Nigeria: Bayelsa - No Force On Earth Can Reverse Our Verdict - Supreme Court

27 February 2020

The Supreme Court, yesterday, declined to reverse its judgment that sacked David Lyon and Degi-Eremieoyo as governor and deputy-governor elect of Bayelsa State.

The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a seven-man panel of Justices headed by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, dismissed the two different applications that sought to set-aside the judgment it delivered against Lyon and his deputy on February 13.

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, lauded the apex court for upholding the election of Senator Duoye Diri as governor of Bayelsa State.

In the lead decision by Justice Amina Augie, the apex court, described the fresh applications that were filed by Lyon, his deputy and the All Progressive Congress, APC, as "highly vexatious, frivolous and gross abuse of the judicial process."

She held that the applications were aimed at "desecrating the sanctity of the court," stressing that it was an invitation for the Supreme Court to sit on appeal over its final judgment.

Justice Augie said, "It is clear that the two applications lack merit and constituted an abuse of court process."

She said there was no doubt that the applications were aimed to review a final judgment of the apex court, in violation of Order 8 Rule 2 of the Supreme Court Act.

Justice Augie stressed that the use of the mandatory word "Shall" in the said Order 8, was an indication that such application for review of final judgment of the court was bound to fail.

"The court is not authorised and lacks the jurisdiction to review its judgment," she held, adding that the applicants failed to either show that there was any clerical error, accidental slip or commission, or that any aspect of the judgment needed to be varied.

She said the sole aim of the applicants was to set-aside "operative and substantive parts of the judgment," despite the provision of section 235 of the 1999 constitution, as amended, that gave the Supreme Court the final say in every appeal.

"Once this court has finally determined an issue, it is functus-officio. It is final forever, only legislation can alter it. It is final for all ages. No force on earth can get this court to shift its position on Bayelsa matter," she held.

She said even if the apex court was minded to review its judgment, there was no guarantee that the PDP and its candidates would not also file their own application for a review.

"There must be an end to litigation to ensure certainty in the law. There must be finality to decision of the court."

Justice Augie held that if the applications were not dismissed, "every disaffected litigant will bring appeals ad-infinitum. This must not be allowed."

She expressed disappointed that counsel to the applicants, being senior members of the legal profession, encouraged their clients to desecrate the sanctity of the apex court.

Consequently, Justice Augue awarded a cost of N10million each against Lyon, Degi-Eremieoyo and APC, to be paid in favour of Governor Diri, his deputy, Lawrence Ewhruojakpo and the PDP.

She ordered that the cost should be personally paid by lawyers to all the applicants.

PDP commends S/Court, insists on Imo

Meanwhile, the PDP, yesterday, lauded the apex court for upholding the election of Diri as governor of Bayelsa State, as it accused the APC, of mounting pressure on the apex court "to restrain itself from reversing the judgment on the Imo State governorship election despite obvious mistakes in that judgment, which is now threatening the stability of our nation."

PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan in a statement, said "The party, which hailed Wednesday's (yesterday) verdict of the Supreme Court on Bayelsa, however, noted that the elements and grounds for the demands by the PDP and majority of Nigerians for the reversal of Imo State governorship election judgment are completely different from those of Bayelsa.

"The PDP's demand on Imo is not in any way in contestation of the authority and finality of the Supreme Court but a patriotic effort to assist the Supreme Court affirm its infallibility by correcting the inherent mistakes in the judgment which came as a result of misleading presentation to it by the APC.

"It is therefore, instructive to note that the various election matters before the Supreme Court were brought on clearly distinctive grounds and each should be treated on its merit before the law.

"The only reason APC was pushing for a review of the Supreme Court's valid and flawless judgment on the Bayelsa and Zamfara governorship elections was to cause confusion and blackmail the Supreme Court from treating the Imo case on merit.

"Our grounds for the reversal of Imo judgment are unambiguously constitutional and completely distinct from APC's attempt to blackmail the Supreme Court with their demands on the Bayelsa and Zamfara states governorship election.

"We therefore, urged the Supreme Court not to succumb to the threats and blackmail by APC to push it to restrain itself from looking at the merit of the Imo case, correcting the mistakes and reversing the flawed judgment."

S' Court averted a catastrophe in Bayelsa

Also, immediate past governor of Bayelsa, Mr Seriake Dickson has said that the historical verdict of the nation's apex court on the Bayelsa governorship dispute only averted a catastrophe that was waiting to erupt in the state.

In a statement by his media aide, Mr Fidelis Soriwei, Dickson said, "Today (yesterday), I want to give God all the glory who has vindicated me, the loyal leaders of the party, the dignity and integrity of the electorate of Bayelsa because the Supreme Court has averted a major catastrophe, a disaster that was waiting to happen.

"We also want to thank the Supreme Court which despite the direct and indirect harassments, intimidations and propaganda, for upholding and defending the constitution and the rights of the oppressed people of our nation.

"I commend the judiciary again, particularly, their Lordships, My Lord, the Chief Justice of the Federation and all my Lords, the Justices of the Supreme Court for standing by our nation's democracy. All the cry for a review was an attempt to compromise, intimidate and destroy the judiciary of our country."

Court only affirmed God's judgment

Meanwhile, Governor Diri, yesterday, said Supreme Court ruling was only affirmation of God's judgement, which paved the way for him to emerge victorious.

A statement by his acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, the governor said, "Once again, I describe myself as a miracle governor. So the Supreme Court just affirmed the judgment of the Almighty God, who made it possible for me to become the governor of Bayelsa State.

"For me, there is no victor no vanquished as the victory is for all Bayelsans. It is not a winner takes all.

"My message is that of reconciliation as I will run an all-inclusive government. Let everyone that is aggrieved sheathe their swords. Let us think about Bayelsa first and ourselves last. By this judgement, it is clear the final hurdle has been cleared."

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