▪︎Apex court suspend case indefinitely
By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
Eyes blazing, voice resonating, a Supreme Court Justice on Tuesday lashed out at the Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, describing his action in writing a petition that three justices of the apex court met with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as irresponsible.
He said, “let me confirm to all counsels in this matter that the Interim National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC) had written a petition against me and two other Justices. of this court, namely Helen Ogunwumiju and Abdu Aboki accusing us of having a meeting with members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to subvert justice in the case
He said the APC alleged, that “my humble self had led my two brothers to attend a meeting with members of the PDP to strategise on how to subvert the outcome of this case.”
“I must say that this is most unfortunate and my heart bleeds for this country,” he said.
“If people as highly placed as the interim chairperson of the APC would open his mouth and make this weighty statement against innocent Justices of this court, then I say my heart bleeds.
“We are not interested in any matter and I challenge him and the party to substantiate his allegation that my humble self attended a meeting with members of the PDP with a view to subverting the interest of their party.
“This is a reckless and irresponsible statement. That is how these useless statements were made in the past and that is why we are not taking it likely.
“If they have honour, let them substantiate their allegations and I will not live a day longer in this court.
“So, this matter is adjourned sine die, and parties should approach the Chief Justice of Nigeria “
The All Progressive Party APC national leadership had petitioned three three Supreme Court Justices over the imbroglio surrounding the candidacy of the party in the December 5..2020 mo North Senatatorial bye-election.
The party in the petition signed by its acting national chairman and governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni pointedly accused Justices Mohammed Musa Dattijo, Abdu Aboki and Helen Morenikeji Ogunwumiju of holding nocturnal meeting with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to scheme out the party from the Senate seat.
Yobe governor in the petition claimed that information at the disposal of APC indicated that the three apex Justices held meeting with PDP leadership and allegedly perfected the means of giving the Senatorial seat to the PDP candidate in the bye election.
Justice Dattijo who led a 5-man panel of the apex court said that the APC had by the petition called the integrity, reputation and honour of the three Justices to question and must be resolved first.
Responding, Malam Ahmed Raji SAN, counsel to Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, a senatorial aspirant dissociated himself from the petition adding that he was shocked to hear about the allegations made against the Justices.
“This is very, very shocking. I swear with my last day in this court that I Ahmed Raji knows nothing about this issue and I condemn it with all the strength in me,” he said.
“I sympathise with your lordships and whatever measure your lordships deems appropriate, we are fully in support.”
In his own reaction Mr Umeh Kalu, counsel to the APC said he was just hearing of the petition for the first time.
“I am taken aback by this. I have never in my life met with the interim chairman of the APC,” Kalu said.
“In matters of this nature, we normally deal with the legal adviser.
“In the first place, PDP is not a party in this matter.”
Ararume and Francis Ibezim, both members of the APC have been laying claims to the candidacy of APC in the Imo North Senatatorial district.
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC had declared APC as the winner of the bye-election but refused to announce any person as the authentic candidate of the party on the grounds of conflicting court orders for and against the two major contenders.
However, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, of the federal high court in Abuja, on March 18, ordered INEC to issue Ararume with the certificate of return.
Another high court in Owerri on the same day ordered INEC not to do so.
The suit before the Supreme Court is that which seeks to upturn the judgment of Inyang Ekwo, federal high court judge, and that of the Court of Appeal which both nullified Ibezim’s candidature on the grounds that he made false declaration in the documents he submitted to INEC.