Hembe’s Sack: Supreme Court Warns Dogara against Disobedience of Court Order

  •  Awards N1m cost against ex-lawmaker

Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Supreme Court wednesday warned Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, of the consequences of disobedience to court orders, saying such disobedience will spell doom for the country’s democracy.

The apex court therefore urged the speaker to comply with the court’s decision that sacked a member of the Federal House of Representatives representing, Vandikya/ Konshisha constituency, Benue State, Herman Hembe.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, while re-enforcing the earlier order of the court, however, ordered Hembe to pay the sum of N1million as cost in favour of Mrs. Dorothy Mato.

The Supreme Court had on June 25 sacked Hembe and Senator Sani Abubakar Danladi representing Taraba State and ordered that Mrs. Dorothy Mato and Alhaji Shuaibu Isa Lau be sworn in immediately in their stead.

The court further ordered the sacked legislators to refund all the monies collected as salaries and allowances from June 2015 when they were sworn in as legislators.

The court, in its judgment, had held that Mato who won the All Progressives Congress (APC) party ticket for the constituency is the rightful candidate.

However, while Senate President Bukola Saraki has since sworn in Shuaibu Isa Lau, Speaker of the House is yet to do same concerning Mato.

Also, the sacked Hembe, through his counsel, Paul Erokoro, filed a motion on notice asking the Supreme Court to reverse itself.

But reacting to the motion yesterday, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Onnoghen, leading four other Justices of the court, insisted that the court cannot revere itself as it has no jurisdiction to sit on appeal over its judgment.

Erokoro said it was asking the court to correct some errors and accidental slip contained in the judgment of the court.

When the matter was called, Tochukwu Peter Tochukwu announced his appearance for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), while Usman Sule announced his for the APC.

Erokoro had told the court that his motion was for an order of the court to correct and amend an error in the judgment of the court in order to reflect the true intention of the said judgment.
According to him, the court was wrong to have invoked section 22 of the Act to hear the appeal instead of sending it back to the tribunal for re-trial.

But reacting, the CJN reminded Erokoro that the case was a pre-election matter which has a time frame.

Justice Onnoghen explained that “we invoked the powers of this court under section 22 of the Act, heard the matter and gave judgment

“So are you now asking us to review our judgment? Whether or not we are wrong, our decision is final; we cannot review our judgment. The Supreme Court is the final court for a reason that there has to be an end to litigation.”

The apex court also refused Erokoro’s application asking the court to vacate the consequential order directing Hembe to refund his salaries and allowances.

“Learned SAN, it appears you close your mind on the circumstances of this case that translated into the judgment of this court. This is a policy making court where we make policies to guide society to move forward.

“When we use judicial process to perpetuate injustice, this court comes in to maintain decorum. There is no error, there is no accidental slip in our judgment, you can go on appeal to another court, if there is any, but on our own part, we cannot review our judgment whether wrongly made or not, that is the order of this court.

“If somebody has been in the House where he is not supposed to be and has reaped the benefits which it should not be, you mean we should close our eyes to this product of impunity? No, we cannot go back to that because the imposter has no right to it. Whatever he collected should be refunded. This court is sending a message to everybody so that right from the primaries, the right thing should be done,” the CJN held.

Responding, Erokoro then made an application for the withdrawal of the motion, which was not opposed by counsel to other parties.

It was consequently struck out by the court which awarded N1million cost against Hembe in favour of Mato upon request by her counsel, Etiaba.