A Constitutional Lawyer, Emmanuel Anele has declared that Rivers All Progressives Congress (APC) case before the Supreme Court on the Rivers election was merely an academic exercise because the apex court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter, which it had earlier ruled upon.
Speaking during Africa Independent Television (AIT) Kaakaki Programme, monitored in Port Harcourt, yesterday, Anele said that the Supreme Court cannot reverse itself, having voided the primaries and congresses conducted by the APC in Rivers State.
Anele said, “The Supreme Court decided 14 cases this year on the basis that the time the appeals were filed had lapsed. The Supreme Court, I know, will not oblige what the APC is asking of them. The Supreme Court can’t reverse itself in this instance otherwise, there will be no certainty.
“Unless there is a distinguishing factor to say let us depart from our past judgment.
“The APC is not raising any new issue. It amounts to abuse of court process. The Supreme Court even yesterday (Monday) struck out the suit filed by Senator Magnus Abe to amend processes.
“APC has never raised a new issue that will compel the Supreme Court to reverse its earlier decision”, he argued.
The constitutional lawyer added, “The crux of the matter is whether the primaries conducted by the APC in Rivers State are valid or not, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly said that it is invalid.
“It is not even asking the Supreme Court to compel INEC to add it in the Rivers State gubernatorial election. The election has come and gone, the only way to challenge the declaration of Chief Nyesom Wike as governor of Rivers State is the tribunal.
“The Supreme Court has no jurisdiction in the instant case before it. If you look at the prayer sought, the court is not a Father Christmas. It cannot give you what you did not ask”.
The legal practitioner said that the game APC wants to play is to approach Supreme Court and seek omnibus orders.
He said APC wants to use such omnibus orders to approach the election tribunal.
Anele said: “They will now use that trophy to approach the tribunal. That would have orchestrated constitutional crisis in Rivers State. As at the time the governorship election was conducted, there was no injunctive order stopping INEC from conducting election.
“The game will not favour anybody, but to truncate the wish of Rivers people.
“They have voted and the results announced. Anybody going to the Supreme Court to get any reliefs that he will use as a trophy to approach the election tribunal will not avail the person anything.
“The Supreme Court will not be blackmailed to give judgment to anybody. Their integrity is at stake, democracy is also at stake. The Court of Appeal based its judgment on the earlier consolidated judgment of the Supreme Court. How will the Supreme Court now reverse itself?
“The Supreme Court justices should be firm and stand on their earlier judgments, so that there will be certainty in the electoral processes.
“Nobody will blackmail the Supreme Court justices. Nobody will get anything out of this. It is an academic exercise.
“Elections have been conducted and winners emerged. Anybody that is dissatisfied with the conduct of that election should approach the election petitions tribunal, if you participated in that election”.
Another lawyer on the programme, Mr Ilemona Onoja said there was absolutely nothing new in the APC applications before the Supreme Court.
Onoja said: “Asking that it be determined on the merit, what merit? The Court of Appeal was to determine the suit on its merit, and the Supreme Court reached a decision. The judges of Court of Appeal said with the Supreme Court judgment, that APC in Rivers State can’t field candidates, it will be fruitless determining the matter.
“Going to the Supreme Court to say the Court of Appeal did not determine the matter on its merit, when in actual fact, the Court of Appeal based its decision on the Supreme Court is curious. It is flogging a dead horse. At some point, there should be an end to litigation”, he advised.
He said there was no basis for the Supreme Court to grant their prayers to invalidate a validly conducted election and order that they benefit from their wrongdoing.
Onoja said: “If the Supreme Court makes an order to invalidate the election and order the inclusion of APC, the judiciary will be saying it is okay to disregard the court.
“If the APC in Rivers State had refrained from conducting state congresses pending the determination of the suit, they wouldn’t have had this problem and they wouldn’t have come to this impasse. Everything APC has done thereafter is to attempt to benefit from its own violation of court orders”, he argued.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court, last Monday, struck out the notice of amendment filed by Senator Magnus Abe on the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
In a unanimous judgment read the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Mohammed, the apex court dismissed the application on the ground that it lacks merit.
The court also noted that the suit was incompetent and a gross violation of Order 2 Rule 8 of the Supreme Court Rules.
It held that once a notice of appeal has been found defective, it cannot be amended.
The Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had on January 7, nullified the direct and indirect primaries conducted by the two factions of the APC in the state.
Justice Kolawole Omotosho, who presided over the case, also restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from presenting Tonye Cole and Magnus Abe as governorship candidates in the general election.
He said none of the primaries were conducted according to the law, noting that the INEC did not do well by submitting names of candidates without consideration of previous court orders.
Following the court’s ruling, Abe filed an appeal against the nullification of the party’s primaries at the Supreme Court.