By Alex Enumah
The All Progressives Congress (APC) will Friday, March 27, 2020, know its fate in its bid to have the Supreme Court set aside the consequential order that made the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) beneficiary of all elective positions in the 2019 general election in Zamfara State.
A five-man panel led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, had on March 17, announced that the decision of the apex court in the matter has been reserved to a date that will be communicated to parties shortly after lawyers representing parties in the matter adopted their brief of arguments.
However, a short message from the Director Information, Supreme Court, Dr Festus Akande, to journalists said the apex court will deliver its ruling in the appeal on Friday, March 27.
The ruling of the apex court is coming barely a few days after the apex court suspended sitting indefinitely over the ravaging coronavirus disease.
The apex court, in a circular dated March 23, 2020 and signed by the Chief Registrar of the court, Mrs Hadizatu Mustapha, announced a temporary suspension of court sitting in response to directives on curtailing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The statement however said the court would only convene to deliver judgments and rulings in matters adjourned for such.
However, as the court delivers its ruling in the Zamfara judgment review request, Nigerians are eager to know if the apex court will remain stuck to its finality stand on issues already settled or deviate from it.
The apex court had declined two previous judgment set aside requests involving the PDP’s sacked Imo State Governor, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, and APC’s governor-elect of Bayelsa State, Senator David Lyon.
While arguing the application for setting aside the consequential order that barred its clients from the 2019 general election, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN) informed the panel that the order was made out of jurisdiction.
Clarke disclosed that the APC which brought the application challenging the consequential order was not against the main judgment because the party did not conduct primary election for nomination of candidates for the 2019 general election.
The senior lawyer, who admitted bringing the application for the second time, insisted that what the Supreme Court ought to have done was to order for a fresh primary election for all elective positions in the state.
He informed the panel that the consequential order which made the PDP candidates for all elective offices winner was in bad taste and ought to be reversed.
Clarke further submitted that it was wrong of the apex court to have declared over 400,000 votes as wasted simply because APC at the time did not conduct primary election known to law because of its internal dispute.
He therefore urged the court to invoke its inherent jurisdiction to set aside the consequential order that brought PDP’s candidates to power in Zamfara State and instead should order APC to conduct a fresh primary election and to also order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct new election into all elective offices in Zamfara State.
However Senator Kabiru Marafa, who is the first respondent in the matter, urged the apex court to dismiss the request of the APC for want of jurisdiction and merit.
Marafa through his lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), informed the panel that the APC’s application was caught by section 285 of the 1999 Constitution which prescribed 60 days for hearing and determination starting from the date the notice of appeal was filed.
Ozekhome argued that the apex court gave final judgment in the Zamfara governorship tussle over 10 months ago, adding that bringing such application for the second time is a gross abuse of the process of the apex court.
The senior lawyer urged the court to dismiss the application with huge punitive fine to keep the party away from further abuse of court process.
Ozekhome cited the decision of the court in the Bayelsa and Imo States governorship tussles, adding that the apex court had made it clear that its judgment on any issue is final for all times, ages and that no force on earth can change the decision except a law made to that effect.
The CJN, after taking submissions from the counsel, said ruling has been reserved to a date to be communicated to parties in the matter.
The Supreme Court had last year ordered that the candidates of parties that came second in the 2019 general election be inaugurated as winners following the nullification of the nominations of APC candidates on account of failure to conduct valid primary as required by law.