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Appeal court nullifies Metuh’s conviction, orders fresh trial

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Wednesday nullified the conviction of former spokesman for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, on alleged money laundering and corruption charges.

The court held that Okon Abang, judge of a federal high court in Abuja, exhibited bias in Metuh’s case.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Metuh on seven counts of allegedly receiving N400 million from the office of the National Security Adviser.

On February 25, 2020, the trial court pronounced him guilty and sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Metuh through his counsel filed an appeal in March 2020.

As part of the 10 issues raised by the appellant for determination by the appellate court, Metuh argued that he was not given a fair trial.

He submitted that the trial judge was biased, considering some of the remarks made during the trial.

He prayed the court to upturn the judgment of the lower court.

Delivering judgment on Wednesday, a three-man panel of justice agreed that the trial judge showed influence of bias against the appellant.

Stephen Adah who read the court’s decision, said, “The narrative of the trial judge suggests someone who didn’t enjoy trying the appellant and counsel because he said they were picking on him.

“He was struggling with the case and even wished that he should be recused out of the case. The influence from this narrative is indisputably to say the least that a trial judge was angered only in his mind that he was wrongly influenced and showed bias against the appellant in this case as this is what manifests from all the outburst, he has infused in his judgment.

 “Learned trial judge showed in his comments, the influence of an abnormal desire all inclination to pursue a predetermined line of action against the appellant.

“This no doubt is an influence of bias against the appellant. There is no way the learned trial judge can be seen to be detached from the malice against the appellant in the case as alleged.

“The duty of a trial judge is to be completely neutral in the case before him. A judge must not only be impartial; he must be seen to be impartial to both sides.

“His duty is to sit and determine the issues raised by parties and to conduct an examination into the parties. He is not an umpire just yet. His job is to find out the truth and do justice according to law.

“Appellants have been able to convince us in this court from the records shown and from all the utterances of the judge that there is likelihood of bias signifying that he was no freeman while the trial was going on.

“If this is allowed, it will set a dangerous president and that is never allowed by our constitution. Trial that was conducted in a hostile atmosphere without any regard to the constitutional right of the person accused can never be upheld.

“The learned trial judge unfortunately has shown the whole world that much was into that judgment than what was put in evidence before the judge.

“It was in this respect that we cannot ignore it. This court in its duty, set that decision aside. Judgment of the lower court delivered on 25th of February 2020 cannot stand because of the evidence of bias. It is accordingly annulled.”

Justice Adah subsequently ordered a return of the suit to the Federal High Court for fresh hearing by another judge.

Politics

As Ogun LG poll holds Saturday, Gov Abiodun drums support for Yobo

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says, he is my loyal son

The Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has described the All Progressives Congress chairmanship candidate in the local government election scheduled for Saturday, July 24, Ladejobi Shuaib Adebayo, popularly known as Yobo, as a son who has been very steadfast in what he believes in and very loyal to the party.
He stated this during a rally where he handed over the flag of the party to the candidate.
The governor did this in the presence of the candidate’s running mate in the election, Ireti Adenugba, other party leaders, traditional and religious leaders as well as numerous party supporters.
Governor Abiodun recalled how strong Yobo led some youths to resist the brigandage of powers before the 2019 election despite the threat to his life.
In a drizzling afternoon at Odogbolu town Motor Park, Abiodun said Yobo never knew he would be the candidate of the party initially, but added that God has His own plan, saying in Yoruba.”Eleyi kii see omo wa; eleyi omo mi ni” (This is not our son; but my son).
He enjoined other contestants for the party’s ticket in the election but not favoured to take it in their strides as only one person could be the winner.
The governor promised all genuine contenders at the primaries would be part of the government either at the local government or at the state level to contribute their quota.
He further said the state government had constructed many kilometres of
roads across the state and delivered over 1,000 housing units, adding that more were still needed to be done.
He agreed no one government could do everything but that his administration would leave an indelible mark for people to talk about many years after leaving.
Abiodun enumerated some of the projects that his goverment had carried out in addition to those he just awarded in the local government to include schools, health facilities and roads, urging the residents to own the projects and protect the facilities.
He specifically mentioned the new Ijebu Ode (Ikoto)-Epe Expressway just completed and how proud he felt when he used the road recently.
YOBO thanked the governor and the party leaders with other members for their support and promised to put in his best to fulfill his campaign promises.
On the entourage of Governor Abiodun were his deputy, Engr Mrs Noimot Salako-Oyedele who is the chairman of the state’s local government election campaign committee, the Chief of Staff, Alhaji Shuaib Salis, and other members of the state executive council led by Femi Ogunbanwo, the Commissioner for Special Duties and Inter Governmental Affairs who is also from the local government.

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Courts reinstate Soludo, Uba as APGA, PDP candidates

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Senator Ugochukwu Uba of the Peoples Democratic Party and Prof Chukwuma Soludo of the All Progressives Grand Alliance have been reinstated as candidates of their parties in the forthcoming Anambra State governorship election.

The court has directed Independent National Electoral Commission to list the two politicians as candidates of their respective party.
Justice Obiora Nwabunike, who adjudicated on the case involving Uba, Valentine Ozigbo and the PDP, said the party erred by using what it called ‘super delegates’ without vacating a pending order by an Abuja court.
The judge said, “With the evidence before me and having heard from parties involved in the matter, I rule that Ugochukwu Uba is the duly elected candidate of PDP.
“It’s not for nothing that court judges are called My Lords. When a court makes a pronouncement, it must be obeyed. No matter how foolish or ugly, it must be obeyed.
“So, it was wrong for the PDP to go ahead to conduct the primary election at the Dora Akunyili Women’s Development Centre that produced Valentine Ozigbo, with what they called super delegates against a live judgment of a court, without overturning the judgement.
Read Also; Anambra 2021: Ozigbo says no cause for alarm over exclusion by INEC
“That action cannot be vitiated or mitigated by the argument adduced by defence counsel that party primaries are internal affairs of political parties.
“I order that Ugochukwu Uba’s name should be enlisted by the INEC without further delay and the defendants should pay a cost of N10 million to the applicant.”
In the other case, Justice C.C. Okaa reinstated Prof Soludo as the APGA candidate and ordered INEC to publish his name immediately.
The court also ordered INEC to remove the already-published name of Chukwuma Umeoji, ordering him to stop parading himself as the candidate of APGA
Justice Okaa reaffirmed Victor Ike Oye as the indisputable National Chairman of APGA and ordered Edozie Njoku and Jude Okeke to stop parading themselves as national chairmen of APGA.

The Jude Okeke-led APGA national executive kicked against the ruling reinstating Soludo as the party’s candidate.
The faction’s National Publicity Secretary, Ikechukwu Chukwunyere, told reporters at a briefing in Abuja that an order by a High Court in Jigawa State was still subsisting.
He said, “We have invited you here today to brief you on the happenings in our party and the desperation of some anti-democratic forces to desecrate the judiciary and jettison the rule of law principle which is fundamental in a democracy.
“On Friday, 16th July 2021, the Independent National Electoral Commission published the list of candidates for the Anambra State Governorship election in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines for the election.
“In compliance with the judgment of two competent High Courts, INEC published the name of Hon. Chukwuma Umeoji, a member of the Federal House of Representatives, as the valid and duly nominated candidate of our great party.
“All institutions of state must obey the judgment of courts; that is the position of the law.
“A case was filed by the Victor Oye-camp without notifying the Jude Okeke group. We heard of it on Friday, quickly mobilised our lawyers to apply to join the case but the judge refused because allowing the joinder would mean taking an adjournment for consequential amendment of the processes to reflect the new names joined.
“The judge dismissed the motion even when no lawyer in the case filed anything in opposition.
“Having failed to deliver the judgment on Friday, the judge this morning (yesterday) in a court surrounded by over 150 policemen and soldiers and wherein every person who was not a lawyer was chased out of the court delivered a judgment and predictably granted all the prayers of the applicants and even more.
“The judgment from Awka cannot vacate the judgment from Jigawa. They are courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
“They cannot change the position of INEC with it. Hopefully, this matter will be sorted out soon and peace will return to APGA.”

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Count me out of Jonathan/Malami presidential ticket, says AGF

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Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has denied report linking him to the 2023 presidential ticket with the former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Malami’s media aide, Dr Bashir Gwandu, described the rumour as a figment of imagination of the minister’s distractors.
Gwandu added that the AGF never discussed such with anybody and had not shown interest in any political post.
He said that Malami was occupied with his ministerial duties of serving his country the best way he could.
“2023 is still very far to even talk about it. The attorney has never indicated interest to stand for election with anybody,” he said.
He advised members of the public to be wary of what they say or post on social media or anywhere.
“What the minister needs now is to focus more on how to deliver the much-needed services to the country and that is what he has been doing and will continue to do,” he added.
He explained that people should not force words into the mouth of the AGF and to, henceforth, stop peddling such unfounded rumours that have no basis whatsoever.

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