2015: You can’t stop us, North replies Babatope

Chief Ebenezer Babatope

Northern interest groups have reacted angrily to suggestions by Chief Ebenezer Babatope that northern politicians should wait until 2019 to vie for the Presidency.

Babatope had, while speaking at a public function in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State last week, asked the northerners to wait till 2019 to take a shot at the Presidency.

He said, “If Jonathan declares to contest the 2015 election, I will be among the people that will campaign for him. I submit it is right and proper that the Ijaw man, President Goodluck Jonathan, completes his term in 2019.

“After that, if I am still alive, I will be one of those that will fight to ensure the North have its turn in 2019,” Babatope said.

Reacting to this suggestion on Thursday, the convener of the Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed said Babatope lacked the moral authority to offer any advice to the North.

Junaid told Saturday PUNCH over the telephone in Abuja, on Thursday, that Chief Babatope was  part of a group of people around the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo who rejected a similar suggestion offered the late sage in 1979/ 1980.

As such, “For him now to come and start telling the North, you are talking about 85 million people over 70 per cent of the land mass of this country, you are telling them that they should wait until a certain date?

“And none of these people who are telling the North these things have justified what they are asking the North to do, what they are asking based on any rational ground.

“If you want somebody to wait for something, tell him why you want him to do that. Who is Babatope?

“He was one those who made a career vilifying everything northern.

“If these are the kind of people who expect the North to take advice from them, then we will tell them to go hang. We are not going to take their advice.”

Mohammed noted that democracy was a game of numbers, as such, shutting out the majority out of any of the processes was out of the question.

Speaking in a similar vein, the Northern Elders Forum said just like any other Nigerian, Babatope was entitled to his opinion.

Spokesman for the Forum Prof. Ango  Abdullahi, told Saturday PUNCH that it was one thing for a person to offer an advice and it remained the prerogative of the person being advised to do what he wanted with such a piece of advice.

He said, “Like every other Nigerian, Babatope is entitled to his opinion. He was even more charitable than some other individuals who were even suggesting that northerners should not even vie at all.”

Nigeria: Ibori: Prosecution’s last-minute ambush fails

It’s unfair on the defence, I am against it — Judge
As the assets confiscation hearing of the former Delta State Governor entered its final day, the Judge, His Honour Anthony Pitts, has rebuffed attempts by the British Crown prosecution to change the case upon which the confiscation proceedings have been built from the onset.

Crown Prosecutor, Sasha Wass, in her legal submission had inserted a totally different legal argument which according to the Judge in his ruling on the attempted new insertion by the prosecution said, “the goal-posts have been moved not just offside but off the pitch all together”.

The prosecution’s attempted legal argument which the judge ruled

Chief James Ibori

Chief James Ibori

against is known as Assumption 72AA 1995, that amended the Criminal Justice Act   1998.It was a total departure from the legal arguments with which the confiscation proceedings have been approached from the start of the confiscation proceedings, and would have moved the burden of proof to the defendant as against the original case which put the burden of proof on the prosecution.

James Ibori’s lead counsel Mr. Ivan Krolic in condemning the attempted move by the Prosecution to suddenly change their case after the defence and the prosecution have all made their final submissions and closed their cases said, “the crown has effectively ambushed the defence by the inclusion of the “Assumption”: “this is not how to go about litigation, I cannot recall a case where this has happened in the past”.

Admitting to the ambush as claimed by Krolic, the lead crown prosecutor, Sasha Wass said, “I agree it was something that was never raised or enquired about….but what your honour has to decide now, today is what, if any, the prejudice the defendant has suffered and if he has suffered any prejudice, how can it be redressed”.

While submitting on the sudden inclusion of the assumption of 72AA by the prosecution which the judge described as “a game changer”, Kroilc said, “this case has been closed, the crown’s inclusion should not be allowed”.

Ruling against the Crown prosecution, Judge Anthony Pitts further said, “the casual introduction at this stage is a game changer….I think It will be unfair to allow the prosecution to include the assumption   and I agree with Krolic tht it will be unfair and unjust to begin the proceedings again, I am not prepared to adjourn this hearing till 2014 or 2015. I do agree with Krolic”.

These proceedings all along have been based on Criminal Justice Act 1998 which places the burden of proof of the allegation against Ibori on the prosecution and this is the manner the hearing has been approached.

However, the sudden inclusion of assumption 72AA by the prosecution in the last minute after the defence has made their submission in the case fundamentally changed the case.

Assumption 72AA puts the burden of proof on the defendant. Meanwhile, the defendant has chosen not to appear personally in court to give evidence and   allowing the Assumption 72AA to be effective will have put the case against the defendant, Ibori. for choosing not give evidence in the case

– Via Vanguard