Court Dismisses Omehia Suit Seeking Reinstatement As Rivers Former Governor

The Rivers State High Court has dismissed the suit filed in the form of an originating summon by Celestine Omehia, seeking to reinstate his recognition as a former governor of Rivers State.

celestine omehia

The court held that by the Supreme Court Judgement on Amaechi vs INEC & two others, Omehia remained an imposter and a pretender in the office of the governor of Rivers state.

Omehia had in 2022 filed the originating summon challenging the decision of the Rivers State House of Assembly to derecognise him as a former governor and the action of former governor Nyesom Wike to grant his assent and gazette the House decision.

He named the Governor of Rivers State, Attorney-General of Rivers State, the Rivers State House of Assembly, and the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly as defendants.

The government stripped him of the governorship status, removed him as a beneficiary of the Rivers State Former Governors and Deputy Governors Pension and Fringe Benefit Law No 6 of 2012 and asked him to refund N696,520,355.40 it erroneously paid him.

Omehia among other declarative reliefs he sought wanted the court to declare that upon a proper construction of provisions 1 and 4 of the pension law and the Rivers State of Nigeria Official Gazette no 5 dated March 2nd 2012, he was a former governor and entitled to pensions and other benefits.

He sought another declaration that upon a proper construction of the provisions of sections 1 and 4 of the pension law, the defendants cannot derecognise him as a former governor.

He prayed for an order setting aside and nullifying the resolution of the legislative sitting of the fourth session of the ninth Assembly of the third defendants made on 6th October 2022 cancelling the instruments of his derecognition.

But Justice Daketima Kio in his judgement that lasted over two hours held that after a broad, holistic and proper interpretation of the pension and Fringe benefits law, the claimant, Omehia, failed to establish a legal right to be entitled to all the declarative and Injustice reliefs he sought from the court.

Kio said: “The claimant never held the office of the governor in the eyes of the law as he vacated that office before the expiration of his time for that office in breach of the provision of the 1999 Constitution as altered.

READ ALSO: Court Orders Arrest Of C & S Prophet, Elewuodo For Jumping Bail

While further interpreting sections 1 and 4 of the pension law, the judge who read the entire sections ruled that its purpose was to provide pension and other fringe benefits for the former governor and deputy governor of Rivers State.

He said: “The main issue in this case is one of interpretation and application of provisions of Section 1 and four of the Rivers State former governor and deputy governor pension and fringe benefits law 2012.

“It is necessary to state that while sections 125 (5) of the constitution limited itself to those removed from office as a governor or deputy governor as a result of impeachment, the Rivers State pension explained the status of those, who shall not be entitled to pension under the said law if such a governor or deputy governor was removed from office for a breach of any provision of the Constitution.

“With this overwhelming documentary evidence, I hope that upon the facts as presented, the claimant has not discharged all burdens on him to be entitled to the reliefs he sought in the originating summons.

“The documentary evidence of the claimant could not advance his own case. The same House of Assembly that has the authority to recognise him has also withdrawn the recognition accorded to him.

“The claimant was unable to show the existence of any legal right which was breached by the defendants. He has not established the existence of a legal right in his affidavit in support of the originating summon to be entitled to the declarative reliefs sought from this court”.

On the request of the defendants that Omehia should be compelled to refund N696,520,355.40 they wrongly paid to him,  Justice Kio ruled that the defendants paid the funds in their own violation and could not legitimately demand the refund paid wrongly by themselves.

Besides, the court posited that the defendant’s counterclaim could not be entertained in an originating summons of the defendant.

READ ALSO: Court Sentences Chinese To Death For Killing Nigerian Girlfriend

He said if they were desirous of retrieving the money, they should initiate a fresh proceeding for that purpose and not make demands on the claimant’s originating summon.

Justice Kio said: “This submission is in the form of a counterclaim which an originating proceeding should not partake in. There is nothing like counter-originating summons in law.

“This court seems to agree with the claimant’s counsel that these funds were earned legitimately under the resolution of the House of Assembly. The claimant did not apply to be considered and recognised as a former Governor of Rivers State.

“The House of Assembly granted the status as a former Governor with full knowledge of the judgement of the Supreme Court. The claimant cannot be made to suffer the wrongs of the defendants. Demanding the refund of the funds is not only impracticable but also amounts to doing the impossible.

“The defendants cannot legitimately demand the refund of the money paid wrongly to the defendants in the originating summon initiated by the claimant. If the defendants are interested in reclaiming this money they should have to go to court”.

Explaining further on his decision to dismiss the claimant’s originating summons, the judge said his court was bound to follow the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Amaechi vs INEC, which had described Omehia as an impostor and pretender, who was never a candidate of the PDP nor a former governor.

“Once the supreme Court takes a decision that decision has the backing of the Constitution. This court therefore finds and holds that the perceived rights to the relief sought by the claimant is irrevocably extinguished by the Judgement of the Supreme Court in Rt Hon Rotimi Ameachi against INEC and two others which held that Omehia remains no more than a pretender to the office of Governor of Rivers State.”

“On the whole, the originating summons dated the 18th day of October 2022 being destitute of any merit should be dismissed because the claimant has failed to make out a case to justify the grounds of his declarative and injunctive reliefs sought of this honourable court”

“The exhibit which the claimant sought to rely on further exposed the poverty of his case in justifying this court to dismiss his case.”


Trending Video Of The Day;
Photo Credit: Getty

Leave a Reply