A member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) legal team, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), has revealed why the party requested the Supreme Court to review its verdict on the Balyesa state governorship election.
Mr Olanipekun and another senior lawyer, Afe Babalola, led the legal team that filed an application for the review of the judgment delivered on February 13 which sacked David Lyon of APC.
Both senior lawyers were ordered by the Supreme Court to pay N10 million each to each of the respondents for filing such an application.
A five-member panel of the apex court led by Mary Odili, had on February 13, nullified the election of Mr Lyon on the grounds that his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, presented false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as his qualification for the November 16 governorship election in the state.
The apex court, in the judgement delivered by Ejembi Eko, consequently ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Messrs Lyon and Degi-Eremienyo.
The court also ordered that INEC should immediately declare the party with the highest number of lawful votes and geographical spread the winner of the election.
Delivering judgement in the said application filed by Mr Olanipekun, a seven-member panel of the apex court in a unanimous decision, led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, held that the application by the APC and Mr Lyon lacks merit and that the court lacks jurisdiction to review its own judgement.
Allnews notes that the February 13 judgment remains one of the controversial judgments in the history of Nigeria's democracy.
Although Mr Olanipekun had earlier said he did no wrong in applying for the review, he promised to give full details behind the step when the time was ripe.
However, the senior lawyer spoke extensively with journalists in Ilorin, Kwara state on Sunday.
He stated that the party and its legal team did not go to the apex court to accuse the judges of fraud, but they were there to remind the judges of likely human error in the judgement.
“For me to have gone to court to present my case in a most forensic manner, profound manner, but addressing the bench with every courtesy, respect. The day I would be intimidated, afraid of going to court to say this is what the law says, these are the precedents, that day I will drop my wig and gown."
“We committed no wrong. We made no mistake, no error. We were briefed in respect of a matter. We were of the view that the Apex court relied on the judgement of the federal high Court. And the Federal High Court did not disqualify their candidate. We looked at it, we set up three teams. Meticulously, we sat and realized that the Federal High Court did not disqualify the candidate of our client. But that will not be enough.
“We had to go through so many precedents and we went back to the Apex court use the judgement of the federal high court. In some cases, the Apex court had reviewed its order and changed the order. Those of you who know me can testify that I am not rude to colleagues at the bar. Humility pays. The Bible tells me that God hates a haughty heart. So, if I’m humble, extends courtesy to my colleagues at the bar, how much more to the members of the bench."
“My oral adumbration was punctuated with the phaciology, our Lord we are not accusing you of fraud. We are only reminding you of what Esho, Oputa said, quoting that beautiful rendition of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the USA in Adegoke motors and Adesanya, that you’re not infallible," the legal practitioner said.
Mr Olanipekun explained that there might be a human error but the team was courteous in its presentation.
"When I left the court with Prince Fagbemi, hordes of cameramen, asked ‘will you not react to what they said?’ I said me? No, I would not. I have passed that stage, but one thing I will say is that I’ve been a builder of this profession and few people can beat their chest that they have contributed more to this profession than people like us. This profession belongs to all of us and we must carry it together," He narrated.
" What I’m saying is that I’m a leader of the profession. I have a dynasty with my mentees. How will I want the profession to fall? I’m pleading to all of us, through this occasion of my being honoured, to come and reason together."
“Even God would reverse some of His decisions. And a typical and topical one is in the Bible. If God could reverse his decision, no human being could say I will not. There’s only one single profession.
He, however, noted that it is only in Nigeria that there is a disparity between the bench and the bar.
"There should not be a division. We must rediscover ourselves and in doing that we must rearrange ourselves."