There was confusion at the Supreme Court yesterday as the case of the Imo state gubernatorial election brought before it by Emeka Ihedioha of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was finally laid to rest.
On January 14, Ihedioha had been sacked by the apex court as governor of Imo state and replaced by Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in a judgement that sparked national uproar. Ihedioha had then appealed to the court to review its judgement in the light of fresh evidences made available to it.
In the delivery of the final judgement yesterday, the apex court Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammed, threw out Ihedioha’s case on the basis that the court could not reverse itself, but there was confusion among the 7 judges that made up the review panel.
While 6 of them agreed that Ihedioha’s case lacked merit and that the apex court lacked jurisdiction to review its own judgement, one of the judges, Justice Chima Centus Nweze, had an opposing view in disagreement with his other 6 colleagues. He was of the opinion that the court was not infallible and therefore reserved the power to review its judgement if such was discovered to have been made in error.
The final judgement read by Justice Olukayode Ariwola states as follows: “The application was an invitation for the Supreme Court to sit on appeal over its own final judgment. Granting the request of the applicants will open the floodgate by parties to all kinds of litigation.
The general law is that the court has no power under any provision order to review any application unless to correct an error. This court has on each occasion stated that it lacks jurisdiction to do that. We cannot sit as an appeal court. We have no hearing power in respect of the matter.
The court does not have the competence and lacks the jurisdiction to review its own judgment. The finality of the Supreme Court is inherent in the constitution.
To ask us to set it aside means an appeal for us to sit on our own decision, which we have no jurisdiction over.
The application is hereby dismissed and parties are to bear their respective costs.”
However, Justice Chima Centus Nweze contradicted his learned colleagues, describing the January 14 verdict of the court that ousted Emeka Ihedioha as a “wonder that shall never end”
He added that Hope Uzodinma had presented the court with a wrong information as he did not tender the record of accredited voters and therefore got a favourable decision from the court by deceit.
According to Justice Nweze, the judgement would continue to hurt the country’s electoral integrity going forward, if not reversed.