1. Kehinde Ogunwumiju , SAN
2. Ademola Adekeda
3. E.J Longe
1st& 2nd Respondent
1. Gordy Uche , SAN
2. Robert Agwu, Esq
3. Francis Insidiwam , Esq
1. Prof Mike Ozekhome SAN
2. J.U.K Igwe, SAN
3. N.A Nnawuchi, SAN
4. Chukwudi Adigwu, SAN
5. Abubakar Sanni, Esq
1. Alhassan Umar, SAN
2. Anthony Onyeri Esq
3. S.N. Danbaba, Esq
A. Party seeking to be joined (PETER OGBUJI)
1. I. A Adedipe, SAN
2. Emmanuel S. Njoka
3. Eyiwanda Oguntuase
4. Dr. Fidelis Adedipe
B. Party seeking to be joined (APGA)
1. K. C. Nwufo, SAN
2. S.I Nwoke
3. Peter Nwatu, Esq
4. U.N Isaac, Esq
C. Party seeking to be joined (Providence People’s Congress)
1. Ayotunde Ogunleye, SAN
2. Aduniofa Adeleye
3. Ifedayo O. Ganiyu
4. Marvelous Chiamaka
D. Party seeking to be joined (APC)
1. E. A Osayomi, SAN
2. K. C Wisdom, ESQ
3. M.A Umar, Esq
Party seeking to be joined (Sen. Hope Uzodinma)
1. Dr A. O Ajanybani , SAN
2. J.M. Matthew, Esq
3. Tolulope Oke
Court: Why are we here? All those who want to join, let us first find out why we are here.
Prof Mike Ozekhome, SAN: We are here to urge this Honourable court to give effect to its judgement delivered on 20th December, 2019 and for enforcement of same. It is predicated on our process dated 23rd November, 2023, and filed on 24th November, 2023. It is a motion on notice seeking consequential orders. We are not asking that the court revise or review its judgment; rather, that the court enforces and give effect to it. We are not appealing or saying that this court should revise itself but. Far be it. Even if we were, the court has the powers to do so as decided by this apex court in the case of ADEGOKE MOTORS V. ADESANYA (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 109). In the lead judgement delivered by Oputa, JSC (of blessed memory), which is often not fully quoted by many, he said as follows and I quote:
“We are final not because we are infallible, rather we are infallible because we are final. Justices of this court are human beings, capable of erring. It will certainly be short-sighted arrogance not to accept this obvious truth. It is also true that this court can do inestimable good through its wise decisions. Similarly, the court can do incalculable harm through its mistakes. When therefore it appears to learned counsel that any decision of this court has been given per incuriam, such counsel should have the boldness and courage to ask that such a decision be over-ruled. This court has the power to over-rule itself (and has done so in the past) for it gladly accepts that it is far better to admit an error than to persevere in error. Learned counsel has not asked us to over-rule either Skenconsult or Ezomo supra. If that was what was wanted, the briefs should have said so specifically and the Chief Justice of the Federation would have gladly empanelled a Full Court”. My Lord, this is precisely the case here. We ,like in the above scenario, are not asking this court to overrule itself. If we wanted, we would have humbly requested the CJN to empanel a full constitutional court of 7 Justices.
Court: This is a court of law. No matter how you look at it, this is an election-related matter and there is a time limitation to it.
Prof Ozekhome: We cannot, with respect, be talking about time-barred-ness or limitation when there is an illegality as found by this honourable court. That issue of illegality was emphasized by Hon. Justices Amina Augie, Mary Peter-Odili, Bode Rhodes- Vivour, and Ejembi Eko, in their separate contributions to the judgement which we want enforced by this same court.
Court: please read number 2 of your consequential reliefs.
Prof Ozekhome: (reads as directed by their Lordships).
Court: This judgement you are talking about was delivered on 20th December, 2019, and that is 4 years ago.
Prof Ozekhome: Yes, but let us not forget, sirs, the fact that we were compelled to write 7 separate letters to the former CJN and the current CJN to set this matter down for hearing since 2020 – until today’s hearing.What is in issue here is the illegality that was in the conduct of the Appellant. And it has no time limit; it cannot be affected by time limitation. That was what you held in this very appeal (CV/1348/2019: UGWUMBA UCHE NWOSU V. APP (2020) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1749) 28)
Court: This is an election matter governed by the Electoral Act and the Constitution. There is a time limit for it. Some of you know that certain things are impossible, but you bring them forward to demonize us.
Prof Ozekhome: I would never be part of such people. I have defended the Judiciary all my life. My Lords know my antecedents very well.
Court: it is clearly an election matter. We do not have the jurisdiction to hear it. This is not a matter for this court at this stage. If you want, you can go ahead and move your motion, but you will still get the same result. Your antecedents show that you do not pursue frivolous things. We are therefore surprised about this particular application.
Prof Ozekhome: Thank you, my Lords, for your kind and generous words. I had tasked myself in serious research on this matter. If my Lords may recall sirs, earlier this year, upon the prompting of this Honourable Court bordering on jurisdiction, I had withdrawn about three matters from this court. However, I genuinely believe that this apex court has jurisdiction to hear this particular matter.
Court: what do you gain from this process? The tenure of office sought has expired, what you are fighting for has ceased to exist. It is said that the tenure is to expire in January next year, but election has already been held. Are you going to expect us to cancel the election, and tell you to go on? Do you file cases just to burden us?
Prof Ozekhome: My Lords, we had written 7 letters between 2020 and now asking my Lords, the former CJN and the present CJN, to set it down for hearing. But it was not done and we were helpless. I will never bring up a case just to burden my Lords.
Court: After that case, was there any other case on this issue?
Prof Ozekhome: Yes sir.
Court: what does that other case represent? Was it not to determine the governorship of Imo state? After that, there was a suit for review. What then happened to the other judgment? Let us assume that we go with you; let us say we have jurisdiction to hear this matter, what happens then?
Prof Ozekhome: The case of OBI V INEC (2007) 13 NWLR (PT. 1046) 565 completely answers this question my Lord: Time cannot run against illegality. You held as much in the case we are urging you to give effect to. In Obi’s case, it was taken that Dr Chris Ngige was unlawfully sworn in as Governor of Anambra State. That was why his tenure was discounted to enable Obi to start a fresh tenure of four years running from 17th of March, 2006 and ending 17th March, 2010, as his return was held null and void and of no legal consequence. This Honourable Court also made consequential reliefs in APC V. MARAFA (2020) 6 NWLR (PT. 1721) 383, which, with all humility, I most respectfully handled. We are not asking that this court reverses itself or overrules itself. All we are asking for is that the court should grant consequential orders to give effect to its own judgement delivered on 20th December, 2019. Your Lordships have the powers and jurisdiction to do the same here.
Court: In the atmosphere that we are in, we will not tolerate any matter such as this. Counsel on both sides know the truth. People bring impossible matters before us and then denigrate the court when we show them the law. We have no jurisdiction. Do you really believe, as a Professor of Law, that we have jurisdiction?
Prof Ozekhome: Yes sir, I do. I believe that you have jurisdiction sirs, not just because I am a Professor of Law, but, more importantly, because I am a Christian who wishes to see the face of God when I die, and God asks me whether I genuinely believed you have jurisdiction.
Court: Okay. Let us take your argument down. We will rise and then decide on it when we return.
**The court rose and reconvened after about 20 – 25 minutes.
Court: All parties seeking to be joined, you will have to wait for us to decide whether or not we have jurisdiction first. Prof Ozekhome, address the court on the issue of jurisdiction.
Prof Ozekhome: I verily believe and submit that this court has jurisdiction to determine this matter because the issue borders on illegality. I humbly urge my Lords to give effect to your judgment in SC: 1384/2019 delivered on 20th December, 2019 (i.e. UGWUMBA UCHE NWOSU V. APP (2020) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1749) 28), in which this court had considered Section 285(9) of the CFRN,1999, and decided that, though it was an election-related matter that must be filed within 14 days, there was illegality in it, and as such, the Appellant could not be allowed to rely on and benefit from his own illegality.
Your Lordships thereafter upheld the concurrent findings of the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal that the issue of double nomination wherein Uche Nwosu the candidate of both the APC and Action Alliance (AA) amounted to an illegality which took it out of the operation of Section 285(9) of the Constitution. I humbly refer my Lords to the case of NWOSU V APP (2020) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1749) 28
Court: There was an earlier opportunity to make this application, but the Applicant failed to use it then.
Prof Ozekhome: The judgement of January 14, 2019 in Appeal No. SC/1462/2019 (i.e. UZODINMA & ANOR V. IHEDIOHA & ORS (2020) LPELR-50260 (SC)), was about the general election, not on this illegality. When this issue of illegality was raised, this Court ruled that it was not an issue before it.
Court: Ogunwumiju, please address the court on this.
Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN (for the Appellant): This court cannot sit on appeal over its own judgment, as it had already decided on this matter. It does not have the power to do that. The application is statute-barred under the Constitution. It should have been determined within 60 days after the appeal was determined in December, 2019, that is, almost 4 years ago.
Alhassan Umar, SAN: The Applicant in this matter had the opportunity to raise the issues herein in the main appeal earlier decided, but it did not. It is too late to do so now, as the court is functus officio.
Court: that is all on these arguments.
**Tijani, JSC set to deliver the ruling. Court jokingly asked Counsel if they were surprised.
Prof Ozekhome (jokingly): I had always thought only God knows the end from the very beginning. I had thought the court would only write its ruling after hearing us.
Court: We do not find any merit in this application, not even on the grounds of illegality as argued by 3rd Applicant’s counsel. We have decided that this application is designed to relitigate matters that have already been pronounced upon by this court. The 60 days stipulated to hear the election matter had since elapsed. This request is strange, frivolous, baseless, unwarranted, vexatious and irritating. It is a calculated design to demonise the Supreme Court. The application is hereby dismissed with cost of 10 million naira awarded in favour of the Appellant, the 1st, 2nd and 4th Respondents, to be paid personally by the 3rd Respondent’s counsel, Prof Mike Ozekhome, SAN