Bayelsa: Supreme Court strikes out APC appeal, slams heavy fine on APC lawyers

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The Supreme Court has struck out the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC), for the review of the Bayelsa Governorship election.

The Court in its ruling said the appeal lacked merit and as a result, struck out.

Justice Amina Augie who read the judgment pointed out that the apex court’s decisions were final.

The judge said the applicants failed to point out errors in the earlier judgment, insisting that the judgment is final for all ages, saying that no court can fault or reverse it.

It would be recalled that Lyon and APC in their applications argued by Chief Afe Babalola SAN and Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN respectively prayed the court to review and set aside the judgment of February 13, which voided their participation in the November 16, governorship election.

However, after taking legal fireworks from parties in the matter, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta announced the stand-down of the matter, adding that the panel would reconvene soon for its decision in the matter.

Babalola had in his submissions said that the Supreme Court has inherent decision and power to set aside its own decision because the judgment which voided the election of his client was a nullity on account of denial of fair hearing of his client.

According to him, the procedure adopted by the apex court on February 13 was wrong because there was no cause of action at the time the Supreme Court gave judgment against Lyon.

Olanipekun SAN on his part argued that the apex court erred in law when it invoked section 36 of the Electoral Act to disqualify the APC’s participation in the election when the Federal High Court judgment restored by the Supreme Court did not disqualify the party’s eligibility.

He further argued that the Supreme Court cannot give consequential order on a relief not granted by a trial court except due to human error.

However, counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Tayo Oyetibo SAN, informed the apex court that the application by APC and its governorship candidate were a dangerous invitation to the Supreme Court to violate section 285 of the 1999 constitution, for the court to sit on appeal over its own matter.

Oyetibo argued that having delivered final judgment in the matter on merit on February 13, the court has no jurisdiction to sit on appeal in the judgment, adding that it is scandalous to ask the apex court to review the judgment.

He further stated that the apex court was right in disqualifying Lyon as the governor-elect because section 187 of the 1999 constitution is clear and unambiguous to the effect that a governorship candidate who has no deputy candidate is not qualified to contest any governorship election in Nigeria.

“When the Supreme Court gives judgment, it is deemed correct. It has never happened in the history of the Supreme Court to reverse itself, its judgment is final and finality. And whatever Supreme Court says in the interpretation of the law is the law”.

His submissions were adopted by other respondents in the matter.

Similarly, the Supreme Court on Wednesday described the request by the APC to review its judgment voiding the participation of its candidate in the Bayelsa governorship election as vexatious, frivolous and an abuse of the court.

It also slammed N60m fine against the lawyers of the APC, Afe Babalola and Wale Olanipekun.

The apex court, therefore, held that the suit filed on behalf of the APC, its sacked governor-elect and deputy governor-elect, Mr. David Lyon and Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo lacked merit and accordingly dismissed it.

In the unanimous ruling delivered by Justice Amina Augie, it came down heavily on the counsel to the applicants, Chief Afe Babalola and Wole Olanipekun for filing the motions which the court described as regrettable motions and a deliberate desecration of the judiciary.

“I feel like shedding tears that senior counsel, in this case, would ever bring this kind of frivolous applications during my lifetime”, Justice Augie said in an emotion-laden voice.

She also ordered the lawyers, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, and Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, to pay the sum of N10 million to each of the three respondents as fine.

The beneficiary respondents are the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Governor, Duoye Diri and his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhujapkor.

In the ruling that lasted about 30 minutes, Justice Augie held that by Order 8, Rule 16 of the Supreme Court, the court has no powers or authority to review any judgment delivered on merit safe for clerical error.

“This court is not authorized and indeed lacked jurisdiction to review any judgment delivered on merit, more so when the applicants have not pointed out any accidental error or slip in the judgment. There must be an end to every litigation.

“This is the final court and its decisions are final for all ages so as to ensure certainty in the law.

“The two applications brought before us today lacked merit and constituted an abuse of this court and they are liable to dismissal and are hereby dismissed”, the court held.

Justice Augie said the fine is to be personally paid by the lawyers.

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