Degi-Eremienyo v. P.D.P (2021)

[2021]16NWLR387

Degi-Eremienyov.P.D.P.

1.BIOBARAKUMA DEGI-EREMIENYO

(APC Deputy Governorship Candidatefor Bayelsa State)

2.LYON DAVID PEREWORIMIN

(APC Governorship Candidate for Bayelsa State)

3.ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC)

V.

1.PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PDP)

2.SENATOR DOUYE DIRI

(Governorship Candidate of PDP in the16/11/2019 Bayelsa State Governorship Election)

3.SENATOR LAWRENCE EWHRUDJAKPO

(Deputy Governorship Candidate of PDP in the16/11/2019 Bayelsa State Governorship Election)

4.INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORALCOMMISSION (INEC)

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

SC.1/2020

NWALI SYLVESTER NGWUTA, J.S.C. (Presided)

MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI, J.S.C.

OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA, J.S.C.

KUDIRAT MOTONMORI OLATOKUNBO KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C.

JOHN INYANG OKORO, J.S.C.

AMINA ADAMU AUGIE, J.S.C. (Read the Leading Ruling)

EJEMBI EKO, J.S.C.

TUESDAY, 26TH FEBRUARY 2020

388

A PPEAL – Decision of Supreme Court – Finality of – Implicationthereof.

APPEAL – Review of judgment – Power of Supreme Court to reviewits judgment – Extent and scope of – When exercisable.

COURT – Functus officio – When court becomes functus officio -Implication thereof.

COURT – Inherent power of court to set aside its judgment – Scopeof – When exercisable.

COURT – Supreme Court – Finality of decision of Supreme Court -Implication thereof.

COURT – Supreme Court – Power of Supreme Court to review itsjudgment – Extent and scope of – When exercisable.

JUDGMENT AND ORDER – Decision of Supreme Court – Finalityof – Implication thereof.

JUDGMENT AND ORDER – Functus officio – When court becomesfunctus officio – Implication thereof.

JUDGMENT AND ORDER – Review of judgment – Power ofSupreme Court to review its judgment – Extent and scopeof – When exercisable.

JUDGMENT AND ORDER – Setting aside of judgment – Inherentpower of court to set aside its judgment – Scope of – Whenexercisable.

JURISDICTION – Functus officio – When court becomes functusofficio – Implication thereof.

JURISDICTION – Setting aside of judgment – Inherent power ofcourt to set aside its judgment – Scope of – When exercisable.

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LEGAL PRACTITIONER – Professional ethics – Duties of lawyers- Duty on lawyers to respect the sanctity and finality of theSupreme Court.

NOTABLE PRONOUNCEMENT – On Duty on lawyers to respectthe sanctity and finality of the Supreme Court.

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – Decision of Supreme Court -Finality of – Implication thereof.

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – Functus officio – When courtbecomes functus officio – Implication thereof.

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – Review of judgment – Power ofSupreme Court to review its judgment – Extent and scopeof – When exercisable.

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – Setting aside of judgment -Inherent power of court to set aside its judgment – Scopeof – When exercisable.

PROFESSIONAL ETHICS – Duties of lawyers – Duty on lawyers torespect the sanctity and finality of the Supreme Court.

Issue

Whether the Supreme Court had the jurisdiction to hear anddetermine the applications praying the Supreme Court to setaside its judgment in SC.1/2020 – PDP v. Degi-Eremienyo(2021) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1781) 274 delivered on 13th February2020.

Facts

The 2nd applicant herein won the nomination to contest theGovernorship election in Bayelsa State on the platform of the A.P.C.(3rd applicant). He in turn nominated the 1st applicant as his running

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mate. Both the 2nd and the 1st applicants were the A.P.C. candidatesfor the offices of Governor and Deputy Governor respectively ofBayelsa State. It was a joint ticket on the platform of the A.P.C.The A.P.C. submitted the names and personal information andparticulars of the 1st and 2nd applicants to INEC on INEC FormCF001 for each of the 1st and 2nd applicants. The 1st applicant’sForm CF001 was duly sworn by him, and it was published.

The appellants challenged the nomination by an action atthe Federal High Court claiming that the information supplied bythe 1st applicant in INEC Form CF001 as to his names was false.They asked the Federal High Court to invoke section 31(6) of theElectoral Act to disqualify the 1st applicant (and consequentially the2nd applicant) from contesting the election.

The Federal High Court, held that the 1st applicant gavefalse information as to his name to INEC, and disqualified the 1stapplicant (and consequentially the 2nd applicant) from contestingthe Governorship election in Bayelsa State. The applicants wereaggrieved and they appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court ofAppeal allowed the appeals, and held, inter alia, that the suit at thetrial court did not disclose any reasonable cause of action to warrantthe disqualification of the 1st applicant and that the allegation of falseinformation to INEC was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

The 1st to 3rd respondents herein were aggrieved by thedecision of the Court of Appeal and they appealed to the SupremeCourt. In its judgment delivered on 13th February 2020, theSupreme Court held that the 1st to 3rd respondents established theallegation of false information against the 1st applicant, and that the1st and 2nd applicants were thereby disqualified from contesting theGovernorship election. [The Supreme Court Judgment is reportedin PDP v. Degi-Eremienyo (2021) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1781) 274].

By separate applications filed on 17th February 2020 and 20thFebruary 2020 respectively the 1st and 2nd applicants and the 3rdapplicant prayed the Supreme Court essentially for the same reliefs,viz:

1.to set aside its judgment of delivered on 13/2/2020in Appeal No SC 1/2020 between PDP & 2 Ors. v.Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo & 3 Ors; and

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2.to restore Appeal No. SC.1/2020 between PDP & 2Ors. v. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo & 3 Ors. forhearing on its merit.

The first and second respondents filed counter affidavits andwritten addresses in opposition to the two applications. The thirdrespondent also filed counter affidavits and written addresses and,in addition, raised preliminary objections to the two applications,praying the Supreme Court to strike them out on grounds of lack ofjurisdiction.

Order 8 rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules states as follows: –

“16 The court shall not review any judgment once givenand delivered by it save to correct any clerical mistakeor some error arising from any accidental slip oromission, or to vary the judgment or order so as togive effect to its meaning or intention. A judgment ororder shall not be varied when it correctly representswhat the court decided nor shall the operative andsubstantive part of it be varied and a different formsubstituted.”

Held (Unanimously dismissing the applications with substantialcosts to be paid by applicants’ counsel) –

1.On When court becomes functus officio and implicationthereof –

Before a court finally determines a case before it,it is seised with jurisdiction to determine whetheror not it has jurisdiction. But, once the court hasfinally determined the issue, it is functus officiothat judgment. If it is by a court lower than theSupreme Court it can only be corrected on appeal.In the Supreme Court, the decision of that courtin so far as that case is concerned is final. The twoapplications filed by the two sets of applicants inthis case were vexatious, frivolous and a grossabuse of court process in the circumstances, andwere accordingly dismissed with substantial costsagainst the applicants to be paid personally by theirrespective counsel. (Pp. 403, paras. G-H; 405, paras.C-D)

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2.On Scope of inherent power of court to set aside itsjudgment and when exercisable –

The court has an inherent power to set asidea judgment given in absence of jurisdiction orw hen the procedure adopted is such as to deprivethe decision of the character of a legitimateadjudication. In the instant case, the applicantsdid not invoke the slip rule in Order 8 rule 16 ofthe Supreme Court Rules; they did not complainthat the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction when itdelivered its judgment in SC.1/2020 on 13 / 2/2020;it was not their case that the Supreme Courtemployed a procedure that deprived its judgmentof the character of a legitimate adjudication; theydid not allege that the decision portrayed anythingother than what was intended by the court nor wasit their case that the judgment was obtained byfraud practiced on the court by either party. [Nakuv. Adekunle (1959) NLR 76; Adigun v. A.-G., OyoState (No. 2) (1987) 2 NWLR (Pt. 56) 197 ; Alao vACB Ltd. (2000) 9 NWLR (Pt. 672) 264 referred to.](P. 406, paras. E-H)

3.On Extent and scope of power of Supreme Court toreview its judgment –

The Supreme Court is not authorized and lacks thejurisdiction to review its judgment except in thecircumstances spelt out in Order 8 rule 16 of theSupreme Court Rules. That provision employs thewords “shall not”, The word “shall” when used ina statutory provision imports that a thing must bedone, and when the negative phrase “shall not” isused, it implies that something must not be done.It is a form of a command or mandate. The courtcannot act outside its statutory jurisdiction whichis spelt out and circumscribed in the constitutionand the Rules of practice made pursuant to section236 of the Constitution or its inherent powerwhich forms part of its larger jurisdiction to grant

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appl ication that constitute abuse of the court ’ sprocess. The Supreme Court is w ithout juri s dictionor power to re v ie w its judgment once deli v ered.

In the instant case, the two sets of applicants didnot show any clerical mistakes that needed to becorrected in its judgment delivered on 13 th February2020. They did not point out any accidental slipor omission or show to the court any part of itsjudgment that needed to be varied so as to give effectto its meaning or intention. What they asked theSupreme Court to do is what the provision of Order8 rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules prohibits;that is, to vary “the operative and substantive part”of its judgment, and thereby substitute a differentform. [Ugwu v. Ararume (2007) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1048)365 referred to and applied.] (Pp. 402-403, paras.E-E)

4.On Finality of decision of Supreme Court andimplication thereof –

The Supreme Court is the final court, and itsdecisions are final. By virtue of section 235 of the1999 Constitution, as amended, no appeal shalllie to any other body from any determination ofthe Supreme Court. The decision of the SupremeCourt in respect of a case, so far as that case isconcerned, is final for all ages. It is final in the senseof real finality. It is final forever. Only a legislationad hominen can alter it. [ARCON v. Fassassi (No.4) (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt. 59) 42; Minister of LagosAffairs, Mines & Power v. Olugbade (1974) 1 AllNLR (Pt. 1) 226; Adigun v. A.-G., Oyo State (No. 2)(1987) 2 NWLR (Pt. 56) 197; Asiyanbi v. Adeniji(1967 ) 1 SCNLR 125; Amalgamated Trustees Ltd. v.Associated Discount House Ltd. (2007) 15 NWLR (Pt.1056) 118; Nigerian Army v. Iyela (2008) 18 NWLR(Pt. 1118) 115 referred to.] (Pp. 409, paras. E-F; 406-407, paras. H-A)

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Per AUGIE, J.S.C. at page 404, paras. A-B:

“The decision of this court in Appeal No. SC.1/2020 is final for all ages; it is final in thereal sense of the word – Final; and no forceon earth can get this court to shift from itsdecision regarding the Bayelsa State pre-election appeal No. SC.1/2020. To do otherwiseis to open a floodgate of litigation on appealsthat have already been settled by this court.There is even no guarantee that if these twoapplications are granted, the other side willnot come with a fresh application to review theruling on the ground that this court did notconsider certain aspects of the arguments in itsruling. There would be no end in sight.

As I said, there must be an end to litigationto ensure certainty in the law, and that was theexact point made by Elias, C.J.N, in Ministerof Lagos Affairs, Mines & Power & Anor v. ChiefAkin Olugbade (1974) 1 All NLR (Pt. 1) 226,which this court adopted in Adigun v. A.-G.,Oyo State (No. 2) (1987) 2 NWLR (Pt. 56) 197at 234. In Chief Olugbade’s Case (supra), Elias,CJN, stated –

‘Were we to accept the submission -that we can exercise the jurisdictionto entertain these motions, to look intocomplaints about the law or the fact inthe judgment being attacked, there wouldbe no finality about any judgment ofthis court and every disaffected litigantcould bring further appeals as it were adinfinitum. This is a situation that must notbe permitted.’

In Adigun’s case (supra), this court per Nnamani,J.S.C, added as follows –

‘I may add that our principle of staredecisis would be severely hampered, forall lower courts would be obliged to defer

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a pplication of decisions of this court untilthey were sure that such decisions wouldnot by an application almost immediatelyafter their delivery, be reviewed andaltered.’

In this case, it is clear that the two sets ofapplicants are asking this court to sit on appealover its judgment delivered on 13/2/2020, whichis regrettable. The position of the law is thatthe decision of this court on any matter is final,subsisting and binding on parties, and there isno statutory or constitutional provision allowingthis court, as the apex court, to review itsdecision by itself, therefore, this court does notand cannot sit on appeal over its own judgment.As it is, I cannot believe, and I say this with tearsin my eyes, I cannot believe that in my lifetime Iwould see very senior members of the Bar bringapplications of this nature to this court which areaimed at desecrating the sanctity of this court;violating the well-known principle that thedecisions of this court are final; and destroyingthe esteem, with which this court is held.”

Per NGWUTA, J.S.C. at pages 405-406, paras. F-B:

“The applicants want the Supreme Courtto sit on appeal against the final judgment itdelivered on 13/2/2020, set aside its judgmentof 13 / 2 / 2020 and replace same with anotherjudgment diametrically opposed to the saidjudgment of 13/2/2020. That is easier saidthan done. The Supreme Court of Nigeria isa creature of the Constitution and exercisesits powers within the limits prescribed b y theConstitution and the rules of the court. S . 230of the Constitution of the Federal Republic ofNigeria 1999 as amended provides:

“ S.230(1) there shall be a Supreme Courtof Nigeria”

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Its appellate juri sdiction is s pelt out in S. 233of the Constitution (supra). S . 2 35 confersfinality on t he final determination of the court .It pro v ides:

“S.235 without prejudice to the powersof the President or of the Governor of aState with respect to prerogative of mercyno appeal shall lie to any other bodyfrom any determination of the SupremeCourt.”

Its judgment is final for all intents and purposesand for all times. Not even the court and as amatter of law, no court in Nigeria , can sit onappeal against its judgment.”

Per KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C. at page 405 paras.B-D:

“In spite of the ingenious couching of thereliefs sought in the two applications, it isevident from their respective grounds andsupporting affidavits that the two processes area surreptitious attempt to lure this court intositting on appeal over its judgment deliveredon 13 th February 2020 in SC.1/2020: PDP &Ors. v. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo & Ors.The grounds and averments therein clearlypoint to perceived errors, n the judgment,which, if alleged against the judgment ofthe lower court, would constitute grounds ofappeal before this court.

This court derives its jurisdiction fromsections 232 and 233 of the 1999 Constitution,as amended, section 235 of the Constitutionprovides for the finality of the decisions of thecourt.

Order 8 rule 16 of the rules of this courtprovides:

“The court shall not review any judgmentonce given and delivered by it save tocorrect any cl erical mistake or someerror arising from any accidental ship

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or omission, or to vary the judgment ororder so as to give effect to its meaningand intention. A judgment or order shallnot be varied when it correctly representswhat the court decided nor shall theoperative and substantive part of it bevaried and a different form substituted.”

This is known as the slip rule. Theprovisions are clear and unambiguous andmust be given their natural and ordinarymeaning.

In the applications before us, what isbeing attacked is the substance of the judgmentunder the guise of a breach of the right tofair hearing. Learned senior counsel for therespective parties have failed to point outany clerical mistake or error arising from anaccidental slip or omission, neither have theycontended that there is a need to vary the finalorders made so as to give effect to the meaningand intention of the court in the judgment. Thefact that a losing party believes the judgmentto be wrong in any respect cannot bring theapplication with in the purview of Order 8 rule16.

In my considered view, it is quite evidentthat what the applicants seek to do in theirrespective applications is to persuade the courtto vary the operative and substantive part ofthe judgment and a different form substituted.The court has no jurisdiction to do so.”

5.NOTABLE PRONOUNCEMENT:

On Duty on lawyers to respect the sanctity and finalityof the Supreme Court –

Per AUGIE, J.S.C. at page 405, paras. B-D:

“As it is, I cannot believe, and I say this with tearsin my eyes, I cannot believe that in my lifetime Iwould see very senior members of the Bar bring

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applications of this nature to this court which areaimed at desecrating the sanctity of this court;violating the well-known principle that thedecisions of this court are final; and destroyingthe esteem, with which this court is held.

The two applications filed by the two setsof applicants are vexatious they are frivolous;and they are without doubt, a gross abuse ofcourt process. In the circumstances, the said twoapplications are hereby dismissed. Costs of N10Million Naira each are awarded against the firstand second applicants and the third applicantrespectively, and in favour of the first, secondand third respondents to be paid personally bytheir respective counsel.”

Nigerian Cases Referred to in the Ruling:

Adigun v. A.-G., Oyo State (No. 2) (1987) 2 NWLR.(Pt. 56)197

Alao v. A.C.B. Ltd. (2000) 9 NWLR (Pt. 672) 254

Amalgamated Trustees Ltd. v. Associated Discount House Ltd.(2007) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1056) 118

ARCON v. Fassassi (No. 4) (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt. 59) 42

Asiyanbi v. Adeniji (1967) SCNLR 125

Minister of Lagos Affairs, Mines & Power v. Akin-Olugbade(1974) 11 SC 11

Naku v. Adekunle (1959) NLR 76

Nigerian Army v. Iyela (2008) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1118) 115

Ugwu v. Ararume (2007) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1048) 365

Foreign Case Referred to in the Ruling:

Flower v. Lloyd (1877) 6 Chd. 297

Nigerian Statute Referred to in the Ruling:

Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (asamended), Ss. 230(1), 232, 233, 235, 236

Nigerian Rules of Court Referred to in the Ruling:

Supreme Court Rules, 2014, O. 8 16

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Applications:

These were applications praying the Supreme Court to setaside its judgment in SC.1/2020 delivered on 13th February 2020in PDP v. Degi-Eremienyo (2021) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1781) 274. TheSupreme Court dismissed the applications as frivolous and abuse ofcourt process and awarded substantial costs against the applicantsto be paid by their respective counsel.

History of the Case:

Supreme Court:

Names of Justices that sat on the application: NwaliSylvester Ngwuta, J.S.C. (Presided); Mary UkaegoPeter-Odili, J.S.C.; Olukayode Ariwoola, J.S.C.; KudiratMotonmori Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun, J.S.C.; JohnInyang Okoro, J.S.C.; Amina Adamu Augie, J.S.C. (Readthe Leading Ruling); Ejembi Eko, J.S.C.

Appeal No.: SC.1/2020

Date of Ruling: Tuesday, 26th February 2020

Names of Counsel: Chief Afe Babalola, SAN; OluDaramola, SAN; Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN (withthem, Tunde Babalola, Esq; Oluwasina Ogungbade,Esq.) – for the 1 st and 2 nd Applicants

Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN; Prince Lateef Fagbemi,SAN; O. I. Oluwadare, SAN; Bode Olanipekun, SAN(with them, Remi Peter Olatubora, Esq.) – for the 3 rdApplicant

Tayo Oyetibo, SAN; C.V.C. Ihekweazu, SAN (withthem, Chikezie Obiefule, Esq., Paul Mbeoma, Esq. andMofesomo Tayo Oyetibo, Esq.) – for the 1 st Respondent

Yunus Ustaz Usman, SAN; M. M. Nurudeen, SAN (withthem, Ibrahim Eddie Mark Esq., Sir F.N. Nwosu, Esq.and Zainab Atoba, Esq.) – for the 2 nd Respondent

Chief Chris Uche, SAN; Chief Gordy Uche, SAN (withthem, John Sambo Esq., Olakunle Lawal, Esq. andAbduljalil Musa, Esq.) – for the 3 rd Respondent

T. M. Inuwa, SAN; Alhassan A. Umar, SAN (with them,Wendy Kuku, Esq; Bashir M. Abubakar, Esq. and U.K.Muazu, Esq.) – for the 4th Respondent

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Counsel:

Chief Afe Babalola, SAN; Olu Daramola, SAN; KehindeOgunwumiju, SAN (with them, Tunde Babalola, Esq;Oluwasina Ogungbade Esq.) – for the 1 st and 2 nd Applicants

Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN; Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN;O. I. Oluwadare, SAN; Bode Olanipekun, SAN (with them,Remi Peter Olatubora, Esq.) – for the 3 rd Applicant

Tayo Oyetibo, SAN; C.V.C. Ihekweazu, SAN (with them,Chikezie Obiefule, Esq., Paul Mbeoma, Esq. and MofesomoTayo Oyetibo, Esq.) – for the 1 st Respondent

Yunus Ustaz Usman, SAN; M. M. Nurudeen, SAN (with them,Ibrahim Eddie Mark Esq., Sir F.N. Nwosu and Zainab Atoba,Esq.) – for the 2 nd Respondent

Chief Chris Uche, SAN; Chief Gordy Uche, SAN (with them,John Sambo Esq., Olakunle Lawal, Esq. and Abduljalil Musa,Esq.) – for the 3 rd Respondent

T. M. Inuwa, SAN; Alhassan A. Umar, SAN (with them, WendyKuku, Esq.; Bashir M. Abubakar, Esq. and U.K. Muazu, Esq.)- for the 4th Respondent

AUGIE, J.S.C. (Delivering the Leading Ruling): This is a rulingin respect of two applications filed by the two sets of applicants,who were first and second respondents, and third respondentrespectively, in appeal No. SC.1/2020 that was argued in this courton 13/2/2020. This court delivered its judgment on that same day.The first application filed on 17/2/2020 by the first set of applicants,is praying this court for –

An order setting aside ex debito justitae the judgmentof this Hon. Court delivered on 13/2/2020 in SC (sic)No SC 1/2020 between PDP & 2 Ors. v. Biobarakuma(1)Degi-Eremienyo & 3 Ors.

An order restoring the appeal in SC.1/2020 betweenPDP & 2 Ors. v. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo & 3(2)Ors. for hearing on its merit.

In the second application filed on 20/2/2020 the third applicantis praying this court for the following orders:

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An order of this hon. court setting aside the portions ofthe court delivered on 13/2/2020 in SC.1/2020 – PDP& 2 Ors. v. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo & 3 Ors.(1)whereby this court held as follows –

“The trial Federal High Court agreed with theappellants that in his Form CF0001 presented toINEC the 1st respondent gave false informationthereby to INEC. It therefore invokedsection 31(6) Electoral Act and disqualified1st respondent (and consequentially the 2ndrespondent) from contesting the governorshipi.election in Balyesa State.”

ii. “The sum total is that the joint ticket of the1st and 2nd respondent was vitiated by thedisqualification of the 1st respondent. Bothcandidates disqualified are deemed not tobe candidates at the Governorship electionconducted in Bayelsa State.”

iii. “It is hereby ordered that INEC (the 4threspondent herein) declares as winner of theGovernorship election in Bayelsa State thecandidate with the highest number of lawfulvotes cast with the requisite constitutional(geographical) spread.”

iv. “The 4th respondent (INEC) is hereby furtherordered forthwith to withdraw the Certificate ofreturn issued to the 2nd and 1st respondents andissue Certificate of Return to the candidate whohad the highest number of lawful votes cast inthe Governorship Election and who also hadthe requisite constitutional (or geographical)spread.”

Without prejudice to supra. An Order of thishonourable court setting aside the interpretation ofthe judgment of this honourable court of 13/2/2020in SC.1/2020 – PDP & 2 Ors. v. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo & 3 Ors. as wrongly done by the 4th(2)respondent on or about 14/2/2020.

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Without prejudice to & supra. An order of thiscourt setting aside the execution of the judgment ofthis court of 13/2/2020 in SC.1/2020 —- as wrongly(3)carried out by the 4th respondent on or about 14/2/2020.

The first and second respondents, who were the first andsecond appellants in the said appeal, filed counter affidavits andwritten addresses, in opposition to the two applications. The thirdrespondent, who was the third appellant in the appeal, also filedhis own counter affidavits and written addresses, and in addition,he raised preliminary objections to the two applications, prayingthis court to strike out the said applications on grounds of lack ofjurisdiction.

It is observed that the issues he raised in the said preliminaryobjections are also argued in the first and second respondents’written addresses, and in the circumstances, the preliminaryobjection raised by the third respondent will be discountenancedand the application will be determined on their merit, with thejurisdictional issue raised by the first, second and third respondentsbeing considered first. The fourth respondent did not file anyprocesses.

The said respondents argued in their respective writtenaddresses that this court lacks the jurisdiction to grant the prayerssought by the applicants, having regard to order 8 rule 16 of therules of this court, which provides –

The court shall not review any judgment once givenand delivered by it save to correct any clerical mistakeor some error arising from any accidental slip oromission, or to vary the judgment or order so as togive effect to its meaning or intention. A judgment ororder shall not be varied when it correctly representswhat the court decided nor shall the operative andsubstantive part of it be varied and a different formsubstituted.

Without going into the details of the arguments/submissionsproffered by the parties for and against the said two applications,it is safe and easy for me to say that having considered the prayerssought by the two sets of applicants vis-à-vis the position of thelaw on the subject and the arguments/submissions proffered by allthe parties, it is clear to me that the two applications lack merit,

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and they constitute an abuse of court process, without any doubtwhatsoever.

Howsoever, the prayers sought are crafted, there is no questionthat the two sets of applicants are asking this court to review itsjudgment delivered on 13/2/2020 in the said appeal. Order 8 rule16 of the rules of this court uses the words “shall not”, and as thiscourt aptly observed in Ugwu & Anor. v. Ararume & Anor. (2007)12 NWLR (Pt. 1048) 365 at 441 – 442 per Tobi, J.S.C.

The word “shall” when used in a statutory provisionimports that a thing must be done, and when thenegative phrase “shall not” is used, it implies thatsomething must not be done. It is a form of a commandor mandate.

So, this court is not authorized and lacks jurisdiction to reviewits judgment except in the circumstances spelt out in the said Order8 rule 16 of the rules of this court. The two sets of applicants havenot shown this court any clerical mistakes that need to be correctedin its judgment delivered on 13/2/2020.

They have not pointed out any accidental slip or omission orshown this court any part of the judgment that needs to be varied soas to give effect to its meaning or intention. What they are askingthis court to do is what the said provision prohibits – the applicantsare asking the court to vary “the operative and substantive part” ofits judgment, and thereby substitute a different form.

There must be an end to litigation. Section 235 of the 1999Constitution, as amended, makes it clear that “no appeal shall lieto any other body from any determination of the Supreme Court.”Thus, this is the final court of the land, and it is well settled that thedecisions of this court are final – See ARCON v. Fassassi (No. 4)(1987) 3 NWLR (Pt. 59) 42, wherein Eso, J.S.C. observed:

Before a court finally determines a case before it, it isseised with jurisdiction to determine whether or not ithas jurisdiction. But and this is of utmost importance,once the court has finally determined the issue, it isfunctus officio that judgment, if it is by a court lowerthan the Supreme Court it can only be corrected onappeal. In the Supreme Court, the decision of thatcourt in so far as that case is concerned is final for allages – It is final in the sense of real finality. It is finalforever. Only a legislation ad hominin can alter it.

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The decision of this court in Appeal No. SC. 1/2020 is finalfor all ages; it is final in the real sense of the word – Final; andno force on earth can get this court to shift from its decisionregarding the Bayelsa State pre-election appeal No. SC.1/2020.To do otherwise, is to open a floodgate of litigation on appealsthat have already been settled by this court. There is even noguarantee that if these two applications are granted, the other sidewill not come with a fresh application to review the ruling onthe ground that this court did not consider certain aspects of thearguments in its ruling. There would be no end in sight.

As I said, there must be an end to litigation to ensure certaintyin the law, and that was the exact point made by Elias, C.J.N, inMinister of Lagos Affairs, Mines & Power & Anor v. Chief AkinOlugbade (1974) 1 All NLR (Pt. 1) 226, which this court adoptedin Adigun v. A.G., Oyo State (No. 2) (1987) 2 NWLR.(Pt. 56) 197at 234. In Chief Olugbade’s case (supra), Elias, CJN, stated –

Were we to accept the submission – – that we canexercise the jurisdiction to entertain these motions,to look into complaints about the law or the factin the judgment being attacked, there would be nofinality about any judgment of this court and everydisaffected litigant could bring further appeals as itwere ad infinitum. This is a situation that must not bepermitted.

In Adigun’s case (supra), this court per Nnamani, J.S.C,added as follows –

I may add that our principle of stare decisis wouldbe severely hampered, for all lower courts wouldbe obliged to defer application of decisions of thiscourt until they were sure that such decisions wouldnot by an application almost immediately after theirdelivery, be reviewed and altered.

In this case, it is clear that the two sets of applicants areasking this court to sit on appeal over its judgment delivered on13/2/2020, which is regrettable. The position of the law is that thedecision of this court on any matter is final, subsisting and binding

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on parties, and there is no statutory or constitutional provisionallowing this court, as the apex court, to review its decision byitself, therefore, this court does not and cannot sit on appeal overits own judgment.

As it is, I cannot believe, and I say this with tears in myeyes, I cannot believe that in my lifetime I would see very seniormembers of the Bar bring applications of this nature to this courtwhich are aimed at desecrating the sanctity of this court; violatingthe well-known principle that the decisions of this court are final;and destroying the esteem, with which this court is held.

The two applications filed by the two sets of applicantsare vexatious they are frivolous; and they are without doubt, agross abuse of court process in the circumstances, the said twoapplications are hereby dismissed. Costs of N10 Million Naira eachare awarded against the first and second applicants and the thirdapplicant respectively, and in favour of the first, second and thirdrespondents to be paid personally by their respective counsel.

NGWUTA, J.S.C.: I read in draft the ruling just delivered by myLord, A. A. Augie, J.S.C. and I entirely agree with the reasoningand conclusion in the two motions filed in appeal No. SC.1/2020.

The said appeal was heard on 13th February, 2020. This courtdelivered its judgment the same day. In my humble view themotions are appeals in disguise. The applicants want the SupremeCourt to sit on appeal against the final judgment it delivered on13/2/2020,.set aside its judgment of 13/2/2020 and replace samewith another judgment diametrically opposed to the said judgmentof 13/2/2020..That is easier said than done. The Supreme Court ofNigeria is a creature of the Constitution and exercises its powerswithin the limits prescribed by the Constitution and the rules of thecourt. S. 230 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria1999 as amended provides:

“S.230(1) there shall be a Supreme Court of Nigeria”

Its appellate jurisdiction is spelt out in S. 233 of theConstitution (supra). S. 235 confers finality on thefinal determination of the court. It provides:

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406

“S.235 without prejudice to the powers of the President or ofthe Governor of a State with respect to prerogative ofmercy no appeal shall lie to any other body from anydetermination of the Supreme Court.”

Its judgment is final for all intents and purposes and for alltimes. Not even the court and as a matter of law, no court in Nigeria,can sit on appeal against its judgment. See Order 8 rule 16 of theSupreme Court Rules 2014 made pursuant to S. 236 of the 1999Constitution which provides:

“Order 8 rule 16: The court shall not review anyjudgment once given and delivered by it save tocorrect any clerical mistake or some error arisingfrom any accidental slip or omission, or to vary thejudgment or Order so as to give effect to its meaningor intention. A judgment or Order shall not be variedwhen it correctly represents what the court decided norshall the operative and substantive part of it be variedand a different form substituted.”

The court has inherent power to set aside a judgment given inabsence of jurisdiction or when the procedure adopted is such as todeprive the decision of the character of a legitimate adjudication.See Alao v. A.C.B. Ltd. KLR vol. 6 part 105,1803 at 1805, (2000) 9NWLR (Pt. 672) 254.

The applicants did not invoke the slip rule in Order 8 rule16 (supra) they did not complain that the court lacked jurisdictionwhen it delivered its judgment in SC.1/12020 on 13/2/2020,.it isnot their case that the court employed any procedure that deprivedthe judgment of the character of a legitimate adjudication, they didnot allege that the decision portrayed anything other than what wasintended by the court nor is it their case that the judgment in questionwas obtained by fraud practiced on the court by either party. SeeS. O. Naku v. Adekunle (1959) NLR 76, Flower v. Lloyd (1877)6 Chd. 297. The court cannot act outside its statutory jurisdictionwhich is spelt out and circumscribed in the Constitution and theRules of practice made pursuant to S.236 of the Constitution or itsinherent power which forms part of its larger jurisdiction to grantapplication that constitute abuse of the court’s process. See Adigunv. A.-G., Oyo State (No.2) (1987) 3 SCNJ 118, (1981) 2 NWLR

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(Pt. 56) 197. It needs to be emphasised that the Supreme Courtis without jurisdiction or power to review its judgment oncedelivered. See Ashinnyanbi & Ors. v. Adeniji (1967) 1 All NLR82 [Reported as Asiyanbi v. Adeniji (1967) SCNLR 125]. Forthe above and the fuller reasons advanced in the lead ruling, Ialso dismiss the motions and adopt the order for costs.

PETER-ODILI, J.S.C.: Ruling delivered by Amina AdamuAugie, JSC dismissing the two applications. Costs ofN10,000,000.00 awarded against the 1st and 2nd applicantsand 3rd applicant respectively to be paid to the 1st, 2nd and 3rdrespondents. Costs to be paid personally by the learned counselfor the applicants.

KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C.: I participated in the conference thatled to the dismissal of the application filed by the 1st and 2ndrespondents/applicants on 17/2/2020 and the application of the3rd respondent/applicant filed on 20/2/2020.

The views eloquently expressed in the lead ruling deliveredby my learned brother, Amina Adamu Augie, J.S.C. representmy position in the two applications. I adopt and endorse thesound reasoning and conclusion in their entirety. I make thefollowing brief comments to show my support and for emphasis.

In spite of the ingenious couching of the reliefs soughtin the two applications, it is evident from their respectivegrounds and supporting affidavits that the two processes are asurreptitious attempt to lure this court into sitting on appeal overits judgment delivered on 13th February 2020 in SC.1/2020: PDP& Ors. v. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo & Ors. The groundsand averments therein clearly point to perceived errors in thejudgment, which, if alleged against the judgment of the lowercourt, would constitute grounds of appeal before this court.

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408

This court derives its jurisdiction from sections 232 and 233 ofthe 1999 Constitution, as amended, section 235 of the Constitutionprovides for the finality of the decisions of the court.

Order 8 rule 16 of the Rules of this court provides:

“The court shall not review any judgment once givenand delivered by it save to correct any clerical mistakeor some error arising from any accidental ship oromission, or to vary the judgment or order so as togive effect to its meaning and intention. A judgment ororder shall not be varied when it correctly representswhat the court decided nor shall the operative andsubstantive part of it be varied and a different formsubstituted”

This is known as the slip rule. The provisions are clear andunambiguous and must be given their natural and ordinary meaning.

In the applications before us, what is being attacked is thesubstance of the judgment under the guise of a breach of the rightto fair hearing. Learned senior counsel for the respective partieshave failed to point out any clerical mistake or error arising from anaccidentalship or omission, neither have they contended that thereis a need to vary the final orders mad e so as to give effect to themeaning and intention of the court in the judgment. The fact thata losing party believes the judgment to be wrong in any respectcannot bring the application with in the purview of Order 8 rule 16.

In my considered view, it is quite evident that what theapplicants seek to do in their respective applications is to persuadethe court to vary the operative and substantive part of the judgmentand a different form substituted. The court has no jurisdiction to doso.

In Amalgamated Trustees Ltd. v. Associated Discount HouseLtd. (2007) LPELR – 454 (SC) @ 60 – 64, (2007) 15 NWLR (Pt.1056) 118, this court held, inter alia:

“… Order 8 rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules,1985 and the three principles enshrined therein,demonstrates unequivocally a clear prohibition onthe interference subsequently with the operative andsubstantive part of a judgment of this court or anypart thereof under the slip rule. It is therefore, nowfirmly settled, that judgments of this court cannot be

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reviewed. The court has no power to overrule, reverseor nullify its previous decisions whether on questionsof substantive or procedural law.”

See also: Nigerian Army v. Jacob Iyela (2008) LPELR-2014 SC, (2008) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1118) 115. The rationale for theprohibition of this court to review its judgment, delivered aftera full hearing, was poignantly expressed by the erudite Obaseki,J.S.C. in Adigun v. A.-G., Oyo State (No. 2) (1987) 2 NWLR (Pt.56) 197 @ 213 A-B as follows:

“… it will be scandalous and suspect of improper andcorrupt motives if the court, after delivering a well-considered judgment.:..were to be allowed to turnaround and deliver a different decision. I have nodoubt that such conduct will mark the onset of theerosion of confidence in the integrity of the court andthe destruction of the courts’ competence to do justice.It will be the death of justice which the courts areestablished to administer.”

As His Lordship, Eso, J.S.C. said in the same case (supra) at214 – 215 H – C:

“The decision of the Supreme Court is final. Final inthe sense of real finality in so far as the particularcase before the court is concerned. It is final forever,except there is legislation to the contrary, and it has tobe legislation ad hominem…The society can never bestable if there is no such finality in litigation… As it isusually put, there must be an end to litigation.”

See also: ARCON v. Fasassi (No. 4) (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt. 59)42 @ 45-46 H-B.

For these and the more detailed reasons given in the leadruling, I find no merit in the two applications. I agree with mylearned brother Augie, J.S.C. that the applications are vexatious,frivolous and a gross abuse of the court’s process. I dismiss bothapplication and abide by the order on costs.

OKORO, J.S.C.: I am in complete agreement with the ruling ofmy learned brother, Amina Adamu Augie, J.S.C. in respect of thetwo applications just delivered. I adopt same as mine including theconsequential orders.

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EKO,J.S.C.:Ientirelyagreewiththeruling,includingtheconsequentialordersmadetherein,inthetwoapplicationsbymylearnedbrotherAminaAdamuAugie,J.S.C.Iherebyadoptit.

Applicationdismissed.

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