The Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered judgement in the application by a former Imo state governor, Emeka Ihedioha seeking to review and set aside the January 14 judgment of the court that sacked him as Imo state government.
In the Tuesday ruling, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of a seven member panel, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad after hearing the application filed by Ihedioha, dismissed it.
The apex court said it had no power to entertain Ihedioha’s appeal.
“The finality of the supreme court is entrenched in the constitution. Inherent powers can only be evoked if there is a missing link and that is why sometimes the court could be called upon to dot the i and cross the t,” said Olukayode Ariola who read the judgement
“The finality of the supreme court in civil cases is final.”
The judge said any attempt to make the overrule itself would be resisted.
“The verdict of the supreme court is a finality,” the panel held.
However, Chima Chiweze, one of the judges on the seven-man panel, disagreed with the judgement.
Chiweze held that a judgement could be set aside on the merits.
“A judgement or order can be set aside on the merits. This court has the power to overrule itself and has done so in the past,” the judge held.
He demanded that a certificate of return should be given to Ihedioha.
Earlier, Kanu Agabi, counsel to Ihedioha, withdrew a motion he filed seeking a review of the judgement that sacked his client.
Agabi told the court that they would be relying on a second motion asking the judges to set aside the judgement sacking his client.
The lawyer urged the panel to rely on the verdict of the court of appeal which upheld the victory of Ihedioha.
“We are not here to challenge the supremacy of the court, your judgements are final and this is not an affront. It is as we go to God in prayer to change his mind, that is how we have come to you to change your mind,” Agabi said.
Agabi told the court that they are praying the court to change its mind because of certain inherent errors in the judgment that removed his client from office.
He claimed that the apex court did not consider the judgment of the Court of Appeal which struck out Uzodinma’s appeal for being incompetent, adding that as at the time the apex court gave its judgment, the decision was still substiting.
Agabi in point another error he said was contained in the judgment, Agabi wondered where the issue of 388 polling units came about when in actual fact, Uzodinma had had tendered results of 366 polling units which he claimed was excluded from the total figure of votes cast at the election.
He said, “the judgment gave them credit in 22 polling units from nowhere”, adding that, ” contrary to all precedent, the number of votes cast at the election exceeded the number of accreditation by 129,000″.
He also argued that the judgment did not show that the APC had the necessary Constitutional spread to be declared as winner of the election, adding that the appeallants ought not to have benefited from an election which they claimed was invalid by reason of alleged malpractices.
“They themselves stigmatized the election as been invalid and as such cannot be beneficiary. From all our pleadings and from evidence, 366 instead of 388 polling units have dispute.
“There is something wrong with them. It is a fatal error on the part of the Supreme Court. If he tendered results of 366 polling units and gets results in 388 polling units, how did he do it”, Agabi SAN submitted.
He therefore urged the court to set aside its judgment sacking Ihedioha and restore the verdict of the Court of Appeal. He submitted that by section 6 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has all powers, including powers to correct its errors.
“We urge your lordships to grant this application and set aside the judgement.”
Then the CJN asked him: “And do what?”
Agabi said: “Rely on the verdict of the court of appeal.
Responding, counsel to Uzodinma and the APC, Mr Damian Dodo SAN, urged the court to dismiss the application for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
Dodo said they are opposing the application because the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain it in the first place.
Dodo said, “Whether the application is characterized as an application for review or classified as an application to set aside or so ever dressed or clothed, this Court has consistently and rightly so held that it lacked powers to sit on appeal over its own judgment and this is what it is”.
He said said what the applicants are asking the court to do amounts to an invitation to review its judgment and that is not tenable.
INEC had declared Ihedioha as winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship election on the ground that he won majority of lawful votes cast at the governorship poll.
The Imo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal in their concurrent decisions in the appeal filed by Senator Uzodinma, upheld Ihedioha’s election and dismissed Uzodinma’s petition on grounds that he did not prove his allegations against the election of Ihedioha. But the apex court held otherwise.