The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin City, Edo state today dismissed the fresh application filed by Chief Ighoyota Amori, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Delta Central Senatorial District election of March 28 and April 25, 2015, seeking the court to set aside its judgement which declared Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, candidate of the Labour Party as winner of the election.
In a lead judgement written by the Chairman of the 5-man panel of Court of Appeal, Justice A. Aguie, read by Justice Raphael Agbo, the court held that it lacks jurisdiction to hear Amori’s application to set outside it earlier judgment, adding that the application is an abuse of court process.
According to judgement which other four justices concurred to, stated in part: “What the appellant (Amori) want this court to do is for the court to seat on appeal on a matters already determined, Court of Appeal can’t seat on Appeal, where do we manufacture jurisdiction from?”
“Granted that the Appeal Court has an inherent jurisdiction to review cases, nevertheless such inherent jurisdiction cannot supersede constitutional provisions which stated clearly that all electoral matters emanating from National and House Assembly must be dispensed with within 60-Days from the date of delivering of judgement from the lower tribunal.”
Though the appellant stated that the application is a fresh one and is not emanating from election matter, but the appellant (Amori) failed to show the foundation which the application stand, and no application to Court of Appeal can stand on its own.”
While dismissing Amori’s application the court added that, “we affirm the objection of the respondents that this court lack jurisdiction to hear this application in the first place as it amount to an abuse of court process.”
It would be recalled that the appellate court had on December 19, 2015, nullified the election of Amori and declared Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, as winner of the election after it had set aside the verdict of the lower tribunal which upheld the declaration of Amori as winner of the election by the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC.
Not satisfied with the ruling, Amori had petitioned the President of the Court of Appeal and filed an application notice of appeal in a suit No: CB/5M/2016, urging the appeal court to set aside its earlier judgement sacking him.
The counsel to Chief Amori and PDP, Mr. Efe Akpofure SAN, urged the court to uphold it earlier judgment which had affirmed Amori’s victory in APC and Hon. Halims Agoda’s case and set aside its verdict on Omo-Agege’s case.
However, counsel to Senator Omo-Agege, Mr. Robert Emukperou, in his submission, stated that the appellate court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case stressing that the decision of the court of appeal on legislative election matter is final and not subject to appeal or review.
According to him, “with regards to the fact that the constitution gave a 60-day window for hearing and disposal of anything what so ever that has to do with legislative election, this timeframe has since elapse, on December 22, 2015, hence the finality of the case.”
He had told the court that material evidence, pleading and relief sought in Agoda’s and Omo-Agege’s are different, stressing that when evidence and relief sought are different, the verdict consequently will be different.
He added that, “the basis upon which Amori’s application is predicated is an erroneous assumption which is that in one case the question of who won the election arose, meaning in Agoda’s case and that the other case that same question arose and that the court of appeal gave different conflicting decision.
While addressing Journalists after the judgement, Mr. Lucky Ajokperiniovo, counsel to Senator Omo-Agege, who represented the led counsel Mr. Robert Emukperou, commended the courage of the judges to uphold the constitution and do substantive justices without succumbing to undue pressure, adding that there should be an end to litigation.