Supreme Court begins review of Bayelsa Guber verdict Wednesday

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The Supreme Court has scheduled hearing for Wednesday, February 26, in the application by the All Progressives Congress (APC) seeking among others, a review of its February 13, 2020 judgment disqualifying the party’s candidate in the last governorship election in Bayelsa State, David Lyon. 

 

It was gathered that the Registrar of the apex court has communicated the date of hearing to parties in the case. It however remained unclear, whether or not respondents to the APC’s application; the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Governor Duoye Diri have filed their responses.

 

In the application filed on February 20 by its team of lawyers led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), the APC wants the Supreme Court to set aside some portions of its judgment. They include where it “wrongly” held that the Federal High Court disqualified its governorship candidate along with its deputy governorship candidate and where it held that joint ticket of its candidates was vitiated by the disqualification of the deputy governorship candidate and that both candidates are deemed not to be candidates in the election.

 

It is also the APC’s prayer that the Supreme Court sets aside the portion of the judgment where it ordered INEC to declare as winner of the governorship election, candidates with the highest number of lawful votes and where it ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Lyon and issue a fresh one to the candidate who had the highest number of lawful votes.

 

The APC argued that it was wrong for the Supreme Court to have voided its candidates’ participation in the election, because the judgment by the federal high court, which disqualified its deputy governorship candidate, was stayed as at when the election was conducted. It also wants the Supreme Court to set aside the “wrong” interpretation given to its judgment and the subsequent execution by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

 

It is the APC’s contention, among others, that the Supreme Court, in its judgment, misinterpreted the November 12, 2019 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja which it (the Supreme Court) affirmed.

The APC argued that the Supreme Court acted without jurisdiction and denied it (the party) fair hearing when it proceeded to disqualify its governorship candidate even though the Federal High Court, in the judgment by Justice Inyang Ekwo, which the apex court affirmed, refused the plaintiffs’ prayer to disqualify Lyon.

 

The party also faulted the interpretation given to the Supreme Court judgment by INEC in deciding to issue a certificate of return to the candidates of the PDP. The APC queried the premises on which the Supreme Court disqualified Lyon when the Federal High Court did not grant the reliefs for his disqualification. It accused the Supreme Court of acting without jurisdiction by disqualifying its candidate and breaching its right to fair hearing.

 

The announcement on the hearing came after senior constitutional lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), described the attack on Justice Mary Peter-Odili as dangerous for the independence of the Supreme Court. He said it was sickening that Justice Odili’s residence was singled out and attacked by hired political hoodlums, miscreants and thugs, just for merely carrying out her judicial functions of heading a five-member panel that delivered the judgment sacking the Governor-elect of Bayelsa State.

 

Justice Odili had chaired a five-man panel of the Supreme Court that sacked David Lyon of the APC as Bayelsa State governor-elect on the grounds that Biobarakuma Degi-Eriemienyo, his running mate, presented forged credentials to INEC. He lamented that Odili was singled out and attacked, noting that Odili did not even write or deliver the lead judgment.

 

He said, “The lead judgment was written and delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko. More significant is the fact that the entire judgment was a unanimous decision and pronouncement made by the entire five members of the Supreme Court panel that heard the matter. Why would she be singled out just because she is from Rivers State, near Bayelsa State?” Ozekhome queried.

 

The senior advocate stated that the attack on Odili was not an ordinary one as it should not be ignored and swept under the carpet. He urged the police and authorities to investigate the attack and bring anyone found culpable to book.