The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a motion filed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) seeking clarification on its judgment upholding Ejike Oguebego as Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Anambra State.
In his ruling, Justice Inyang Okoro, who read the lead ruling of a five-man bench, held that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the motion.
“Let me state here clearly that the applicant cannot ride on the back of Order 8 Rule 16 of the Court to tempt us to assume jurisdiction.
“The rule mandates the review of the apex court judgment in rare situations when clerical errors or slip inherent in the decision could negatively affect the meaning of the decision.
“In this instance, it is incorrect to state that such errors existed in our judgment on the matter delivered on Feb. 29”, Mr. Okoro held.
Justice Okoro further held that the applicant tried to mislead the court by including fresh issues that were not captured in the judgment sought to be interpreted.
“In that judgment, the court set aside the decision of the lower court and ordered that Chief Ejike Oguebego remained lawful Chairman of the PDP in Anambra pending the determination of the substantive suit.
“We did not elevate Oguebego to National Chairman of the party, let alone deciding whether he reserved the authority to submit list of the candidates to contest the National Assembly from that state.
“We also did not decide or mandate INEC to the candidates to issue certificates of return because that matter was not before us”, the justice said.
He said the motion has clearly shown that the applicant rather than rely on law upon which the judgment evolved went on to confuse itself with media commentaries to file this motion.
Mr. Okoro also said, “Since the applicant is unable to convince the court on whether it has jurisdiction to hear the motion, it is hereby dismissed”.
“We have gone through the argument advanced by counsel to parties.
“And the court cannot be invited to interpret, justify or clarify its own judgment based on issues outside the purview of that judgment.
“This subtle invitation is simply to cause the court to rewrite the judgment, and we cannot do so. This is a court of finality”, Okoro held.
INEC, through its counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), approached the apex court for the interpretation and clarification of the judgment.
Mr. Awomolo had argued that it was fact of a matter aside the law that could bestow jurisdiction on the court.
According to him, INEC is at a crossroads on whether or not to consider all the pre-election activities carried out by a faction of the party other than the lawful state executive leadership.
Chris Uche (SAN), Counsel to Mr. Oguebego, however, opposed the motion, saying the motion had raised fresh issues not contained in the judgment.
“My Lord, I want to oppose the motion vehemently on the grounds that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear it mainly because they have thrown up new issues not captured in the judgment.
“Section 235 of the constitution has shown the finality of the apex court, and therefore, this invitation for clarification of its judgment with the padding of new issues is not supported by Order 8 Rule 16 of the court.
“Therefore, we want the court to hold that the motion seeking the clarification of the judgment is grossly misconceived”, he said.
Mr. Uche said the jurisprudence was structured in a way to bring litigation to an end, adding, the motion would negatively affect the fabric of the law profession if not thrown out.
“This is a motion if heard could open the flood-gate for the review and justification of most judgments given by the court.
“We also urge the court to hold that the new issues raised in the application are to give room to judicial anarchy”, he submitted.
Mr. Uche further said that those new issues raised in the motion were part of items contained in a suit involving the parties pending at the Court of Appeal.