By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.
To deal with the workload of courts that deal with labour-related issues, The Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has approved the appointment of 19 Judges for the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
The appointment made public Tuesday in Abuja was based on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC), the body empowered by the constitution of the country to nominate qualified persons for appointment as judicial officers.
The new judges are Targema John Iorngee from Benue, Namtari Mahmood Abba from Adamawa State, Nweneka Gerald Ikechi from Rivers State, Kado Sanusi from Katsina State, Adeniyi Sinmisola Oluyinka from Ogun State, Abiola Adunola Adewemimo from Osun State, Opeloye Ogunbowale from Lagos State, Essien Isaac Jeremiah from Akwa-Ibom State and Elizabeth Ama Oji from Ebonyi State.
Others are: Arowosegbe Olukayode Ojo from Ondo State, Ogbuanya Nelson Chukwudi from Enugu State, Bashir Zaynab Mohammed from Niger State, Galadima Ibrahim Suleiman from Nasarawa State, Bassi Paul Ahmed from Borno State and Danjidda Salisu Hamisu from Kano State.
The rest are: Hamman Idi Polycarp from Taraba State, Damulak Kiyersohot Dashe from Plateau, Alkali Bashar Attahiru from Sokoto State and Mustapha Tijjani from Jigawa State.
A statement by the Director of Information in the National Judicial Council (NJC), Mr. Soji Oye ,indicated that the new judges will be sworn-in by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, National Judicial Council, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, on Friday, July 14, 2017, by 3.00pm at the Supreme Court.
MAKARFI, SHERIFF KNOW FATE TODAY ON PDP LEADERSHIP … as S/Court sets for verdict
From Kayode Lawal, Abuja
The Supreme Court will today finally put to rest the leadership tussle in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as it decides the authentic leader of the party between Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
The apex court which had reserved judgment in suit over a month ago has fixed today for the make or mar landmark judgment for Makarfi and Sheriff.
Though, the court had begun its annual vacation on Monday, its leadership was said to have resolved to give judgment in the legal tussle so as to ease out tension in the party.
The party had been embroiled in a leadership tussle for some time now between the Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff led National Executive Council and the Senator Ahmed Makarfi led National Caretaker Working Committee.
The tussle had traversed from the Federal High Court in Abuja and Port Harcourt where there were conflicting judgments between an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court and the Port Harcourt Division.
The Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt division had in its judgment validated the Sheriff faction as the authentic and recognized faction.
However, not satisfied, Makarfi faction approached the Supreme Court seeking to upturn the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
A five-man panel of Justices of the apex court headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen had reserved judgment after striking out an application that sought to abort hearing on the appeal that was lodged by the Markafi-led faction of the party.
The appeal is challenging the February 7 verdict of the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal which declared Senate Ali Modu Sheriff as the authentic National Chairman of the party.
The appellants are praying the apex court to set-aside the judgment and handover the leadership of the party to the Markafi-led National Caretaker Committee.
Meanwhile, Sheriff and his group failed to persuade the apex court not to hear the appeal.
The panel, in a ruling that was delivered by the CJN, granted the Markafi-led faction leave to challenge the appeal court verdict that recognized Sheriff as leader of the party.
The CJN held that under section 27 of Supreme Court Rules, the appellants had a period of three months to appeal against the judgment.
The apex court held that the notice of appeal was properly filed in April, even as it deemed all the processes by the appellants as duly filed and served.
“We find merit in the application. Leave is hereby granted to the appellants to appeal on grounds of mixed laws and facts”, the CJN held.
The apex court equally deemed reply Sheriff’s faction entered against the substantive appeal as duly filed.
Shortly after the ruling was delivered, the apex court entertained arguments from all the parties on the contentious leadership dispute in the PDP.
Whereas the appellants, through their counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, prayed the apex court to allow the appeal and set-aside the appellate court judgment, the respondents prayed the court to uphold the judgment of the court of appeal.
The Sheriff-led group, through their counsel, Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, challenged the competence of the appeal which they said deserved to be struck out with substantial cost.
Likewise, the PDP under Sheriff, through its counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, urged the apex court to dismiss or strike out the appeal on the premise that the appellants did not obtain the necessary authorization of the party to file an appeal in its name.
“My lords, the cardinal issue for determination here is whether a party in whose name an appeal was filed has a right to withdraw such appeal?
“My lords it is not about locus, but the right of person in whose name a case was filed to withdraw it”, Fagbemi submitted.
He drew attention of the court to a letter dated March 15, 2017, in which the Sheriff-led faction of the party applied to withdraw the appeal marked: SC/133/2017.
The group which identified itself to the Supreme Court as PDP’s National Executive Committee (NEC), with Sheriff as Chairman and Prof. Wale Oladipo as Secretary, maintained that the Makarfi-led Committee, having been declared illegal by the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, lacked the vires to take decisions for the party, including initiating court proceedings in its name.
In a written address he filed against the appeal, Sheriff insisted that in view of the subsisting verdict of the appellate court, he remained the authentic leader of the party.
He told the apex court that PDP under his leadership was comfortable with the appellate court verdict and had no intention to challenge it.
Besides, the Sheriff-led group contended that decision of the Makarfi committee to file an appeal in the name of the PDP without authorization, was not only illegal but also in violation of the party’s constitution.
Relying on the provisions of Chapter 5, Articles 35(1), 36(1) and 42(1) of the PDP constitution, they argued that the party, with a corporate personality, could only act through the principal national officers, whose powers and functions are stated in the constitution.
They referred to a May 18, 2016 judgment of the High Court of the Federal Capital territory (FCT) in suit No: FCT/HC/CV/1443/2016, ordering a return to status quo as at May 18, 2016 and the subsequent judgment of the Federal High Court in suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/464/2016, to the effect that only the Sheriff NEC could instruct lawyers for the party, and urged the Supreme Court not to hear the appeal.
According to them, the Makarfi Committee could only challenge the appellate court verdict as interested parties after they must have firstly secured leave of court to file an appeal.
They maintained that the suit should either be dismissed or struck out since the supposed appellants (Makarfi’s PDP) neither obtained leave of the Court of Appeal not that of the Supreme Court before filing the appeal which is based on mixed law and facts.
In a counter argument, the Makarfi Committee, urged the court not to allow the respondents to frustrate hearing of the case on its merit.
The appellants argued that it was wrong for Sheriff and others, who had earlier briefed Olujinmi, SAN, to represent them in the substantive appeal and had filed a respondents’ brief, in which they also made similar arguments in relation to the competence of the appeal, to again brief Fagbemi, SAN, to ask the court not to hear the appeal at all but to strike it out.
Relying on Order 8 Rule 6 (1), (2) and (4) of the Supreme Court’s Rules, the Makarfi Committee faulted the March 15, 2017, letter of the Sheriff-led NEC applying to withdraw the appeal and the subsequent application for it to be struck out.
The appellants argued that since the appeal was not filed by Sheriff and others, they lacked the right to apply to withdraw it.
After listening to all the parties, the apex court panel said it would communicate the judgment date to all the parties.