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Imo decision will haunt electoral jurisprudence for a long time – Supreme Court Justice

Justice Chima Centus Nweze who was part of the 7-man panel that presided over the Imo review appeal filed by Emeka Ihedioha, raised an alarm of the Supreme Court’s decision on the case, haunting the electoral jurisprudence for a long time. 

Recall that on January 14, 2020, the Supreme Court declared the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate, Hope Uzodinma as the valid winner of the November 2019 Governorship election conducted in Imo state. The apex court ordered the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Emeka Ihedioha to vacate the office of the governor.

While the majority six insisted on the infallibility attribute of the Supreme Court to hold fast to its verdict whether right or wrong, Nweze recalled how same court reversed its judgement in the past. 

The panel led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad voted six-to-one, with the majority agreeing to dismiss the application.

Justice Kayode Ariwoola who read the majority verdict, said; 

“Certainly this court has no inherent power to grant what is being sought, it is beyond the powers of this Court. There is no Constitutional provisions for this court to review its own judgment.

“To say the least, this court has no competence and lacked power to sit on appeal in its own decision. Finality of the Supreme Court is entrenched in the constitution and inherent power can only be invoked where there is law to do so.

“This court cannot under any guise alter any judgment under any inherent power, as doing so would bring the court into disrepute and ridicule.

“The application is liable for dismissal and is hereby dismissed for want of jurisdiction and competence.”

Justice Nweze who insisted that the Supreme Court can reverse itself in fulfilment of justice, stated that the apex court misled itself into declaring Uzodinma as governor without evidence of meeting other constitutional provisions. 

He said; 

“This decision of the Supreme Court will continue to haunt our electoral jurisprudence for a long time to come. 

“In my intimate reading of the January 14 judgment, the substance of Ihedioha’s matter was lost to time frame.

“This Court once set aside its own earlier judgment and therefore cannot use time frame to extinguish the right of any person.

“This Court has powers to over rule itself and can revisit any decision not in accordance with justice.

“This decision of the Supreme Court will continue to haunt our electoral jurisprudence for a long time to come.

“This Court has a duty of redeeming its image.

“I am of the view that this application should succeed. I hereby make an order setting aside the decision of this Court made on Jan. 14 and that the certificate of return issued to the appellant be returned to INEC.

“I also make an order restoring the respondents as winner of the March 9 governorship election.”
 

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