Celestine Omehia was Rotimi Amaechi’s predecessor.
Opponents of the Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, went home disappointed on Monday, as the Supreme Court deferred judgement till January 7, 2014, on the appeal brought by the governor against legal moves by his predecessor, Celestine Omehia, to unseat him.
Justice Muntaka Coomassie, who led five-member panel of justices, fixed the date after hearing the submissions of the counsels to the appellants and respondents at the resumed hearing of the consolidated suits.
The counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olusola Oke, sought the leave of the Court for extension of time to enable him file and serve his respondent’s brief and to adopt the briefs already filed and served. The Court granted his application with effect from Monday.
Thereafter, the application brought by Mr. Omehia asking the Court to invoke S.22 of the Supreme Court Act and sit as the Court of Appeal, was withdrawn by his counsel and struck out, having been opposed by Ricky Tarfa, counsel to Mr. Amaechi, in SC/111/12 and to enable the substantive appeal proceed.
Mr. Oke, who opposed Mr. Omehia at the lower court turned around to support him at the Supreme Court, inducing questions if he had the right to do so.
Speaking with journalists after the ruling, Nnoruka Udechukwu, counsel to Mr. Omehia, expressed dissatisfaction with the new date; saying the next governorship election was drawing close.
Other supporters of the former governor, who had besieged the court in anticipation of Mr. Amaechi’s ouster, wore long faces. As soon as the new date was fixed by the justices, Mr. Omehia’s supporters were heard making telephone calls, apparently to the former governor.
On their part, the governor’s supporters showed signs of relief as the court pronounced the new date for the judgement on the appeal.
The State Commissioner of Information, Ibim Semenitari, who was accompanied to the Court by some of the governor’s associates, was spotted chatting freely and exchanging banters with some of the supporters.
With the deferment of the judgement on his appeal, Mr. Amaechi predicted that he would come out victorious at the Supreme Court.
While hosting the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which was in Port Harcourt to formally request him to join the opposition party, the governor had said though his opponents were already rejoicing that the Supreme Court would sack him, he would end up dancing.
Mr. Omehia, who was announced as elected governor in April 2007, was sacked by the Supreme Court after about six months in office, paving the way for Mr. Amaechi, who the Court said was the rightful candidate of the PDP in the election, to assume office on October 26, 2007. The governor was re-elected in 2011.
The Supreme Court had during the last hearing of the matter in October, consolidated multiple appeals brought in respect of Mr.
Amaechi’s re-election in April 2011 as against August 2011.
The governor had filed a suit in the Court challenging the Court of Appeal’s decision to join Mr. Omehia’s in the substantive suit before it.
The legal contention began when the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, published an election timetable sometime in 2011, specifying that the governorship election in Rivers State would hold in August 2011.
However, Mr. Amaechi headed for the Federal High Court in Abuja contending INEC’s timetable was faulty.
His counsel had argued that since the Supreme Court judgement which brought the governor to office in 2007 said it was the PDP that won the April 2007 election in Rivers State, his tenure should start counting on May 29, 2007 and not on October 27, 2007 when he was sworn in after Mr. Omehia was removed by the Court.
Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja ruled that though Mr. Amaechi was inaugurated on October 26, 2007, his tenure would lapse on May 28, 2011 since the Supreme Court said it was the PDP that won the April 2007 election and not the candidate (Amaechi), adding that the tenure started counting on May 29, 2011 when his predecessor, Mr. Omehia assumed power.
According to the judge, the six months period that Mr. Omehia spent in office was part of Mr. Amaechi’s tenure and that the Supreme Court only asked the latter to vacate the office because he was illegally occupying it.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...