Supreme Court verdict on Ihedioha irreversible, say Agbakoba, others
SENIOR lawyers on Thursday said the Supreme Court cannot reverse its judgment on the Imo State governorship election.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the immediate swearing-in of Senator Hope Uzodinma, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the March 9 election.
He replaced Chief Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was in office for seven months.
PDP accused the Justices of compromise and demanded a review of the judgment.
But, Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), including Chief Ifedayo Adedipe, Dr Olisa Agbakoba, Mr Ahmed Raji, Babatunde Fashanu and Dr Paul Ananaba, said the decision was irreversible.
Adedipe believes the PDP was “talking politics”, saying the party could not be making “a serious call”.
“The Supreme Court is the final court of the land. Their decisions can only be changed by legislation.
“The provisions in the Supreme Court Act for a review of judgment has to do with correcting clerical mistakes.
“Besides that, the court cannot revisit any decision it has rendered. The PDP’s call, with profound respect, is mischievous,” he said.
Adedipe added that such a call from a major political party “is unfortunate”.
For Agbakoba, the demand is unrealistic.
He said: “The demand is not feasible as it is a final judgment and not amenable to review.”
Raji said while the Supreme Court rules allow for a review in a very limited way, there are other factors to be considered.
“If their case can be accommodated under the rules and the decided authorities on the point, why not? But the greatest challenge will be the 60-day time-limit.
“The position of the court is that after 60 days from the date of the judgment of the Court of Appeal in an election petition, the Supreme Court ceases to have jurisdiction. That is the hurdle!” Raji said.
Fashanu said the Supreme Court was functus officio in the matter and cannot revisit the case.
“A court can only revisit a case in which it has delivered judgment if the judgment is a nullity e.g. if the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case or if the judgment was obtained by fraud.
“Nothing like that is being alleged here. So, let the loser wait for another election,” he advised.
Dr Ananaba said the Supreme Court decision was final.
He added that every citizen has a right to request for a judgment to be reviewed and that it is for the Supreme Court to decide whether or not to grant the request.
According to him, there have been previous applications in the past asking the court to review its judgment.
“An aggrieved person can make such a request. It is left for the Supreme Court to grant it or not,” he said.
Asked if an apex court can reverse itself, he said: “Yes, why not? But it is only the Supreme Court that can review its judgment.
“The Supreme Court in many cases has departed from its previous judgment but most times from another appeal.
“Because they are human, they can change their minds on a particular principle of thought.
“But I don’t know if they would finally want to review in this case. They may agree or may not agree. But by and large, their decision is final,” Ananaba said.
The PDP promised to seek a review of the verdict which it described as a “recipe for crisis and a coup” against it and the Imo people.
The apex court held that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was wrong to have excluded results from 318 polling units from the votes recorded for Uzodinma.
The votes scored by Uzodinma and his party in the 318 polling units and which the court held was unlawfully excluded were put at 213, 695. The court added that Ihedioha and the PDP scored1, 903 in the polling units said to be located in Uzodinma’s stronghold.
Ihedioha expressed disappointment with the verdict, saying it was “unfair and unjust”.
The PDP described the judgment as a miscarriage of justice.
It requested Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, to step down while the six other justices that decided the matter should recuse themselves from the remaining election petition cases pending at the apex court.
The pending cases are those of Sokoto, Kano , Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue and Plateau states.
National Chairman of the PDP Uche Secondus said: “That the Supreme Court, as presently constituted under Justice Tanko Mohammad has become heavily compromised; lost its credibility and is now annexed to the ignoble agenda of the APC-led Federal Government against the Nigerian people.
“That the judgment of the Supreme Court voiding the lawful election of Hon. Emeka Ihedioha (who scored 276,404 votes) and awarding fictitious votes to declare Hope Uzodimma of the APC, who scored 96, 458 votes as governor of Imo State, is highly irrational, unfounded, a provocative product of Executive manipulation and a recipe for crisis, which should not be allowed to stand.
“With the verdict, the Supreme Court executed a coup against the PDP and the people of Imo State as well as other Nigerians, and such must not be allowed to have a place in our democracy.”
Querying the validity of the judgment, Secondus pointed out that the 127,209 votes added to the votes of the APC candidate, Hope Uzodinma, by the apex court could not be justified.
He said the votes added to the APC candidate shot the total votes cast at the election above the number of accredited voters, as contained in the record of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to him, while the INEC figure of accredited voters stood at 823,743, the apex court, through its judgment, shot the number to 950,952. This, according to him, is in excess of accredited voters in the election.
The PDP Chairman also queried the allotment of the entire votes in the disputed 388 polling units to Uzodinma, saying that going by INEC records, election did not take place in those poling units as a result of violence and other disruptive activities on election day.
Secondus said: “The so-called results from the 388 polling units were rightfully rejected, in line with several decisions of the Supreme Court, by the Tribunal and Court of Appeal as they were merely dumped on the tribunal in a Ghana-must- go bags by a policeman who had no mandate of the police to testify at the tribunal.
“The tribunal did not even open the bags as there was no basis to do so. It is one of the great wonders of the world how the Supreme Court opened the bag, counted the results and added them to only the APC candidate.
“What is more perplexing is the fact that INEC produced a schedule of reasons why results were not produced from the 388 units.
“Indeed, election did not even take place in most of the units for one reason or another, like violence, etcetera and so no result could possibly be obtained from those units.
“None of the candidates or their counsel, except perhaps APC, as we speak, are aware of the number of votes scored by each party from the 388 polling units.
“The tribunal or Court of Appeal did not mention or ascribe any figure from the units to any party in their decisions.
“In fact, in the cross examination of the APC candidate, Sen. Hope Uzodinma, he could not read any figure from the ‘Oluwole’ results.
“He said that the figures were not clear. And so it beats our imagination where the Supreme Court conjured and manufactured the figures it used in declaring Uzodinma of the APC as duly elected.”
Secondus raised questions as to the propriety of the apex court to formulate and allocate votes as election results where such votes were not certified by INEC as required by law.
He said, “The fact is that, the Supreme Court, as presently constituted under Justice Tanko, has lost its credibility and no longer commands the respect and confidence of Nigerians.
“If the people no longer repose confidence in the Supreme Court, then our democracy, national cohesion and stability are at great risk.
“The constitution of the panel that heard the appeal itself was a product of drama. The panel was changed three times and any judge that showed signs of not agreeing to murder democracy in this case was promptly removed by the CJN.
“The result had to be unanimous to satisfy the script of rationality.
“But can any judge who sat on that panel go home and sleep well? Can any judge who sat on that panel face his Creator and swear that impartial justice was done? We think not.
“We had intelligence before the verdict on the Imo governorship that the hierarchy of APC had decided that they must use the Supreme Court to capture the states won and controlled by the PDP such as Imo, Sokoto, Bauchi, Adamawa and Benue.
“Can the PDP rightly trust the impartiality and independence of the panel headed by Justice Tanko Mohammed, the CJN, to adjudicate on the remaining cases involving the PDP like Kano, Sokoto, Benue, Bauchi, Adamawa, Plateau and others?
“Is the same fate awaiting the governors of these states that are controlled by the PDP and other states like Kano where the PDP clearly won and was robbed?
“Should Justice Tanko Mohammed and his colleagues on the Imo governorship panel not recuse themselves from the remaining cases involving PDP?
“The PDP firmly holds that if the flawed judgment of the Supreme Court on Imo governorship election is allowed to stand, it would be a recipe for anarchy, chaos and constitutional crisis not only in Imo state but in the entire country.
“Our party has it in good authority that Justice Tanko and his panel are working on instruction of certain forces in the Presidency to use the Supreme Court to take over states lawfully won by the PDP and award them to the APC.
“The PDP therefore advises Justice Tanko not to allow himself to be used to push our nation to the path of anarchy and constitutional crisis as any further attempt to subvert justice in the pending petitions on Sokoto, Bauchi, Benue, Adamawa as well as Kano and Plateau states will be firmly and vehemently resisted.
“In other to avoid an imminent breakdown of law and order, the PDP demands that Justice Tanko Mohammed immediately steps down as CJN and chairman of the National Judicial Council as Nigerians have lost confidence in him and a Supreme Court under his leadership.
“Justice Tanko must not head the panel to determine the remaining election petitions before the Supreme Court.”
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