26th February, 2020
A seven-man panel of the Supreme Court has heard arguments by lawyers from all sides on whether it should uphold its 13 February ruling that nullified the election of David Lyon, the All Progressives Congress candidate, who overwhelmingly won the election.
The panel headed by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta has now risen, to resume to give a verdict.
The APC is seeking a reversal of the judgment which disqualified its candidate David Lyon.
Legal luminary Afe Babalola represented Lyon and Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, the deputy governor-elect.
Babalola, a senior advocate of Nigeria, argued that the apex court has the power to set aside its earlier judgment.
He insisted that the application is not for a review of the judgment but to set aside the judgment sacking Mr Lyon who overwhelmingly won the election.
Mr Babalola added that the judgment of the court delivered on February 13, amounts to a denial of fair hearing. He urged the court to reverse its decision.
Chief Wole Olanipekun, another senior advocate, representing the APC asked the apex court to set aside its judgment on the ground that the court had no jurisdiction to have entertained the appeal in the first place.
He explained that the suit was first filed at the Federal High Court as a pre-election matter, which is the foundation of the matter that made the appeal get to the apex court.
Mr Olanipekun, therefore, restated his argument that the apex court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
He added that all humans are fallible so it is not beyond the apex court to make a mistake.
Mr Olanipekun also faulted the interpretation of the judgment of the court by INEC which issued a certificate of return to Senator Douye Diri of the PDP, urging the court to grant the application to set aside its earlier judgment.
Counsel to the PDP, Tayo Oyetibo, also a SAN, argued that the application by David Lyon is an invitation to violate the nation’s constitution.
He added that it is also an invitation to the court to ‘sit in judgment’ over its earlier decision which must not be allowed while urging the court to summarily dismiss the application.
Mr Oyetibo argued that areas were well considered before the apex court arrived at its decision on February 13, insisting that the court cannot change the operative part of any judgment delivered by the apex court which is the final court in the land.
Citing section 22 of the Supreme Court act, Mr Oyetibo said “the court has wide powers to make any order including the order asking INEC to withdraw the certificate issued to David Lyon. The order made by the court was not out of order.”
He explained that the facts and justice of the case warranted the decision of the court and there is no error in it whatsoever.
He added that if any error is felt, it can only be addressed in a future case.
Mr Oyetibo insisted that the grant of this application will engender judicial stability as people will now wait for a possible review before acting on any judgment of the apex court.
He urged the court to dismiss the application and not to disturb the status quo.
Yunus Ustaz Usman who is representing Governor Douye Diri aligned himself with the submissions of Mr Oyetibo, insisting that the court cannot make any order outside the judgment, especially after a full-blown trial.
He reaffirmed the finality of the court as the highest of the land, urging the court to dismiss the application in the interest of the overall survival of the country.
Chris Uche, counsel to Bayelsa Deputy Governor, Mr Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo vehemently opposed the application for a review of the judgment of the apex court and urged the court to dismiss the applications filed by Mr Lyon and the APC for totally lacking in merit.
Uche argued that the Supreme court lacks the power to sit on appeal over any judgment delivered by the court.
He added that it is a case of outright abuse of court process, stating that the court must ‘jealously’ guard its judgments otherwise, there will be a floodgate of applications for review which will lead to a bastardization of the judicial process.
He urged the court to resist the dangerous invitation to violate the nation’s constitution.
Present to witness the proceeding are the National Chairman of the APC, Mr Adams Oshiomhole,
Governor Douye Diri and the sacked deputy governor-elect, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo.–Channels TV