ANAMBRA: S'COURT THROWS OUT UBA'S APPLICATION
The Supreme Court yesterday threw out the application of the former governor of Anambra state, Chief Andy Uba, in which he prayed the court to set aside its June 2007 judgment that returned the incumbent, Mr. Peter Obi, to office.
The court also described as a mess the trick employed by Uba to reclaim what he called his mandate on the account of 2007 governorship election.
The apex court also came down heavily on Uba's lawyer, J.B. Dawodu, for allowing himself to be used in bringing the application when he knew that his action was wrong.
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Kutigi, who presided over Uba's application for a judicial review, said the court had carefully considered the arguments of parties as presented by their lawyers and came to the conclusion that the application was a gross abuse of judicial process.
According to him, the court could not re-open the case that had come to the court three times and had been decided on merit, adding that it is a trite law that there must be an end to litigation.
Kutigi said: 'In this case, judgment was delivered and you allowed them file a case. It was struck out; they came back and filed the same case. Where are we going in this country? We can only set aside the judgment in case there is corruption or collision.
'They had earlier brought an application asking us to set aside our judgment. They knew that they were wrong and they withdrew the matter. The former lawyer knew that he was wrong and he withdrew. They went and brought you (Dawodu) to handle this kind of mess. They are shuttling between Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in this same matter. Even if the Supreme Court makes a mistake, there is a procedure through which the mistake could be corrected,' Kutigi said.
The CJ subsequently summarily dismissed the application, saying the court now regard the matter as closed.
The Supreme Court had, at the last adjourned date, ruled that it would constitute a full panel that would hear and determine the appeal brought by Uba in which he asked the court to set aside its earlier judgment that ousted him as governor of Anambra state.
The decision of the court to constitute a full panel was based on the request by all the parties who agreed that the best way to deal with the issue in the appeal once and for all was to have a full house of the court sitting.
Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, who presided over the last sitting, said there was no point wasting time on hearing the appeal piecemeal since parties already indicated readiness to have a full court.The Supreme Court had on June 14, 2007 in what could be termed a locus classicus in law restored Governor Peter obi of Anambra state and ordered Uba to vacate the Government House as, according to it, the tenure of Obi would lapse on March 17, 2010.
The court also berated the Independent National Electoral Commission for going ahead to conduct election into the office of the Anambra State Governor when it was aware of the pendency of the suit.
The apex Court in the unanimous decision of seven justices of the court stated that theINEC erred when despite the pendency of the matter went ahead to conduct elections into the office of the governor of Anambra state when the said seat was not vacant.
The Court in the lead Judgment delivered by Justice Iyorger Kastina-Alu held that 'there being no dispute that Governor Obi took his oath of office on March 17, 2006, his tenure of office shall expire on March 17, 2010. INEC admitted that it was aware of the pendency of the suit and still went ahead to conduct an election into an office that is not vacant.
Not satisfied with the ruling, Uba filed another application before the apex court asking it to review its decision and return him as the state Governor as according to him the notice of appeal was not filed at the registry of the Federal High Court Enugu but at the registry of the Court of Appeal Enugu Division which he contended was an error in law and vitiates the judgment of the Court.