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Omehia vs Amaechi: Gani carpets Supreme Court

Posted by By ENYERIBE EJIOGU on 2007/10/31 | Views: 804 |

Omehia vs Amaechi: Gani carpets Supreme Court


The dust raised by the Supreme Court ruling overturning the election of Celestine Omehia as governor of Rivers State, and its consequent order that Chief Rotimi Amaechi be sworn-in as governor, has been described by legal luminary, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) as a terrible judicial imposition, and a denial of the democratic rights of the state’s electorate to elect their leaders.

The dust raised by the Supreme Court ruling overturning the election of Celestine Omehia as governor of Rivers State, and its consequent order that Chief Rotimi Amaechi be sworn-in as governor, has been described by legal luminary, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) as a terrible judicial imposition, and a denial of the democratic rights of the state’s electorate to elect their leaders.

Reacting to the apex court’s judgment, in a written statement sent from London, where he is undergoing the final phase of his medical treatment, Fawehinmi expressed strong disagreement with the order made by the Supreme Court, stating that in accordance with the letter and spirit of the 1999 Constitution, Amaechi could not be validly made the beneficiary of an election in which he was not a candidate.

Emphasizing that he had no quarrel with the decision of the Supreme Court in so far as it nullified the election of Celestine Omehia on the grounds that he was not the appropriate candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Fawehinmi said that his “disagreement with the apex court judgment is the order it made that Rotimi Amaechi who never contested the governorship election should be sworn-in as governor of Rivers State.”

Continuing, he said: “I consider the assumption of office by Rotimi Amaechi as a judicial imposition on the electorate of Rivers State, who when they were voting on the 14th April, 2007, did not have in view or consideration of Rotimi Amaechi who was not a candidate in the eyes, in the minds and in the hearts of the electorate of Rivers State. The essence of democratic elections is that the electorate should decide who should be their leaders.”

Noting that the people of the state had voted for Celestine Omehia, who was presented as the candidate of the PDP in the April election, and given that the apex court had voided his candidacy, Fawehinmi submitted that all the votes cast for Omehia were a nullity. He said that the electorate did not have opportunity to vote for Amaechi as he was not a candidate in the said election. Therefore, Fawehinmi argued, no vote could be attributed to Amaechi when the election was held.

“In their eyes, minds, hearts and brains, the electorate of Rivers State did not cast any vote for Rotimi Amaechi because he was not a candidate in the election,” Fawehinmi said, stressing that under the 1999 Constitution, it is not the party that is the candidate in any election for elective office, hence the Peoples Democratic Party was not a candidate.

Referring to Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic, he explained that a person shall be qualified for election to the office of governor of a state if, among other provisions, “he is a member of a political party and sponsored by that political party.”

On the basis of the provisions of Section 179 (subsection 2), which states that “a candidate for an election to the office of governor of a state shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being two or more candidates – (a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and (b) he has not less than one-quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the state,” Fawehinmi further argued that “Amaechi could not have satisfied the constitutional requirements in Section 179 (2) as he did not contest the governorship election of Rivers State on 14th April, 2007. Furthermore, he was not in the contemplation of the voters while they were casting their votes in Rivers State.”

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.