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Published On: Wed, Mar 4th, 2020

Imo Guber: Supreme Court affirms Uzodimma’s election

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By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja

The Supreme Court, yesterday, dismissed the appeal by Senator Emeka Ihedioha, praying it to review its judgment of 14th February that sack him as the Governor of Imo State, and affirmed Governor Hope Uzodimma’s election.
A seven-man panel of justices of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, gave the ruling after hearing the submissions of the both parties.
In a dissenting judgment of six-to-one, the panel described the application by Ihedioha as an invitation to sit in an appeal over its judgment.
Disagreeing with the majority judgment, Justice Centus Nweze held that the Supreme Court had the power to overrule itself in a desirous situation.
The Apex court in its majority judgment read by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, also discountenanced the preliminary objection filed by the applicant respondent.
The court held that Order 8, rule 16 of the Supreme court said the court ‘’shall not’’ review its order.
‘’ The court is not authorized and lack jurisdiction to review the judgment delivered on 14 January, 2020.
‘’By the provisions of the rules of this court, it shall not review any judgment given and delivered by the court unless to correct some clerical mistakes or some errors rising from any accidental slip or mission or to bury judgment or order so as to clear the meaning or intention, order made against the party in default.
‘’The court has no power under any applicant in the action to alter or vary a judgment or order after delivering. The decision is final.
‘’This court stood firmly that it lacks the jurisdiction. It is settled law that this court has no power to sit on an appeal over its own judgment.
‘’It certainly has no coherent power to assume jurisdictions to sit on a matter not within its jurisdiction. It is beyond competence of this court.
‘’There is no constitutional provisions for the review of the judgment of the Supreme Court by itself, therefore, once it delivers a final judgment.
‘’The justices that man the court are of course fallible but their decisions are constitutional intents and therefore infallible.
‘’Any attempt by the counsel to set aside or circumvent the decision of the supreme court, should be met with stiff resistance, the apex court held.
In the dissenting judgment, Justice Centus Nwaeze held that It is better to admit an error than to progress in error.
In his ruling he maintained that the judgment of the supreme court on Imo is a wonder which can never end, adding that the total number of registered voters, accredited voters and actual voters cannot be rationalise.
He therefore, ordered Senator Hope Uzodimma to return the certificate of return and vacate office immediately and a fresh certificate be immediately issue to Ihedioha.
Earlier, Ihedioha and the PDP, through their counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, urged the apex court to review and set-aside the judgement they argued was entered in error.
However, Uzodinma and the APC, through Mr. Damian Dodo, SAN, prayed the court to reaffirm its decision by dismissing the fresh application they said constituted an abuse of court process.
On its part, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which is the 3rd Respondent, through its lawyer, Mr. Taminu Inuwa, SAN, said it would abide by the decision of the apex court.
Arguing his case, Agabi, SAN, said his clients were only praying the apex court to correct a mistake that occasioned a great miscarriage of justice against them.
“We are not here to challenge the authority of this court. We respect the supremacy of this court and we recognise that your judgement is final.
‘’ It is better the aggrieved party come to you and express their grievances than stay at home and grumble.
‘’If we can go to God in prayer to change his mind, so also we have come before this court to change its mind.
The former AGF posited that judgment of the Court of Appeal that struck out Uzodinma’s petition for being incompetent was not decided by the Supreme Court.
‘’ It was only results from 366 polling units were in issue , whereas the court erroneously made reference to 388 polling units.
“No indication was given as to what the results were in respect of the 22 polling units.
Agabi submitted, adding that from the computation of the apex court, the total number of votes cast at the election exceeded the total number of accredited voters by over 100, 000 votes.
‘’The number of votes cast exceeded the number of accredited by over 100,000
‘’How did they do the magic of providing result of 388 of which there was 366 polling units.
“It was a fatal error”,
He maintained that it was wrong for the apex court to declare Uzodinma winner of an election he adjudged to be flawed.
On the strength of section 6(6) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, to reverse itself on the matter, Agabi pleaded,
“My lords, when I was a child my father will beat me to cry and also beat me to stop. My Lords please we are crying, do not treat us like my father did. I urge you set aside that judgment.
“My lords are human and can make mistake, but the law has given you power to correct yourselves so that your mistakes are not immortalized”, Agabi pleaded.
However, Uzodinma and the APC urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the application and re-affirm its earlier verdict that sacked Ihedioha from office.
They maintained that the application seeking the apex court to review its judgment is incompetence.
“There is a total lack of jurisdiction on this court to revisit its judgment of January 14. Whether the application is characterized as an application for review or classified as an application to set-aside, or howsoever it is dressed.
‘’ There was no clerical error or accidental slip to be corrected in the judgment.

“In this case, there is no doubt whatsoever about the decision of this Court. Therefore, the invitation this review or set-aside is not tenable. The dignity if this court must be respected.

“The application is incompetent and should be dismissed because there is no jurisdiction. It is a deliberate invitation for this court to sit on appeal over its judgment and the law does not allow that.

“The question of conflicting or inconsistent reliefs does not arise in this matter.

The judgment of this court had clearly set-aside the decision of the lower court in all its ramifications.

‘’Ihedioha’s submission that there is an aspect of the lower court decision striking out the petition that was not considered by this court, is totally untenable.

“The order of this court setting aside the decision of the lower court was a tsunami that clear its all.

We, therefore, urge that our preliminary objection is sustained.

‘’ The application should be dismissed for gross abuse of court process.’’

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