By Kennedy Friday
I write this response to my big Oga Ogbonna Nwuke, and to my main man Senibo Chris Finebone, who in their separate press releases earlier today in reaction to the well reasoned landmark Supreme Court judgement sacking Pastor Tonye Dele Cole, stated that the verdict of the apex court didn't affect the purported candidature of Tonye Cole and others on the ground that the court is still seized of “a substantive appeal” bordering on jurisdiction of the State High Court and whether the case of Ibrahim and orders is a pre-election matter or not.
Senibo Chris Finebone, in defiance to the October 22 2018 judgement of the Supreme Court which sacked him, called himself “Publicity Secretary of Rivers APC” . My Oga, Hon Ogbonna Nwuke, on his part, addressed himself as “spokesperson to Tonye Cole Campaign Organization” even when he knows that the Supreme Court today ended the Tonye Cole bid, which never existed anyway. But that is not the kernel of my response.
Let's look at the verdict of the Supreme Court today and juxtapose it with the claims of Senibo Chris Finebone and Ogbonna Nwuke to ascertain whether the Indirect Primaries group of Rivers APC have anything to hope for.
The Supreme Court today ruled that Barr Chinweikpe Chieme, Legal Adviser of Rivers APC, is the proper person to arrange legal representation in court for cases involving members of Rivers APC, as against Chief Lateef Fagbemi SAN, the person the indirect primaries group had banked on as the legal counsel of APC all along. In arriving at this conclusion about legal representation in Ibrahim Umar and 22 Ors V APC, the apex court said that a mere letter from APC national mandating Fagbemi SAN to represent APC cannot abrogate the APC constitution which has assigned functions for elected officers of the party at all levels.
In effect, the Supreme Court has said that as it concerns the case of Ibrahim Umar and 22 Ors V the APC, only Barr Chinweikpe or counsels engaged by him can appear for APC, or appeal any verdict against APC in this matter. I will stress the import of this in my concluding paragraphs.
The second issue the apex court determined today was the question whether the judgement of the Rivers State High Court per Nwogu J, which correctly nullified the illegal indirect governorship primary through which Tonye Cole and his co-travelers purportedly emerged, was a consent judgement as reasoned by the Court of Appeal. Indeed, the Supreme Court agreed that it was a consent judgement, and only with the leave of the court which decided it could any appeal lie.
In other words, no appeal against the judgement of Nwogu J, which nullified the illegal indirect primaries that purportedly threw up Pastor Tonye Dele Cole and others can be sustained in any appellate court without a leave.
Having stated the decision of the Supreme Court today in the simplest language in the paragraphs above, let's interrogate the claims of Senibo Chris Finebone and Ogbonna Nwuke again and see how they align with common sense.
Who filed the “substantive appeal” they are laying claim to that is pending at the Supreme Court? The Supreme Court has said that only Barr Chinweikpe, or counsels engaged by him, can appear for the APC. That means that only the same person or counsels engaged by him can appeal any setback in this case. So the question again is, who filed that appeal pending before the Supreme Court? That is question one.
Question two is even more simple. The Supreme Court has said that the decision of the Rivers State High Court per Nwogu was a CONSENT JUDGEMENT. A consent judgement, as it applies in the context of this case, simply put, is a verdict arrived at by the court when both plaintiff and the defendant (parties) agree to what is in issue before the trial court. In other words, when the defendant against whom a case is instituted does not oppose or object to any of the issues and claims made by the plaintiff, the court will enter a consent judgement in favour of the plaintiff.
The question, then, is, the so-called “substantive appeal” pending before the Supreme Court in this famous case of Ibrahim Umar and 22 Ors V APC, was consent sought and obtained before that appeal was entered?
Now, you don't need to know Jack Robinson about the law to know that the statements of Chris Finebone and Ogbonna Nwuke are a study in grandstanding and false hope. I will tell you why.
It was Chief Lateef Fagbemi SAN, who, with the greatest respect, is conclusively a meddlesome interloper and an “uninvited Tombo Fly” as Senibo Chris Finebone would put it who filed the pending appeal before the Supreme Court. So he filed as who and as what? As the APC counsel? Hahahaha! And did he obtain the leave of court before appealing as the Supreme Court has identified the judgement Nwogu J as a consent judgement?
When you don't even have the right to appeal a matter, as the Supreme Court decision in this matter implies; and moreso, when the right of legal representation has been taken off your feet, as the Supreme Court has taken in this matter, how can you talk about jurisdiction or question whether a matter is pre-election matter or not? So where, how, and in which case will you argue all that? We are human beings. Can we just think?
I have no intention of preempting what the Supreme Court will say on Monday, or any other time the court decides to sit, but whoever has an iota of common sense, whoever is a rational, thinking person will know that this matter is over because the foundation thereof has been irredeemably destroyed.
As earlier foretold and retold, the contrived Tonye Cole Governorship bid, which was totally against the natural order of things ab initio, was given a deserving burial today by the Supreme Court, and like Lazarus, should now be resting at the bosom of father Abraham in heavenly bliss. A pastor deserves that, at least.
And make no mistake about this. It wasn't Magnus Abe or his supporters that was the problem with Tonye Cole. His problem was with the law from the very beginning, a problem he inherited by association. He is a good man, no doubt, but you just wished he had seen the whole gamut of the supremacy battle between the faction of the party that wanted to foist him and the Nigerian judiciary. At last, the law has prevailed, again, as foretold.
Kennedy Friday writes from Port Harcourt.