A coalition of 30 civil right movements under the aegis of Justice Advocates in Abuja on Thursday took on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJ ), Justice Mohammed Tanko to constitute a new panel to review the Supreme Court judgment on Imo State.
While describing the demand as laughable, they said there is nothing unusual allowing same panel to hear the application by PDP for review especially as there is no allegation of corruption against the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate by the applicants.
The Supreme Court in its judgment delivered on January 14, 2020, sacked PDP governorship candidate in the 2019 election, Emeka Ihedioha as Imo State Governor and replaced him with Hope Uzodinma of the APC.
But speaking during a world press conference in Abuja attended by the over 30 human rights organisations, the Convener of JA, Dr. Abimbola Fagbemi on Thursday that the call by the PDP was laughable.
He said, “It is inconceivable that the Supreme Court panel of seven eminent noble Lords that gave the judgment on January 14 2020 will be altered because the case requires constitutional interpretation and mandatorily, a panel of seven is inviolable”.
According to him, at present, there are 11 members of the Supreme Court and recusing seven would leave only four Justices who cannot form a quorum to hear a constitutional case.
“Aside that, it is believed that those four Justices have sympathy for the PDP which it will be morally wrong to allow them adjudicate on a matter that have interest.
“The panel of Supreme Court Justices led by the CJN heard the case, gave its judgment and, naturally, a review of that judgment must be by the panel that allegedly made the mistake (as purported by the PDP and its governorship candidate) as to do otherwise will mean another panel sitting on appeal above the CJN”, Fagbemi said.
He stated that if the PDP wanted the judgment to be set aside, the law is settled that it is the same court that gave the judgment that must be approached first to set it aside.
Fagbemi also said that Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court rules 2014, prohibits the Supreme Court from reviewing its judgment once delivered except to correct clerical mistakes even as the 60 days window allowed by law on adjudication of electoral dispute have expired.
The activist cited the Electoral Act and Section 285 of the 1999 constitution to buttress his point.
“There is nothing unusual allowing the same panel to hear the application for review especially as there is no allegation of corruption against them by the applicants”, he stated.