Come to think about it; CAN THE SUPREME COURT REVERSE ITSELF?
Under the doctrine of stare decisis, the Supreme Court is bound by its previous decisions. As such there had been cases where the judgment of the Supreme Court stunned a section of the public but the court didn’t reverse its judgement when approached. The Supreme Court can’t entertain, hear, determine any Appeal or application connected with that election Appeal. The judgment, as it is, is binding, conclusive and can’t be set aside, reversed or touched by any person, including the Supreme Court itself.
The Supreme Court is the Apex Court; the highest Court in Nigeria and its decision by virtue of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is final.
IS THIS CASE TIME BARRED?
Section 285(7) states that an appeal from a decision of an election tribunal or Court of Appeal in an election matter shall be heard and disposed of within 60 days.
Election petition tribunal has 180 days to rule on election matters. In the same vein, the Court of Appeal is expected to deliver its ruling within 60 days and same with the Supreme Court. The Imo governorship petition judgement of the Court of Appeal was delivered on 19th of November 2019. The Supreme Court had up till 17th January 2020 to dispose of its appeal. Beyond 17/1/2020, the Supreme Court can’t hear the matter again.
In the APC Zamfara state matter which voided all APC votes in 2019, the APC legal team filed an application for review of the Supreme Court judgement. The Supreme Court, through Hon Justice Rhodes-Vivour, threw away the appeal and held that the APPLICATION WAS TIME BARRED AND THAT THE COURT LACKED JURISDICTION IN THE MATTER. JUSTICE RHODES-VIVOUR held that it was an abuse asking the Apex Court to review its judgement or orders.
WE CAN’T SIT ON APPEAL OVER OUR OWN DECISION, WE NO LONGER HAVE JURISDICTION OVER THIS MATTER.
CAN THE SUPREME COURT MAKE MISTAKE?
Yes, the Supreme Court has a right to make mistakes. Justice Aloysius Kastina-Alu of Rtd CJN stated in CELESTINE OMEHIA Vs ROTIMI AMECHI that THE SUPREME COURT HAS A RIGHT TO MAKE MISTAKE. The Apex Court decision remains final regardless of whether it was rightly or wrongly entered. The Rtd CJN had urged anybody aggrieved to the Court’s decision to appeal to heaven where God Almighty reigns supreme and not in Nigeria where they held sway, adding that only God can reverse the judgment.
DID THE SUPREME COURT MAKE MISTAKE?
The answer is an EMPHATIC NO.
Anybody that has followed the Hope Uzodinma matter from the election petition tribunal will agree that he and APC prepared their case and stated what they wanted. They were clear on the relief they sought, and Hope/APC legal team did a superlative work, proving their case.
One would not forget that the Court of Appeal delivered two judgements on 19/11/2019; one is the majority judgement and then the 69-page MINORITY judgement. The minority judgement was a highly collegial, well thought out judgement by the most senior Justice in the panel. From that day it became clear that Hope Uzodinma will win the game. His ruling found the petition and Appeal of Hope Uzodinma and APC competent. This minority judgement declared Hope Uzodinma of APC winner of the March 9th GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION in Imo state, and awarded N1,000,000. cost against PDP/Emeka Ihedioha.
Emeka Ihedioha filed appeal at the Supreme Court to challenge the minority judgement but his team of lawyers failed woefully to convince the learned justices of the Supreme Court to upturn the judgment.
THE 7 MEMBER PANEL THAT DELIVERED JUDGEMENT ON 14/1/2020 DID NOT MAKE ANY MISTAKES IN UPHOLDING THE MINORITY JUDGEMENT OF THE COURT OF APPEAL.
WHAT OF THE ISSUE OF EXCLUDED VOTES AND TOTAL NUMBER OF VOTES CAST?
Right from the tribunal, SENATOR Hope Uzodinma had complained that his votes from a whopping 388 poling units and mainly where he was heavily voted for, were wickedly excluded by INEC and collaborators. During the hearing at the tribunal, Hope/APC called witnesses and tendered documents to buttress their claims but INEC could not provide any to abort Hope’s claims. People, out of ignorance calculated the total votes cast to mean the ones they and INEC chose to include. The right thing to do is to put together the votes they included plus the votes that were hitherto excluded. This is what the Court of Appeal, and then Supreme Court did to arrive at the total votes cast. When all these are put together, Hope Uzodinma of APC scored the highest number of votes and satisfied the Constitutional requirements of geographical spread and HOPE UZODINMA WAS DECLARED WINNER AND DULLY ELECTED.
CAN NEW ISSUES BE BROUGHT IN AND CANVASSED AT THE SUPREME COURT?
The answer again is NO.
Everything considered, looking at the Law and the above precedence, calls for the reversal of the Supreme Court judgement on the Imo state Governorship election will not serve any purpose other than warning the political space.
At the fullness of time, the SUPREME COURT will decline to review the concluded case and dismiss same as reckless, provocative, mere waste of precious time of court and lacking in MERIT, with a heavy cost against the petitioner.