The Peoples Democratic Party on Monday asked the Supreme Court to review its judgment, which upheld the victory of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in the 2019 presidential election and dismissed the appeal of the PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, who stated this during a press conference in Abuja, also called on the Supreme Court to review its judgments on the governorship elections in four states.
The party demanded a review of the apex court’s judgment on the 2018 governorship election in Osun State. In the judgment, the Supreme Court upheld the APC’s candidate, Governor Gboyega Oyetola’s victory and dismissed the PDP candidate, Ademola Adeleke’s appeal.
It also demanded a review of the Supreme Court judgment on the 2019 Kaduna State election involving the APC candidate, Nasir El-Rufai, and his PDP opponent, Isah Ashiru.
The opposition party further called for a review of the Supreme Court judgment on the Kano State governorship election involving the APC candidate, Abdullahi Ganduje, and his PDP counterpart, Abba Yusuf, as well as the apex court’s verdict on the Katsina State governorship poll.
In its judgment, the Supreme Court upheld the election of the state governor, Aminu Masari, and dismissed the appeal of his challenger, Senator Yakubu Danmarke, of the PDP.
Ologbondiyan said the PDP was demanding reviews of the judgments because of the alleged plot by the APC “to pressure the justices of the Supreme Court to upturn the judgment of Justice Mary Odili-led panel on the Bayelsa State governorship election.”
The Justice Odili-led panel had, in its judgment on February 13, nullified the election of the Bayelsa State governorship candidate of the APC, Mr David Lyon, who was then the governor-elect.
The panel ruled that Lyon’s running mate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, presented false information about his educational qualifications in his Form CF001 submitted to Independent National Electoral Commission as a candidate for the 2019 election.
According to the apex court, Degi-Eremienyo’s disqualification on the basis of submitting false information to INEC had infected the joint ticket with which he and Lyon contested the election and emerged victorious.
It asked INEC to withdraw their certificates of return and give a fresh one to the candidate with the next highest number of votes.
Ologbondiyan, at the press conference in Abuja said, “The PDP finds it ludicrous, ridiculous and insulting to the sensibilities and respect of the Supreme Court justices for the APC to hurriedly and malevolently head for the Supreme Court to attempt to arm twist the lord justices to effect a forceful reversal of the valid, flawless and faultless judgments on Bayelsa and Zamfara states governorship elections.
Certificate forgery allegation against President established at apex court – PDP
“Consequently, the National Working Committee of the PDP, after comprehensive consultations, states that our party has no choice left, given the manner with which the APC has conducted itself, but to ask for a review of the judgment of the presidential election petitions tribunal, where the issue of certificate forgery and or presentation of false information in aid of qualifications was clearly established against the APC and its presidential candidate.”
He added, “The same applies to the judgment on the Katsina State governorship election petitions tribunal, where lawyers also established a similar issue of certificate forgery.
“The PDP equally has no choice but to ask the Supreme Court to review the Kano, Kaduna and Katsina election judgments because of manifest violence and substantial non-compliance with our electoral law.
“The PDP also asks the Supreme Court to review its judgment on the Osun governorship election in view of manifest, complete and total disregard for our electoral rules in the conduct of the elections.
“Our party will not fold its hands and watch enemies of our hard-earned democracy, who contributed nothing to its birth, continue to appropriate our collective sovereignty for their selfish political gains while destroying our institutions and holding our people to ransom.”
“The position of the PDP is that decisions that were taken in respect of Zamfara and Bayelsa states were valid and faultless and for the APC, because it has suffered haemorrhage, to begin to progress to political gerrymandering is totally unacceptable to us and we are going to move ahead to demand that the judgments be reviewed.”
According to him, the time has come for all Nigerians to stand in unity to defend the nation and salvage it from “political marauders and oppressive elements.”
Ologbondiyan said, “Nigerians know that the APC has been going through a haemorrhage since the Supreme Court delivered valid judgments on Bayelsa and Zamfara and as a result, they are no longer interested in the logic of these judgments. They have since thrown caution to the wind to destabilise our nation and destroy our hard-earned democracy, especially the judiciary. The APC Federal Government is leading all forms of battles against the rule of law and constitutionalism.
“The PDP holds that our sacrifices for the sustenance of democracy, as demonstrated in our patriotic comportment towards the verdicts of the court on the presidential election as well as Osun, Kano, Katsina and Kaduna governorship elections tribunal, subsist.
“Moreover, there is a consensus among the majority of Nigerians and even the international community that there was an obvious miscarriage of justice by the Supreme Court panel on the Imo state governorship election, for which the PDP accordingly reverted to the Supreme Court asking it to correct the manifest mistakes and errors in that judgment, which are already in the public domain.”
On its part, the African Democratic Congress said it aligned itself with the position of the PDP demanding the review of the Supreme Court’s judgment on the presidential election as well as the Osun, Kaduna, Kano and Katsina state governorship polls.
The ADC National Publicity Secretary, Mrs Yemi Kolapo, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Monday, urged the apex court not to review the Bayelsa State governorship election judgment.
She added that it was a laudable one. She, however, said the apex court should review its judgment on the Imo State governorship election that sacked the PDP governorship candidate, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, and installed the APC candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma.
She said, “I certainly align myself with the PDP demand that if they (APC) are seeking a review of Bayelsa judgment by the Supreme Court, then it means any one will now go back and look at all the judgments that Nigerians have adjudged and considered to be controversial and some seen to be day light robbery.”
Return to farm to cultivate rice if you are jobless, APC tells PDP
But reacting to the PDP’s decision, the APC advised the opposition PDP to return to farm if it had nothing else to do since it lost the 2019 general elections.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Larne Issa-Onilu, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “We will advise people at the Wadata House to return to the farm. This administration is looking for ways of making this nation food sufficient.
“So, if our friends in Wadata House (PDP National Secretariat) don’t have what to do, they will do well by returning to the farm to farm rice for our people to consume.
“Where is the relationship between the judgment of Bayelsa and that of the presidential election? In the case of the president, we called witnesses.
“Witnesses from Cambridge and WAEC (West African Examination Council) testified and the court ruled in our favour. In the case of Bayelsa, did they (PDP) call any witnesses? We have so many challenges requiring attention in this country other than responding to the whims of an opposition party.”
Also, in a statement later on Monday evening, Issa-Onilu said the call by the PDP exposed the opposition party as a joke.
He said, “For the All Progressives Congress, the PDP’s latest antics are not surprising. Nigerians will recall that we have consistently reiterated that the opposition party, having been overwhelmingly rejected at the polls in 2015 and 2019, has been exhibiting strange behaviour.
“We believe it has been difficult for some leaders of the PDP to cope for so long outside of power. There is obviously a lot of idleness at the Wadata House Secretariat of the PDP.”
The Supreme Court had in its 2019 judgment dismissed the appeal by the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku.
It held that they failed to prove their claim that the President presented false information to INEC.
In the verdict delivered on November 15, 2019, to explain its earlier summary verdict of October 30, 2019, the apex court of seven justices led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, said that the appellants failed to prove their allegations that Buhari presented certificates that he did not have.
The apex court held that the appellants ought to have proved that the certificates were forged or did not exist by calling the Army spokesman to testify and corroborate their claim that Buhari did not possess such certificates.
On the discrepancies in Buhari’s name on the certificates he submitted to INEC, the apex court had ruled that, “Since the appellant failed to prove that the documents belong to another person and no one else has come to claim them, I have no doubt that the documents belong to one and the same person.”
Affirming the election of Masari in its December 18, 2019 judgment, the apex court held that the allegations that he did not possess the minimum educational qualification to contest the governorship election were not proved.
SANs caution politicians, apex court
But prominent lawyers cautioned politicians against calling for reviews of the Supreme Court judgments.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, warned his colleagues against aiding politicians to undermine the judiciary.
He advised the Supreme Court to reject such applications in order not to open a floodgate.
Adegboruwa said, “It actually borders on professional misconduct for senior lawyers to be leading politicians to seek to rubbish the judiciary. Nigerians will hold these lawyers, who are involved in these attempts to denigrate the judiciary, responsible for the loss of confidence in the judiciary at the appropriate time
“The Supreme Court should preserve its integrity, its authority and honour by closing its doors against these political opportunists, who have all become power mongers and are not ever satisfied to be out of office for a single day.
“Let all politicians who have lost election-related cases in the Supreme Court accept their fate and go back home and wait for another opportunity at the next ballot.”
Another SAN, Mr Ahmed Raji, said the new wave of fresh applications asking the Supreme Court to review its judgments would make a mockery of the system as it would diminish the finality toga attached to the decisions of the apex court.
Raji noted that although the Justices of the apex court could be wrong, the ideal approach to the issue was to wait for the opportunity presented by a future case to request the apex court to review its decisions.
He said, “I think once the highest court of the land has made a pronouncement on a matter, except in a new future matter, the Supreme Court does not entertain a request for a review of its judgment, otherwise the toga of finality will evaporate. Our system being what it is, every judgment will be requested for a review.
“I am not saying they cannot be wrong, they are human beings. It is only God that is infallible. The issue will now be if the court can entertain case A, why won’t it entertain case B? Once the court can do it once, what says it cannot do as many times as possible.”
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), called on the Supreme Court to recommend lawyers engaging in “mockery of judicial system” for discipline.
He said until that was done, the sanctity of the apex court would be in jeopardy.
Keyamo made his position known in a message on his Twitter handle, @fkeyamo, on Monday.
The minister said after destroying the sanctity of the court, the situation, if not addressed, was also capable of destroying the nation’s democracy.
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“Until the Supreme Court bares its judicial fangs and recommends some unscrupulous lawyers engaged in this kind of mockery of the judicial system for professional discipline, we are going to destroy the otherwise inviolable sanctity of that court and ultimately destroy our democracy,” he wrote.
Dr Alex Izinyon, SAN, also expressed worry over the new development of parties asking for the apex court to review its judgment.
He said it portended danger for the Nigerian legal system as there might no longer be an end to litigation.
He also urged senior lawyers involved in the judgment review applications to be well guided, as “the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on review of judgments is limited to clerical errors and not to review the judgment to give an entirely different meaning to the judgment.”
He added, “The developments paint a very dangerous picture. It is worrisome and it portends great danger for our legal system. If not checked, it can lead to anarchy. If the Supreme Court is treated this way in that every judgment can be asked to be reviewed, it means there will never be an end to litigation. It means any party who loses at the Supreme Court tomorrow, whether in a political, civil or criminal case, can come back for a review of the judgment. This should not be tolerated or encouraged in any way because it is an affront on the Supreme Court and an insult to the judiciary.”