ABUJA – The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, awarded a cost of N1million against a sacked member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Herman Hembe, for asking it to review and reverse its judgment against him.
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
Hembe had through his lawyer, Chief Paul Erokoro, SAN, approached the apex court, insisting that the judgment it delivered on June 25, which ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to retrieve the Certificate of Return that was issued to him and issue a fresh one to Mrs.Dorothy Mato, was in error.
The apex court had also directed the leadership of the National Assembly to immediately swear-in Mrs. Mato as the lawmaker for Vandikya/ Konshisha constituency of Benue State, saying she was the rightful candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the election.
It further directed the sacked Reps member to refund all monies he collected as salaries and allowances in the last two years.
Meanwhile, dissatisfied with the judgement, Hembe re-approached the court with a motion, asking it to reverse itself, insisting that the court acted wrongly when it invoked section 22 of the Supreme Court Act and heard the substantive appeal instead of sending it back to the elections tribunal for re-trial.
Immediately Hembe’s lawyer, Chief Erokoro introduced the motion, a five-man panel of Justices of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, halted him.
The CJN, who drew Erokoro’s attention to Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court, said it was impossible for the apex court to sit on appeal over its own judgement.
Visibly irked by the application, the CJN ordered Hembe to pay N1m to Mrs. Mayo for abusing the judicial process.
“We invoked the powers of this court under section 22 of the Act, heard the matter and gave judgment. So are you now asking us to review our judgment.
Whether or not we are wrong our decision is final, we cannot review our judgment. The Supreme Court is a final court for a reason that there has to be an end to litigation”, the CJN fumed.
The panel rejected Hembe’s plea to be exempted from refunding the salaries and allowances he collected for the past two years.
The CJN, while refusing the prayer, said: “Learned SAN, it appears you close your mind on the circumstances of this case that translated into the judgment of this court. This is a policy making court where we make policies to guide society to move forward.
“When we use judicial process to perpetuate injustice, this court comes in to maintain decorum. There is no error, there is no accidental slip in our judgment, you can go on appeal to another court, if there is any, but on our own part, we cannot review our judgment whether wrongly made or not, that is the order of this court.
“If somebody has been in the House where he is not supposed to be and has reaped the benefits which it should not be, you mean we should close our eyes to this product of impunity?
“No, we cannot go back to that because the imposter has no right to it. Whatever he collected should be refunded. This court is sending a message to everybody so that right from the primaries, the right thing should be done.”
The CJN urged the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogora, to comply with the apex judgment and swear-in Mrs. Mato, saying it would be “an ugly paragraph in the history of this country” for the House leadership to disobey an express order of the apex court.