2nd March, 2012
The Supreme Court on Friday in Abuja upheld the election of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and Chief Rochas Okorocha of Delta and Imo states respectively.
The court adopted similar reason in upholding the election of the two governors as it maintained that the judgments of the court of appeal which formed the basis of the appeals were a nullity since the reasons for the judgments were delivered outside the 60 days allowed by the constitution.
In Uduaghan’s case, Justice Tanko Muhammed, who delivered the lead judgment, nullified the judgment of the Benin Division of the Court of Appeal which formed the bedrock of Great Ogboru’s appeal to the apex court.
In its place the court upheld the judgment of the Delta Governorship Election Tribunal which had earlier validated the declaration of Uduaghan as winner of that election.
The court noted that the appeal court on 5th January, 2012 gave its judgment but reserved its reason for the judgment till 27 January, 2012.
From 11 November, 2011 when the Delta State Governorship Election Tribunal delivered its judgment to 27 January, 2012 when the court of appeal gave its reasons, was more than the 60 days prescribed by the constitution.
The court held that the Court of Appeal had no power to defer reasons for its judgment on governorship election petition since it was not the lcourt of last resort..
According to the apex court, “judgment and reasons are inseparable twins which must be given together. There can be no judgment without reasons. The court of Appeal was wrong to have given its reasons for its judgment on a different date other than the day it delivered the judgment.
“A court whose judgment is appeallable must give its judgment and the reasons for it together to avoid judicial anarchy.”
Consequently, the appeal court judgment was declared null and void. Justice Mohammed consequently held that the judgment of the Delta State Governorship Election Tribunal which was won by Uduaghan was the subsisting judgment.
In the same manner, while upholding the election of Okorocha, the court declared as a nullity the judgment of the Appeal Court which was the basis of the appeal to the Supreme Court.
In its place, the Supreme Court held that the judgment of the Imo State Governorship Election Tribunal which had earlier upheld Okorocha’s election subsisted.
Justice Sylvester Ngwuta who delivered the lead judgment cited Sect 285 (7) of the constitution which required that judgment must be delivered within 60 days.
He noted that the Court of Appeal, even though it delivered its judgment within 60 days, gave the reasons for the judgment outside the 60 days.
According to him the judgment therefore is a nullity.
The reason given outside the 60 days rendered the judgment a nullity. The court consequently struck out the Appeal Court’s judgment and reinstated the judgment of the Imo State Governorship Election Tribunal.
—Nnamdi Felix / Abuja