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820 Buses: Court Fixes Jan 16, 2020 For Hearing Of Ambode’s Suit Against Lagos Assembly

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820 Buses: Court Fixes Jan 16, 2020 For Hearing Of Ambode's Suit Against Lagos Assembly

A Lagos High Court in Ikeja on Wednesday November 20 fixed January 16, 2020 for hearing of a suit filed by former Governor Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, to challenge the constitutionality of the probe of his administration by the House of Assembly over procurement of 820 buses for public transportation.

The House had suspended the probe following an order of the court which directed parties to the suit to maintain status quo.

Aside the House, other defendants are the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa; House Clerk, Mr A.A Sanni; Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee set up by the House to probe the procurement, Fatai Mojeed and members of the Committee. They are Gbolahan Yishawu, A.A Yusuff, Yinka Ogundimu, Mojisola Lasbat Meranda, M.L Makinde, Kehinde Joseph, T.A Adewale and O.S Afinni.

At the resumption of the matter on Wednesday before Justice Y.A Adesanya, a team of lawyers to the defendants led by Lawal Pedro (SAN) and Olukayode Enitan (SAN) informed the court of the counter affidavit filed in opposition to the motion for interlocutory injunction and a notice of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.

Already, Pedro said he had been served with claimant’s (Ambode’s) written reply on point of law to the counter affidavit with a written address.

He, however, asked for time to react to the process served on him in court by the claimant’s legal team.

In response, the claimant’s counsel, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) confirmed the receipt of the preliminary objection but informed the court that the defendants were yet to file a defence to the suit.

At the instance of both counsel especially the need to put in all necessary processes, the matter was adjourned to January 16, 2020 for hearing.

It will be recalled that according to his statement of claim before the court, Ambode had said contrary to deliberate misrepresentation of facts by the lawmakers, the procurement of the 820 buses was well captured in the 2018 Appropriation Law which was duly approved by the House.

“In section 1 of the Bill, the 1st Defendant (House of Assembly) authorized the total Budget for the year 2018 to be One Trillion, Forty Six Billion, One Hundred and Twenty One Million, One Hundred and Eighty-One Thousand, Six Hundred and Eighty Naira (N1,046,121,181,680.00) comprising the sum of Three Hundred and Forty Seven Billion, Thirty-Eighty Million, Nine Hundred and Thirty-Eight Thousand, Eight-Hundred and Seventy-Two Naira (N347,038,938,872.00) only and Six Hundred and Ninety-Nine Billion, Eighty-Two Million, Two Hundred and Forty-Two Thousand, Eight Hundred and Eighty Naira (N699,082,242,808.00) only as the Recurrent and Capital Expenditures respectively.

“Part of the items authorized by the Bill under Capital Expenditure was: “LAGBUS Public Transport Infrastructure (MEPB); Part financing of 820 buses” which was item 8 under schedule 1- Part C of the Bill,” the former Governor averred.

He added that having prescribed the manner of withdrawal of funds in sections 3 and 4 of the 2018 Appropriation Law, it was unconstitutional for the House to attach another condition in section 9 of the law for further approval to be sought before incurring any expenditure on the purchase of the buses.

Highlighting the specific breach of his constitutional rights to fair hearing by the House, the former Governor said on August 27, 2019 during proceedings of the Assembly, some lawmakers thoroughly vilified and disparaged him as having purchased the buses without budgetary approval and that the procurement was a waste of public funds, while at the end of the proceedings, the House resolved to constitute an Ad Hoc Committee to probe the procurement.

He said it was surprising that the very lawmakers who contributed actively in vilifying, disparaging and denigrating him constituted the bulk of the members of the Committee, which was a clear derogation of his right to fair hearing.

Ambode added that in continuation of deliberate misrepresentation of facts of the issue, the House falsely claimed that an invitation had been extended to him to appear before the Committee but that he failed to honour the said invitation.

“On Thursday 10th October, 2019, the 4th and 5th Defendants (Mojeed and Yishawu) who are Chairman and member of the Committee respectively set up by the 1st Defendant pursuant to the provisions of section 129 of the Constitution again raised on the floor of the House an allegation that the Claimant (Ambode) was invited to appear before the Committee but that he failed to do so whereupon the 2nd Defendant (Speaker) ruled that a warrant of arrest would be issued against the Claimant if he refuses to appear before the Committee.

“The Claimant states that no letter of invitation was delivered to him before the 4th and 5th Defendants made the false allegation against the Claimant which was widely reported by various national Newspapers in the country.

“Further to the foregoing paragraphs, the 1st Defendant had also invited some of the former Commissioners who served under my Government to appear before the 1st Defendant on Tuesday 15th October 2019. These included former Commissioners for Energy, Agriculture and Economic Planning and Budget respectively amongst others.

“After the proceedings of the Committee on 15th October 2019, the 1st Defendant represented to the public that the former Commissioners that appeared before it had indicted me in their testimonies. The information was widely published by National newspapers on Wednesday 16th October 2019.

“Contrary to the information made to the public by the 1st Defendant, the said former Commissioners for Energy and Economic Planning and Budget who were represented by the 1st Defendant to have indicted me, made public statements on Thursday 17th October 2019 denying that they ever indicted me in their testimonies before the Committee. The denials were widely published by online newspapers on Thursday 17th October 2019 and national newspapers on Friday 18th October 2019.

“The 1st Defendant falsely represented to the public that the said Commissioners indicted me in their testimonies before the Committee so as to justify my indictment by the 1st Defendant which indictment members of the 1st Defendant had hitherto threatened to carry out,” Ambode averred.

He added that the House Committee and indeed the entire members of the House had already adjudged him as having committed wastage of public fund by the procurement of the buses in question and had also already determined that the procurement was done by him as opposed to the State Government.

He said it was obvious that the lawmakers were totally biased against him having regard to their pronouncements on the floor of the House by reason of which he believes that his right to fair hearing as guaranteed by the Constitution had been seriously compromised by the defendants.

He is, therefore, seeking among others, the court’s declaration that the power of the House to pass a resolution under section 128(1) of the Constitution to cause an inquiry into his conduct as Governor is subject to right to fair hearing as guaranteed by section 36(1) of the Constitution.

He also wants a declaration that the Resolution of the House setting up a 9-Man Committee comprising of the 4th-12th Defendants to investigate all transactions in respect of the 820 Buses said by the defendants to have been procured by him derogates from his right as guaranteed by section 36(1) of the Constitution and therefore is unconstitutional, null and void.

Other claims are: “A DECLARATION that having regard to the provisions of sections 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Appropriation Law of Lagos State 2018, sections 8 and 9 of the Law which required the approval of the House of Assembly of Lagos State before certain expenditure of money is incurred by the Executive Branch of the State is not in accord with any provision of the Constitution and accordingly is unconstitutional, null and void.

“A DECLARATION that it is not lawful for the Defendants to represent or continue to represent to the Public that the Claimant, AKINWUNMI AMBODE, procured 820 buses in breach of budgetary approval.

“A DECLARATION that the powers of the 1st Defendant under sections 103, 128 and 129 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended does not include power to indict the Claimant as contemplated by sections 66(1)(h), 137(1)i and 182(1)i of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.

“AN INJUNCTION restraining the Defendants whether by themselves, their servants, agents and or representatives from compelling the Claimant, in any manner whatsoever, to appear before the Defendants pursuant to the Resolution passed by the Defendants on 27th August 2019 or any other Resolution passed in respect of the subject matter of this Suit.

“AN INJUNCTION restraining the Defendants whether by themselves, their servants, agents and or representatives from representing or continue to represent to the Public that the Claimant, AKINWUNMI AMBODE, procured 820 buses in breach of budgetary approval.”

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Secondus Moves To Stop PDP National Convention

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Secondus

The national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) slated for October 30 to 31 in Abuja is being threatened as the suspended national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, approached an Appeal Court to stop the convention and reverse his suspension.

Secondus in a document obtained by Blueprint Weekend is seeking the leave of the court to force the party to retain the pre-suspension status quo by returning him to his seat.

His lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), in a letter addressed to Chief E. O. Oddey of Odey and Odey Solicitors, counsel to the defendants, warned the party officials to stay action on the proposed national convention, otherwise, every action taken at the convention would be null and void.

Oyetibo in the letter wrote, “We act for the Appellant in the above captioned matter, Prince Uche Secondus, who was the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), prior to the institution of suit number PHC/2183/CS/2021, and wish to bring to your attention the following facts:

“On 23 August 2021 one Mr Ibeawuchi E. Alex and four others jointly instituted Suit No PHC/2183/CS/2021 at the High Court of Rivers State, PortHarcourt Judicial Division against Prince Uche Secondus and the PDP as Defendants.

‘On 10 September 2021, the High Court of Rivers State delivered its judgment in the Suit whereby Prince Uche Secondus was, inter alia, restrained from performing the functions of the office of National Chairman of the PDP.

“An appeal has been filed and entered against the judgment at the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Judicial Division.

“In addition, an application on notice has been filed in which Prince Uche Secondus is seeking, inter alia, the following orders: An order of injunction restraining the Peoples Democratic Party, the 6th respondent herein, whether by itself, its officers, servants, agents and or representatives from holding or conducting its national convention scheduled for 30th and 31st October 2021 or any other date, pending the hearing and final determination of this appeal.

He said the application has since been served on the respondents in the appeal.

Notwithstanding the service of the application for injunction, the appellant said “it has come to the notice of our client that the PDP and its officers continue to prepare to hold the national convention on 30 and 31st October 2021.”

Sounding note of warning, Oyetibo said, “This letter is intended to draw your attention to the position of the law of Nigeria. We trust that you will wisely advise the Peoples Democratic Party and its officers in this regard.”

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You’re Absolutely Wrong, Sunday Igboho Fires Back At FG Over Sponsor Allegations

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Igboho

…Malami’s Claims Illogical, Afenifere Reacts

Yoruba nation activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho has questioned the claim by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami that he was being sponsored by a National Assembly member.

Recall that the Minister, on Friday during a press conference in Abuja stated that the secessionist has 43 accounts in different banks, stressing that some financiers of Igboho have consistently deposited funds in the accounts.

Reacting to the claim, Ighoho, in a statement by his counsel, Chief Yomi Aliu said he is a businessman and not a terrorist. He also challenged Malami to mention the particular lawmaker he claimed to be his major financier.

The statement reads in part, “The picture the AGF wanted to paint is that our client is being financed by Abdullah Umar, allegedly involved in terrorist financing. Who is now financing who?

“Again, Chief Adeyemo is a car dealer trading in the name of Adesun International Concept Ltd. Does it mean that anybody buying a car from him or selling a car to him is a terrorist?

“I challenge the Hon AGF to mention the lawmaker that sent money to Chief Sunday Adeyemo for terrorist act whether he would not be damnified in exemplary damages for defamation”.

Meanwhile, Apex Yoruba Organization, Afenifere has reacted to a statement by Nigeria’s Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami that Yoruba activist, Sunday Igboho has ties to Terrorism.

However, in response to the development, Afenifere, in a press release signed by its Secretary-General, Chief Sola Ebiseni described Malami’s statements as “Illogical reasoning”.

“The Federal Government with its Attorney General, will not stop amusing themselves with illogical reasoning on the nationality question. It is expected that the AG would be guided by the standard of a reasonable man, which is a central test in legal inquiry, before addressing the public.”

“This time around, the team set up by him, at a time he is hell-bent on nailing Igboho, has satisfied his emotional expectations, but in a most unreasonable and tenuous manner, by suggesting that Sunday Igboho, a Yoruba nation campaigner, would be on the same sponsorship with Boko Haram.”

“Only someone with pathological hatred for Igboho and insult to the Yoruba nation will find a common bed for Yoruba nation agitation and Boko Haram which is known to act in tandem with the Fulani herdsmen whose terrorist acts were responsible for Igboho’s campaigns.”

“The whole world knows what Igboho stood and still stands for and his peaceful modus operandi, in spite of the unwarranted invasion of his house which was aimed at his life by the Federal Government.”

“It is of amusing cruelty that the Federal Government which was unable to defend itself of terrorism against Igboho and for which it was handed N20 billion in aggravated damages, would turn around that Igboho received less than N200 million to sponsor terrorism since 2013 when Igboho had never been heard of and when Major General Muhammad Buhari, as former Military Head of State then was campaigning for the Sharia as a law of general application in Nigeria.”

“The Federal Government and its security agencies should better pay the damages awarded against them, apologise to Igboho and his household for the acts of terrorism committed against the peaceful campaigner. The Federal Government may continue to play the ostrich, the whole world knows those who enacted, engineered, and continue to promote terrorism in Nigeria.

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Buhari Hints On Posthumous Pardon For Saro-Wiwa, 8 Others

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President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, told Ogoni people of his administration’s readiness to consider their request for a posthumous pardon for the late activist and playwright, Kenule Saro-Wiwa, and eight others.

Buhari, who gave the assurance while receiving some leaders and people of Ogoniland at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, said his administration is committed to engendering true reconciliation and national integration, adding that it is particularly interested in laying the Ogoni issue to rest.

It would be recalled the then General Sani Abacha regime, in November 1995, executed a group of Ogoni activists led by Saro-Wiwa, who were demanding that the oil exploitation activities by the oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Ogoniland be stopped.

The group, including Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine, were, however, arrested by the regime in 1994, tried by a special tribunal on murder charges and executed by hanging in November 10, 1995 in Port Harcourt.

Buhari noted that despite the gravity of the circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request to grant them pardon and bring closure to the case.

“Furthermore, we are committed to ensuring clemency and national integration as part of this administration’s bid to lay the foundation for genuine reconciliation and bring closure to the issues of Ogoni Land.

“The unfortunate incidents of the early 1990s leading to the loss of lives of distinguished sons of Ogoni Land and the collateral judicial processes are indelible in our memories.

“Despite the grievous circumstances, the federal government will consider the request for the grant of pardon to finally close the Ogoni saga,’’

Buhari urged the Ogoni leaders to sensitise indigenes on value of protecting national assets like pipelines and other oil installations, saying wilful damages usually create more havoc on their environment and hamper development in the area.

He also noted that the federal government is committed to the cleaning up of Ogoni Land so that indigenes can regain their lives, return to farms and reactivate economic activities.

“You will need to educate the people of Ogoni Land and the region more that when pipelines are broken, the damage is more to the immediate environment and the people. The majority farmers and fishermen struggle because the fishes now move to the deep sea,’’ he said.

The President observed that bad industry practices coupled with security challenges had resulted in massive spills with attendant environmental degradation of Ogoni, leading to agitations and strife.

A statement by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity) further quoted the President as saying: “Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished representatives of the people of Ogoni Land, I note the need to ensure completion of segment of the East-West Road traversing Ogoni Land, and steps will be taken to ensure delivery under the Infrastructure Development Fund as earlier conceived. We intend to complete this vital artery of Nigeria.”

According to him, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Ltd (NPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had been granted license to operate OML11, which will stimulate economic activities and integration in the zone.

“To ensure the stimulation of economic activities in Ogoni Land as underpinned by the vast petroleum resources underlying Ogoni Land and neighbouring communities, NPDC, a subsidiary of the NNPC has been granted licence to operate OML11.

“Accordingly, NNPC is hereby directed to engage all host communities, particularly Ogoni people to ensure inclusive processes of oil and gas exploration and production is anchored on optimum involvement of host communities. NPDC will lay a broad-based programme for the emergence of a new Ogoni Land for the benefit of the Ogoni people and Nigeria as a whole,’’ he added.

President Buhari said he was aware of the passage of the Bill on the Federal University of Environmental Technology by the National Assembly and awaits transmission for further necessary action.

“This administration has placed the rehabilitation of the Niger-Delta as a top priority and has committed a lot of resources to tackle existing problems, including launching a US One Billion dollar oil clean-up exercise to reverse the terrible damage and restore the ecosystem.

“I am pleased that the restoration and amelioration activities under the auspices of the United Nations and the vehicle of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, has commenced work since we assumed office as we promised.

“We will take further steps to ensure faithful and speedy execution of the project so as to restore the environment and enable farming and fishing activities to resume in the affected areas,’’ he added.

The President also appreciated the leaders for recognition of the Federal Government’s efforts to clean up the area and stimulate more economic activities.

“Your Royal Highnesses and very distinguished people of Ogoni Land, I thank you very much for your kind words and recognition of efforts made by our administration to bring progress to your part and all parts of the country,” he stated.

President of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, His Majesty King Godwin N.K. Giniwa, the Gbenemene Tai, thanked President Buhari for various interventions in the area, particularly on clean-up of the environment.

The paramount ruler noted that the people believe in the unity of Nigeria and the future of every group could only be guaranteed in one nation.

He congratulated the President for achievements in critical infrastructure in the country, especially in railways and road constructions, urging more efforts in provision of potable water.

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