Amaechi Floors Omehia At Supreme Court
SAN FRANCISCO, February 07, (THEWILL) - It was a big victory on Friday for Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State as the Supreme Court upheld an appeal he filed seeking to void the leave granted an ex-governor of the state, Mr.
Celestine Omehia, by the Court of Appeal, Abuja to appeal an earlier judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja on when Amaechi's first tenure ended.
Ruling on the matter, the apex court held that the sacked governor lacked the locus standi to join the suit and that the Court of Appeal was wrong to have joined him in the suit.
Amaechi and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in Rivers State, Chukwu, had filed separate appeals asking the court to void the leave granted Omehia by the Court of Appeal, Abuja to appeal an earlier judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja on when Amaechi's first tenure should end.
Chukwu had in 2010 applied to the Federal High Court, Abuja for the interpretation of the 2007 judgment of the Supreme Court in determining when election was due in Rivers State in 2011.
Omehia was sacked as the State governor in 2007 by the Supreme Court and Amaechi made the governor in October 2007.
In deciding Chukwu's case, Justice Abdulkadir Abdul- Kafarati of the Federal High Court, held that by virtue of the Supreme Court's judgment, Amaechi's first tenure ended on May 28, 2011 and not in October 2011.
Justice Abdul-Kafarati held that since the Supreme Court had held that it was the PDP that won the election, and the election having not been set aside, the tenure began to run on May 29, 2007 even though Omehia wrongly occupied the office.
Dissatisfied, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) appealed the judgment following which Omehia, who was not a party in the suit at the trial court applied to the Court of Appeal to be joined in the appeal against the judgment.
And despite the opposition by Amaechi and Chukwu, the Court of Appeal granted Omehia's prayer, a decision they both (Amaechi and Chukwu) found objectionable and consequently appealed to the Supreme Court, questioning the rationale upon which the Appeal Court allowed Omehia to join.
But the Supreme Court on in its ruling on Friday said Omehia had no basis to be in the case because he had no interest to protect in the matter.
The court also held that he (Omehia) failed to follow legal procedures.
In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Muntaka Coomassie, the court held that Omehia ought to have sought permission to be made a party first in the case before he could seek permission to file any process.
Justice Coomassie also said Omehia failed to convince the court that he had a vested interest in the case.
The Supreme Court held that Omehia had no right to protect any longer having contested the 2011 governorship election along with Amaechi and lost and even explored all legal avenues to get the election nullified to no avail.
'The first respondent in this case, Omehia, is a pretender with his claim that he has interest in this instance case on account of his being governorship candidate in the 2011 governorship elections.
'He has to show sufficiently that he is a person whose interest is directly affected or will be affected by the court decision and not just a person with general interest like any citizen of Rivers State: being a governorship aspirant has not conferred any right on him to seek to be joined in this case," Justice Coomassie said.