The sacked governor-elect, David Lyon and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have lost their bids to overturn the Supreme Court ruling of February 13, which sacked Lyon as the duly elected governor of Bayelsa State.
In a ruling, yesterday, the Supreme Court dismissed the applications for review of the judgment, which rendered Lyon’s election invalid because of what the five-man panel of justices attributed to the alleged certificate forgery committed by Lyon’s running mate, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo.
According to Justice Amina Augie, who read the judgment, the applications lacked merit, adding that the decisions of the court are final, position that may well foreshadow the outcome of other reviews pending before the apex court.
“There must be an end to litigation. Even if we review this judgment, every disaffected litigant will bring similar applications, and the finality of Supreme Court judgments will be lost,” Augie said.
She added that the applicants failed to point out errors in the February 13 judgment.
Augie then pronounced that the judgment is final for all ages and that no court on earth can review the judgment.
She added that the applications are frivolous and vexatious.
The Supreme Court panel that heard the review arguments was composed of seven justices, headed by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta.
The panel gave its judgement after listening to the submissions by lawyers.
The Supreme Court also fined Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) and Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) N30million each for agreeing to file an application for the review of the apex court’s judgment on Bayelsa election.
Justice Amina Augie announced the fine while reading the judgment in the applications for a review of its February 13, 2020 judgment which overturned the All Progressives Congress’ victory in the last governorship election in Bayelsa State.
With tears in her eyes, the justice regretted that “very senior” lawyers were responsible for filing the applications.
Subsequently, the apex court awarded the costs of N10million to be personally paid by David Lyon’s lawyer, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), and APC’s lawyer, Olanipekun (SAN).
It ruled that each of the lawyers must pay the N10million to each of the three respondents – the Peoples Democratic Party, Governor Duoye Diri, and the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Lawrence Ewhruojakpo, bringing the total amount to be paid to N60million.
She said the applications amounted to an invitation for the apex court to sit in appeal on its own judgment in violation of the Constitution.
A seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, described the applications filed by the APC and its governorship candidate at the poll, Lyon, as vexatious, frivolous, and constituted a gross abuse of court process.
Justice Augie held that it would amount to violating the finality of its judgment if the applications were granted.
She said granting the applications would open a floodgate for the review of decisions of the Supreme Court.
“There must be an end to litigation,” she said, adding, “the decision of the Supreme Court is final for ages in a matter” and only legislation could change it.
Legal luminary, Afe Babalola, who represented Lyon and his deputy governor-elect, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, argued that the apex court has the power to set aside its earlier judgment.
The senior advocate of Nigeria insisted that the application was not for a review of the judgment but to set aside the judgment sacking Lyon who overwhelmingly won the election.
Babalola added that the judgment of the court delivered on February 13, amounts to a denial of fair hearing, and urged the court to reverse its decision.
Another senior advocate, Chief Wole Olanipekun, who represented the APC, asked the apex court to set aside its judgment on the ground that the court had no jurisdiction to have entertained the appeal in the first place.
He explained that the suit was first filed at the Federal High Court as a pre-election matter, which is the foundation of the matter that made the appeal get to the apex court.
Olanipekun, therefore, restated his argument that the apex court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
He added that all humans are fallible, so, it is not beyond the apex court to make a mistake.
Olanipekun also faulted the interpretation of the judgment of the court by INEC which issued a certificate of return to Senator Douye Diri of the PDP, urging the court to grant the application to set aside its earlier judgment.
Counsel to the PDP, Tayo Oyetibo, also a SAN, argued that the application by David Lyon was an invitation to violate the nation’s Constitution.
He added that it was also an invitation to the court to ‘sit in judgment’ over its earlier decision which must not be allowed while urging the court to summarily dismiss the application.
Oyetibo argued that all areas were well considered before the apex court arrived at its decision on February 13, insisting that the court cannot change the operative part of any judgment delivered by the apex court which was the final court in the land.
Citing Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act, Oyetibo said, “the court has wide powers to make any order, including the order asking INEC to withdraw the certificate issued to David Lyon. The order made by the court was not out of order.”
He explained that the facts and justice of the case warranted the decision of the court, and there was no error in it whatsoever.
He added that if any error is felt, it can only be addressed in a future case.
Oyetibo insisted that the grant of this application will engender judicial stability as people will now wait for a possible review before acting on any judgment of the apex court.
He urged the court to dismiss the application and not to disturb the status quo.
Yunus Ustaz Usman, who represented Governor Douye Diri, aligned himself with the submissions of Oyetibo, insisting that the court cannot make any order outside the judgment, especially after a full-blown trial.
He reaffirmed the finality of the court as the highest of the land, urging the court to dismiss the application in the interest of the overall survival of the country.
Counsel to Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, Chris Uche, vehemently opposed the application for a review of the judgment of the apex court, and urged the court to dismiss the applications filed by Lyon and the APC for totally lacking in merit.
Uche argued that the Supreme Court lacks the power to sit on appeal over any judgment delivered by the same court.
He added that it was a case of outright abuse of court process, stating that the court must ‘jealously’ guard its judgments, otherwise; there will be a floodgate of applications for review which will lead to a bastardization of the judicial process.
He urged the court to resist the dangerous invitation to violate the nation’s Constitution.
Present to witness the proceeding was the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
It would be recalled that the Supreme Court had earlier struck out the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the review of the Bayelsa Governorship election.
The court, in its ruling, said the appeal lacked merit, and as a result, struck out.
Lyon and APC, in their applications argued by Chief Afe Babalola SAN and Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, respectively, had prayed the court to review and set aside the judgment of February 13, which voided their participation in the November 16, governorship election.
But after taking legal fireworks from parties in the matter, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, had announced the stand down of the matter, adding that the panel would reconvene soon for its decision in the matter.
Babalola had in his submissions said that the Supreme Court has inherent decision and power to set aside its own decision because the judgment which voided the election of his client was a nullity on account of denial of fair hearing of his client.
According to him, the procedure adopted by the apex court on February 13 was wrong because there was no cause of action at the time the Supreme Court gave judgment against Lyon.
On his part, Olanipekun argued that the apex court erred in law when it invoked Section 36 of the Electoral Act to disqualify the APC’s participation in the election when the Federal High Court judgment restored by the Supreme Court did not disqualify the party’s eligibility.
He further argued that the Supreme Court cannot give consequential order on a relief not granted by a trial court except due to human error.
However, counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Tayo Oyetibo SAN, informed the apex court that the application by APC and its governorship candidate were dangerous invitation to the Supreme Court to violate Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution, for the court to sit on appeal over its own matter.
Oyetibo argued that having delivered final judgment in the matter on merit on February 13, the court has no jurisdiction to sit on appeal in the judgment, adding that it is scandalous to ask the apex court to review the judgment.
He further stated that the apex court was right in disqualifying Lyon as the governor-elect because section 187 of the 1999 Constitution is clear and unambiguous to the effect that a governorship candidate who has no deputy candidate is not qualified to contest any governorship election in Nigeria.
“When Supreme Court gives judgment, it is deemed correct. It has never happened in the history of Supreme Court to reverse itself; its judgment is final and finality. And whatever Supreme Court says in the interpretation of the law is the law”.
His submissions were adopted by other respondents in the matter.
Reacting, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, raised the alarm accusing the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of currently mounting pressure on the Supreme Court to restrain itself from reversing the flawed judgment on the Imo State Governorship election.
It also alleged that this clandestine move came despite obvious mistakes in the controversial judgement, which is allegedly threatening the stability of the nation.
The party, however, hailed yesterday’s verdict of the Supreme Court on Bayelsa State governorship election but noted that the grounds for the demands by the PDP and majority of Nigerians for the reversal of Imo State governorship election judgment are completely different from those of Bayelsa.
The PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said this in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, yesterday.
Further, the party explained that its demand on Imo was not in any way in contestation of the authority and finality of the Supreme Court.
It affirmed that the PDP’s position was only a patriotic effort to assist the Supreme Court to affirm its infallibility by correcting the inherent mistakes in the judgment which came as a result of misleading presentation to it by the APC.
Part of the statement reads, “It is, therefore, instructive to note that the various election matters before the Supreme Court were brought on clearly distinctive grounds and each should be treated on its merit before the law.
“The party said the only reason APC was pushing for a review of the Supreme Court’s valid and flawless judgment on the Bayelsa and Zamfara governorship elections was to cause confusion and blackmail the Supreme Court from treating the Imo case on merit.
“The PDP maintained that the grounds for the reversal of Imo judgment are unambiguously constitutional and completely distinct from APC’s attempt to blackmail the Supreme Court with their demands on the Bayelsa and Zamfara states governorship election.
“The party, therefore, urged the Supreme Court not to succumb to the threats and blackmail by APC to push it restrain itself from looking at the merit of the Imo case; correcting the mistakes and reversing the flawed judgment.”
Also reacting, the Bayelsa Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has said the Supreme Court’s ruling was only affirmation of God’s judgement on the state.
Diri, in a statement by his Acting Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, also said that there was no victor no vanquished as the victory was for all Bayelsans regardless of party affiliation.
He commended the courage and sagacity of the apex court justices in affirming their earlier judgement of February 13, 2020.
He said: “Once again, I describe myself as a miracle governor. So, the Supreme Court just affirmed the judgement of the Almighty God, who made it possible for me to become the governor of Bayelsa State.
“For me, there is no victor no vanquished as the victory is for all Bayelsans. It is not a winner takes all.
“My message is that of reconciliation as I will run an all-inclusive government. Let everyone that is aggrieved sheathe their swords. Let us think about Bayelsa first and ourselves last. By this judgement, it is clear the final hurdle has been cleared.”
Diri said his government would bring in people that had the wherewithal to contribute to development of the state and not those who would run it down.
He urged Bayelsans whose stock in trade was to pull others down to change their ways and think about building the state.
But the All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, kept mum over the reaffirmation of Senator Duoye Diri as the elected governor of Bayelsa State by the Supreme Court.
The National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who had earlier called for a press conference in his office at the party’s national Secretariat later called it off.
No reason was given for the call off.
The All Progressives Congress had earlier applied for a review of the February 13 judgement of the Supreme Court that disqualified its governorship candidate, Mr. David Lyon.
RSG Warns Owner Of Proudest Hotel To Stop Blackmailing NCDC
Our attention has been drawn to a recent misleading petition, signed by one Mr. Needam Promise Gogorobari, Owner, Prodest Hotel and dated 24th May 2020,
to the effect that the convicted Manager of Prodest Hotel, Mr. Bariledum Job Azoroh, who recently tested positive for Covid-19 disease amongst 27 others, in a result released by the National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, may have allegedly been infected on the instructions of the Rivers State Government.
Much as we had restrained ourselves from responding to previous similar publications by this same person, since the subject matter was still before a court of competent jurisdiction, we are now compelled to reply this obviously spurious, deliberately misleading and intentionally provocative petition with a proper response, to set the records straight and caution the sponsors of this action from further pedlling such falsehoods in the public space.
For the avoidance of doubt and for the information of the general public, let us state categorically here that the FACTS of this matter are very clear, viz:
1. A Port Harcourt Senior Magistrates’ Court on May 18th, 2020 CONVICTED Mr. Bariledum Azoro, Manager of Prodest Hotel, Eleme and sentenced him to a fine of N50,000 for contravening paragraphs 3 and 4 of Executive Order RVSG 07 2020 on closure of hotels, guest houses and related outfits and provision of manifests in the state.
2. The Senior Magistrates’ Court also ordered that th convict,Mr. Azoroh should be quarantined at the Isolation Centre in Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Elekahia for 14 days to ascertain his coronavirus status.
3. That while in the Court Ordered Quarantine, competent health officials carried out mandatory tests on all suspected Coronavirus individuals at the centre, including Mr.Bariledum Job Azoroh, to ascertain their Covid-19 status.
It is important to state here that COVID-19 tests undergo World Health Organization, (WHO) and NCDC guidelines and are conducted under strict established medical protocols.
4. That prior to the publication of the test results, the owner of PRODEST Hotel Eleme, Mr. Gogorobari Needam had published one of his misleading petitions in an attempt to preempt the outcome of the test and the question we want to ask is: ‘Why did the hotel owner try to preempt the outcome of the test. Was he trying to cover up something?
5. That on Sunday, 24th May, 2020, the NCDC announced that Rivers State had 27 recorded positive cases including Mr.Bariledum Job Azoroh, from tests carried out in the state.
6. That following the official announcement of the result and confirmation of his Manager’s Covid-19 positive status, the PRODEST Hotel owner has once again released another statement and this time is now calling for a state of emergency in Rivers State because his manager tested positive for Covid-19.
7. Rivers people will recall that on May 19, 2020, we raised an alarm intimating the world of a clandestine plot by some Abuja politicians hiding under the cover of Covid-19 to instigate a State of Emergency in the state. Today, a hotel owner in Eleme, who lives in Lagos is also now calling for a State of Emergency. Is there any wonder therefore as to who is beating the drum for him?
8. Indeed there seems to be more to this than meets the ordinary eye and we are calling on all well-meaning people to see the need to interrogate this man and know that he is acting out a script. Infact, the entire petition sounds and reads like something lifted directly from the copy book of those who have been desperately trying to run down the Rivers State Government. This is desperation taken too far.
9. We even recall vividly that Mr. Needam Promise Gogorobari had, in an interview published in the Punch Newspaper of May 15, 2020 titled: “No ill feeling towards Wike for demolishing my hotel – Gogorobari”, actually stated categorically that he holds no grudge against Governor Wike for demolishing the hotel. His words: “Who am I not to forgive him? I don’t hold any grudge against him. I just feel that God wanted it to happen that way”. So what happened to make him change his mind? Is it not obvious that the agents of evil and those who do not mean well for Rivers State have reached him and are now beating this drum of dissent for him?
10. Again, We want to state categorically here that Government doesn’t conduct Covid-19 tests. Trained Health professionals follow the relevant medical protocols set down by WHO, the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, to conduct these tests.
11. The claim therefore that the PRODEST Hotel manager, Mr. Bariledum Job Azoroh, was infected while in detention is not only laughable and preposterous, but sadly and dangerously exposes the amazing ignorance and naivety of Mr. Needam Promise Gogorobari and those sponsoring him about the deadly nature of the Covid-19 disease. How does one even carry such a deadly virus around and infect people with it?
12. Rather than commend the Rivers State Government for stemming the tide of infection that would have arisen if the Hotel used for clandestine parties was not demolished and the Manager arrested, the owner is crying wolf where there is none.
13. We also want to caution Mr. Needam Promise Gogorobari to be very mindful of his claims that his hotel Manager “has been framed up by an unorthodox hired medical officers recruited by Governor Wike with a report that he has tested positive to COVID-19 whilst in detention with the Rivers State Government”.
This is a clear accusation and indictment of the reputation and authority of the NCDC.
14 We also want to call the attention of Mr. Needam Gogorobari that we take exception to his description of the Isolation Centre in Port Harcourt, as an “illegal detention facility in Stadium, Elekahia, Port Harcourt” and to inform him and his sponsors that the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu and a team from the World Health Organization, were in Rivers State on a working visit in April this year and not only praised Governor Nyesom Wike for his leadership and handling of the Covid-19 outbreak. but also applauded his medical health team and all the facilities put in place in response to the Coronavirus.
We will therefore be keen to know how the NCDC will react, when they read your description of a facility they approved, as ‘a detention centre’.
15. Finally, we want to assure the good people of the state that the Rivers State Government remains resolute in its fight to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the state and we will not be deterred by cheap blackmail and misleading propaganda.
16 Governor Wike is determined to employ and deploy appropriate strategies to keep Rivers State safe.
17. We call on all residents to work together with the Governor to defeat Covid-19 in Rivers State and by the Grace of God we will be victorious.
Commissioner for Information and Communications
May 26, 2020
Banigo Felicitates With Justice Wike On Her Birthday
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has felicitated with the wife of the State Chief Executive Hon. Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom Wike as she celebrates her birthday on Saturday, 23rd May, 2020.
In a statement from the Government House in Port Harcourt on Friday, 23rd May 2020, Dr. Banigo described Hon. Justice Wike as a humane and God fearing woman who is a great pillar of strength to our amiable Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
While wishing her many happy returns the Deputy Governor prayed the Almighty God to continue to protect and bless Hon. Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom Wike.
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The family of former Nigerian President,Goodluck Jonathan and the Otuoke community of Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa state has been thrown into mourning as the News of the sudden demise of Chief Nitabai Inegite,the former president’s foster father reached them.
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