The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a motion filed by the Independent National Electoral Commission seeking clarification on its January 29, 2016 judgment, which many claimed had sacked federal legislators from Anambra State, including senators Andy Uba and Stella Oduah.
A five-man panel of the apex court, led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, held that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the motion
Justice Nyang Okoro, who read the lead ruling of the court, held that there was no ambiguity in the apex court’s judgment and could not be accommodated under Order 8, Rule 16 of the Supreme Court rules.
But despite declining jurisdiction to clarify the judgment, Justice Okoro went on to highlight what the apex court decided and did not decide in the said verdict.
Justice Okoro, who had delivered the judgment, which was being sought to be interpreted, ruled, for instance, that the apex court did not resolve the question relating to the legitimacy or otherwise of the list of candidates submitted to INEC for the 2015 National Assembly election by the various factions of the Peoples Democratic Party in Anambra State.
He ruled, “The motion is not seeking correction of any clerical mistake or some error arising from any accidental slip or omission. May I say, generally too, that this court has the power to correct its own clerical errors or slip of the pen. Such power is exercisable in both civil and criminal proceedings.
“It must be clearly stated that it is not every slip or error in a judgment that would be allowed to undermine or derogate from an otherwise well-written judgment. I have seen the application by the applicant (INEC) and the issues thrown up for determination.
“I am of the view that this court has no jurisdiction to determine and pronounce upon them as it will have the effect of rewriting the judgment and in the process, making orders, which ought not to have been made in the first place. The judgment of this court is final by virtue of Section 235 of the Constitution.
“From the issue before us, nothing has been shown, which is not clear in the judgment. It is wrong for anyone to import into the judgment, issues which were not ventilated and decided upon.”
Justice Okoro explained that, although the panel upheld the earlier judgment of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, to the effect that the Ejike Oguebego-led executive committee of the Anambra chapter of the PDP was the authentic body to run the party’s affairs, it did give the EXCO the power to submit a list of candidates to INEC.
Justice John Okoro stated that the Supreme Court neither ordered INEC to accept the list of candidates for the National Assembly election from the Oguebego-led EXCO nor did it direct INEC to conduct fresh elections to the National Assembly in the state.
He added, “For instance, the applicant is seeking clarifications whether to issue certificate of return to persons in the list of Ejike Oguebego-led executive committee. This was not part of our judgment.
“Also, INEC is seeking whether to do a fresh election to the National Assembly, as it affects Anambra State. This, again, was not part of the judgment. These are matters that have been properly ventilated at the election tribunal and the Court of Appeal. I am not aware that any of those matters are on appeal in this court.
“It is untrue that parties do not understand the import of our judgment. Where in the judgment did we state that the Oguebego-led committee should take over the functions of the National Executive Committee of the PDP so that it can submit a list to INEC? I think counsel are not fair to this court when they say they do not understand the judgment of this court, which was written in simple English language.”
The court dismissed the motion filed and argued by INEC’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomoolo (SAN) and upheld the objection by lawyer to the Oguebego-led EXCO, Chris Uche (SAN), who had urged the court to decline jurisdiction.
Other members of the panel, Justices Ngwuta, Mary Peter-Odili, Datijo Muhammad and Kumai Akaa’hs agreed with Justice Okoro’s reasoning. (Punch)