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Court of Appeal upholds legality of Rivers State Inquiry on Rotimi Amaechi’s tenure

 
Former Rivers State Gover­nor Rotimi Amaechi lost again yesterday in his judi­cial bid to stop the state govern­ment from probing his adminis­tration.
The Port Harcourt Division of the Appeal Court in Rivers State dismissed the suit filed by former Governor Amaechi, now the Minister of Transport, chal­lenging his invitation to the Judi­cial Commission of Inquiry set up by Governor Nyesom Wike to in­vestigate the sale of the state’s as­sets and the disbursement of the N2 billion agriculture fund by his administration.
Delivering the appellate court judgement which lasted for over three hours on Monday, the pre­siding judge, Justice O.F. Omol­eye, faulted Amaechi’s failure to appear before the probe panel.
The judge stated that Amae­chi deliberately ignored the invi­tation to appear before the Com­mission so he could be heard, instead he chose to go to court to challenge the constitution of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry among others.
While dismissing the claim that Amaechi was denied right to fair hearing, the court said that
 Amaechi denied himself the right of hearing, adding that he could not sit in his comfort zone and de­termine for the probe panel when to sit.
The judge noted that there is no law which prohibits Wike from investigating the past governor. The judge held that there also was also nothing wrong for Gov. Wike to constitute an inquiry to investi­gate if assets belonging to the state were properly sold by the immedi­ate past administration.
The court dismissed the alle­gation of bias by Amaechi against the chairman of the Commission, Justice George Omereji.
She said that Amaechi failed to establish his allegation of bias based on concrete evidence.
Speaking to journalists short­ly after the judgement, the Rivers State Attorney-General and Com­missioner for Justice, Mr. Emma­nuel Aguma (SAN ) stated that the implication of the judgment was that the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry are valid and can be implemented.
He expressed satisfaction that the Court of Appeal held that the Commission was validly consti­tuted.
The lead counsel to Wike, Oladejo Lamikanra (SAN) said that the court ruled in favour of his client by striking out all the re­liefs sought for by Amaechi, ex­cept one.
Justice Simeon Amadi of the Riv­ers State High Court dismissed the suit filed by Amaechi chal­lenging moves by Governor Wike to probe his administration.
In his ruling, Justice Amadi said the Rivers State Judicial Com­mission of Inquiry, set up by Gov­ernor Wike to look into aspects of the administration of the former governor, was not established to investigate the personal life of the former governor.
He ruled that Governor Wike was empowered by law to open the books of former governments in the state since the actions af­fected the lives of the people of the state.
In the ruling, Justice Amadi said that the 30 days set aside for the Commission to conclude its job did not in any way rob the for­mer governor of fair hearing, not­ing that it could be extended.
He explained that since Amaechi had not filed any mem­orandum before the commission or appeared before it, he could not allege denial of right to fair hear­ing.
The court also ruled that the former governor was not on trial with the setting up of the Com­mission, saying that the terms of reference of the probe panel did not in any way accuse Amaechi of any crime.
The judge said: “The Judici­ary is not only the last hope of the common man, but it is also the last hope of the mighty and mov­ers and shakers of democracy. Those who by the benevolence of the Judiciary got to power should resist the temptation to emascu­late the Judiciary.”

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  • umohco
    May 9, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Mr Rotimi Amaechi,should watch her back cos she benefited by court ruling that ascended it to the govs throne & now turnaround to say court has no right to carryout inquiry abt his past activities while in office as gov of rivers state. amaechi,watch ur back,u may not scot go free witout catching up ur nimesis.

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