Anti-Amaechi team holds strategy meeting aboard presidential jet

Friends of the president.
Friends of the president.

Governor Amaechi political enemies are revving up their strategies at removing him from office.

The political complexion of passengers aboard the presidential jet, 5N-FGS, which landed at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos Sunday evening is stoking fresh concerns that the River State mission team, plotting the ouster of Governor Rotimi Amaechi, has moved into new drive.

At about 5:30 P.M. in the wet Sunday ambience of Lagos, the Presidential jet from Abuja taxied to a stop revealing a velvet rank of well-known anti-Amaechi political juggernauts, comprising of former Governor of River State, Celestine Omehia; Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike; PDP Chairman Rivers State, Felix Obuah: and Abiye Sekibo, impeccable aviation sources told PREMIUM TIMES.

Details of what appeared to be a Lagos visit for a meeting were unavailable but by 7:45 P.M, Sunday night, according to the sources, the meeting was held and the flight, with its passengers, was airborne again, heading towards Abuja.

The leader of the team, Mr. Nyesom, could not be reached to comment for this story. He did not answer or return calls made to his telephone Monday morning.

Special Adviser to the President, Reuben Abati, wouldn’t also comment for this story. He told our reporter Monday morning he was rushing to catch a flight but would investigate the allegation and revert as soon as he was able.

But another adviser to the president, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the anti-Amaechi team could have hired the presidential jet.

“I’m aware there is a unit that does commercial operations so people can actually pay and use the presidential jet,” he said. “So, if indeed they used a presidential jet, it does not necessarily mean that the president knows about it.”

The meeting is coming two days after the Thursday, October 4, decision by the Supreme Court to hear the appeal, filed by the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, seeking to nullify a ruling of a Court of Appeal which gave Celestine Omehia, as the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship candidate for the state, the right to challenge a judgment of the Federal High Court that held that Amaechi’s tenure ended on May 29, 2011.

The opposition to Mr. Amaechi, unable to oust him so far on many fronts, appears to see providence in the legal understanding of the question of the governor’s tenure.

Three years ago, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Cyprian Chukwu, asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to interpret the Supreme Court judgment that in 2007 removed Mr. Omehia from office and declared Mr. Amaechi as the governor.

Since Mr. Amaechi took the oath of office in October 2007 and not May 29, as other governors in the country, Mr. Chukwu wanted the court to determine whether, specifically, governorship election should be held in Rivers at the April general election date.

After Justice Abdul Kafarati ruled that the governorship elections in Rivers State would hold during the general election of April, Mr. Omehia, unhappy about it, and not even a party to the high court suit, applied to the Court of Appeal to join him to enable him appeal against the judgment.

“I am dissatisfied with the judgment of the lower court and wish to appeal against same as a person interested in the matter, and in the office of governor of Rivers State which forms the basis of my interest as well as a person interested in the interpretation of a judgment in which I was a principal party,” Mr. Omehia said in his affidavit.

The Court of Appeal granted Mr. Omehia the right to appeal the high court judgment, and a dissatisfied Mr. Amaechi filed an appeal at the Supreme Court claiming that in granting Mr. Omehia’s prayers, the court of appeal erred in law.

PREMIUM TIMES legal analyst, Jiti Ogunye, said late Sunday in Lagos that the anti-Amaechi group was investing in a false hope adding, “in so far as they are looking to benefit from the strategy of tenure, the Supreme Court has resolved the matter in the case of Obi Vs. INEC where it was decided that it is when an elected person is sworn in that his tenure commences.”

Mr. Ogunye said if the mission team that visited Lagos with the Presidential Jet thought they could expect something tangible, “on grounds of the politics of tenure, I am sorry for them because it is a failed strategy.”

He said they were confusing two inter-related but nevertheless distinct cases. Obi Vs. INEC on the one hand, and Amaechi Vs. PDP on the other hand.

In the case of Obi Vs. INEC, Governor Obi challenged INEC’s decision to peg his tenure to 10 months on the ground that then Governor Ngige who had spent 3 years and 2 months, before the electoral court ousted Ngige and installed him, Obi. The Supreme Court decision on this has become the classic authority on the contention on tenure.

However in the case of Amaechi Vs. PDP, Mr. Amaechi who had won the party primary was arbitrarily substituted for Mr. Omehia who then went ahead to win the election. But Mr. Amaechi challenged his substitution, and the Supreme Court decided by mandatory injunction to oust Mr. Omehia, who had been governor for about four months, and install Mr. Amaechi. The question then was whether Mr. Amaechi who was sworn in in October rather than May was completing Mr. Omehia’s tenure.

Mr. Ogunye said “while the cases appeared to be similar, they really are not.” The case before the court in Amaechi vs PDP was on the status of a flag bearer for the party, he said.

“The effort to rid Amaechi on this legal ground is unlikely to succeed because the Supreme Court would have had to reverse itself and that typically requires an exceptional circumstance,” Mr. Ogunye said.

  • bernarddoro

    Mr Ogunye’s position as to the ratio of these cases leaves much to be desired. I will not pay for such mediocre legal advice. The current case could easily be distinguished by the Supreme Court; Amaechi was declared governor on the party’s ticket as he didn’t contest the election as a person, but his party did – as such his time in office is a continuation of whoever the party erroneously substituted for him. In Obi’s case, neither him nor his party was in power for any length of time, as such is constitutionally entitled to a full four years in office. It does not take a lawyer to know that the Supreme Court is at liberty to reverse itself and depart from its earlier decision once certain criteria are met – 1966 UK HL practice direction has since affirmed that and Nigerian judiciary has adopted that position. In any case, this is clearly a distinguishable matter and am sure the Supreme Court will do justice to the case.

    • AIYEKOTO

      I cannot understand the logic in your reasoning that the mandate of Amechi in office began when his party mate was illegally sworn in as the Governor when the constitution specifically states that the mandate of a Governor begins when he or she is sworn in. Amechi was sworn in as the Governor of River State in October 2007 and not on May 29, 2007. Evidently,Omeha did not refund the emoluments received as Governor from May 29, 2007 and October 2007 and equally true is the fact that Amechi did not receive arreas of emoluments for the period his mandate was stolen. According to the Constitution, Amechi’s tenure as Governor began when he was sworn in irrespective of whether mandate’s theft that caused the delay of his swearing in was committed by his party comrade or another party. By May 29, 2015, Amechi would have been in office for 7 years and 7 months as two terms elected Governor instead of 8 years as stipulated in the constitution. This is a straight forward case that does not require any legal twist.

      • bernarddoro

        Aiyekoto, what you failed to understand is that Amaechi did not personally participate in that election but his party did. The decision of the court in his favour means that the law did not recognise his substitute – in the eyes of the law, the guy was in power ab initio. If we are to go by your reasoning, the guy would not have been made a governor because he was AWOL during campaigns and his name was not in INEC as a candidate when the election took place. Because the slot is for the party – he is only constitutionally allowed the remainder of the term. Impartial adjudicators decide cases on legal arguments not on sentiments. Am sure the Supreme Court will reason along this line – let us come back and debate when SC decide.

  • Mani_Kay

    AMAECHI NOW HARASSING THE SUPREME COURT???

    What is wrong with this Governor Abubakar Rotimi Amaechi ….. a poor wretched fellow who is finding it difficult to humble himself and come to terms with the fact that his palm kernels have been cracked by benevolent spirits.

    He is just harassing everybody and forcing his way right or wrong. After harassing the President and his wife, the Army, the Police, PDP, Top level Traditional Rulers in Rivers State including Elder-statesmen of Rivers State, the State House of Assembly and even the National Assembly he has now turned to harass the Supreme Court.

    May be the Supreme Court should surrender to the Amaechi syndrome ……. “Nothing can stop me; I must have it if I want it and I must have it my way …. right or wrong syndrome”. Thereafter, the Supreme Court may bow down and worship Amaechi so that peace will reign!!!

    May God save Nigeria from Amaechi and may our children never adorn Amaechi-type ego, pride, arrogance.

    • Charles, Port Harcourt

      You left out his attempt to also influence the NANS and NURSS.

  • Mr ebele Jonathan…

    Mani_key and bernarddoro,the both of u should just watch and see if Mr Jonathan and his men can unseat Amaechi…..They v exhausted all the strategies they v OK…God has abandoned them in this bcos of their greed and quest for power….Where in Nigeria is it a crime for some body to be against the president?What is the essence of Democracy?The fact that Mrs Jonathan is the presidents wife does not give her the Right to be harassing public office holders…..she should go back to her husbands kitchen to cook for him…..she has embarrassed Nigerians so much…we Nigerians in Diaspora we are solidly behind Amaechi,,,,,,,i rest my case…

    • Mani_Kay

      I would like to assure you that Rivers State and South-South Youths would have legally and constitutionally removed Amaechi as Governor long ago but for the massive cover and protection that President Goodluck Jonathan is providing for him. In fact, Governor Abubakar Rotimi Amaechi is using our humble, peace loving, hardworking and kind President and father of our nation, Nigeria as “human shield”

      • Dan Bahaushiya

        A human shield indeed.

        So your president is such a president that can used as human shield by a common bloody governor?

        • Mani_Kay

          The Bible commands the President to love his enemy and pray and protect those who persecute him. That’s exactly the response of the President to Amaechi’s misguided attacks. Personally, I wish the President will respond to Amaechi’s vicious attacks according to Quran: 2.216 “Fighting is prescribed for you ….. “

          • Dan Bahaushiya

            But Jonathan is either not christian or does not behave like one.

    • bernarddoro

      Sorry I’m not pro Jonathan or against Amaechi. I make comments objectively – I’m not one of those Nigerians that will allow bias to becloud my reasoning. Most of our politicians are interested in themselves and their families and not the common man, as such I will not descend low to defend any of them. I would rather that Nigerian masses realise their prime position and begin to challenge those who want to divide and rule. Amaechi should concentrate on governance rather than play the victim mentality while squandering billions of taxpayers money. He has succeeded in getting the gullible press behind him that his excesses are not being question. He is now the golden boy of the media. God help this country!

      • Ossa Earliece

        @bernarddoro:disqus . You guys bashing have been unable to show any cause why you think Amaechi is doing wrong. What the problem is with Nigeria is ethnic and regional politics. Someone from Otueke has a right to challenge the president if he believes the president is wrong. I am alarmed when educated people say that because Amaechi is from the south-south, it is wrong of him to continue to challenge the president.
        I believe Amaechi’s approach maybe somewhat hardlining, but it is his right to express his frustration. The president is campaigning for a second term (which is his right) and at the same time, he is asking others not exercise their rights. What right has Jonathan to order Amaechi not contest the NGF chairmanship?
        What right has the first lady to grab (snatch) a microphone from the governor of a state and starts to berrate him publicly?
        On whose orders is the commissioner of police in Rivers State is antagonising a sitting governor? You guys should avoids politics of small minds and view the big picture.

  • Es3

    Where do Amaechi and his anti-Jonathan group hold their meetings???

    • Moses

      certainly not aboard a presidential jet

      • Es3

        Really?

        Oh, because it is no longer available to them so they hold their aboard ‘governorship jet’ that Amaechi supplies?!

  • Khafilat Adeoye

    Obviously, this story was deliberately planted in the media to pre-empt and harass the Supreme Court so that they will be compelled to do what Amaechi wants .. lawfully or unlawfully. All Amaechi is trying to achieve here is to galvanize public opinion and sympathy which he wants to use to pressure the Supreme Court to rule in his favour. I know Amaechi is arrogantly bold but I think he is crossing the line by attempting to intimidate and teach the Supreme Court their job. This is really an insult to the Supreme Court. Pleaseooooo Amaechi should not drag the Supreme Court into his dirty politics and media propaganda. He should allow the Supreme Court to do their work as professionals.

  • Ette

    Shame on the touts and agberos who think Nigeria is in their pocket, and that they can play God. By the time God finish dealing with these wicked elements, others will know that God frustrates the counsel of the wicked but gives grace and blessings to the humble and those that stand on the path of truth. So far Amaechi is standing on the path of truth and no one can fight the truth and succeed. Ogunye is giving the right interpretation to the issue in contention and this pleases the heart of all right thinking Nigerians. God bless or land and uproot the wicked rulers now in position of authority.