Alex Enumah in Abuja
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr John Baiyeshea (SAN) has described the recent judgment of the Supreme Court as an act of sacrificing justice at the altar of finality.
The Supreme Court in a 6 to 1 split judgment dismissed an appeal filed by former governor of Imo State, Honourable Emeka Ihedioha on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction to review its judgment in any matter once such judgment was delivered on merit.
The court in the majority judgment delivered by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, emphasized that by the provision of section 235 of the 1999 Constitution its decision on any judgment based on merit is final and shall not be reviewed once delivered under any guise, except for clerical errors.
The apex court also stated that by Order 8 Rule 16, the general law is that it has no power to alter any judgment and that such judgment once delivered on merit shall remain forever.
But reacting to the decision of the apex court the senior lawyer noted that by that decision justice has been sacrificed in the country.
“The Court just decided to insist on its ‘finality’ posture at the expense of Justice.
“I truly and sincerely believe that the Court knew that a mistake was made in the judgment that removed Ihedioaha. But I think they had great difficulty reversing themselves so soon, probably thinking of the image of the Court in the International community.
“It seems to me that Justice was sacrificed on the alter of some mundane and hidden considerations”, he said.
According to Baiyeshea SAN, the Supreme Court found itself in a ‘culdesac’ or a ‘dead end’ of some sort and just decided to stand by its earlier judgment (even if it was wrong).
The import of this he said would be an atmosphere of uncertainty for both litigants and lawyers.
“We, in the legal profession, know that we have serious legal issues to contend with now and in future election cases. Nothing is sacrosanct anymore. The Bayelsa judgment too has the same ripple effect”, he said.
While he noted that there has been too much criticism of the Court’s showing in recent times, Baiyeshea, harped on the need for the Supreme Court to do a critical appraisal with a view to making necessary adjustments.