Bayelsa judgment: Supreme Court fines Afe Babalola, Olanipekun N60m

By AdvocateNews on 27/02/2020

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Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) and Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN)
Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) and Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN)

...Dismisses Lyon, APC’s application for lacking in merit

The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, fined Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) and Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) N30 million each for agreeing to file an application for the review of the apex court’s judgment on Bayelsa election.

Justice Amina Augie announced the fine while reading the judgment in 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.

With tears in her eyes, the justice regretted that “very senior” lawyers were responsible for filing the applications.

Subsequently, the apex court awarded the costs of N10m to be personally paid by David Lyon’s lawyer, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), and APC’s lawyer, Olanipekun (SAN).

It ruled that each of the lawyers must pay the N10m to each of the three respondents – the Peoples Democratic Party, Governor Duoye Diri, and the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Lawrence Ewhruojakpo, bringing the total amount to be paid to N60 million.

She said the applications amounted to an invitation for the apex court to sit in appeal on its own judgment in violation of the Constitution.

A seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta described the applications filed by the APC and its governorship candidate at the poll, Lyon, as vexatious, frivolous, and constituted a gross abuse of court process.

Justice Augie held that it would amount to violating the finality of its judgment if the applications were granted.

She said granting the applications would open a floodgate for the review of decisions of the Supreme Court.

“There must be an end to litigation,” she said, adding, “the decision of the Supreme Court is final for ages in a matter” and only legislation could change it.

The apex court has, however, dismissed the application for review of the judgment which sacked the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa state, David Lyon and his deputy, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo.

Mr Lyon was sacked by the apex court on February 13, on grounds that his deputy, submitted forged certificates to INEC.

The court ruled that Mr Degi-Eremienyo’s disqualification had affected the joint ticket with which he and the governorship candidate, Lyon, ran for and won on November 16, 2019.

At the proceeding on Wednesday, Mr Lyon and APC in their applications argued by Afe Babalola and Mr Wole Olanipekun asked the court to review and set aside the judgment which voided their participation in the November 16 governorship election.

Mr Babalola added that the Supreme Court has inherent powers to set aside its own decision because the judgment was a nullity on account of denial of fair hearing of his client.

Meanwhile, Mr Olanipekun, on his part, argued that the apex court erred in law when it invoked section 36 of the Electoral Act to disqualify the APC’s participation in the election when the Federal High Court judgment restored by the Supreme Court did not disqualify the party’s eligibility.

However, counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Tayo Oyetibo, informed the apex court that the application by APC and its governorship candidate were a dangerous invitation to the Supreme Court to violate section 285 of the 1999 constitution, for the court to sit on appeal over its own matter.

He further stated that the apex court was right in disqualifying Lyon as the governor-elect because section 187 of the 1999 constitution is clear and unambiguous to the effect that a governorship candidate who has no deputy candidate is not qualified to contest any governorship election in Nigeria.

After taking arguments from parties in the matter, Justice Amina Augie who read the judgment said the application lacked merit and the decisions of the court are final.

She added that the applicants failed to point out errors, stating that the judgment is final for all ages.

The apex court judge said the judgment is final in the ‘real sense’ and no court on earth can review the judgment.

“There must be an end to litigation even if we review this judgment, every disaffected litigant will bring similar applications and the finality of Supreme Court judgments will be lost.”

She added that the applications are frivolous and vexatious, and awarded the cost of N10 million against the applicants to be personally paid by their counsel.

Justice Augie added that the counsels of the APC and Mr Lyon are to each pay Governor Douye Diri, his deputy Mr Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo and the PDP the same N10 million.

Posted 27/02/2020 06:41:51 AM


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