• BoT rejects name change as party offers 35% slot to women

• How party may fare at apex court re-appraisal, by lawyers

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday approved the bid for a review of the Supreme Court verdict on the Imo State governorship election. National Chairman Uche Secondus disclosed this at the party’s 88th National Executive Committee meeting held in Abuja, saying there was optimism that the apex court would reverse itself.

The Supreme Court had recently sacked Emeka Ihedioha who is of the PDP and declared APC’s Hope Uzodinma winner of the Imo State governorship election.“The NWC wishes to report to NEC that the party, after extensive consultations with legal experts, has decided to fully back our Imo State governorship candidate, Emeka Ihedioha, as he returns to the Supreme Court to seek their review and possible reversal of the January 14 curious judgment,” said Secondus, noting: “We are highly optimistic that the justices may bow to superior reason and reverse themselves by returning the mandate to the PDP.”

This came as governors elected on the platform of the PDP vowed to oppose the alleged plot to turn Nigeria into a one party state.Newly appointed chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal also pledged to unite aggrieved members and reposition the party ahead of future polls. He further expressed the governors’ readiness to boost membership and strengthen the party in every state.

He said: “I assure you, my brothers and indeed the party, that by the grace of God, we shall work together to continue to strengthen our party and deepen democracy in Nigeria. Let me thank our party members especially those at the grassroots level for your support, cooperation and encouragement when, last week, we went through very harrowing and challenging experiences at the tribunal and in particular, at the Supreme Court.

“Your support through press statements, through interventions and the rallies held across the country helped in ensuring that what was masterminded by losers hell-bent on making Nigeria a one party state was stopped. I assure you that your support will not be in vain.”

He added: “We assure you, as your governors, that we shall continue to work together in unity and with the NWC in ensuring that the programmes of the party, especially in our respective states, in line with our manifestoes, are implemented. And we shall also continue to support the party in its drive for membership and development.”

According to Tambuwal, members of the forum would “soon begin to institutionalise a peer review mechanism where we shall be comparing notes as governors of the PDP with a common agenda, a common programme in ensuring that we have all of that implemented across our states.”

Also speaking at the meeting, Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman (BoT) Walid Jibrin chided an unnamed chieftain of the PDP whom he alleged, recently mooted the idea of changing the party’s name ahead of future elections.“I am also disappointed with the comments I read in the newspapers allegedly by a chieftain of our party of a plan to change the name of the PDP again. Please, count the BoT out of any effort to change the name of this party. We shall never allow it,” said Jibrin.

The BoT chairman spoke further on the feud between Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and his Bayelsa State counterpart, Seriake Dickson, describing it as fallout over the ownership of oil wells by the two Niger Delta states. He said he had the assurance of both governors that the row would end soon.

In a communiqué read to journalists at the end of the NEC meeting by National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP mandated senators and members of the House of Representatives “to begin immediately the amendment process of all our electoral laws in such a way that will engender free, fair and credible electoral process in the country.”

Ologbondiyan said the party resolved: “For all electoral offices, whether party offices or electoral offices, in line with our gender sensitive nature, women should have at least 35 per cent of the offices that will be contested for.”Lawyers including former Nigerian Bar Association President Olisa Agbakoba, meanwhile, have shed light on the PDP’s chances of having the Supreme Court overrule itself.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Agbakoba said: “The Supreme Court has itself recognised and acknowledged the principle of and possibility of a review of a judgment apparently given either per incuriam or for jurisdictional error. The general approach of the court is to invite counsel, on proper application, to show why a judgment ought to be reviewed and overturned.

“The latitude allowed by the court to allow a review is wider and easier, if the review is brought, not in the case in which the error is alleged but in an altogether fresh instance. In this case, the court is invited to restate the law and correct a previous error. If the court is convinced, it will depart from its previous decision by restating the law under the principle of restatement.

“The Supreme Court is, however, extremely reluctant to overrule itself in the exact same case in which the error is alleged except under extraordinary circumstances and very strong reasons under the slip rule or to correct clerical errors. So, we wait with bated breath the outcome of the Ihedioha application.”

Also, Dr. Nzeribe Abangwu, a law lecturer at Babcock University, said: “The Supreme Court, over time, has created room for a review of its previous decision where such a review would cure a manifest injustice or miscarriage of justice. This is aside from the fact that the Supreme Court is considered to be the highest court in the land.

“The authority for this submission could be found in the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Adegoke Motors Ltd v. Adesanya (1989) 13 NWLR (Part 109) at page 275, where the erudite Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, in considering the powers of the Supreme Court to review its earlier decision categorically stated as follows: ‘We are final not because we are infallible; rather we are infallible because we are final. Justices of this court are human beings, capable of erring. It will certainly be shortsighted arrogance not to accept this obvious truth. It is also true that this 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 (that is without averting the mind of the court to an existing fact or authority, which could have made the court to decide otherwise), such counsel should have the boldness and courage to ask that such a decision be overruled.

“ ‘This court has the power to overrule 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.’“From the foregoing, if the party applying for a review of the Supreme Court decision in the decided case of Ihedioha v. Hope Uzodinma can establish that the existing decision of the Supreme Court pertaining to the issue at hand was reached per incuriam, I don’t think anything stops the court from reviewing its decision based on the cited authority.”

Similarly, Lagos lawyer, Stephen Azubuike, said: “Ihedioha and the PDP have the right to approach the Supreme Court for a review of its decision on Imo State. The Supreme Court has the inherent jurisdiction to entertain such an application and the Rules of Court accommodate the same. There are well-established principles that guide the apex court in considering such an application.

“One of such principles is that the decision was reached per incuriam (in error) to the extent that it defeats the whole essence of justice. We must note that the apex court would be highly reluctant to reverse itself. Therefore, to succeed, an applicant like the PDP must show on strong affidavit evidence the basis for the application, and accompanied by compelling legal arguments. Having studied the judgment and without pre-empting the outcome, I think the PDP has a whole mountain to climb.”