Bayelsa: Why Supreme Court dismissed APC’s review application

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed an application filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) asking it to reverse a judgement that sacked David Lyon as governor-elect of Bayelsa State.

In a unanimous judgement, a seven-member panel of the apex court led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta held that the application by the APC and Mr Lyon lacked merit and that it (court) lacked the jurisdiction to review its own judgement.

A five-member panel of the apex court led by Mary Odili, had on February 13, nullified the election of Mr Lyon on the grounds that his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, presented false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in aid of his qualification for the November 16 governorship election in the state.

The apex court, in the judgement delivered by Ejembi Eko, consequently ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Messrs Lyon and Degi-Eremienyo.

The court also ordered that INEC should immediately declare the party with the highest number of lawful votes and geographical spread the winner of the election.

The PDP and its governorship candidate, Mr Diri, had filed a suit against Messrs Lyon and Degi-Eremienyo, and INEC, seeking the disqualification of the APC deputy governorship candidate.

They had claimed that Mr Degi-Eremienyo gave false information in his CF 0001 form submitted to INEC.

Not satisfied with the apex court’s judgement, APC, through their lawyers, Wole Olanipekun and Lateef Fagbemi, respectively, on February 20, filed their application.

In the application, the lawyers claimed that the judgement of the Federal High Court was misinterpreted by the apex court and thus it disqualified Mr Lyon wrongly.

They further argued that the trial court, in its judgement delivered on November 12, 2019, found out that Mr Degi-Eremienyo was guilty of submitting forged certificates but that the judge, Inyang Ekwo, refused to grant the PDP’s request, which asked for Mr Lyon’s disqualification.

But its judgement on Wednesday, the apex court said, “No force on earth can force the court to change its decision.

Reading the lead judgement, Justice Amina Augie said that “The court shall not review any judgement once given and delivered by it.

According to Mrs Augie, “A judgement or order shall not be varied when the correct ruling presents what the court decided.

“Having considered the prayers sought vis-a-vis the positions of the law and the arguments and submissions made by all the parties, it is clear that the two applications lack merit and constitute an abuse of court process.

“Howsoever the prayers sought are crafted, there is no question whatsoever that the two sets of applicants are asking to review its judgment delivered on the 13th of February 2020 in appeal number SC/1/2020.

“This court is not authorised and lacks jurisdiction to review its judgment except on the circumstances spelt out in order 8 rule 16 of the rules of this court.

“It is settled that the decision of this court is final”, she said, “This is final court and its decisions are final for all ages.”

According to Justice Augie, it is only legislation that can alter the decision of the apex court once a matter has been fully heard and an order made.

“The two applications brought before us today lacked merit and constituted an abuse of this court and they are liable to dismissal and are hereby dismissed,” the court held.

‘Emotional’ judge

The judge, with tears in her eyes, said she regretted that ‘very senior’ lawyers were responsible for filing the applications.

The apex court awarded the costs of N10 million to be personally paid by Mr Lyon’s lawyer, Afe Babalola, and APC’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun.

It also ordered that each of the lawyers must pay the N10 million to each of the three respondents – the PDP, Governor Diri, and the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Lawrence Ewhruojakpo.

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