Reasons behind Supreme Court Rejection of Bayelsa Governorship Elections Review

A Case seeking reversal of the judgement which sacked David Lyon and Degi-Eremieoyo as governor and deputy-governor elect of Bayelsa state has been described by the Supreme Court as “frivolous” and “abuse of the court”.

David Lyon of the All Progressive Congress(APC) who won the November 16 Bayelsa gubernatorial election with 352,552 votes to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Duoye Diri, who had just 143,172 votes was sacked by the Apex court barely 24 hours to his proposed inauguration. The Court consequently ordered INEC to issue fresh certificates “to the candidates of the party with the next highest votes and with the required constitutional spread of votes in the results of the election”, being the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidates.

On Thursday, 13 February, 2020, through a five-man panel, the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili okayed an earlier November 12, 2019 judgment of the Federal High Court,Abuja disqualifying Degi-Eremienyo for submitting forged certificates to INEC. It ruled that Degi-Eremieoyo’s disqualification had smeared the joint ticket with Lyon, as such their election stands nullified.

This prompted a request by the All Progressive Congress (APC) to review the judgment voiding the participation of its candidates. The APC, in its review request claimed the Supreme Court wrongly interpreted the November 12, 2019 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja which the Court based it’s judgement on. The party also declared that the Apex court was wrong when it proceeded to disqualify its governorship candidate when the high court didn’t.

“In this honourable court’s judgment of February 13, 2020, the court erroneously and inadvertently stated that the trial high court consequentially disqualified the applicant‘s governorship candidate even though the trial court made no such order and when the trial court indeed refused to grant the express orders sought by the plaintiffs therein for his disqualification.”

The party had consequently asked the court to set aside part of its judgment where it held that the Federal High Court, in disqualifying its deputy governorship candidate, disqualified its governorship candidate; and where it held that joint ticket of its candidates was tainted by the disqualification of the deputy governorship candidate.

It further averred that the Supreme Court had powers to set aside its own judgement if fault is found, as such the need for the court to go back to it’s judgement.

Gross abuse of the judicial process — Supreme Court

In the February 26 review consideration, the Supreme Court avers that the request by the APC connotes to “desecrating the sanctity of the court”. It subsequently dismissed the appeal for lack of merit.

Headed by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, the seven-man panel declared that the fresh applications filed by Lyon, his deputy and the All Progressive Congress, APC, aimed at pestering the Court to review it’s earlier judgement without claims of accidental slip or clerical errors was in violation of Order 8 Rule 2 of the Supreme Court Act.

“The court is nor authorised and lacks the jurisdiction to review its judgement”,

“Once this court has finally determined an issue, it is functus-officio. It is final forever, only legislation can alter it. It is final for all ages. No force on earth can get this court to shift its position on Bayelsa matter”, Justice Amina Augie who read the judgement held.

She also ordered the lawyers, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, and Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, each to personally pay the sum of N10 million to the respondents, being the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Governor, Duoye Diri and his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhujapkor as fine.

Justice Mary Peter-Odili among the judges

Following the February 13 Supreme Court judgement led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili that sacked the All Progressives Congress (APC), governorship candidates, her residence in Abuja was invaded.

The mob attack was alleged to be a reprisal action by APC youths due to her purported influence in the case in favour of the PDP.

She was also among the counsel which rejected the application seeking reversal of the Bayelsa Supreme Court verdict. Mrs Peter-Odili is the wife to a former governor of Rivers State and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic party, Peter Odili.

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