UPDATE: Supreme Court dismisses Lyon, APC’s application for lacking in merit, fines Afe Babalola, Olanipekun N10m each

The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, dismissed applications for judgment review brought before it by the sacked Bayelsa governor-elect,  David Lyon and the All Progressive Congress (APC).

The apex court, in the unanimous judgment, described the APC’s request to review its judgment, voiding the participation of its candidate in the Bayelsa governorship election as vexatious, frivolous and an abuse of court process.

The court 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 was accordingly dismissed.

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

According to Justice Augie: “I feel like shedding tears that senior counsel, in this case, would ever bring this kind of frivolous applications during my lifetime” and subsequently ordered the counsel, Afe Babalola and Wole Olanipekun, to pay N10 million fine to each of the three respondents in the matter.

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

In the judgment, 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 authorised and indeed lacked jurisdiction to review any judgment delivered on merit, moreso when the applicants have not pointed out any accidental error or slip in the judgment. There must be an end to every litigation.

“Even if we review this judgment, every disaffected litigants will bring similar application and the finality of the Supreme Court will be lost.

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

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

Lyon and APC had, in their applications, prayed the court to review and set aside the judgment of February 13 , 2020 which voided their participation in the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State.

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 because his client was denied fair hearing.

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 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 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 Supreme Court gives judgment, it is deemed correct. It has never happened in the history of 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,” he said.

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