How APC, Lyon Lost S’Court Review Appeal …Lawyers Fined N60m For Frivolous Applications
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.
Buhari Pays Tribute To Diya
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday mourned the passing of retired Lt.-Gen. Oladipo Diya GCON, who served as Chief of General Staff from 1993 to 1997 and Vice Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council in 1994.
The President, in a statement by his Spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja paid tribute to Diya’s bold and courageous career in the Nigeria military.
He particularly lauded him for his dedicated service to the country as General Officer Commanding, 82 Division, Commandant, National War College (1991–1993), Chief of Defence Staff and Military Governor of Ogun from January 1984 to August 1985.
Buhari recalled that the late Diya was known for his brilliance, exceptional organisational skills and discipline, and he displayed these virtues in the important roles he held in office as a military officer.
The president saluted the former Chief of General Staff for his love, belief and loyalty to the country he cherished so much and fought gallantly on the frontlines to defend her unity.
Buhari, who extended heartfelt condolences to Diya’s family, friends and colleagues, prayed that “Diya’s soul finds rest with his Creator, and may his contributions to the nation never be forgotten.”
Diya, who was born on April 3, 1944 in Odogbolu, Ogun State, died on Sunday in Lagos.
PDP Suspends Ayu For Anti-Party Activities
The ongoing crisis in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has deepened as the Executive Committee of the party in Igyorov Ward of Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State has suspended the National Chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, with immediate effect.
They suspended Ayu for anti-party activities after passing a vote-of-no confidence on him.
While reading a resolution, the Secretary of the party in Igyorov ward, Banger Dooyum, said Ayu’s anti-party activities, alongside his allies, contributed to PDP’s loss in his ward and local government in the governorship election.
Ayu was also accused of not paying his annual dues as enshrined by the party’s constitution.
Twelve out of the 17 exco members signed the documents endorsing his suspension.
They also alleged that the PDP chieftain did not vote during the governorship and state assembly elections held on March 18, 2023.
According to them, most of Ayu’s closest allies worked for the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) which resulted in the abysmal performance of the PDP in Igyorov Ward.
The ward chairman of Igyorov, Kashi Philip, also signed the letter alongside the exco.
I Didn’t Work Against Obi, Wike Fires Back …Describes Obi’s Allegation As Unfortunate
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has taken strong exception to Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi’s allegations that he denied him of victory in the state in the February 25 presidential election.
Wike clarified that there was never a time that the G-5 governors or the Integrity Group endorsed Obi or another candidate as their preferred candidate for the presidential election.
Speaking during a media chat last Wednesday in his home town, Rumuepirikom, the governor described Obi’s accusation that he manipulated the electoral process to his disadvantage as unfortunate.
“I don’t work for INEC, I don’t have INEC documents with me. I am not an ad hoc staff of INEC and so I am not in a place to rig election for anybody. It is when you have the materials of INEC that you talk about rigging. But I take exception to Peter Obi’s comments that I came out against him. People are not being sincere, people are not appreciative.”
The Rivers State governor, maintained that his primary preoccupation as far as the 2023 presidential election was concerned was for a southern Nigerian to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, whose tenure ends on May 29, 2023.
“I never told Rivers people to vote for the candidate (of the APC). I told Rivers people (to vote) for the unity of Nigeria. As far as Rivers State is concerned, their position is that ‘look, we want a power shift.’ And there are two candidates from the South – Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Peter Obi.
“If Rivers people have chosen to vote for Asiwaju, and the same Rivers people also voted for Peter Obi, that tells you that their decision was to vote for a Southern President. So, amongst them one must always get the highest vote. If you look at the votes, APC won, followed by the Labour Party. So that tells you what the decision they took. That is the decision of Rivers people”, the governor stated.
Wike said he was among those who recommended Obi to be PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s running mate in 2019.
“In 2019, ask Peter Obi, I was one of the team that chose Obi to be the Vice Presidential candidate of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. When we met at Abubakar’s house, he said these are the names, I will choose Obi. Obi was invited while we were at Saraki’s house in the night.
“I was fought by people like (Senator Ike) Ekweremadu; my own friend, the governor of Ebonyi State, (David) Umahi, and Pius Anyim. Every blame was on me, why will I be the one that will say Peter Obi? Why should I chose for the South-East? Did he come out to say Wike was the one who supported me to be the vice presidential candidate? He didn’t say so.”
He declared that the G-5 governors and the Integrity Group never during any of their meetings unanimously endorsed Obi or any presidential candidate of southern Nigeria extraction.
He said, “There was never a time the integrity Group met and say it must be this person. We only agreed on southern President. We formulated strategies and the southern President emerged. Our interest is that a southern President should emerge.
“When we went to our meeting, we decided on southern President. We didn’t say it must be this. We said whatever you are doing it must be southern President. The aim of G5 was equity, fairness and justice”.
The governor also said the G-5 governor and members of the Integrity Group cannot be accused of betraying the PDP.
He stressed that those who blatantly refused to implement the provisions of the party’s constitution on rotation of elective and appointive offices are to blame the party’s electoral misfortune.
He said all the G-5 governors consisting of Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State; Samuel Ortom of Benue; and Victor Ikpeazu of Abia; made tremendous sacrifice to ensure the emergence of a southern president.
The governor particularly expressed delight that the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, who had earlier said he would not mind sacrificing his second term on the altar of equity, justice, and fairness, was re-elected.
“Ortom said even if he loses his senatorial election, let equity, justice, and fairness prevail. He may not gain it now. But history will be kind to him. The same applies to Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu. Even Makinde said even if he lost his governorship ambition, he was interested in the unity of Nigeria”, Wike recalled.
He boasted that in Rivers State, PDP won the governorship, three senatorial seats, 10 federal and 31 state constituencies in the general election.
He said, ironically, the PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, who once derided that the G-5 governors are small boys failed to win his ward, local government and state for the presidential candidate in the February 25 election.
According to him, PDP also lost woefully in Niger, Jigawa, Imo, Sokoto, Yobe and other states.
“Ayu lost his polling unit. I won three senatorial seats, and 31 House of Assembly seats. He didn’t get anything. Lamido did not win the presidential election in Jigawa. Babangida Aliyu did not win. So, who is the betrayer? We won to make sure PDP exists. Of what relevance is he as national chairman? He couldn’t deliver his polling unit”, the governor stated.
Wike dismissed insinuation that he would manipulate the Rivers State governor-elect, Siminialayi Fubara, after leaving office.
The governor also clarified that Fubara, who resigned as Accountant General of the state to contest the 2023 governorship election, is not wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
According to him, some disgruntled politicians in the state were behind the rumour.
Wike stated that Fubara on assumption of office will continue from where his administration stopped and would consolidate on the NEW Rivers Vision.
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