Bayelsa: Supreme Court refuses to sack Diri, awards N60m cost


The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the applications for a review of its February 13, 2020 judgment which overturned the All Progressives Congress’ victory in the last governorship election in Bayelsa State.

In the unanimous ruling of its seven-man panel led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, the apex court said its judgment on the poll was  “final in the real sense of the word, final, and no force can get this court to shift from its decision.”

It  described the applications filed by the APC and its governorship candidate at the poll, David Lyon, as “vexatious, frivolous, and constitute a gross abuse of court process”.

Adjudging the applications as lacking in merit, Justice Amina Augie who read the lead judgment, said the apex court lacked jurisdiction to review its judgment except in few circumstances when there was the need to correct clerical slip or vary it to give effect to the spirit and intention of the judgment.

S’Court hits APC, says applications will diminish apex court  finality

She also held that granting the applications would open a floodgate of such applications, diminish the finality of the decisions of the apex court and make the law uncertain.

Incensed by the applications, Justice Augie expressed regrets that “very senior members of the bar” were responsible for the filing of the applications which she noted was “aimed at desecrating the sanctity of the court”.

She awarded the costs of N30m against each of the applicants’ lawyers, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) representing Lyon, and Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), standing for the APC.

The costs totalling N60m are to be paid to three respondents who opposed the applications.

The respondents are: the Peoples Democratic Party, whose legal team was led by Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN); Bayelsa State Governor Duoye Diri, represented by Yunus Usman (SAN), and the deputy governor, Lawrence Ewhruojakpo, represented by Chris Uche (SAN).

Although the Independent National Electoral Commission was the fourth respondent to the application, no cost was awarded in its favour, because its lawyers led by Mr. Taminu Inuwa (SAN), took a neutral stand by not filing any document in favour of or opposition to the applications.

The Supreme Court earlier conducted a hearing into the two applications on Wednesday, with Babalola urging the apex court to “set aside” the February 13, 2020 judgment for allegedly constituting a nullity, and Olanipekun praying the court to delete a portion of the said judgment for being a product of “human error”.

Oyetibo, Usman and Uche told the court that granting the applications would amount to an invitation to the apex court to a dangerous part of violating the Constitution in disrespect to the finality of the decisions of the final court.

Delivering the apex court’s lead judgment after the panel of seven returned from a short post-hearing break, Justice Augie ruled that applications amounted to an invitation to the apex court to sit in appeal on its earlier judgment, a situation which she held would violate section 235 of the Constitution which ascribes finality to the apex court’s decision.

She added that granting the applications would open a floodgate of endless litigation over the decisions of the apex court.

Citing a previous decision of the apex court she said the court’s decision “is final in the sense of real finality. It is final forever, only a legation can alter it.”

According to her, by virtue of Order 8, Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules, the apex court lacked jurisdiction to review its judgment except in some few situations where there is the need to correct clerical slips or vary it to reflect the real intention of the judgment.

She ruled, “They have not pointed out any clerical slip or omission in the said judgment or shown this court any part of the said judgment that needs to be varied so as to give effect to its spirit or intention.

“They are asking the court to vary the operative and substantive part of the judgment and thereby substitute it with different form entirely. However, there must be an end to litigation.

‘S’Court is a final court, its decisions final’

“Section 235 of the 1999 Constitution as amended makes it very clear that no appeal can lie to any other body from any determination of the Supreme Court. This is the final court and the decisions of the court are final.”

Affirming the earlier February 13, 2020 judgment of the apex court, she ruled, “The decision of this court in appeal number SC.1/2020 is final for all ages. It is final in the real sense of the word, final, and no force can get this court to shift from its decision on the Bayelsa State election appeal number SC.1/2020.

“It will otherwise open the floodgate of litigation on all appeals decided by this court.

“There is even no guarantee that if the applications are granted, the other side will not come up with a fresh application to review the ruling on the grounds that this court did not consider certain parts of the arguments. As I said, there must be an end to litigation to ensure certainty in the law.”

She criticised Babalola and Olanipekun, for filing the application, saying, “The two applicants are by these applications asking this court to sit in appeal over the judgment delivered on February 13, 2020, which is regrettable.

“I cannot believe that, with tears in my eyes that in my lifetime, I will see very senior members of the bar make applications of this nature which are aimed at desecrating the sanctity of this court”.

Justice Augie ordered Babalola and Olanipekun to each pay N10m to three respondents to the appeal, implying that each of the lawyers must have to part with N30m.

“Cost of N10m each is awarded against the first and second applicants and in favour of the first, second and third respondents to be paid personally by their respective counsel,” Justice Augie ordered.

The disputed apex court’s judgment was delivered on February 13, 2020, barely 24 hours to the inauguration of the APC’s governor-elect, Lyon, and his running mate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, who were the winners of the last governorship election in Bayelsa State.

The five-man panel of the court led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili disqualified Degi-Eremienyo’s candidacy and ruled that the disqualification had rendered the joint ticket held by him and the governorship candidate a nullity.

Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Ejembi Eko disqualified Degi-Eremienyo’s candidacy for presenting false information about his educational qualifications in his Form CF001 submitted to INEC as a candidate for the 2019 election.

The former deputy governor-elect was said to have presented certificates with different names and inconsistent with the name on the Form CF.001 submitted to INEC.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja had in his judgment delivered in November 2019 disqualified Degi-Eremienyo, but the judgment was upturned by the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

The apex court’s February 13 judgment upturned the Court of Appeal’s judgment and affirmed the Federal High Court’s verdict.

Members of the Supreme Court  panel who unanimously dismissed the APC’s applications for the review of the February 13 judgment on Wednesday were Justices Sylvester Ngwuta, Mary Peter-Odili, Olukayode Ariwoola, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Inyang Okoro, Amina Augie and Ejembi Eko.

Among top figures present at the Wednesday’s hearing were Governor Diri, APC’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole,  the disqualified APC’s former governor-elect, Degi-Eremienyo, and PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.

APC out to cause confusion – PDP

The PDP, through its  National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Abuja hailed the Supreme Court decision.

Ologbondiyan  raised the alarm   that the APC  had allegedly been  mounting pressure on the Supreme Court to restrain itself from reversing the judgment on the Imo State governorship election.

He therefore urged the Supreme Court not to succumb to the alleged threats and blackmail by the APC to push it  to restrain itself from looking at the merit of the Imo case; correcting the perceived mistakes and reversing the judgment, which he said is flawed.

He stated that  the elements and grounds for the demands by the PDP and a majority of Nigerians for the reversal of Imo State governorship election judgment are completely different from those of Bayelsa judgment.


Ologbondiyan said, “The only reason APC was pushing for a review of the Supreme Court’s valid and flawless judgment on the Bayelsa and Zamfara governorship elections was to cause confusion and blackmail the Supreme Court from treating the Imo case on merit.

“The PDP maintained that the grounds for the reversal of Imo judgment are unambiguously constitutional and completely distinct from APC’s attempt to blackmail the Supreme Court with their demands on the Bayelsa and Zamfara states governorship elections.”

There was calm in Bayelsa State on Wednesday after the Supreme Court dismissed the application of the APC.

There was no jubilation by the supporters and members of the Peoples Democratic Party on the streets of Yenagoa and the Government House, unlike the previous apex court’s verdict.

One of our correspondents observed that residents were going about their daily activities as though there was nothing at stake.

A chieftain of the APC who was contacted by our correspondent declined comment while the party’s state Publicity Secretary, Doifie Buokoribo, did not answer calls to his mobile.

But the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Osom Makbere, said it was obvious from the outset that the APC’s move to seek review of the judgment “will come to naught.”

Dickson hails S’Court

The immediate past governor of the state,  Seriake Dickson, said that the historical verdict of the Supreme Court averted a catastrophe that was waiting to erupt in Bayelsa State.

The former governor, in a statement by his Media Aide, Fidelis Soriwei, commended the justices of the Supreme Court for the bold decision to wrest the judiciary from needless opprobrium and standing in defence of democracy, the rule of law and the constitution.

The governor said, ”I commend the judiciary again, particularly, their Lordships, My Lord, the Honourable Chief Justice of  Nigeria and all my Lords, the Justices of the Supreme Court for standing by our nation’s democracy. All the cry for a review was an attempt to compromise, intimidate and destroy the judiciary of our country.”

Supreme Court only affirms God’s judgment – Diri

Diri described the Supreme Court ruling as an affirmation of God’s judgment which paved the way for him to emerge victorious.

Diri in a statement by his acting Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, however declared that there was no victor, no vanquished, because the victory was for all the people of the state, regardless of party affiliation.

APC keeps mum on apex court’s decision, cancels press conference

On its part, the APC refused to comment on the Supreme Court decision which affirmed the removal of  Lyon and his running mate.

National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, who had scheduled a press conference for 3pm on Wednesday,  called it off three hours later.

Reporters and camera men had waited at the chairman’s conference room until past 5:00pm, before an official of the party said, “Sorry gentlemen, we will call you again when we are ready.”

It was learnt that the chairman was upset about the decision of the Supreme Court and would have aired his views but other members of the party’s National Working Committee prevailed upon him to suspend the press conference.

Attempts to get a reaction from the party’s National Publicity Secretary were also unsuccessful as calls to his mobile indicated that he could not be reached.

Decision stops floodgate of silly applications – SAN

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe, commended the decision of the Supreme Court for not opening “a floodgate for querulous, silly and abusive applications.”

Adedipe said, “It is a bit curious to me that five men, Justices, would review a decision of a three-man panel and come to a conclusion and one lawyer, no matter how brilliant, would think that the five of them are dullards or that their conclusions are wrong and he would go back to reargue the appeal; it is never done. We should call a spade its proper name; it cannot be done.”

On the cost awarded by the court against Babalola and Olanipekun, Adedipe said, “As to the costs awarded, I think the court was trying to show its anger; like saying, ‘Oh, these are senior counsel; they ought not to be the ones bringing this kind of application’. I have no comment on that. Justice, as they say, is blind; I’m sure if it is other counsel, they would arrive at the same decision. That is a bit harsh, if you ask me, but it is to register their displeasure.”

Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Norrison Quakers, said the Supreme Court deserves to be commended for saving the judiciary from being ridiculed by politicians.

He said, “I think it is about time; it appears as if the Supreme Court is being ridiculed. This issue has been laid to rest, in terms of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. You cannot appeal the decision of the Supreme Court. But if you have observed certain irregularities or errors in its decision, there are ways of coming back to the Supreme Court but not in the same decision where you will now be asking the court to reverse itself.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!