*APC gets March 17 date for review of Zamfara judgment
(SUN)*The Supreme Court on Monday has shifted hearing of the application seeking to restore Emeka Ihedioha of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the Governor of Imo State till Tuesday.
A seven-man panel of Justices of the court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Tanko Muhammad, adjourned the matter at the instance of Ihedioha’s lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, who pleaded for time to respond to court processes he said was served on him by Governor Hope Uzodinma and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the courtroom.
“My lords, this matter was adjourned for hearing, but we were just served in the courtroom with a process from the 1st and 2nd Respondents/Appellants.
“If it is convenient to your lordships, permit us to come back tomorrow (Tuesday) so that we can look at this process”, Agabi told the apex court panel after the case was called up.
On their part, counsel to Uzodinma and the APC, Mr Damian Dodo, SAN, said his clients were ready for the hearing to proceed.
He said: “The application was only served because we received their own process on Friday, so today is the earliest date for us to serve them.
“We are ready to go on,” he added.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) through its lawyer, Mr Taminu Inuwa, SAN, said it was also ready.
However, the CJN, in a short ruling, adjourned the matter till Tuesday for hearing.
In the application adjourned for hearing, Ihedioha is urging it to set aside its January 14, 2020 judgment that oust him from office in favour of the incumbent governor of the state, Senator Hope Uzodinma.
The motion which was filed by the legal team of the former governor headed by Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, was in respect of appeals Nos: SC. 1462/2019; SC/1470/2019; CA/OW/GOV/05/2019and petition No: EPT/GOV/IM/08/2019, between Senator Hope Uzodinma, the APC and Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, the PDP and the INEC.
It is the contention of Iheadioha that the judgment of the Supreme Court sought to be set aside is a nullity as it was obtained by fraud.
On this ground, Iheadioha submitted that “the Appellants/Respondents (Uzodinma), fraudulently misled this court into holding that a total of 213,495 votes were unlawfully excluded from the votes scored by the 1st Appellant/Respondent in the gubernatorial election of 9th March 2019 in Imo State.
However, governor Uzodinma in his preliminary objection dated February 6, 2020, urged the court to strike it out.
In addition, motion on notice brought pursuant to Section 6(6)(a) of the 1999 Uzodinma and his political platform, the APC, predicated their objection on the grounds that “the application being a proceeding relating to or arising from the election of a governor is barred by effluxion of time.
“The application constitutes an invitation to the Supreme Court to sit on appeal over its final decision” Uzodimma posited.
Besides, the objectors through their counsel, Damien Dodo, SAN, submitted that “having delivered its final decision on the 1st and 2nd Respondents’ Appeal No. SC. 1462/2019 between Senator Hope Uzodinma & Anor v Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha & 2 Ors., the Supreme Court has become fuctus officio and divested of jurisdiction over the same subject matter.
“Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules 2014 prohibits this Honourable Court from reviewing its judgment once given and delivered, save to correct clerical mistakes or accidental slip.
“The judgment sought to be set aside having been given effect by the inauguration of the 1st Respondent/Objector as Governor of Imo State, this Honourable Court lacks the jurisdiction to grant the prayer sought” Uzodimma argued.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court equally adjourned till March 17, to hear the application asking it to review its judgement that sacked all candidates of the APC that won various positions in Zamfara State in the 2019 general elections.
A five-man panel of Justices of the apex court headed by the CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, adjourned the matter to enable the Applicants to effect service of all the legal processes on some of the Respondents.
The fresh application was brought by a faction of the APC led by a former governor of the state, Abdulaziz Yari.
When the matter was called up for hearing on Monday, the 141st o 178th Respondents were not represented by any lawyer.
The CJN-led panel noted that there was no evidence that they were duly served with all the processes and the hearing notice.
Consequently, counsel to the Applicants, Chief Robert Clarke, pleaded for an adjournment to enable him to either serve them or to apply for leave to delist them as parties to the action.
He told the court that the Respondents are all members of the APC in Zamfara, insisting that they are in one accord with the party on why the apex court should reverse its judgement.
Besides, Clarke maintained that the matter could be effectively decided in the absence of the affected Respondents.
On his part, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, who appeared for the Senator Kabiru Marafa-led faction of the APC in Zamfara state, cited as the 1st to 140th Respondents, told the panel that lawyers that previously represented the other Respondents, declined to accept service on their behalf.
Meantime, after it listened to the parties, the apex court adjourned the matter till March 17 for hearing.
Specifically, the Applicants are challenging the Supreme Court judgement in Zamfara state on the basis of its consequential orders that handed victory to candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state.
Contending that the said consequential order rendered the entire judgement a nullity, the Applicants argued that reliefs the Supreme Court granted in favour of the PDP and its candidates, were extraneous to issues that aggrieved members of the APC brought before it for adjudication.
The applicants in their fresh application with No: SC/377/19, they argued: “That the consequential orders made by this honourable court in 5 appeal has made non-parties to the Appeal to unjustifiably benefit from the outcome of the Appeal contrary to age-long decided authorities by this same court. Hence, aking this non-parties to reap from where they never sowed.
“That the teeming electorates in Zamfara State have been unfairly and unjustifiably denied or deprived of their natural or ordinary outcome of the votes cast by them.”
However, Ozekhome, SAN, who is representing the Senator Marafa-led faction of the APC in the state, told the apex court that he filed a preliminary objection to challenge the competence of the application on a political matter he said had become statute-barred.
The INEC was cited as the 179th Respondent in the matter.
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