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Again, Supreme Court refuses to review own judgment

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh and Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja
28 March 2020   |   4:10 am
The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed the application filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC), asking the court to set aside its consequential order

Dismisses Zamfara APC Application
• Slams N2m Cost Against APC
• Matawalle Seeks Cooperation For Good Governance

The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed the application filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC), asking the court to set aside its consequential order that made the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) beneficiary of all elective positions in last year’s general elections in Zamfara State.  

However, in a split ruling of four Justices to one, the court held and insisted that its decision on any matter is final and finality in the real sense of it.

In his reaction, Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle called on all political opponents to drop the politics of bitterness and join him in the drive for good governance in the State.

He said: “Today’s verdict has indeed strengthened our resolve and commitment to deliver good governance to our people. We shall continue with our current efforts of securing Zamfara State and transforming it in all facets of human life.

“It is now time we faced the various issues of development of our state with greater vigour. It is not a time for settling political scores, but for renewal of determination to do right to all manner of people of our dear state.”

In the majority ruling delivered by Justice John Inyang Okoro, the apex court upheld the preliminary objection raised by Senator Kabiru Marafa against the judicial review application of the APC.  

Justice Okoro stated that by Order 8, Rule 16 of the Supreme Court, it has no jurisdiction under any guise to interfere with any judgment once delivered by the court.  

The court further held that the application brought by APC was an abuse of court processes, incompetent and vexatious because Order 8, Rule 16 was clear and unambiguous in prohibiting it from going into a matter already decided.  

Justice Okoro, who cited several authorities to justify the position of the court, made it clear that the farthest it could go in a matter already decided is to correct accidental errors and slips and not to sit as an appellate court in its own ruling.

He stated: “Even our fore-bearers did not leave anyone in doubt that a Supreme Court judgment, once delivered, cannot be adjudicated upon in the form of appeal by the same court.”  

Noting that there must be an end to litigation, Justice Okoro held that the finality of the Supreme Court is sealed and that no one can come through the back-door to interfere with it.  

“The consequential order complained of by the applicant is a legitimate consequential order and this application seeking for its review and setting aside is vexatious and frivolous, as it violently violates Order 8 Rule 16 of the court.  

“Let me warn here that political parties must obey their own constitutions and relevant laws and where they fail or refuse to obey, the hammer of the court will always fall on them.  

“It is the duty of the court to always take decisions that will prevent anarchy in this country. Only serious matters must be brought before the Supreme Court,” the judge held.  

Justice Okoro, thereafter, imposed a fine of N2million on APC to be paid to the Marafa faction in the appeal.  

But in a dissenting judgment, Justice Centus China Nweze, disagreed with his colleagues that the Supreme Court cannot reverse itself where necessary.         

Justice Nweze, however, admitted that the consequential order was made in error, as PDP candidates in the last general elections in Zamfara State were not parties in the appeal and ought not to have benefitted.  

He said: “The consequential order complained against by the applicant has no bearing with the appeal brought by the APC and it is hereby set aside, having been made in error.”

Matawalle said the essence of politics is to serve the people, adding: “If those in the opposition truly share this perspective, it is time for them to shun political bitterness and join hands with the government to move the state forward.

“As we open a new chapter in our journey to move Zamfara State forward, we shall maintain zero tolerance to all acts of mischief capable of derailing our administration from its mission. All acts or statements capable of sabotaging our peace and security efforts would not be condoned.”

He said his administration is an all-inclusive one, which is ready to go along with all well-meaning people of the state, irrespective of their political dispositions.

The governor, however, expressed dismay that some politicians in the state had resorted to all kinds of actions to frustrate his government, noting: “To our surprise, however, some elements within the political circle decided right from day one to do all they could to frustrate our administration.”