Onnoghen: Abuse of due process will send wrong sig­nal to in­vestors - Saraki N134bn Supreme Court ver­dict: Shell de­nies li­a­bil­ity, ready to go ahead with ap­peal

Business Day (Nigeria) - - NEWS - OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja IG­NATIUS CHUKWU

Se­nate pres­i­dent, Bukola Saraki, says abuse of due process in the pro­posed trial of the Chief Jus­tice of Nige­ria (CJN), Wal­ter Onnoghen, be­fore the Code of Con­duct Tri­bunal (CCT), will send wrong sig­nal to lo­cal and for­eign in­vestors about Nige­ria’s sys­tem of lit­i­ga­tion.

Re­act­ing to the ar­raign­ment of the head of the na­tion’s Ju­di­ciary on Mon­day over false as­sets dec­la­ra­tion, Saraki cau­tioned that the mat­ter should be han­dled with care.

In a state­ment on Sun­day signed by Yusuph Olaniy­onu, spe­cial ad­viser (me­dia and pub­lic­ity) to the Se­nate pres­i­dent, he ad­vised the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to en­sure that the trial does not cause chaos in the na­tion’s ju­di­cial sys­tem.

“All these sub­jec­tive ac­tions politi­cise the anti-graft fight. They weaken na­tional in­sti­tu­tions. They send wrong sig­nals. The CJN is not above the law but his trial puts the en­tire ju­di­cial sys­tem on trial. It sends a sig­nal to the en­tire world about our ju­di­ciary.

“It has im­pli­ca­tions for the con­fi­dence of lo­cal and for­eign in­vestors about the sys­tem of ad­ju­di­ca­tion over dis­putes in our coun­try. Thus, the mat­ter should be han­dled with care, demon­strat­ing in­tense trans­parency and strict ad­her­ence to due process,” the Se­nate pres­i­dent, who was sim­i­larly ar­raigned by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment be­fore the CCT for sim­i­lar charges but was dis­charged and ac­quit­ted by the apex court in 2018, noted.

Ac­cord­ing to Saraki, if the gov­ern­ment truly has gen­uine rea­son to put the in­cum­bent Chief Jus­tice of Nige­ria on trial, it should en­sure that ev­ery step in the process is trans­par­ent and the nor­mal process as pro­vided by the law is fol­lowed to the let­ter.

He said a sit­u­a­tion where the pe­ti­tion that trig­gered the trial was sub­mit­ted to the Code of Con­duct Bureau (CCB) on Wed­nes­day Jan­uary 8 and by Jan­uary 10 on Fri­day, the Chief Jus­tice was pre­sented with it for his re­ply only for the charges to be drafted that same day and filed in the Code of Con­duct Tri­bunal (CCT).

This tak­ing place within three days and com­mence­ment of trial fixed for Mon­day, Jan­uary 14, al­ready in­di­cates un­nec­es­sary haste and short-cir­cuit­ing of the process of fair hear­ing.

“It is im­por­tant for the gov­ern­ment and mem­bers of the pub­lic to know that as some­body who have trav­elled this route be­fore, we should re­frain from any me­dia trial and po­lit­i­cal play­ers should avoid abus­ing the ju­di­cial process in or­der to achieve what they could not get through nor­mal po­lit­i­cal con­tests.

Supreme Court on Fri­day, Jan­uary 11, 2019, dis­missed an ap­peal filed by Shell Petroleum De­vel­op­ment Com­pany (SPDC) try­ing to stop a judg­ment debt to an Ogoni com­mu­nity and awarded N500,000 against the oil firm for al­legedly fil­ing an in­com­pe­tent ap­peal.

Shell on Sun­day, Jan­uary 13, 2019, how­ever, kicked out, deny­ing any li­a­bil­ity in the mat­ter and said it was rather ready to go ahead with the ap­peal. Lawyers for the re­spon­dents how­ever said there was no ap­peal any­more at the apex court based on the Fri­day ver­dict.

The po­si­tion of Shell brings an­other twist in the windy case that be­gan in an Eleme High Court at a mere N6 bil­lion only to grow to a Fed­eral High Court case at N17 bil­lion. In each case, Shell lost to the com­mu­nity peo­ple over oil spills in Ejama Ebubu in 1971.

Ex­perts say two ma­jor is­sues tick out in the deep­en­ing case; is there still an ap­peal be­fore the Supreme Court, and is Shell ow­ing N17 bil­lion as it claims or N134 bil­lion as the Ebubu com­mu­nity claims to be the case in the Supreme Court?

A Shell spokesper­son said on Sun­day, “SPDC is aware of the Supreme Court’s or­der on our no­tice of ap­peal. We are seek­ing to ob­tain a copy of this and will re­spond ap­pro­pri­ately once we have re­viewed the de­tail. SPDC de­nies any li­a­bil­ity in this mat­ter and we re­main ready to de­fend this case based on the avail­able facts.”

On what the rul­ing means for the sub­stan­tive case and whether SPDC now needs to pay the N17 bil­lion orig­i­nal sum in the 2010 judg­ment, Shell said: “We are yet to ob­tain a copy of the rul­ing to as­cer­tain the ba­sis of the con­clu­sion of the court to en­able us re­spond ap­pro­pri­ately.”

Shell did not men­tion that the First Bank guar­an­tee in the judg­ment of N17 bil­lion also in­cluded the 25 per­cent in­ter­est awarded to the com­mu­nity peo­ple on the prin­ci­pal. The Supreme Court had on Fri­day dis­missed the ap­peal filed by SPDC, which pre­vented First Bank of Nige­ria Lim­ited from pay­ing the plain­tiffs com­mu­nity a judg­ment debt said to now to­tal N134 bil­lion to the plain­tiff com­mu­nity rep­re­sented by 10 Ogoni chiefs of Ejama Ebubu com­mu­nity of Ogoni in Rivers State.

In a rul­ing on Fri­day, the jus­tice, Ku­mai Bayang Akaahs, said the no­tice of ap­peal filed by the oil firm was in­com­pe­tent and struck it out based on Or­der 8 Rule 7 of the court’s rules.

Ai­teo Group, an in­te­grated en­ergy con­glom­er­ate and the ma­jor spon­sor of Nige­rian foot­ball, has ex­pressed de­ter­mi­na­tion to con­tinue to sup­port the growth and de­vel­op­ment of Nige­rian foot­ball and to make the pres­ti­gious Con­fed­er­a­tion of Africa Foot­ball (CAF) Awards bet­ter in the years ahead.

Ndi­ana-abasi Matthew, se­nior man­ager, cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Ai­teo Group, stated this at the com­pany’s of­fice in La­gos, also say­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion would con­tinue to con­trib­ute to the de­vel­op­ment of foot­ball and sports in gen­eral on the con­ti­nent and be­yond.

Matthew said: “We are proud with so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity role in the coun­try be­cause with a short time Ai­teo Group is noted world­wide as a big sup­porter of foot­ball in the world.

“The CAF Awards will get big­ger and bet­ter in the years ahead, and we are also go­ing to make our pres­ence felt bet­ter in all our spon­sor- ship roles in Nige­ria. Sport is mas­sive in the coun­try, es­pe­cially foot­ball be­cause it is a uni­fy­ing fac­tor over the years.”

Ai­teo Group is the spon­sor of the Fed­er­a­tion Cup in Nige­ria and the out­fit is also foot­ing the bills of na­tional team coaches.

The out­fit spon­sors the CAF Awards that took place last year in Ac­cra, Ghana, and the sec­ond edi­tion took place last week in Dakar, Sene­gal.

“We are en­joy­ing the part­ner­ship with the Nige­ria Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion (NFF) and we also be­lieve we are mak­ing Nige­ri­ans en­joy the game of foot­ball bet­ter,” he said.

Meka Olowola, manag­ing part­ner, Zen­era Con­sult­ing, a PR firm work­ing with Ai­teo Group, also stated that so much was in stock for the lovers of the foot­ball in the years ahead.

“This is the be­gin­ning of an ex­cit­ing year for the fans of foot­ball. Ai­teo is com­mit­ted to mak­ing the game bet­ter in Nige­ria and Africa. We will have a re­treat soon and af­ter that we will roll out our sports cal­en­dar for the year,” Olowola said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.