Chief Justice of Nigeria: Court wields the big stick
The Supreme Court on Wednesday fined Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), and Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), N30 million each for agreeing to file an application for the review of the apex court’s judgment on Bayelsa election.
Justice Amina Augie announced the fine while reading the judgment in the applications for a review of its February 13, 2020 judgment which overturned the All Progressives Congress (APC) victory in the last governorship election in Bayelsa state.
With tears in her eyes, the justice regretted that “very senior” lawyers were responsible for filing the applications.
Subsequently, the apex court awarded the costs of N10m to be personally paid by David Lyon’s lawyer, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), who represented Lyon, and APC’s lawyer, Olanipekun (SAN).
It ruled that each of the lawyers must pay the N10m to each of the three respondents – the People’s Democratic Party, Governor Duoye Diri, and the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa state, Lawrence Ewhruojakpo, bringing the total amount to be paid to N60 million.
She said the applications amounted to an invitation for the apex court to sit in appeal on its own judgment in violation of the Constitution.
A seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta described the applications filed by the APC and its governorship candidate at the poll, Lyon, as vexatious, frivolous, and constituted a gross abuse of court process.
Justice Augie held that it would amount to violating the finality of its judgment if the applications were granted.
She said granting the applications would open a floodgate for the review of decisions of the Supreme Court.
“There must be an end to litigation,” she said, adding, “the decision of the Supreme Court is final for ages in a matter” and only legislation could change it.