March 5, 2020

Supreme Court Judgement: Putting Zamfara case in perspective

Alleged professional misconduct: Supreme Court voids conviction of 3 lawyers
Supreme Court

By Musa Gusau

Following comments by Senator Sani Yarima on Supreme Court judgement on a review of its earlier judgement on Imo State governorship election, we wish to put issues in perspective.

Zamfara judgement is entirely different from Imo review. The application by Zamfara All Progressives Congress,APC, was seeking a review of pre-election matter while  Imo application was an election matter.

Again, the Zamfara case resulted from an inter-party problem.

Sani Yarima argued that the Supreme Court cannot reverse its judgements.

He may have forgotten that the Supreme Court has the inherent powers to set aside its decision as decided in a long line of decided cases where there was fraud,  mistake, voluntary miscarriage of justice and where the decision is reached in the absence of or in excess of jurisdiction. All these instances have to be covered by the Supreme Court on the review of judgement.

In the entire gamut of the Nigerian and Supreme court law, it is  provided that the Supreme Court can review its decision and rather correct mistake under the slip rule as provided in Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules.

For Yarima, a distinction needs to be made between a review of judgement at Supreme court and an appeal on the Supreme Court judgement. An appeal is a judicial examination of the decision of a lower court by a higher court. While a review is re-examination of a case previously decided with a view to correct a particular mistake and not an avenue to correct a view or substitute or abandon judgement. It is necessary to put it on record for the likes of Yarima that, the law did provide for review, but rather correction pursuant to the slip rule as stated in Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules.

Zamfara state election is counted as one of three elections, whose outcomes have been altered by judicial intervention in the 2019 cycle of election, but in reality, it is miscarriage of justice. In May 2019, the Supreme Court voided the outcome of election in Zamfara State, which was clearly won by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), because of an allegation by some aggrieved members of the party that the party did not conduct a lawful primary prior to the candidate selection, as required by the Electoral Act.

In Zamfara, however, the matter were pre-election disputes in which the threshold eligibility of the primaries that brought a candidates on the ballot was the issue. Imo State, by contrast, is the case in which the outcome affirmed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) among candidates whose eligibility to run in the governorship ballot was not in dispute.

If Zamfara judgement stands, the Supreme Court verdict casts a question over the will of the people as the basis for governance.

Zamfara APC only lost election as a result of self-inflicted  internal wrangling which voided their votes and left the party with the second highest number of votes as the winner. But we are saying no to that and demand justice.

Yarima should explain to Nigerians how the Supreme Court, in its bid to award victory to Zamfara PDP, ended up making a man who never scored even 2/3 of the votes the winner . Can Yarima explain to Nigerians how and where the Supreme Court manufactured the extra ruling  orders in the judgement ? What can Yarima say to the fact that the Supreme Court could not produce the details  Zamfara APC candidates who were unopposed at the primary.

*Gusau, Secretary of Concerned Citizens of Zamfara, writes from Gusau.