By Felix Ofou
June 7, 2014 – The Supreme Court Monday May 26, 2014 in Abuja awarded N8m as costs against Dr Dickson Osuala, counsel to Chief Great Ogboru of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) for what it termed as an abuse of the process of the apex court, adding that there must be an end to litigation.
To benefit from the N8m are Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, Governor of Delta State, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) who are to get N2m each.
The Supreme Court in a unanimous ruling delivered by seven justices said the case instituted by Dr Osuala on behalf of Ogboru amounted to an affront on the nation’s judiciary as well as an abuse of the court process.
“The said N8m is awarded as cost against the person of Dr Dickson Osuala and is to be paid from his pocket to the respondents “, said the apex court in a landmark ruling on Monday.
Ogboru, through his counsel, had unsuccessfully tried to get the Supreme Court to reopen his case challenging the election of Dr Uduaghan as Governor in the 2011 gubernatorial election in the state. It is the third time the DPP standard bearer will be making such a move.
But the Supreme Court panel presided over by Justice Walter Onnoghen blamed Dr Osuala for not advising his client rightly and embarking on a clear case of gross abuse of the court process. The N8m slammed on Dr Osuala is for the said abuse and a deterrent to others who may attempt similar move in future.
Justices of the apex court on the panel were Justice Walter Onnoghen, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, Bode Rhodes Vivour, Sylvester Ngwuta, Mary Peter Odili, Olukayode Ariwoola and Clara Bata Ogunbiyi.
Great Ogboru had dragged the Governor of Delta State Emmanuel Uduaghan before the Supreme Court challenging the validity 2011 election victory. Others joined in the suit as co-respondents were the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as 2ndrespondent, INEC as 3 rd respondent and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as the 4 th respondent.
Osuala had informed the court that Section 285 (7) of the 1999 Constitution which was the basis upon which the appeal was earlier thrown out was “misapprehended” by the court when the appeal was dismissed last year, adding that there was no law like that when the appeal was dismissed.
After the case was dismissed, Osuala surreptitiously brought an application to relist the matter again, a matter which the apex court described as an affront. When the counsel’s attention was drawn to the fact that the court had earlier dismissed the same appeal, he argued and insisted that the appeal must be heard.
The presiding judge, Justice Walter Onnoghen, in his ruling held that the fact of the case revealed that this was the third time the lawyer was approaching the Supreme Court on the same case, adding that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case again having earlier dismissed the same.
“Applicant is advised to approach the high court since he raised the issue of the validity of Section 285 (7) of the 1999 Constitution. As far as the Supreme Court is concerned the subject has been laid to rest”, he declared.
A cost of N2million for each of the respondents was also awarded as cost payable by the lawyer.The justices further noted that Ogboru through his counsel wanted to resurrect a dead and buried horse, and warned that this would be the last time such a case should brought before the court.
In a reaction at the end of the hearing, Dr Uduaghan through the Secretary to the Delta State Government (SSG), Comrade Ovuozourie Macaulay said the case and all such divisive battles were of God to deal with accordingly.
He said Monday’s ruling was a vindication that no man can fight God, hoping that Ogboru and his ilk would have learnt a lesson and allow the state to move forward.
“Our case has always been in the hands of God. And like we say in Delta, God’s Case has no appeal. That’s what the Supreme Court has affirmed today and we hope Ogboru and his people would have learnt a lesson and realised that it is time to allow the state to move forward”, he stated.
The SSG added: “It is a clear signal that the justices of the Supreme Court has sent out. We want to reiterate our belief in the judiciary. We steadfastly followed this case from the beginning. It’s about the fourth time we are coming here for this case. And the justices upheld the same decision. But today they went further and took the case as if it is theirs. Clearly it was an affront on the judiciary because it is the system that Ogboru and his team sought to attack. Not the Governor or the state government. And the verdict tells the whole story.”
But the Delta State Governor disclosed on Sunday June 1st 2014 that a total of 19 cases presided over by 77 judges/justices were instituted against him by his political opponents since May 29, 2007 when he assumed office. A battle that undoubtedly spanned seven good years.
He made the disclosure at a special thanksgiving service to celebrate his recent victory at the Supreme Court in the suit instituted against him by Chief Great Ogboru. Though the event also marked the Governor ‘s third year in office for a second term, it was obvious that the Ogboru saga agitated his mind more.
Dr. Uduaghan promised at the thanksgiving service, which held at the First Baptist Church, Warri to donate the N2 million costs awarded in his favour against counsel to Ogboru by the Supreme Court, to the church.
He explained that the thanksgiving service was held to appreciate God who had given him victories in the several cases that were instituted against him by his political opponents since his emergence as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the 2007 governorship polls.
“For us, this thanksgiving is very important and critical. If you know our political history, since 2007 it has been a long struggle,” the Governor said, adding, “we had 19 cases within the last seven years and a total of 77 judges were involved and I hear that is the highest recorded number of cases in Nigeria today against any politician.”
He noted: “In all of these, it is not by the power of our lawyers or the knowledge of anyone but by the grace of God,” observing, “in this last case, the Supreme Court imposed a fine and warned the lawyer never to bring the case to the court again.
“The case wasn’t my case, it was God’s case and I have told my lawyers to bring the two million naira fine in favour of me to this church because I dedicated the flag given to me as the PDP candidate for the election in this church”.
The Governor said that the next one year would be very critical “but, God has been faithful, God is our King, our Lord and whenever you believe in God, you will have the type of results that I got.”
The Governor’s wife, Mrs. Roli Uduaghan at the occasion however called for prayers for him to finish strong and for a God-fearing person to succeed her husband who will consolidate and improve on the gains of the current administration.
In a sermon, the Bishop of Asaba Diocese of the Anglican Communion, Most Revd. Justus Mogekwu had explained, “in giving praise and thanksgiving we recognize God’s virtue and in recognising God’s virtue, we encourage Him to do more for us.”
He noted that the victory against Chief Great Ogboru at the Supreme Court was a victory for Delta State as it could have meant starting afresh and rendering a lot of persons jobless, adding, it would have amounted to someone who works for the interest of the people giving way for someone who will put selfish interest first above other considerations.
The Bishop called on Christians to always put their faith in God rather than man and also pray positively for their enemies since vengeance belongs to God.
Prayers were later offered at the service for President Goodluck Jonathan, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and family, Nigeria and Delta State in particular.
Despite this historic and resounding victory over Ogboru, by Governor Uduaghan, it is doubtful if the DPP flag bearer had learnt any lessons. Indeed, it would not come as a surprise if the one time coup plotter heads for the Federal High Courts simply because Justice Onnoghen and his brother colleagues suggested that that was a likely way to reopen the case.
The supposition being that it was an opportunity to finally prove the point he tried to establish, albeit unsuccessfully at the Supreme Court. But to what aim, when Governor Uduaghan may have left office and his successor probably rounding off a first term? Perhaps to prove that he is an incurable masochist, sadist or raging swine plummeting down the hill, not knowing it was headed for doom.
Well, the truth is that the man is free to embark on a Freudian slip, albeit indefinitely. But it will be curious and Nigerians would want to know if The Peoples General, as Ogboru likes to be called would find Dr Osuala or any counsel of his ilk willing to put their neck up for the guillotine.
Deltans and Nigerians are waiting to see how Ogboru responds to the collapse of the Augean stable. It may well turn out to be a long wait if the man’s eyes are finally opened to the reality of the moment as well as the staccato dance by fate on his destiny. Indeed, for Great Ogboru, it may be said that his political empire has been dismantled and buried by Governor Uduaghan. May be.
Felix Ofou, is Press Secretary to the Delta State Governor