Gov. Okorocha yet to receive the Certificate of Return to join the 9th Senate
After a prolonged legal work, Justice Okon Abang of the Abuja division of Federal High Court has fixed Thursday for ruling on the application brought by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) seeking to be joined as a defendant in the suit filed against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, over his certificate of return.
The court fixed the date as the electoral body joins forces with other defendants in the suit against the plaintiff.
The position of INEC manifested in court when its counsel, Mrs. Wendy Kuku, said the commission was not opposed to the application by the PDP to be joined in the suit as the 8th defendant.
In the said suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/296/2019, filed by his counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), the governor is seeking the court order compelling the INEC to issue him a certificate of return as the validly- elected senator for Imo West senatorial district.
Justice Taiwo .O. Taiwo who was the first judge to adjudicate on the matter he eventually rescue himself had already joined the candidates of the People’s Democratic Party, Jones Onyeriri and Senator Osita Izunaso of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) as defendants in the suit.
Also joined as co-defendants by the court are Nwachukwu Goodluck Clement of KOWA Party; Uche Onyeoma Ibe, Labour Party; Precious Nwadike, United Progressive Party (UPP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Before Justice Abang, the PDP had in a motion filed by its counsel, Stanley Imo, prayed the court for an order extending the time within which it might apply to be joined in the suit.
An order of court joining the PDP as the 8th defendants in the suit as well as an order directing the plaintiff/respondent to amend his originating processes and other subsequent processes issued in the suit in order to reflect the joinder of PDP as the 8th defendant in this suit.
The party in its motion brought pursuant to Order 9, Rule 25, further prayed the court for an order directing that all originating processes in the suit be served on it as the 8th defendant in this suit.
But while other counsels in the matter, Mrs. Wendy Kuku for INEC, N. A. Nnwuchi (SAN) for Jones Onyeriri, Prince Orji Nwafor-Orizu for Senator Osita Izunaso and others did not opposed the request by the PDP, Okorocha’s counsel, Ogunwumiju raised objections to it.
Canvassing his arguments against the application, the plaintiff counsel submitted that PDP was not a necessary party in the suit having regard to the reliefs sought by the plaintiff which are against INEC and not against the party.
He further submitted that PDP had gone to the National Assembly election tribunal with a petition against the return of the plaintiff as winner of the Imo West Senatorial seat.
Ogunwumiju submitted that “by filling this petition, the PDP has admitted that the plaintiff won the election which it seeks to upturn at the tribunal. Having so admitted and filed a petition, it cannot now say it has interest in the purely administrative and consequential action of the issuance of certificate of return.”
The plaintiff counsel who further referred the court to the proviso to Section 75(1) of the Electoral Act submitted that in paragraphs K, on Page 42 of the PDP petition pending at the tribunal, the party stated that it lost the election to the plaintiff.
He described the motion for joinder as an attempt to frustrate the expeditious hearing of the suit arguing that the issue of fair hearing was not a one-way traffic.
He urged the court to refuse the application and to consider the interest of the plaintiff who had come to court in a matter that was time sensitive, in exercising its discretion.
But responding to the objections raised by the plaintiff’s counsel, counsel to PDP, Mr Imo, posited that the objection to his client’s application for joinder by Okorocha on the grounds that his client was already adequately represented was misguided.
He said that because the second defendant in the suit, Mr Jones Onyereri was a candidate of the PDP in the election under contention was not enough reason to shut out the PDP from the proceedings.
“We beg to disagree with this line of argument because this court, differently constituted, joined the 7th defendant (All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA), as an interested party even when the 3rd defendant (Osita Izunaso) was a candidate of the 7th defendant.
“It is not in doubt that a political party that sponsored a candidate is an interested party in an action of this nature.
“The Electoral Act says the two people who can challenge the outcome of an election are the political party that sponsored a candidate or the candidate himself.”
He submitted that it was wrong for Okorocha to say that the interest of the PDP could not be pursued by it, independent of its candidate.
Imo prayed the court to discountenance the objection of Okorocha and allow his client to be joined as a party adding that the interest to be considered should be that of the party and not of the counsel.
In a short bench ruling, Justice Abang agreed that the matter was time sensitive but assured that all parties would be given fair hearing.
He adjourned the matter until May 9 to rule on whether to join the PDP as a party in the suit or not.
Police: Wide range redeployment of officers for more effectiveness soon.
News of the re-organisation was broken at a three-hour meeting of Acting Inspector-General (IG) Mohammed Adamu with senators at the National Assembly.
IG Adamu was invited last weekend by the Senate to brief the Red Chamber on what the police have done to stop killings, kidnapping, banditry, terrorism and other crimes.
The police boss was said to have told the senators that the recent redeployment of top officers were part of efforts to tackle insecurity.
“The IG explained the new postings. He said the nation should expect more postings in the ranks of Deputy Inspectors-General (DIGs), Assistant Inspectors-General (AIGs) and Commissioners of Police (CPs) in few weeks,” a source told The Nation last night.
The source, who pleaded for anonymity because he was not allowed to talk to the media, went on: “The IG spoke on logistics. He solicited the cooperation of all Nigerians in the fight against crimes, particularly kidnapping.”
A senator, who gave an insight into the police chief’s visit, said he was bombarded with questions on the grave security situation.
The senator said: “Two issues agitated us as senators. These are the Boko Haram insurgency and the spate of kidnapping across the country. We asked him to give an assessment and he explained in details. He told us that he is still new as IG and we understood that.”
For about three hours IG Adamu was on the spot at the upper chamber.
The briefing was held behind closed doors “due to the sensitive nature” of the issues under discussion.
Expectedly, the apparent breakdown of law and order in some parts of the North topped the exchange between the lawmakers and the police boss.
A source that was part of the discussion described the presentation of the police boss as “grim”.
The source who said that “it was a session of reality for us”, insisted that “those at the helm of affairs must act fast to rescue the country from looming danger.”
“Questions were asked and answered by the police chief to the best of his ability, I suppose,” the source said, declining to give further details.
He said: “Because the issues are so grim to be discussed on the pages of newspapers. It is a matter of taking steps to address teething security challenges confronting the health of the nation and its security network.
“You can see how the Senate President spoke about the appearance of the police chief. We have to play safe because it is a security matter.
“One thing that must be done and done urgently is that action must be taken where necessary to rescue the nation from the stifling grip of kidnappers and armed bandits. There may be no time to waste.”
The invitation of the police boss followed a motion by Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central), who spoke of increasing cases of banditry and kidnapping, especially on the Abuja-Kaduna Highway.
Immediately the IG arrived at the National Assembly around 11.22am, he was ushered into the chamber around 11.25am by the Clerk to the Senate in the company of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Affairs, Senator Ita Enang.
Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan moved that the Order Paper should be rearranged to enable the Senate take the briefing of the IGP first.
The prayer was unanimously adopted. The briefing lasted till 2.45pm.
Senate President Bukola Saraki, who presided, said: “The Senate, in a closed door session was briefed by the acting IGP on armed banditry, kidnappings, robberies, terrorist activities and other security challenges in the country.
“The police should ameliorate the situation and the challenges. We hereby hope to address the menace squarely.
“He (IGP) promised to address the areas that have to do with discipline of officers that have been found wanting. Efforts will be taken to improve on the situation, particularly on the Abuja-Kaduna axis and also on areas of intelligence and technology.
“The Senate also promised and is committed that it is ready at any time to give assistance to provide adequate funding that is required in order to make the police to be able to combat the necessary threats to our security.”
Adamu told reporters after the briefing that the police would soon recruit 10,000 officers.
He also assured that any policeman found culpable in the alleged raping and molestation of women arrested at various nightclubs will not be spared.
Adamu said: “We are putting in place a strategy that works. The Senate has appreciated what we have presented and they are willing to enhance the strategy. The Senate has agreed to support all our activities to make the country secure.
“Policing is dynamic. The number of personnel we have can never be enough. But the government is trying to recruit every year. This year, we have 10,000 to recruit. We will meet up with the required number.
“The information you got about giving N100 billion to herdsmen to stop killing is from the social media. There was no discussion like that. The source of that information is not yet known. It is somebody’s imagination.
“The raiding of nightclubs in Abuja was done by FCT Task Force. They came out to do their job and they reached out to police to support them and we did that. Women were arrested and convicted. It means that they committed an offence.
“The allegation that some policemen raped and molested them, we will set up a panel to investigate the issues. Anybody caught will face the law.”