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
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.