OMEHIA ASKS COURT TO VOID VERDICT ON AMEACHI'S TENURE
FORMER Governor of Rivers State, Celestine Omehia, has asked the Court of Appeal, Abuja, to void the verdict of a Federal High Court, Abuja, which said that Governor Rotimi Ameachi's four-year tenure will end on May 28, 2011.
In a motion on notice brought pursuant to section 243(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and order 7 Rule 1 and order 19 Rule 2 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2007, Omehia predicated his grounds of appeal on the fact that the suit, which verdict was delivered by the lower court, commenced by originating summons for the interpretation of the Supreme Court decision in Amaechi V. INEC (2008).
The plaintiff also averred that he was the only party in Amaechi V. INEC case and was not joined as a party in the court below and that he got to know about the suit after judgment had been delivered by the lower court.
Omehia, who is desirous of contesting the next election into the office of governor of Rivers State, a position he occupied until the decision in Amaechi V INEC, said he has already purchased a declaration of intent form from his party (PDP) and that the date for holding the next governorship election in Rivers State by INEC will depend on the outcome of the proposed appeal.
In the notice filed by his counsel, James Ezike, at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, Omehia averred that the trial judge, Justice Abdul Kafarati, erred in law in assuming jurisdiction to interpret the judgment of the Supreme Court in Amaechi Vs. INEC and making consequential orders thereupon.
In the motion, which had Chief Cyprian Chukwu, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Amaechi and PDP as respondents, Omehia asked the court for an order setting aside the declarations and orders made by the lower court in favour of Chukwu, who was the first respondent for want of jurisdiction
The plaintiff also want in the alternative, a declaration that having regard to the fact that Governor Amaechi took oath of allegiance and oath of office as the elected governor of Rivers State on October 26, his tenure will expire on October 25, 2011.
Omehia further urged the appeal court to allow the appeal as well as make an order upholding the ratio in Obi V. INEC, namely, that the tenure of Governor Amaechi (3rd respondent) is based on section 180(2)(a) of the 1999 Constitution.
In the motion supported with nine-paragraph affidavit of urgency deposed by Omehia, he pointed out that no court in the hierarchy of courts has jurisdiction to interpret a judgment of the Supreme Court like a deed, a will or an instrument.
He also stated that the judgment in question was a nullity as no court inferior to the Supreme Court has the competence to re-determine what has been determined by the Supreme Court.
The plaintiff averred that the learned trial judge erred in law by holding that upon a construction of section 180(2) of the 1999 Constitution and the decisions of the Supreme Court in Amaechi V. INEC 2008 and Ladoja V, INEC 2007, the tenure of office of Ameachi, a second defendant in the suit, as elected governor of Rivers State who took Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office on October 26, 2007, would expire on May 28, 2011.
The plaintiff further predicated his appeal on the ground that the trial judge erred in law by holding that the issue for determination in the suit is whether in the light of the Supreme Court decisions in Amaechi V. INEC and Ladoja V. INEC supra, INEC, who is the first defendant in the suit, has powers to extend Amaechi's tenure herein beyond May 28, 2011.
Omehia averred that since no issue of extension of tenure of office arose in the case, was established, presented or agitated or otherwise an issues before the trial court, the trial judge erred in law by holding that the issue for determination in the suit is whether in the light of the Supreme Court decisions in Amaechi V. INEC and Ladoja V. INEC supra, INEC, which is the first defendant in the suit, has powers to extend Amaechi's tenure herein beyond May 28, 2011.
He also stated that the said tendentious and unbalanced issue raised suo motu by the court inherently prejudiced the outcome of the decision of then trial court in advance of inquiry.
The learned trial judge, Omehia stated, erred in law by holding that the Supreme Court decision in Obi V. INEC (2007) was in applicable to the suit, while the fifth ground was that the trial judge erred in law by assuming jurisdiction over the suit when it was not properly constituted.
But the first defendant in his counter-affidavit to the motion filed by his counsel, Rickey Tarfa (SAN), urged the court to reject the motion on the ground that the applicant has no interest in the suit over and above that of any other person interested in contesting the governorship of Rivers State in 2011.
He also stated that Omehia's decision to seek leave to appeal does not in any way adversely affect anyone interested in contesting in the governorship election of Rivers State in the forthcoming elections.
The defendant stated the interest of justice would better be served by the refusal of the application, as the applicant is a meddlesome interloper in this instant case.