Supreme Court dismisses APC application, affirms Matawalle as Zamfara governor

The Supreme Court has dismissed the application of the All Progressives Congress seeking to review the judgement on the Zamfara governorship election and others.

The apex court said the application was a gross abuse of court, frivolous and grossly vexatious.

It awarded N2m cost against the APC to be paid to the respondents.

The apex court had in a judgement delivered in May 2019 nullified the victory of the APC in the Zamfara governorship, national and state assemblies elections for not conducting valid primaries in the state.

It ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue the Certificate of Return to the candidates of the political party with the next highest votes in the elections.

Consequently, the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Bello Matawalle, was sworn in as governor with the positions in the national and state assemblies filled by the PDP’s candidates.

Reading the lead judgement, Justice John Okoro said by Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court, the apex court lacked the jurisdiction to review its own judgement.

The court agreed with the counsel to the 1-140 Respondents, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), that it could not review its judgement once delivered except to correct clerical errors, slips or to give effects to its judgement.

The judge ruled, “The rules are clear that the court shall not review any judgement. The first and constant duty of the court in interpreting statute is to give regard to the statute.

“There is total prohibition to review judgement. The operative words are ‘shall not.’

“Our forbearers didn’t leave anyone in doubt that our judgements, once delivered, cannot be reviewed. It is trite law that the word ‘shall’ is a command and mandatory. When the word ‘not’ is added, it means must never be done. The Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to set aside its judgement.

“It is crystal clear that the court has no jurisdiction to entertain the prayers as sought in this application.

“It is a gross abuse of court processes, frivolous, vexatious and violates Order 8 Rule 16. The application is dismissed.”

The apex court advised political parties to respect the constitution, the Electoral Act and their own constitutions.

It warned that the hammer of the court would continue to fall on erring political party, no matter whose is ox was gored.

But in a dissenting judgement, Justice C.C Nweze said there were precedent cases where the Supreme Court reversed itself in the interest of justice.

He queried the decision to declare the PDP’s candidates as beneficiaries of the APC’s intra-party affairs when they were not parties to the suit.

He said, “They were not parties to the suit in which the consequential order was made. All the parties in the matter were all in APC.

“They (the PDP candidates) should have sought the leave of the court to join as parties. Therefore the beneficiaries of an order must have been parties to the suit.

“This court can’t be a Father Christmas to award reliefs not sought as done in APC vs Marafa,” he said.

The APC had through its lawyer, Robert Clarke (SAN), sought an order setting aside the consequential order made in the May judgement.

It also sought an order for a fresh primary and election to be conducted by the INEC and for any order the court may deem fit.

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