The Nigerian Navy has apprehended 35 suspected oil thieves and seized from them 408 drums of suspected illegal refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) in Akwa Ibom State.
The Naval Commanding Officer, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of the state, Navy Capt. Mohammed Abu who paraded the suspects to newsmen on Wednesday said they were apprehended on November 26, 2021 while on routine patrol.
The suspects he said will be handed over to operatives of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Ibaka Mbo Local Government Area after their parade.
He said, “I will be handing over the suspects and exhibits of wooden boats that were intercepted by the NNS Thunder on the Nov. 26, at high sea having infracted economic policy of the country.
“The Chief of the Naval Staff has given a clear directive to Nigerian Navy to free the waterways of illegalities and other maritime crimes.
“So, having said this, we have three wooden boats which were conveying 408 drums of AGO and 40 drums of PMS mixed with oil, 906 empty drums and 35 male suspects are here before you.
“I am handing them over to you, as the Prosecuting Agency to carry out further investigation and prosecute them accordingly and revert to the Nigerian Navy on the outcome,” Abu said.
The commanding officer said the arrest of the suspected vandals has sent messages to criminals that the Nigerian Navy would not relent in ensuring all economic sabotage in the Nigerian maritime space is punished.
“This arrest is to send a message to those vandals of our crude oil pipelines that the CNS has zero-tolerance for crude oil theft and our ships are out there looking for them and we will arrest them until they are out of our maritime domain,” he said.
He appealed to smugglers and vandals of petroleum products to stay out of the business, as the base would not relent in its continuous patrol to sustain the directive of the CNS and rid criminal elements out of Nigeria waterways.
“I deployed our boats and identified the creeks where they are operating within Mbo waterways. As I speak to you, I have three of our boats that have choked them up in creeks within the waterways at Unyenge, Okposo and Ikang.”
Meanwhile, the Head of Anti Vandals, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Akwa Ibom Command, Assistant Commandant of Corps, Adamu Jafaaru, received the suspects and the exhibits on behalf of the NSCDC.
Jafaaru said the agency would carry out thorough investigations on the suspects and all those culpable would be arraigned in court soon.
He warned vandals to desist from sabotaging the economy of the nation, stressing that the NSCDC would not relent in their mandate of protecting government critical infrastructure.
“I want to assure you all that as the Nigerian Navy handed over the suspects and exhibits to us as the Prosecuting Agency. We will conduct a thorough investigation and ensure diligent prosecution of those involved in this economic sabotage of the nation.” He said.
Stay away from Karl Kumm University crisis, host community warns Lalong
Vwang, the host community of Karl Kumm University in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State on Wednesday warned the state Governor, Simon Lalong, to stay away from the crisis rocking the institution.
The community described a visit to the Governor by the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University, Prof. Ochapa Onazi, who led members of the council on a courtesy visit to Government House, Jos as a ploy by the government to take over the running of affairs of the university through the back door.
reports that Karl Kumm University established in Jos South LGA by the Church of Christ in Nations was shut down shortly after it got its operational license in 2021 due to misunderstanding with the host community over the appointment of a Registrar for the institution in line with an MOU signed with them.
Since then, the new university had remained under lock and key without any academic activities while its operational licence had been withdrawn by the NUC
During the pro-chancellor’s visit to the Governor last week, Lalong had said he would intervene in the matter and directed the Commissioner for Higher Education and the Head of Service to immediately engage all stakeholders in resolving the misunderstanding that led to the suspension of the licence of the University .
But the host community, at a press conference in Jos on Wednesday, rejected the governor’s intervention, describing it as an invitation to disaster.
The press conference was addressed by the community leaders including the President, Vwang Development Association, Jonah Gworu; Chairman, Berom Educational and Cultural Organisation, Vwang District, Ishaku; Chairperson, BEWDA Vwang District, Elizabeth Lowang; Chairman Berom Youths Moulders Association, Vwang District, Emmanuel Mangu; Chairman, Vwang Patriotic Forum, Davou Nyango, and the Chairman, Vwang Intelligentsia Forum, Weng Emmanuel, among others .
They insisted that the proprietor of the university should continue with the process it had started with the host community towards resolving the impasse at the institution
The VDA President said, “The intervention of the state government in Karl Kumm University crisis now, from all indications, is an obvious ill-fated venture and a visible invitation to disaster. The COCIN church came to Vwang community for land and not the governement. Land was donated to the church and MOU signed between the donor and recipient without government involvement.
“COCIN should assume responsibility and address issues at stake as we have have no MOU with Bogoro (the Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Prof.Suleiman Elias Bogoro) Onazi orthe state Governement.
“Anyone interested in the genuine resolution of the matter should encourage the church to honour its undertaking with the host community.”
The community leaders also called on the chairman of Council to apologise to the host community “for the insults he heaped on them” during their visit at the Government House where he was said to have described them “disgruntled, ungrateful and miscreants”.
Party Defection: Gov Umahi, Deputy head to Court of Appeal
From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and his deputy, Dr Eric Igwe have approached the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal for the interpretation of some constitutional issues arising from the suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging their defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The applicants in their motion, have requested the appellate court to restore the powers of state High courts as the only courts vested with the exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine the question as to whether the term of office of a member of the House of Assembly of a State, a Governor or Deputy Governor has ceased or become vacant.
Counsel to the applicants and a former Attorney General of Imo State, Chief Chukwuma Machukwu Ume (SAN), has consequently filed a motion seeking the declaration by the court that section 272 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, which vested such powers on the Federal High Court as a Scrivener’s error.
The motion which was brought pursuant to sections 295 (2); 272(3); 6(2) of the 1999 constitution and section 20 and 29 of the Interpretation Act, has requested the order of the Federal High Court for an order referring some constitutional questions to the Court of Appeal for its opinion.
The affected constitutional provisions are sections 2; 4(6); 5 (2); 6 (1) & (2); 6(5) (a) -(e); 186; Chapter VII; Chapter VII Part II; sections 270 (1) and 272 (1); (2) and(3).
The applicants request the opinion of the Court of Appeal as to “Whether by the community reading of the above provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) more particularly by the express provisions in sections 232(1) 239(1) (a) – (c) and 251(4) each vesting Original Jurisdiction on the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court on matters on the Exclusive Legislative List and Federal political office holders, the phrase Federal High Court as found in Section 272 (3) (aka section 28, Act No 1 of 2010) is not a mere or should not be read Scrivener’s Error or Devil’s printer?
“Whether the Hon Court should not order the phrase Federal High Court as found in Section 272 (3) (aka section 28, Act No 1 of 2010) to be read and understood as State High Court which rightly conforms with the spirit of the Federal system of Government as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended) vesting exclusive original jurisdiction on the High Court of the States of the Federation to “hear and determine the question as to whether the term of office of a member of the House of Assembly of a State, a Governor of Deputy Governor has ceased or become vacant?
Before the trial court, the applicants had filed a notice of preliminary objection challenging the suit by the PDP, wherein, they argued vehemently that Section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended has provided immunity to them from the Plaintiff’s Suit and that votes cast during the said Elections are by the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) an recent Supreme Court pronouncements belong to them and recent Supreme Court pronouncment belongs to them and not the Plaintiff/Respondent.
Furthermore, they contested that being Ebonyi State Governor and Deputy Governor sworn into Offices by the Chief Judge of Ebonyi State they cannot be liable to be removed from their Offices by a Federal High Court.
In addition, on November 23, 2021 they filed an interlocutory motion praying the Court that:
“Considering the Federal System of Government adopted and inherent in the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and that 3rd & 4th Defendants/Applicants have been sworn into office by the Chief Judge of Ebonyi State as constitutionally provided,
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That the benefit of a holistic reading of the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) the phrase Federal High Court as found in Section 272 (3) (aka section 28, Act No 1 of 2010) is a mere and should taken as Scrivener’s Error.
The Applicants therefore prayed the Court to by virtue of Sections 20 & 29 of the Interpretation Act etc, purposively interpret and read the phrase Federal High Court as found in Section 272 (3) (aka section 28, Act No 1 of 2010) as State High Court.
Consequently, they prayed the Court to transfer the Suit filed by Plaintiff/1st Respondent to the High Court of Ebonyi State for hearing and determination.
However, on December 23, 2021 Plaintiff/1st Respondent (PDP) fired back by filing a Counter Affidavit with Written Address wherein it placed an entirely different interpretation and meaning to the S. 272 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
The plaintiff vehemently submitted that the Federal High Court is stated in the S. 272(3) is in order and this Court have the jurisdiction to hear and determine its Suit.
Ume submitted that “our exhaustive research have shown that all through the history of the judicial adjudication in Nigeria, courts more particularly the Supreme Court of Nigeria have never been called upon and no Court has suo moto heard and determined if the Federal High Court as provided in S. 272 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is a Scrivener’s Error and so should be read as State High Court.
The PDP had on August 17, 202, filed its Originating Summons claiming among others that:
It sponsored Governor Umahi and his deputy, Dr. Igwe for the 2019 Governorship and Deputy Governorship Elections and they won the Elections and were sworn into the Offices of Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State respectively on May 29, 2019.
It further alleged that the votes cast for the candidates ( Umahi & Igwe) at the said Elections are its property.
It then alleged that the governor and his deputy defected to the APC (2nd Defendant).
On the basis of the above claims, the PDP prayed the Court to remove the governor and his deputy from their Offices as Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi and declare their Offices vacant.