•Our suit, a chance for apex court to correct its mistakes, says PDP
Chuks Okocha and Alex Enumah
Palpable anxiety has gripped politicians and their allies as the Supreme Court today resumes hearing in two separate applications seeking to reverse its judgments in two governorship appeals in Zamfara and Imo States.
In the first application, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the former Governor of Imo State, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, are asking the apex court to set aside its judgment, which removed Ihedioha from office on the grounds that he did not win majority of lawful votes cast at the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Imo State.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State filed the second suit, asking the Supreme Court to reverse its judgment which voided the participation of the APC in the 2019 general election in Zamfara State on the grounds of invalid primary election.
Ahead of today’s hearing of the Imo State review application at the Supreme Court, the PDP yesterday restated its expectation, saying that its suit affords the apex court an opportunity to correct the error in its judgment.
While the APC is silent, the main opposition party said should the Supreme Court decide not to correct the mistakes, it will be leaving behind a dangerous precedent as the number of voters allowed to the APC governorship candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma, is more than the voters registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Supreme Court had on February 18, adjourned till today to enable all parties to perfect all processes regarding the two suits.
However, the outcome of today’s hearing is already generating anxiety following last week’s ruling of the apex court in which it excoriated APC lawyers, Chief Afe Babalola and Chief Wole Olanipekun, for having the temerity to file an application seeking the reversal of its judgment on the Bayelsa governorship election dispute.
The apex court on February 26, while delivering ruling in the applications by the APC and its governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, Mr. David Lyon, described the request by APC to review its judgment voiding the participation of its candidate in the Bayelsa governorship election as vexatious, frivolous and an abuse of court process.
The apex court in the unanimous ruling delivered by Justice Amina Augie, had described the motion as a deliberate desecration of the judiciary.
She subsequently ordered Babalola and Olanipekun to pay N10 million each as fines to each of the three respondents.
As the Supreme Court resumes hearing in the Imo and Zamfara applications today, the question on the lips of many is, would the apex court maintain its stand not to sit on appeal over its own judgment or would there be a shift?
Another fear, which would probably dominate the minds of lawyers to the applicants, is, if the applications are thrown out, what is the nature of fine the apex court would hand down on them?
While Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) is the lead counsel to Ihedioha and PDP in the Imo State case, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN) is the lead counsel to the APC in the Zamfara State case.
It was gathered that there was also anxiety over the possible sacking of Uzodinma should the Supreme Court find merit in the PDP’s application and grant the prayers of the opposition party.
In the Zamfara State case, the APC is asking the court to review the consequential order which barred it from participating in the 2019 general election due to inability of the party to conduct primary election.
Hearing in the matter brought by their lawyer, Clarke was shifted to March 2 upon the discovery that two respondents in the matter were not in court and were not served hearing notice.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, who presided over a seven-member panel, while adjourning the matter, said necessary parties were not before the court as required by law and as such the matter could not go on.
Meanwhile, the PDP yesterday restated its expectation, saying that it only wants the apex court to realise its mistakes and subsequently correct them.
Addressing a press conference yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “We are not contesting the powers of the Supreme Court as the last court of appeal; rather, we are saying the Supreme Court was misled and therefore should use the opportunity of our appeal to correct itself because it was misled.
“It was misled because the votes allocated by the Supreme Court are more than the total votes registered by INEC in Imo state. We are saying that something is fundamentally wrong. The APC misled the justices of the Supreme Court. This is our position.
“PDP has sustained democracy for 20 years and therefore it is morally right for us to let the Supreme Court know when something is wrong. We are not doing it because PDP is all knowing; but to correct a dangerous situation that is capable of hurting our democracy.”
He also denied the news doing the rounds that the party is contemplating withdrawing the petition, stating that if for anything, the PDP is ready to pay any sanction imposed on any member of the party’s legal team appearing before the Supreme Court justices.
The party has also rejected the judgment of the Kogi State High Court, which voided its governorship primary in the state.
PDP described the judgment as a classical example of judicial rascality and scandalous travesty of justice, which cannot stand.
It said the party would appeal the judgment of the Kogi court.