Bayelsa Election Judgement

BAYELSA’S MATTER: people’s (WILL{s}) V. Court Judgement
21/02/2020_ 07:00pm

No modicum of doubt in the inherent power of the court to determine dispute between any person in the geographical entity called Nigeria. Simply put, the court herein has the inherent power to settle matter between highs and lows citizens that make this country, hence they are being referred to as the last hope of the common man. This power is no doubt has been vetoly couched generally by S6 of 1999 CFRN as ameded and the “WILL” of the people serving as the donators of this power (S14 {2a}) and they are to exercise this power without any interference, intimidation, one-sidedness, mixed of feelings and conjecture amongst others whilst ensuring the voyage of that carries Hope of Justice is well steered.

An obtuse view of the recent Supreme Court Judgement on Bayelsa election which saw the sack of the elected Governor (Lyon David) and his running mate ( Mr. ‘Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo’) base on the application of S31 (5) and Invocation of sub (6) of the Electoral act as ammended. Contending on the name(s) used by the D.P governor in his certificates which varies from his First graduation certificate to his masters certificate.

Lending from the words of the Great Socrate of Law, Per Chukwudifu Oputa Jsc in Adegoke Motors Ltd. v. Adesanya [1989] 13 NWLR (Pt.109) 250 at page 275A said: ” We (Justices of this Court) are final not because we are infallible; rather we are infallible because we are final”. It’ll be accurate to say the same has manifested in this Novel matter cum with the Justices inability to view beyond human feelings and not act according to the well preserved principles of LAW.

To start with, ALLEGATION OF CRIME: What the court must do where an election matter contains allegations of crime “… Assuming that those various paragraphs of the Petition have elements of criminality embedded in them, then upon the principle of severance of criminal averment in pleadings, the Court is empowered to sever the said criminal averments and deal with the petition on the basis of the surviving averments. See: Omoboriowo v. Ajasin (1981) – (1990) LRECN 332; Nwobodo v. Onoh (1951-1990) LRECN 369

Worthy to note is that, Variance of Name in contending matters is not and has never Nullify any matter even during proceedings. Variance of name occur where there’s mistake of NAME OF A PERSON but not the IDENTITY OF A PERSON and it is legally term as “MISNOMER” the effect of which only demand Amendment or Correction of the same following due process as decided even by the apex court in the case;EMERPO J. CONTINENTAL LTD V. CORONA S. & CO., (2006) 11 NWLR (pt. 991) 365, this court held that a misnomer occurs when the correct person is brought to court in a wrong name.” Per OKORO, J.S.C. (P. 20, paras. E-G) – read in context. Also See. ADEWUMI V. ATTORNEY-GENERAL, EKITI STATE, (2002) 2 NWLR (pt.751) 474 held; “…Therefore, when the learned trial judge granted the amendment, it dated back to when the Originating Summons was issued and the action would continue as if the amendment was inserted from the beginning…”

Similar has been held in Atiku & ors V Buhari & ors (2019) that There should be no fuss over the name “MOHAMED” and “MUHAMMADU” because as held by the Court (coram: Nsofor, Ikongbeh, Onnoghen, Mika’illu, Ngwuta, JJ.CA) in Alliance For Democracy v. Fayose and 4 Ors. (2005) 10 NWLR (pt.932) 151 at 192 – 193 per the lead judgment prepared by Nsofor, J.C.A., thus – “And I ask this: what, really, is in a name, or a name “cucullus non facitmonachum”.
Now, “name” derived from the Latin: nomen – nominis, in its noun form, (See Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary at page 875) is defined to mean “that by which a person or a thing is known or called, a designation.” Of what concern or to whom does it matter if “A” chooses to be called or known by many, or very many names? I confess that I know of no legislation or a Decree in Nigeria restricting any person(s) to a number of names he may be called or known by. No such law!” PER J.S.IKYEGH, J.C.A

The offence/allegation spelt out by the provision of Section 31(5&6) of the Electoral act is of Crime, Forgery in specific, which demand to be proven “beyond reasonable doubt”.

In the same line, The provision of S31 (5) though has empowered any concerned individual that felt the same provision has been breached could institute an action against such candidate but the sub(6) that disqualify the candidate has some hidden elements to be proven beyond “mere conjecture”. Looking at the words used in the proviso “If the Court DETERMINE that any of the information contained in the affidavit or documents submitted…”

The word “Determine” on the surface of it could mean a discretionary power of the court to look at /act upon without any prove. It could also mean A discretionary power of the Court to look at/act upon after the alleged Affidavit or Document has been proven “beyond reasonable doubts”
Inline with the above, It’s obvious that the latter definition has it soft land in the Nigeria Legal system especially when talking about Criminal matter as show cased in the Bayelsa election matter which brought out the question that “Though the Name(s) in those certificates varies, regardless of the supportive affidavits, “Who then owns the Certificates?”.
This question ought to have been answered by the apex court beyond mere conjecture posed by the variances in the names on the certificates. This, they could have done by “subpoenaing” the concerned authorities to affirm or otherwise of the DEGI’s claim of attending their institution before concluding on it judgement. As decided in the plethora case of Nwobodo V Onoh (1983) AELR 5003 , Omoboriowo V Agasin (1984) AELR 5004 and Abubakar V Yar’adua (2009) ALL FWLR (Pt.457) 1.

The apex court, as early noted on the Inherent power as donated by the “WILLs” of the people, ought to have take congnizance of all these without judging on the surface of the matter before them so as not to impose who doesn’t have the majority “WILLs” of the people of the affected state as their Governor (S14{2})CFRN 1999 as altered.

Concluding with the eminent words of per Chukwudifu Oputa JSC in Adegoke Motors Vs. Adesanya.
Justices of this Court are human-beings, capable of erring. It will certainly be short sighted arrogance not to accept this obvious truth. It is also true that this Court can do inestimable good through its wise decisions. Similarly, the Court can do incalculable harm through its mistakes. When therefore it appears to learned counsel that any decision of this Court has been given per incuriam, such counsel should have the boldness and courage to ask that such a decision be over-ruled. This Court has the power to over-rule itself (and has done so in the past) for it gladly accepts that it is far better to admit an error than to persevere in error

Saheed Afeez Ayinde
(Deemlawful)
Pupil of Law
University of Ilorin, and can be reach through
deem8666@gmail.com

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