FORMER Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, has written Senate President Bukola Saraki, asking him not to take any action on the White Paper issued by Governor Nyesom Wike against him and his administration and the petition sent to the Senate by Livingstone Wechie accusing him of corruption.
Amaechi, who is a ministerial nominee from Rivers State have been having a running battle with the State government and its lawmakers, who are opposed to his nomination and appointment by President Muhamadu Buhari.
The state and the lawmakers want Amaechi to be dropped, accusing him of having made the state to lose huge revenue when he was governor for eight years. The opposition against him informed the postponement of his screening twice last week when 18 other nominees were cleared by the upper legislative chamber.
But Amaechi through his lawyer, Edward E. Pepple of Edward and Williams and Co, in the letter made available to Saturday Vanguard, yesterday, said the entirety of the so-called petition and white paper ran foul of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and should not be acted upon pending the hearing and determination of the suits on the matters.
The governor pointed out that while he would not be forced to speak on a matter that is already before a court of competent jurisdiction, the petitioner, Livingstone Wechie and Governor Wike’s White paper were deliberately intended to smear him and expose him to ridicule before the public and should therefore be discarded.
Amaechi contended that the Supreme Court had made adequate pronouncements concerning the constitution of a judicial commission of enquiry and the fact that such pronouncements do not have the effect of a court verdict and asked the Senate to take note of how the Rivers State government was trying to subvert the law.
Quoting copiously from decided cases, the governor said: “This position of the law has been upheld and reaffirmed severally by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. In the case of DOHERTY V. BALEWA (1961-1962) NSCC (page 248) at 257, lines 35-50, the Supreme Court in a similar situation with the instant case held as follows:
“The power of the commission to impose imprisonment is clearly contrary to the provisions of Section 20, and this was not disputed by the Attorney-General. This must also apply to the power to impose a fine, which is enforceable by imprisonment.
In these circumstances we would hold that Sections 8, 15 and 18 are invalid to the extent that they purport to empower a Commissioner to inflict a punishment of a fine or imprisonment that the Sections should be “read down” accordingly.”
“Similarly, in the celebrated case in which our client was declared the elected Governor of Rivers State [AMAECHI vs. INEC & ORS (2008) 5 NWLR (PT 1080), page 227, at 306, para E-F], some political interests acting with the intention of preventing our client from pursuing his Governorship mandate which was in dispute at the time, did set up an Administrative Panel of Inquiry and purported to have indicted him, as is been repeated at the moment, the Supreme Court held that:
“A Judicial Commission of Inquiry or an Administrative Panel is not the same thing as a Court of law or its equivalent. Because a Court of Law operates within a judicial hierarchy any person wrongly convicted is enabled to contest his conviction to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. This is a right granted by the Constitution of Nigeria”
“In the case of EGBUNIWE V. FGN (2010), 2 NWLR (PT 1178), page 348, at 368, para C-D, the Court held that:
“The Constitution is clear as to who should perform judicial acts. And since it is the exclusive function of the judiciary to exercise judicial function, any member of the executive who interferes with those functions must be prepared to face the consequences of such interloping conduct by way of an action by a person aggrieved”.