Supreme Court Takes Over Okonta's Case, Hearing For July 13


ASABA, July 01, (THEWILL) - The Supreme Court has finally assumed legal jurisdiction to hear the case between the sacked Speaker of the House, Mr. Martin Okonta and Mr. Kingsley Philips both of the Ika South Constituency.

Consequently the apex court, THEWILL authoritatively gathered has fixed July, 13, 2010 for definite hearing of the appeal filed by Mr. Okonta seeking to upturn the verdict of the Court of Appeal Abuja, which gave judgment in favour of Phillips.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria CJN, Justice Aloysius Iyorgha Katsina-Alu, dependable sources informed will convoke the panel of Justices which will also consider the merit of an application for stay of execution of the Appeal court judgment filed by counsel to the sacked speaker, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN).

In the notice of Appeal at the Supreme Court, Mr. Okonta gave 26 major grounds why the verdict of the Court of Appeal must be upturned.

Mr. Okonta who among other reasons contended that the judgment of the court of Appeal, Abuja was in conflict with the one earlier given by its Benin Division and that the Abuja Division of the court of Appeal shut him out of the case and was therefore not given fair hearing before judgement was given in favour of Mr. Phillips.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja had summoned the Deputy Speaker of the House, Mr. Basil Ganagana and its Clerk, Mr. Raymond Yavbieri to appear before it on July 6, 2010 to give reasons why an order of committal should not be made on them.

The Court had before now granted an order of application brought before it against the House Deputy Speaker and Clerk by the member elect representing Ika South constituency in the state house of Assembly Mr. Kingsley Nonye Phillips who was declared winner of the 2007 House of Assembly election by the court of Appeal sitting in Abuja.  

Mr. Phillips had sought the relief of the court to be sworn in as a member of the house as directed by the Appellant Court.

It would be recalled that addressing newsmen recently at the state House of Assembly complex, Mr. Efe Akpofure (SAN), counsel to Mr. Okonta, Clerk of the House, Mr. Yavbieri and the acting Speaker, Mr. Ganagana insisted that Mr. Okonta remains the Speaker of the House adding that the Clerk has no Constitutional right to swear in any member-elect.

According to Mr. Akpofure (SAN) his clients had filed a motion at the Appellant Court to allow the status quo in the House to remain. "Until the motion is disposed of Hon. Okonta remains the Speaker of the Assembly, it is only the Speaker and not the Clerk of the House that can swear in a member of the House in accordance with constitutional provision."

But in a swift reaction, Mr. Philips had vehemently countered Akpofure's statement as according to him; Mr. Akpofure is only a lawyer but not a Court of Law and is merely "working for the N4 million legal fees he collected from Okonta."

Mr. Philips was recently declared winner of the 2007 House of Assembly election for Ika South Constituency by the Federal Court of Appeal in Abuja.