Kayode Ajulo draws attention to the victory for the rule of law recently recorded at the Supreme Court
It was a day full of lamentation at the Supreme Court as my Lords shed tears as they laid to final rest the rather strange, depressing, disappointing and worrisome application brought before the Supreme Court by the learned counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidates at the recently concluded gubernatorial election in Bayelsa state.
In the middle of the avoidable lamentation and anger of the Supreme Court in the dismissal of the said application lies a victory not only to the rule of law but also to all members of the bar and the bench, litigants and Nigerian at large. In fact, it is a restatement of the finality of the decision of the Supreme Court.
As I have stated before, there is a huge difference between an appeal and a review. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As amended) clearly delineates the original and appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Even though a party has a right of appeal, that right ends upon the pronouncement of the judgment of the Supreme Court on the issues he submitted to the Court on Appeal.
This is the position of the law as established by the long line of decided authorities and it is so elementary that second year law students are taught as one of the foundational principles of law. What counsel sought to do by the application so dismissed by the Supreme Court is tantamount to asking the Supreme Court to tell the whole world that our entire jurisdiction is a joke.
I am more than happy that the application was dismissed with cost awarded not against the party the counsel represents but against the counsel themselves. I am sure this action of my noble Lord will further stand as general reminder that the first duty as lawyers is to the court and the rule of law. Irrespective of the professional sentiment and the avoidable sympathy, a legal practitioner’s duty is at all material time to the court and justice.
I understand that there are similar applications of this nature before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court having by its decision made a bold statement that it is the final court in the land, the proper thing to do in this instance is for the counsel who have filed these rather strange application to find a way to withdraw the said application.
I am sure that failure to do this will earn the counsel the same punishment meted out to counsel in the Bayelsa application or invitation to review the judgment of the Supreme Court.
If it is anything, upon the pronouncement of the judgment of the Supreme Court, the decision of the Supreme Court becomes law and all dissenting opinions becomes at best academic.
Perhaps by quibbling such opinion, it might influence the legislators in amending the law in the future. The backyard approach adopted by learned counsel in bringing these applications is rather questionable irrespective of the motivation.
I think what happened at the Supreme Court recently will serve as a guideline for counsel in the future.
*Ajulo writes from Castle of Law, Maitama District, Abuja