by Ayobami Olopade
When Gov. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers received members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Port Harcourt, Rivers recently, he told them that he was expecting to dance “on Monday.”
“You know why I have been dancing from the burial at Okrika? They (opponents) need to know that when you have God behind you, there is nobody before you. You have been hearing that they would remove me since 2007, have they succeeded? They have said again that they will remove me on Monday, November 11. That day I will dance here again to the glory of God,” he said.
The governor’s reference to November 11 was because that was the day set aside by the Supreme Court to deliver judgement in the appeal brought by the governor against attempts to remove him from office by his predecessor, Celestine Omehia.
However November 11 came and the verdict was that Amaechi would have to wait till next year for that dance (or dirge, which is what his opponents hope), as the Supreme Court deferred its ruling till January 7, 2014.
Justice Muntaka Coomasie, who presided over the case with four other judges fixed the date for judgement in the consolidated suit after listening to the submissions of the counsels for the Appellant and Respondent respectively. The Court also granted the application by the Counsel to PDP, Olusola Oke, seeking the leave of court for an extension of time to enable him file and serve his respondent’s brief and to adopt the briefs already filed and served.
A new twist was added when Mr Oke, who had opposed Omehia at the lower court, made a U-turn and started agitating for him at the Apex court, a situation which left many tongues wagging.
Counsel to the former governor, Nnoruka Udechukwu appeared dissatisfied with the new date because it comes very close to the next governorship election while the former governor’s supporters were disappointed when the court announced the new date for determination of the case.
Celestine Omehia was sacked by a Supreme Court judgement in 2007 after six months in office. The apex court had declared Amaechi as the rightful candidate of the PDP in the election that brought Omehia into office. Amaechi was subsequently sworn in in October, 2007.
In 2011, when Amaechi was contesting for re-election as Governor, INEC had published a timetable stipulating August, 2011 as the date for the election in Rivers. This was what Amaechi challenged with his counsel arguing before a Federal High court in Abuja that since the Supreme court had declared that PDP won the April 2007 election and not the candidate, his tenure should start counting on May 29, 2007 and not October 27,2007, when he was sworn in.
Justice Abdul Kafarati upheld this view stating that the six months Omehia spent in office was part of Amaechi’s tenure since the apex court only corrected an illegality which was in operation by the ccontinuousoccupation of the governorship position by Omehia.