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Court orders NNPC to pay N10.6m to veteran journalist over unlawful barricade

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A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday awarded the sum of N10.6 million damages against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for unlawfully blocking the highway in front of its Corporate Headquarters in Abuja, which led to a ghastly motor accident.

The amount was awarded in favour of a veteran journalist, His Royal Highness, Eze Geo Anika, whose Peugeot 406 with registration number DP 41 EKY was damaged beyond repairs in 2012 as a result of the unlawful blockade.

Delivering judgment in a suit instituted against the NNPC, Justice Babatunde Quadiri agreed with the plaintiff that the NNPC was negligent in blocking the highway without road signs as required by law.

The Judge held that the evidence of the witnesses to the monarch that concrete barriers were placed on the highway by the NNPC to avert an attack from Boko Haram terrorists were not faulted.

Justice Quadri further held that the claims of the plaintiff regarding the accident and the documents tendered to support his claims were not controverted by the NNPC or its witnesses.

The Judge rejected the claim of the NNPC that the federal government, through the National Security Adviser NSA, was responsible for the placing of the concrete barriers around the NNPC towers without road signs, adding that throughout the proceedings, no single witness was invited to substantiate the claim.

Justice Quadri further rejected another claim by the NNPC that recklessness and over speeding on the part of the plaintiff was responsible for the accident.

The Judge said that the totality of evidence from the side of the police indicated that the accident was caused along with four others by the unlawful placement of concrete barriers on the road the same day.

The Judge, therefore, awarded N5.1 million in favour of the Eze as the cost of a damaged vehicle, another N5 million as special damages, while N500,000 was granted as the cost of litigation.

The veteran journalist had dragged the NNPC to Court for illegally blocking the highways within its multi-billion Naira Towers in Abuja without notifications or road signs or warnings.

The traditional ruler in the suit instituted on his behalf by his counsel Mr Malachy Nwekpe had prayed the Court to compel the NNPC to pay him a sum of N50m as damages for allegedly causing him a fatal accident.

In an amended statement of claims, the veteran broadcaster sought N44m as special damages, N5.1m as cost of his damaged car and another N.5m as cost of prosecuting his case against the NNPC.

In the claims, the former FRCN Judicial Editor wanted the Court to hold the NNPC responsible for the fatal accident as a result of an alleged act of utter negligence and disregard to highway control.

In his statement of claim, the veteran broadcaster claimed that on April 1, 2012, he drove on the highway in front of the NNPC towers to his Radio House office without any form of concrete barriers on the road.

He averred that while returning from work on the same day around 11 pm, his Peugeot 406 car with registration No. DP 41 EKY was involved in a ghastly accident caused by the concrete barriers allegedly placed on the road by the NNPC officials to safeguard the towers at the expense of the road users without any road signs or warning signal.

The plaintiff claimed that it took the intervention of the spirited public Nigerians who rushed him to a General Hospital while the car got damaged beyond repairs by the concrete barriers.

He further contended that all efforts to make NNPC compensate him for the incurred medical expenses and damage to his car were rebuffed by the corporation.

The plaintiff further averred that instead, the NNPC wrote his counsel claiming that it was the security agents of the federal government that placed the concrete barriers on the road and should be held responsible.

He claimed that soon after the accident, he retired from public service and could not replace his car or meet expenses on further medical treatment of his chest.

Elder Anika, therefore, prayed the federal high court to hold that NNPC was responsible for the placement of the concrete barriers without any warning signals to unsuspecting road users.

He also sought a court declaration that the sudden placement of the concrete barriers without relevant signs and warnings was wrongful.

The veteran journalist also asked the Court to declare that the NNPC and federal government, which is a joint defendant in the suit, were vicariously liable for the accident and consequent injury and damage caused him by the wrongful placement of barriers.

He, therefore, claimed N5.1m as the cost of the car, N44.1m as special damages and another N500,000 as the cost of the litigation.
(Daily Post)

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Ebonyi Head of Service Position: Umahi Throws Application Open

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Against the usual practice of picking from the top echelon of the Civil Service,  Ebonyi State Governor, Chief David Umahi on Tuesday threw the position of Head of Service (HoS) of the state open, asking civil servants on Grade Level 14 and above to apply within two weeks.

Umahi, in a statement by the Commissioner of Information and State Orientation, Mr Uchenna Orji, said civil servants across the 13 LGAs of the state are qualified to apply within two weeks.

“The Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi requests applications from Civil Servants from Grade Level 14 and above to fill the vacancy of the Head Of Service (HOS), who shall be bowing out of Civil Service on 30th June 2021 after a meritorious and selfless service to the government and people of Ebonyi State,” the statement read in part.

The Governor further directed the civil servants to forward their applications to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG): “All applications are to be addressed to the Secretary to the State Government and Coordinating Commissioner, and submitted with all relevant credentials no later than 30th June, 2021.

Umahi added that “In replacing the outgoing Head of Service, the Government will be looking for the best for the State to continue the good work that the outgoing Head of Service began.

He applauded the loyalty, committed efforts and selfless service rendered by the out-going Head Of Service, Dr. Chamberlain Nwele, in the state and wished him well in his future endeavours.

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Federal High Court Issues New Practice Direction For Filing Of Processes As Workers Resume

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The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court (FHC), Justice John Tsoho, has issued a new practice direction on exemption of payment of default fees for filing of processes.

The development, according to a statement by Catherine Oby-Nwandu, Chief Information Officer of FHC, on Friday night, followed the resumption of work after the two-month strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) was called off on on Wednesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that JUSUN had, on April 6, shut down all courts nationwide to demand for financial autonomy for the judiciary at the state level.

Although the industrial action was called off on Wednesday, June 9, the workers union directed all its members to resume work on Monday, June 14.

Justice Tsoho, in the statement, therefore ordered that notwithstanding the provisions of Order 48 Rule 4 of the court rules, 2019, on computation of time for filling of court proceedings as provided by the Rules and payment of default fees for extension of time, the period covering the JUSUN strike action would be exempted.

The statement reads: “Following the resumption of work after the strike action by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) from 6th day of April, 2021 to 14th day of June 2021 which affected court proceedings and filling of processes, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Honorable Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, announces to Hon. Judges, stakeholders and the general public, the essential need for a new Practice Direction on EXEMPTION OF PAYMENT OF DEFAULT FEES FOR FILING OF PROCESSES computation of time for the payment of default fees for extension of time for filing processes in the Federal High Court of Nigeria for the above period.

“Pursuant to the powers conferred on him, he thereby issues the following Practice Directions:
“COMPUTATION of Time for filing of court processes and payment of default fees for extension of time;
“Notwithstanding the provisions of Order 48 Rule 4 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2019 on computation of time for filling of court proceedings or doing an act as provided by the Rules and payment of default fees for extension of time thereof, the period covering the JUSUN strike action, being from 6th day of April, 2021 to 14th day of June, 2021, is hereby exempted.

“APPLICABILITY; These practice Directions shall, save to the extent or as may be otherwise directed by the Chief Judge, apply to both criminal and civil causes and matters in the Federal High Court of Nigeria.

“CITATION; These Practice Directions shall be cited as the Federal High Court (Exemption of Payment of Default Fees for Filing of Processes) Practice Directions (No. 2) 2021.

“The Practice Directions take effect from Tuesday, June 15, 2021.”(NAN)

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BUHARI REMOVES ARMSTRONG IDACHABA, REPLACES HIM WITH SHEHU ILELAH AS NBC DG.

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Mr Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, as the new director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the appointment in a statement made available to NAN in Abuja on Friday.

The statement said Ilelah’s appointment is for a tenure of five years in the first instance.

Ilelah

It added that Ilelah is a veteran broadcaster.

Ilelah takes over from the acting director-general of the agency, Armstrong Idachaba, who had been acting since the removal of Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, the esthwhile director-general who was removed over alleged corruption last year.

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