The Supreme Court has dismissed the application by Emeka Ihedioha for the review of its 14 January judgment that ousted him as governor of Imo State.
The judgment was handed down in Abuja on Tuesday, by the review panel headed by Chief Justice Tanko Muhammad, with one Justice Chima Centus Nwese dissenting.
Justice Olukayode Ariwoola read the majority judgment and dismissed the application for lacking merit.
“In the majority ruling, the court held that granting the request of the applicants would open the flood gate by parties to all kinds of litigations”.
The court insisted 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.
“Certainly this court has no inherent power to grant what is being sought, it is beyond the powers of this Court. There is no Constitutional provisions for this court to review its own judgment”, Ariwoola said.
“To say the least, this court has no competence and lacked power to sit on appeal in its own decision. Finality of the Supreme Court is entrenched in the constitution and inherent power can only be invoked where there is law to do so.
“This court cannot under any guise alter any judgment under any inherent power, as doing so would bring the court into disrepute and ridicule.
“The application is liable for dismissal and is hereby dismissed for want of jurisdiction and competence.
No costs was awarded, unlike the Bayelsa case where lawyers to the APC and David Lyon were slammed with N60m cost to be paid to the defendants.
Justice Centus Nweze in his dissenting judgment set aside the January 14 judgment of the Supreme Court that removed Ihedioha from office as a nullity and in bad faith.
Nweze nullified the declaration of Uzodinma as governor on account of wrong declaration and held that Uzodinma mischievously misled the court into unjust conclusion with the unverified votes in 388 polling units.
“In my intimate reading of the January 14 judgment, the substance of Ihedioha’s matter was lost to time frame.
“This Court once set aside its own earlier judgment and therefore cannot use time frame to extinguish the right of any person.
“This Court has powers to over rule itself and can revisit any decision not in accordance with justice”, he said.
According to Nweze, ‘this decision of the Supreme Court will continue to hunt our electoral jurisprudence for a long time to come, adding that without evidence of meeting other constitutional provisions, the court misled itself into declaring Uzodinma as governor.
“This Court has a duty of redeeming its image.
“I am of the view that this application should succeed. I hereby make an order setting aside the decision of this Court made on Jan. 14 and that the certificate of return issued to the appellant be returned to INEC.
“I also make an order restoring the respondents as winner of the March 9 governorship election.
After Justice Nweze’s ruling, people in the court, including counsel, burst into spontaneous clapping.
However, the CJN threatened to sentence anyone caught clapping to “continuous clapping”.
Ihedioha and the PDP had asked the justices to review their judgment on the Imo governorship election which ousted Ihedioha and installed Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress.
The appellants claimed that the judgment was obtained by fraud and urged the seven-man panel headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammed to review the verdict in their favour.
Lawyer to Mr. Ihedioha, Chief Kanu Agabi, in his argument, claimed that fraud was evident in the judgment, as the appellant, Hope Uzodinma, claimed he was excluded from 388 polling units but tendered results from only 366 polling units
He argued that the addition of votes from 388 polling units in favour of Senator Uzodinma exceeded the total number of accredited voters by 129,000 votes.
Countering the argument, Damian Dodo, lawyer to Governor Hope Uzodinma said the application to revisit, review or set aside the judgment of the court is an incompetent one lacking in merit.
He argued that the apex court lacks the jurisdiction to sit on appeal over any judgment delivered by the court except where cases of typographical errors or slips are noticed in the said judgment. In this case, no such errors have been established, he said.
Mr Damian Dodo added that the appellant approached the apex court in the face of compelling evidence that Senator Hope Uzodinma won the election, and therefore asked the court to dismiss the application.
*Updated with details of what the judges said.