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OPINION

Profiling the People’s Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, By Abba Dukawa

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‘’The Contest for the Speakership of this 9th Assembly is now over and its time to move on. Our country is presently confronted with a myriad of problems and it is our responsibility as members of this institution to set aside political, ideological and other differences that may distract us from the assignment the Nigerian people have sent us here to perform. Whatever political party each one of us may belong, we must be conscious of the fact that Nigerians are truly desirous of good governance and are looking to us to be the agents that will through meaningful legislation combat security, poverty, corruption and other problems and contradictions that have held our country back and stunted our development. ‘’ Speaker Said

Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila returned to Nigeria in 2003 from U.S where positioned himself in the political affairs of Surulere constituency 1 where his constituents peoples recognized that they would be better served if he had a chance to represent them at the House of Representatives. He succeeded in ousting the incumbent member of the House of Representatives from Surulere constituency 1, and clinched his party’s nomination for the seat. Party leaders recognized his true commitment to party ideals and worked with him to emerge 2003 victorious at the general elections.

His performance in the House: He has demonstrated his true passion for issues concerning his constituents and Nigeria as a whole; he worked passionately to address matters of great concern to him and quickly earned a reputation as a true and brilliant legislator. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila had sponsored the highest number of Bills in the National Assembly amongst all the legislators. He was the first and only legislator to bring a motion on the floor of the House for the invocation of the doctrine of necessity, which led to the swearing-in of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as Acting President than.

Many do not knew the role he played in formation of APC in 2014, speaker Femi Gbajabiamila as the Leader of Opposition in the House of Representatives led his colleagues into the merger that gave birthed to the All Progressives Congress (APC). Under Femi’s leadership of the APC caucus in the House, the party increased its numbers, earning them the majority.

 

FIRST SHOOT AT THE OFFICE OF HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES SPEAKER IN 2015

On June 8 2015 House of Representatives speakership election, one of the events Hon Femi would be remembered for is his experience in the race for the office of the speaker of the House of Representatives. He had emerged as favored candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the position of speaker, and with a majority in the House of Representatives; he was expected to carry the day. On that day former of the House Mr. Yakubu Dogara and other “rebel” members of the APC slogged in with PDP members as opposition in the green Chamber in hotly contested election. But this was not to be so. Femi Gbajabiamila narrowly lost the election to the former Speaker Yakubu Dogara in an election which he described As an Act of God. Due to his wide acceptance within the party and his members, he was overwhelmingly elected Leader of the 8th House of Representatives on July 28, 2015.

As narrowly lost the election to former Speaker Dogara described it as an Act of God after four years three days, he has been emerged speaker of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The speaker Femi is a forth termer and Majority leader in the 8th house of Representatives After polling 281 votes out of 358 votes against Bago who got 76. Hon Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila emerged as speaker of the ninth national assembly Tuesday afternoon 11 June 2019.

In his acceptance speech said 9th Assembly under his leadership is going to be a House of reforms or if you like a reform Assembly. The reforms will be dished out piecemeal and at intervals so as not to shock the system. Moving forward therefore my dear colleagues, it will not be business as usual and we will be shaking the table just a little. We will be introducing various reforms that will reposition this institution but please rest assured that they will be for the greater good.

Early years and education: Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila was born on the 25th of June 1962 started his elementary education in Lagos at the Mainland Preparatory School at the age of four and proceeded to Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos in 1973 for his secondary education and graduated around 1978. After completion of his secondary education in Nigeria, he enrolled at the King Williams College, Isle of Man, United Kingdom for his ‘A Levels’ where he graduated at the top of his class around 1980. Upon his return to Nigeria, the young Olufemi was accepted into the University of Lagos, Nigeria for a three-year LLB (Bachelor of Law) degree programme. He graduated with honors in 1983 and proceeded to the Nigerian Law school and was called to the Nigerian bar in 1984. To further his education, Gbajabiamila decided to go back to school, this time in the United States. He attended John Marshall Law School in Atlanta Georgia where he graduated top of his class earning himself a Juris Doctorate.

Dukawa wrote in from Kano can be reach at abbahydukawa@gmail.com

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OPINION

Ruining the legacy of the Nigerian Judiciary: A case study of the recent Supreme Court decisions in pre-election and election, By Kayode Ajulo, PhD

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The recent applications by some persons to the Supreme Court for the review the decision of the apex court in the appeals which emanated from the decision of the Tribunals in the recently concluded elections is quite worrisome and disappointing to say the least.

It is disappointing in the sense that the parties involved are represented by eminent members of the bar who are than familiar with the principle of law guiding appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

It is worrisome in the sense that the grant of this strange indulgence may open a window of uncertainty and in fact and corruption of the age-long legacy of the Supreme Court as enshrined in the doctrine of finality of judgement of the court and the desirability of putting an end to litigation.

In fact, in the celebrated case of Adegoke Motors v. Adesanya, Oputa JSC, of blessed memory, stated in clear terms that while reiterating the finality of the decision of the Supreme Court on issues submitted to it for determination that like other human contraption, the justice system may be susceptible to minor imperfection in some material particular, there must still be an end to litigation.

The only interpretation which may be given to the scenario which is currently playing out is that it is an attempt to rewrite to law, cow the Supreme Court to the ill-conceived public opinion sentiment which is currently being branded out in both the print and the social media by some persons; and an attempt to ridicule the Nigerian justice system.

For the avoidance to doubts and at the risk of repetition, through the entire gamut of appellate procedure, one principle is seen to be constant, that is there must be an end to litigation.

It is recognition of this that the Apex Court in Order 2 Rule 26 and Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules states as follows:
(1) An application to strike out or set aside for non-compliance with these Rules, or for any other irregularity arising from the rules of practice and procedure in this Court, any proceedings or any step taken in any proceedings or any document, judgment or order therein shall only be entertained by the Court if it is made within a reasonable time and before the party applying has taken any fresh step after becoming aware of the irregularity.
(2) An application under this rule may be made by motion and the grounds of objection must be stated therein. See Order 2 Rule 29 Supreme Court Rules
(1) The Court shall review any judgment once given and delivered by it save to correct any clerical mistake or some error arising from any accidental slip or omission, or to vary the judgment or order so as to give effect to its meaning or intention.

A judgment or order shall be varied when it correctly represents what the Court decided nor shall the operative and substantive part of it be varied and a different form substituted. See Order 8 Rule 18 of the Supreme Court Rules.

It is also important to state that the Supreme Court has the inherent powers to set aside its decision as decided in a long line of decided cases where there is fraud, mistake and where the decision is reached in the absence of or in excess of jurisdiction. All these instances have already been covered by the decision of the Supreme Court in the recent of NBA v Iteogu.

In the entire gamut of the Nigerian law, it is not provided anywhere that the Supreme Court can review its decision but rather correct mistake under the slip rule as provided in Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules.

One thing is clear in the circumstances of these application for review. There is a seeming attempt by counsel to resubmit issues which have been or ought to have been submitted to the court for determination but which was not.

The law neither contemplates nor envisages a situation where a party who has every opportunity to submit to the Court all issues arising from the facts of his case but failed to do so, to now bring an application to the court to resubmit those issues under the guise of an application for review contrary to the age-long established principle of law as established in decided cases.

This, in my considered opinion, is what the influx of the application for review is all about and I still maintain the position that there must be an end to litigation and that end is reached upon the pronouncement of the judgment of the Supreme Court.

Conducting a solemn matrimony between the foregoing stated position of the law and the fact of the cases based on which the Supreme Court is currently being inundated/flooded by application for review, there is a revelation of a dark agenda by a section of the bar in cahoot with some politicians to cow the Supreme Court and to introduce public sentiment into issues which have been settled by the Court.

Flowing from the foregoing, In one of the cases, Party A contested the Election and was declared winner affecting polling the highest number of lawful votes cast and the victory was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile before the election, there was pre-election suit challenging the candidacy of the of the Party A candidate on the ground that the deputy gave false information in form CF0001 which was submitted to INEC.

In both suit culminating to the decision to the Supreme Court parties submitted issues to the court for determination and based on those issues the Supreme Court arrived at a decision and made requite pronouncements.

In a rather surreptitious scheme by the Applicant now before the Supreme Court, the applicant is attempting to resubmit further issues after the Court had already granted them all avenue to submit all issues. If this may even be spared as a mistake of counsel, which by law cannot be, such strange indulgence will usher in an era of uncertainty in adjudication or litigation generally and also erode the long established and sacrosanct doctrine of the finality of the decisions of the Supreme Court.

I deliberating resist the temptation of delving into the facts of these cases as doing is tantamount to falling into the same pit with the applicants before the Supreme Court.

Furthermore, on the ground of public policy, entertaining an application for judicial review will open a floodgate of applications from all the 36 states of the federations. This time around, it will not be limited to election petition alone.

A distinction need to be made between a review and an appeal. An appeal is a judicial examination of the decision of a lower by a higher court. While a review is re-examination of a case previously decided with a view to correction a particular mistake and not an avenue to correct a view or substitute or abandon an earlier position. It is necessary to put it on record the law did not provide for review but rather correction pursuant to the slip rule as stated in Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules.

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OPINION

Bayelsa: My thoughts on Supreme Court judgement in PDP, Sen. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo’s case, By Honesty Eguridu, ESQ

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Honesty Eguridu, ESQ

No one saw it coming! I can take a bet for it that not even Senator Duoye Diri and the PDP who instituted the case and got judgment in their favour at the Federal High Court in November 2019, saw it coming.

Just as the dust caused by the decision of the Supreme Court in Imo State is yet to settle, the Apex Court dished out another steaming decision and I dare say the dust created by this recent decision is more intense than that of Imo State. As the news of the decision filtered in, lawyers and “laymen” alike were thrown into panic.

This Supreme Court now seems to specialize in upsetting the status quo in unprecedented manner! A lot of people with various interests couldn’t hold back their emotions; the ensuing confusion knows no bound and it’s still raging … “How can the Supreme Court punish one man for the sins of another man?

A lawyer queried “if Faleke could not benefit from his joint ticket with Audu in the Kogi State 2015 governorship election, why then is the issue of Deputy Governor’s qualification affecting David Lyon now? Did the Deputy Governor get the party’s nomination? I must state here that though some of these questions were raised by learned minds, it must be pointed out that these learned minds must have been beclouded by sentiments and deep rooted bias caused by the disappointment in the sudden turn of events in Bayelsa State.

Members of the PDP who were berating the Supreme Court a few weeks ago are suddenly full of praises for the Apex Court and it is now the turn of the APC to lament and call for a review of the judgment. Typical of the chameleonic tendencies of our political elites. One thing is however sure, by this judgment, the Supreme Court has asserted its independence and impartiality in the Nigerian polity. Like the Lady Justice statue with a blindfold, a set of scales and a sword, which is a personification of justice as being blind to the personality of whoever comes before it for a redress and depicts the impartiality and objectivity of the law in not allowing extraneous factors, such as politics, wealth or fame, influence its decisions.

The Supreme Court has shown that it can dispense justice by being impartial and weighs the evidence presented before the court accurately on either sides of the scales and with the right hand the heavy sword is wielded with strength, swiftness and precision to balance the skewed scale in order to right the wrong complained of and return the scales to their natural state of harmony and evenness.

The double-edged blade of the sword of Lady Justice signifies that justice can rule against either of the parties once the evidence has been measured on the basis of comparison on either sides of the scale. That is the essence of justice; achieving a remarkable feat of balance! That is what the Supreme Court has been able to achieve here.

The case was a pre-election matter instituted by means of an Originating Summons at the Federal High Court by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Douye Diri and Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo as first, second and third Applicants respectively. The Defendants to the suit were Senator Biobarakuma Degi- Eremienyo (Deputy Governorship Candidate of the APC), Mr. Lyon David Pereworimin, (Governorship candidate of the APC), All Progressive Congress (APC) and Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) sued as first, second, third and fourth Respondents respectively. Simply put, the case of the PDP and its aspirants was that the particulars and information of the Deputy Governorship candidate supplied by the APC to INEC in the INEC Form CF001 were false.

They therefore prayed the court to invoke the provisions of section 31(6) of the Electoral Act to disqualify the Deputy Governorship candidate of the APC and by extension the Governorship candidate from contesting the election on the basis that the deputy governorship candidate had given false information by supplying multiple names to INEC.

The documents presented by the PDP and its candidates disclosed that the APC Deputy Governorship candidate, who is currently a Senator representing Bayelsa East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, bore different names in each of his primary school, secondary school and university degree certificates.

The case was contested at the High Court on the basis of the documents presented before the court. Since it was a suit initiated by Originating Summons, it was an invitation on the court to interpret the documents presented before it and apply the provisions of the law accordingly.

There was therefore no room for oral evidence as the documents speak for themselves. On 12th November, 2019, the Federal High Court delivered judgment in favour of the PDP and disqualified the candidates of the APC from contesting the election on the ground of false information supplied by the APC Deputy Governorship candidate. The APC and its candidates appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal upturned the decision of the Federal High court in a judgment delivered on 23rd December, 2019.

In setting aside the decision of the Federal High Court, the Court of Appeal held that the Federal High Court ought to have allowed the parties to call oral evidence to resolve some conflicts in the affidavit evidences before the court. The Court of Appeal also held that the case does not disclose any reasonable cause of action and that the allegation that the APC Deputy Governorship candidate supplied false information to INEC was an allegation of crime which ought to be proved beyond reasonable doubt as required in criminal prosecution.

The PDP and its candidates then appealed to the Supreme Court against the decision of the Court of Appeal. In arriving at its decision, the Supreme Court considered the provisions of section 31(6) of the Electoral Act and Section 182(1)(j) of the Constitution which are reproduced below:

“31. (1) Every political party shall not later than 60 days before the date appointed for a general election under the provisions of this Act, submit to the Commission in the prescribed forms the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections.

(2) The list or information submitted by each candidate shall be accompanied by an Affidavit sworn to by the candidate at the High Court of a State, indicating that he has fulfilled all the constitutional requirements for election into that office.

(3) The Commission shall, within 7 days of the receipt of the personal particulars of the candidate, publish same in the constituency where the candidate intends to contest the election.

(4) A person may apply to the Commission for a copy of nomination form, affidavit and any other document submitted by a candidate at an election and the Commission shall, upon payment of a prescribed fee, issue such person with a certified copy of the documents within 14 days.

(5) A person who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given by a candidate in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false may file a suit at the High Court of a State or Federal High Court against such person seeking a declaration that the information contained in the affidavit is false.

(6) If the Court determines that any of the information contained in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false, the Court shall issue an order disqualifying the candidate from contesting the election”

Section 182 (1)(j) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provide thus:

“182 (1) No person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a State if –
………………….
(j) he has presented a forged certificate to the independent National Electoral Commission”

In a well-considered judgment, the Supreme Court set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal of 23rd December, 2019 and restored the judgment of the Federal High Court of 12th November 2019. The Supreme Court held that the Federal High Court was right to have decided the case on the basis of the documentary evidence and affidavits before it as there was no conflict in the affidavits of parties. The court also held that both the APC and Mr. David Lyon admitted in their affidavits that the documents brought before the court were submitted by the APC Deputy Governorship candidate and that the multiple names in the documents belonged to him. So clearly there were no conflicts.

The Supreme Court also took out time to analyze the documents and the multiple names of the APC Deputy Governorship candidate, Senator Biobarakuma Degi- Eremienyo as contained in the documents supplied by him to INEC. His name was written as Degi Biobara in his primary school certificate. His WEAC/GCE certificate is bearing Adegi Biobakuma (not Biobarakuma) while his university degree certificate bears Degi Biobarakuma. His MBA certificate has Degi Biobarakuma Wanagha as the name of the same person.

As the Deputy Governor-Elect he is bearing Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo. Space will not permit us here to analyze the different variants of the multiple names contained in the documents of the APC Deputy Governorship candidate submitted to INEC but suffice it to say that the decision of the Federal High was upheld by the Supreme Court to the extent that it is clear before the court that Senator Biobarakuma Degi- Eremienyo supplied multiple names to INEC and he thereby runs foul of the provisions of section 31(6) of the Electoral Act. He was therefore rightly disqualified from contesting the election.

The Supreme court also held that the various affidavits and newspaper publication made by Senator Biobarakuma Degi- Eremienyo to correct and explain the discrepancies in his names in all his certificates is a fraudulent attempt as it is only the issuing authorities of those certificates that can correct any error in them. Now to the big question bugging the mind of most people. How do all these affect Mr. David Lyon and the APC? Why did the court not disqualify only Senator Biobarakuma Degi- Eremienyo and allow Mr. Lyon to simply pick another Deputy governor. The answer to this is contained in section 187(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended):

“187(1) In any election to which the foregoing provisions of this part of this Chapter relate a candidate for the office of Governor of a State shall not be deemed to have been validly nominated for such office unless he nominates another candidate as his associate for his running for the office of Governor, who is to occupy the office of Deputy Governor; and that candidate shall be deemed to have been duly elected to the office of Deputy Governor if the candidate who nominated him is duly elected as Governor in accordance with the said provisions.

(2) The provisions of this Part of this Chapter relating to qualification for election, tenure of office, disqualifications, declaration of assets and liabilities and Oath of Governor shall apply in relation to the office of Deputy Governor as if references to Governor were references to Deputy Governor.”

Succinctly put, the logic of the decision of the Federal High Court affirmed by the Supreme Court is that the Deputy Governorship candidate having been disqualified and the time for submission of names of candidates to INEC by political parties having elapsed, it means that the APC has only a Governorship candidate for the election which automatically disqualified the governorship candidate by the provisions of Section 187(1) of the Constitution. The fact that this is the first time a governorship candidate is being disqualified in Nigeria for the defect in the candidacy of his deputy does not make the decision a bad one. The duty of the court is to interpret the law as it is, and what the Supreme Court has affirmed by this decision is the duty of the Court to interpret the law as it is and apply it to each scenario as the case maybe. The law makers elected by the people made these laws and same has been interpreted and applied as it is! The Supreme Court and the entire judiciary therefore deserve the accolade of all Nigerians.

Honesty Eguridu is a Legal Practitioner based in Lagos. He can be reached via his email address: honestyeguridu@yahoo.com

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OPINION

Man subjects pregnant fiance to genital mutilation before giving birth

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Photo showing genital mutilation....

Man subjects pregnant fiance to genital mutilation before giving birth in Edo State.

At a time in the world when cases are rife of oppressive and discriminatory tendencies against women and the world waking up to sustainable decisive measures against such, it must have come as a rude shock to beautiful Blessing Isoken who hails from Edo State that her own lover, with whom she had gone through a whole lot with would come out to suggest that she performs a female circumcision exercise at the delicate state of pregnancy.

The story did not actually begin there, so let’s go to the beginning.

Blessing is from a home which describes her beginning. She grew up with her parent and the burden of her education became pronounced as she embarked on her university education. It was tough enough to provide for food, shelter and other sundry needs of the family such that taking care of her university demands were out of reach for her father.

This strain was augmented by the fact that Mr. Osagie has known one chief iyamu who was his childhood friend seeing his state that he could not fend for his family needs offered to help him with a loan wherewithal to redeem so many commitment because the situation was becoming worrisome and embarrassing for him and his family.

To Osagie’s rescue came when his childhood wealthy friend with a measure of clout, decided to put a smile on his face by giving him the loan to pay back on a particular date so he can sort out so many things like his daughter Blessing’s who dropped from her university education, to be able to go back.

This must have sounded like good music in the ears of Mr. Osagie who up until that point was at a loss as to how to wriggle himself out of the financial knot. Not knowing that Chief Iyamu however, would only display such benevolence on one condition. And what was the condition? He secretly wants to marrying Blessing when she was through her university education as a befitting compensation for his kindness.

Mr. Osagie not having knowledge of chief Iyamu’s plans fell into his trap by accepting the help thinking it was free for friendship sake. With the help of chief Blessing went back to school and successfully finished her university education.

The chief who had patiently been bidding his time like a lion that was confident it very well had its prey by the jugular, came out and demanded Mr. Osagie pays back the loan by giving out Blessing to him in marriage, which at a point cause alot of disagreement between Osagie and Chief Iyamu

Blessing got furious and disappointed at her father for having accepted the ideal brought by chief becos he does not have money to pay back his loan even without her consent or knowledge.. She had a budding relationship with a guy named Aberiri Mofe, and on relating the whole ordeal to him, they decided to elope, as she would rather die than have her father’s age mate marry her.

She and her boyfriend got visa travelled to Turkey where they found a measure of peace, having left the problem of Chief Iyamu behind, but that peace became transient in the height of their preparation to plan a future for themselves

The boyfriend gave her money to come back to Nigeria to settle the debt chief borrowed the father, getting to Nigeria

The father, Osagie rejected the money that there is nothing he can do that chief has already paid bride price on her and insisted she must marry him , but things went in a
dramatic twist, Blessing found out she was pregnant she quickly called Mofe her boyfriend to give him the good news that she was pregnant Mofe was happy but later open up to her that she had to undergo female circumcision before she gives birth that its a tradition his people values and hold very important.

Apparently in a dilemma, Blessing’s mind was in a turmoil as she tried to brace up with the reality of what Mofe told her, not feeling comfortable with it one bit. Luckily for her, she opened up to a friend about it who dissuaded her in strong terms from such a practice.

Blessing’s friend was only light then in a dark tunnel and as they kept discussing, she sold the idea of her to travel to as an escape to all the rubbish her life seemed mired in, she made up her and ran with the money given to her by her boyfriend to settle the supposed debt collect from chief by the father to Canada where she finally found rest from all the troubles that threatened to swallow her. But as we speak the boyfriend has been causing alot of troubles going to fight the Blessing’s father saying since she did not perform the traditional rite during pregnancy the daughter given birth to in Canada will have to be brought to perform it so he is trying every means to make sure the innocent daughter comes down to Nigeria for the traditional rites.

As we speak Nigeria is a danger zone for both mother and daughter.

So many questions than answers surely this piece would elicit; What choice else did the father have? Isn’t the lasciviousness of Chief Iyamu characteristic of the wealthy few in the midst of the many poor? Why did her fiance stoop so low to the whims of such barbaric tradition?

So so many questions but succinctly it portrays the audacity of desire and the folly of traditional beliefs in the 21st century. It may not be out of place to also say that such is the fate of many young girls in our society today with no voice for them and none to give a helping hand.

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