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ON SUPREME COURT OVERRULING ITSELF IN ELECTION PETITION CASES!

…Election Petitions are *suis generis*, meaning that they are unique, have a life of their own, have special character and are governed by procedures peculiar to it.

It is a time conscious trial.

Under the 1999 Constitution as amended and the extant Electoral Act, 2010 as amended, the chances of the Supreme Court overruling itself in an Election Petition it has conclusively *decided and disposed of* and in the particular case of Imo State is nil and non-existent.

We make this strong statement because among other things-
(a) there is no statutory provision for it, and
(b) the lapse of the almighty sixty days constitutional timeline within which the Supreme Court must hear and dispose of Election Petition appeals from the date of delivery of the judgement of the Court of Appeal has foreclosed any such novel window.

It is instructive that the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja handed its judgement in the Imo Governorship Election Petition Appeals on 19 November 2019.

The Supreme Court in turn disposed the appeal on 14 January 2020.

Going by computation of time therefore, embarking on a street protest on 19 January 2020 and orally asking the Supreme Court to overrule itself is plain mischief calculated to embarrass and denigrate the integrity of the eminent Law Lords.

The sixty days timeline for disposing election petition appeals is a constitutional provision and a non-negotiable part of our electoral laws that must be rigidly obeyed as it is said to stand firm and unmoveable like the *Rock of Gibraltar.*

Even as the Oracle of the law, the Supreme Court is not entitled to rewrite, amend, add or subtract from constitutional provisions.

They must give effect to constitutional provisions however harsh or unsavoury the result may be.

That is what the Supreme Court held in its 2012 decision in the controversial Imo Governorship Election Petitition *PDP V GOVERNOR OKOROCHA & 10 OTHERS* in Suit No. SC/17/2012 delivered on 2nd March 2012.

For further reading, see the book, *Obiaraeri, N.O., _Imo Rescue Mission Agenda Before The Oracle of The Law and The Unseen Hand of GOD,_* Owerri, M.Cajec Publications, 2016.

It is important to further enlighten that the old case of *ADEGOKE MOTORS LTD V ADESANYA* (1989) 13 NWLR (Pt. 109) being bandied around here and there and cited as authority for the Supreme Court to overrule itself is inapplicable in the 2019 Imo Election Petition matter or any Election Petition matter.

This is because the said ADEGOKE CASE (Supra) is not an election petition matter.

It was a 1989 decision that did not have the contemplation of the mandatory requirement for conclusion of election petition appeals in the Supreme Court within 60 days as provided for in the present 1999 Constitition of Nigeria as amended.

It remains to be said that in sync with their constitutional powers and relying on clear constitutional provisions and our electoral laws, the Supreme Court has disposed of the 2019 Imo Governorship appeals and can never revisit it.

This is again supported by the decision of the Supreme Court in an Election Petition case *PDP V GOVERNOR OKOROCHA & 10 OTHERS in Suit No. SC/17/2012 delivered on 2nd March 2012,* where Odili, JSC, held in a most profound manner and characteristic candour as follows-

*”…What is to be disposed has in a way hit the rock and can go nowhere else. That is to say the legal dispute or process has reached its final destination and is at grand finale….”*

We can then conveniently restate that when the Supreme Court finally disposes of an election petition, the legal dispute has come to a full and final stop at the last legal and judicial bus stop because of the special nature of election petitions and its time sensitive nature.

It is in public interest that there should be an end to litigation-
*Interest rei publicae ut sit finis litium* which is an alternative Latin phrase for *expedit rei publicae ut.*

Remember always that the Supreme Court is final but not infallible.

A new normal is possible!

🖋
Prof Obiaraeri, N.O.

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