Author(s): Chris Onyeose
November 12, 2013
The Supreme Court has fixed January 7 to deliver judgement in the appeal filed by Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, challenging the leave granted Celestine Omehia to contest his victory.
Justice Saifullahi Muntaka-Coomasie gave the date on Monday after counsel to the parties had adopted their written addresses.
Also named as respondents are; People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Cyprian Chukwu, a PDP chieftain.
While adopting his address, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), counsel to Mr Amaechi, urged the court to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt.
Mr Fabemi contended that Mr Omehia had not shown sufficient interest to be joined as a party, as according to him, “he did not contest the election’’.
“My Lord the court should take judicial notice of the fact that Omehia was duly sacked from office as governor,” he said. “He has not also shown how the outcome of the main suit will affect him since he cannot be recalled as governor.”
Similarly, Rickey Tarfa (SAN), counsel to Mr Chukwu, urged the court set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal on grounds that Mr Omehia did not contemplate any legal action until his client commenced an action.
However, Sola Oke, counsel to the PDP, argued that the apex court should discountenance the prayers to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal, adding that it was a valid decision.
“We are urging the court to allow all aggrieved parties to go and argue their positions out at the Court of Appeal,” he said. “By so doing, justice would have been served to all.”
INEC remains as a neutral party in the appeal.
The main suit filed by Mr Chukwu was initiated based on INEC timetable that fixed August for the 2011 governorship election in the state instead of April. He had contended that the date on the commission’s timetable was wrong and unconstitutional.
He argued that the Supreme Court decision which brought Mr Amaechi to power in 2007 was dependent on PDP’s victory in the election in April.
Mr Chukwu, therefore, submitted that the court should hold that Mr Amaechi’s tenure started counting on May 29, 2007 and not on October 27, 2007 when he (Amaechi) officially took over from Mr Omehia.
Satisfied with the reliefs sought by Mr Chukwu, Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court held that Mr Amaechi’s tenure expired May 2009 like that of his colleagues.
Justice Kafarati ruled that the Supreme Court in its judgement in October 2007 only asked Mr Omehia to vacate office on account of illegal occupation and never cancelled the poll that brought PDP in.
He said though Mr Amaechi took oath of office and oath of allegiance on October 27, 2007, his tenure started from May of the same year when the party was declared winner of the election.
Dissatisfied with the judgement, Mr Amaechi and INEC appealed against the judgement at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.