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[January 15, 2014]
Court to Rule On Gwandu's Suit Against Jonathan January 17
(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Following the declaration of Tuesday January 14, 2014 as public holiday to celebrate Eid-el-Maulud the National Industrial Court, NIC, in Abuja had to again postpone ruling and judgment on the suit filed by the former Executive Commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Bashir Gwandu, against President Goodluck Jonathan from January 14, to January 17, 2014.
The court, had on October 23, 2013, after hearing the matter, stated that it would give its ruling on November 29, 2013 and on that day, decided to postpone the ruling until December 13, 2013.
However, the judgement could not be delivered on Friday December 13, 2013 due to engagement of the judges at the judges conference which led to its postponement to Tuesday, January, 14, 2014.
After a series of postponements the ruling has now been fixed for Friday, January 17, 2014.
The hearing having been concluded in respect of both preliminary objection and the substantive matter on October 23, 2013 when the case was adjourned for decision of the court, had now placed the court in danger of breaching the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended, should the decision go beyond January 21, 2014.
Section 294 (1) of the Constitution states "Every court established under this Constitution shall deliver its decision in writing not later than ninety days after the conclusion of evidence and final addresses and furnish all parties to the cause or matter determined with duly authenticated copies of the decision within seven days of the delivery thereof." According to a number of legal authorities such as Osafile & Anor. v. Odi & Anor, and also, Dominic Onuorah Ifezue v Livinus Mbadugha & Anr, if a decision is not made within 90 days then the case has to start De novo -meaning afresh.
Gwandu, whose appointment in the NCC was regulated by statute had asked the court to take judicial notice of the fact that his removal from office fell short of the set statutory procedure, and requested for the interpretation of Sections 8, 10(2),10(3) and 10(4) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, as well as an order of court for his re-instatement and payment of general damages if a breach of statutory procedure for his removal was established.
It would be recalled that Jonathan removed Gwandu hurriedly after he exposed a series of fraudulent, secret, and non-competitive sales of frequency spectrum, and spectrum fee waivers that could cost government over N53billion at a meeting chaired by the vice president on August 6, 2012.
In particular, Gwandu was removed from office as a Executive Commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on November 26, 2012, for three major frauds he exposed; first, selling of 450MHz Spectrum to an unlicensed company- OpenSkys Limited reportedly owned by Mr. Emeka Offor. OpenSkys paid only US $6 million for a license that should have fetched the nation over $50 million.
The arrangement has further incapacitated the new $470m police network, which has started falling apart.
The police appear to be helpless.
Secondly, the N1.029bn waiver applied for by the communications minister, Mrs. Omobola Johnson supposedly for three companies, and then granted only to MTS- a company that the NCC Chief Executive Officer, Dr Eugene Juwah in two separate interviews granted on June 16, 2007 and October. 12, 2012 admitted share ownership, at the expenses of the federal treasury and other telcos operating under similar conditions in the industry, noting that a similar type of waiver amounting to N242million granted by NCC to Mobitel was eventually agreed to be shared between sellers and new buyers.
The third issue he stood against was the sale of a 10MHz slot in the 800MHz spectrum-band to a South African company called Smile Communications Limited at about E13 million, only when exact equivalent spectrums were sold in Germany, Italy, France and UK for E1.153billion, E992million, E891million and E631million respectively, the UK earning slightly lower amount due to imposed strict coverage obligations. In a related development, a few days ago, Belgium, a country of just 11 Million people, raised E120m for each of the 3 slots of the 800MHz Spectrum generating a revenue of E360m, and in a rather complicated mixture of 4G Spectrum slots Netherlands was, only recently, able to raise Euros E3.8billion from the 4G auction.
Dr Bashir Gwandu stood against the NCCs secret non-competitive sale of the 800MHz and the 450MHz Spectrums because the sale breached clear provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, Nigerian Procurement Act 2007, and the NCC Spectrum Pricing Regulation.
In particular, the sale has breached Nigerian Communications Act 2003 Sections 1(e), 4(1)(d), 4(2), 33(3) as well as Public Procurement Act 2007 Sections 55(3), 56(3), 57(5,6) and also Spectrum Pricing regulations s. 2(a) and s. 2(c) and s. 4 of the Regulation.
The promoters of Smile Communications are currently facing bribery allegations that culminated into a $4.2billion legal claim from Turckcell, the Turkish Telecom giant.
Turkcell originally filed a suit in a US. court last year, which it later withdrew as a result of jurisdiction issues in which it claimed that that the former MTN executive Irene Charnley who is now the promoter of Smile Communications "acted wrongfully" and interfered with Turkcell's relationship with the Iranian government.
The alleged interference involved "corrupt acts" including "promises of bribes and the bestowing of gifts and favors to Iranian and South African Government officials," reportedly said in the new Turkcell filing in Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg as reported by Reuters.
Copyright Leadership. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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