, Phase I, in Abuja, came hard on the senator for her remarks threatening to unseat her as a serving senator in the next election.

Referring to her as a nameless person, Wike asked her to go hug the transformer, in a most derogatory attempt to inform that she does not matter in the scheme of activities in the FCT.

Wike said: “I overheard somebody in Arise this morning. Unfortunately, I hear the person is a member of National Assembly and it is unfortunate I say so. With all due respect, what you don’t know, you don’t know, what you know you know, and the good thing for you is to tell people you don’t when you don’t know, then people will educate you.

“The Honorable Minister of State and my humble self have not been in office for more than 11 months and the person is angry that they are praising us. If you don’t want to or you are angry about that, go and hand yourself in a transformer. If we have done well, we have done well. If we haven’t done well, we haven’t done well. I’m proud to say that in the short time that Mr. President has appointed us, we have done well.

“You said there are no hospitals and there are no hospitals. You, as a legislator, what have you done? How many bills have you sponsored for us to improve our education and health sector?

“I challenge that legislator. If you are very popular, 2027 come and run under Abuja, we will fail you. Do you think that what happened last time, will happen again? It will not happen again. Luckily for me, I am the FCT Minister now. So that is my territory and I’m not afraid.

“So, People should be able to come out and be able to accept the truth. We are not begging for anybody to become our friend, we have so many friends that we cannot even carry along. So how can we go and beg people to become our friends? We are not interested in that.

“If you are angry that people are praising us, by next year your BP level will go very high because the praises you would see would be too much.”

Many legislators were at the event, and they clapped for the minister at the remarks.

In another commissioning activity, the Senate President was on hand to deliver a speech, but ended up talking down on his colleague.

“I saw one of the legislators on television talking about you (Wike) and mentioning the fact that she was not carried along.

“Well, she is a member of the Senate. Once a decision is taken, she is bound by the decision. So, please ignore every distraction (from her) and be rest assured that no matter what you do, not everyone will praise you. Others will still try to find faults,” Mr Akpabio told Mr Wike, who was beaming with smiles.

Many other Senators were present at the event.

But Nigerians have come hard on the FCT Minister for his unguided utterances against an elected public officer, who is also a septugenarian, accusing him of lacking respect and playing God in the affairs of men.

In their response, the Labour Party, FCT branch, accused Wike of falling out of line, saying that Kingibe did nothing  y calling his attention to main needs of the Abuja residents.

The FCT chairman of the party, Comrade Diugwu Chukwuemeka, said by Wike’s outburst, he showed that he is not at home with the peculiarities of the FCT, nothing that the area is a conglomeration of different persons from across the length and breadth of the country.

“Does he not know that he is a tenant in FCT merely appointed by  the president and  if Mr. President decides to remove him, he will be removed without any ceremony,” the LP chairman queried.

On his part, the National Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Dr Ajuji Ahmed, described Wike’s attack on Senator Kingibe as verbal violence.

He said that Wike does not have the power to stop other politicians’ re-election because he is not the one that brought such politicians to the office in the first instance.

“That (the attack) amounts to verbal violence because there is no reason why he (Wike) should do that. He is not in the LP. It was LP that elected her. He has nothing to do with LP and he is not the entire electorate of the FCT. There is no way somebody can stop someone from being re-elected in three years time. It’s not a savoury statement.”

Also speaking, a Chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA), Chief Chekwas Okorie, also described the verbal exchange between Wike and the FCT as bad.

He appealed to the two public officers to sheathe swords and collaborate for the overall progress of the FCT.

“For me, it is all politics. But it is unfortunate that they allowed their political differences to affect their service to the people.

“The senator representing FCT represents all Abuja and the entire Abuja has one FCT minister.

“It is the National Assembly that presides over Abuja. One would have expected the two to work together. But it is bad that they are fighting each other,” he said.

However, in total condemnation of Wike’s bullish approach to the administration of the FCT and attacks on Kingibe, the women of Abuja have held a protest, asking that Wike be checkmate in his untoward utterances against Kingibe.

“We, the Concerned Women of FCT, Abuja, are therefore calling on all women in Abuja to rise against Wike’s antics,” the women noted.

While Nigerians expect the legislators to come to the rescue and support of their colleague, the contrary is playing out, encouraging Wike’s bullish attitude. But Nigerians are stepping out of their comfort zone to curb the menace.

Nigerians also understand that Wike’s bullish stance extends to his Rivera State primary constituency, where he is slugging it out with the incumbent governor of the state, Mr. Siminalayi Fubara, over the control of the state. The state has,  in recent months, been a subject of political intrigues and violence as the parties fight for supremacy.

But time will tell.

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