Nigeria‘s apex court, the Supreme Court has today, Friday, June 21, 2013, dismissed Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru’s suit seeking to upturn the court’s earlier ruling that upheld Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan as Delta State Governor. The court described the application as an abuse of court process.
In their unanimous judgment, the 5-man panel of Justices of the apex court, dismissed the appeal, describing Ogboru’s appeal as an abuse of court process.
The Supreme Court, therefore ordered him to pay N50, 000 to Governor Uduaghan and two other respondents, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) joined as parties in the suit.
The Supreme Court had on Monday, June 17, 2013 adjourned till June 21 to deliver ruling on a fresh application seeking to sack Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State from office.
The application, which was entered by the governorship candidate of the Democratic Peoples party, DPP, in the April 26, 2011, gubernatorial election in the state, Chief Great Ogboru, is seeking to resurrect the verdict of the apex court that declared the appellate court judgment that affirmed Uduaghan’s election as a nullity.
It will be recalled that a five-man panel of justices of the Supreme Court had on March 2, 2012, faulted the appellate court for its failure to hear and deliver judgment on the gubernatorial dispute within the 60 days stipulated in section 285 (7) and (8) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The apex court held that the Appeal Court panel erred in law when it deferred reasons behind its judgment till a date outside the legally prescribed period for determination of such matter, stressing that the action rendered the verdict unconstitutional, null and void.
Justice Tanko Mohammed who read the judgment had observed that:
“Though the trial tribunal gave its verdict on November 11, 2011, the appellate court gave its own judgment on January 5, 2012 and reserved its reasons till January 27. A simple arithmetic shows that the appeal took 72 days which is clearly outside the stipulated time-frame.
“It is my considered view that there was no valid judgment in the Delta State appeal, accordingly, I declare the judgment of the court below including its reasons as null and void and this appeal is hereby struck out.”.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the apex court to strike out the suit, even after it declared the lower court verdict as a nullity, Ogboru, re-approached the court, asking it to reverse itself.
Arguing through his counsel Dr. Dickson Osuala, Ogboru insisted that the apex court acted wrongly, saying it should have invoked section 22 of the Supreme Court Act and heard his substantive contention against the said election or issued a consequential order remitting the petition back to governorship election petition tribunal for re-trial.
However, counsels to Uduaghan, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mrs. J.O Adesina, SAN and INEC, Chief Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, opposed the application, saying it was nothing but a mere academic exercise.