The growing cases of violations and evasion of Supreme Court judgments is one that should worry every right thinking Nigerian. This abhorrent practice involves the reintroduction of cases already decided by the Supreme Court, which is the apex court of the land.
This practice of reopening cases already decided by the apex court with tacit support from some lower courts is to say the least an invitation to anarchy.
A celebrated case that readily comes to mind is that of Senator Hope Uzodinma versus the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. When Senator Hope was declared winner, the PDP had sought the Supreme Court to sit over its own judgment but the apex court ruled that their decision was final and could not be upturned. It only made sense for the apex court to throw out their supplication.
That posture shows that the decision of the Supreme Court remains sacrosanct and unbreakable.
The Supreme Court said it would not sit over its judgment again and that its judgment was final, maintaining that the finality of Supreme Court judgments is unchallengeable, and that no other judge can make any declaration on the matter.
Therefore, this attitude of lawyers who keep filing frivolous suits and motions is to say the least appalling and reprehensible.
A similar case happened when a group of dissidents tried to reintroduce a leadership tussle case in the independent petroleum marketers association of Nigeria, IPMAN.
The court threw out the matter and the lawyers in that suit were disciplined by the Nigeria bar association, NBA which had set up a disciplinary panel on the matter.
The truth is that some judicial officers fraudulently take money from litigants, reassuring them of resuscitating such matters.
The chief judge of a sate recently came under serious scrutiny when he entertained a case of land tussle between two communities which had been adjudicated upon by the Supreme Court.
One big question now is if it is right for a chief judge of a state to allow the re- opening of a case which had already been decided upon by the Supreme Court and assign it to a judge?
This practice which some lawyers, even senior advocates and judges engage in, calls for soul searching.
Judges who entertain such kinds of cases should be called to question by the national judicial council to serve as a deterrent to others.
There are values, acceptable and long held standards as well as traditions upon which our judicial system is built. It is when we hold these values and traditions that we can make everyone, even lawyers to respect and uphold the sanctuary and judgments of the structures such as the Supreme Court.
The Nigerian Bar Association should see the need to call these erring lawyers to order and bring them into alignment with the dictates of the legal profession.
If these lawyers and judges know their onions they cannot feign ignorance of such judgments by the Supreme Court.
We are indeed in very troubled times if these kind of concussions are allowed to take root in our judiciary.
These attempts to somewhat undermined the laws of our land and bring the judiciary to disrepute is one that should trouble every sane mind.
A current case is what is playing out in Anambra State in the Ukpo/Abba land case where a land dispute that had been decided by the Supreme Court has been re-entertained.
The Supreme Court had on the 15th of February 2019 ruled in favour of the Ukpo Community on the 44yrs Land dispute between Ukpo and Abba Community in a judgement which lasted for hours.
A question therefore arises that if a matter which had been decided by the Supreme court can be re – opened under another guise what institution can therefore hold its sanctity in our clime?
This is reminiscent of the dark days when judges and other judicial officers threw caution to the wind and kept generating and granting exparte and interim injunctions to parties arbitrarily.
We recall that that practice almost wrecked our nation until some judicial officials stood up to be counted by putting in place a policy which stopped that arbitrariness and abuse of court processes.
Common sense and the law of natural justice tells us that If two communities are jostling for a land and the supreme court gives judgement that one of them was the rightful owner, automatically the judgment stands.
This is very important especially now that the momentum is gradually building towards the 2023 general election. Indeed, no judicial officer should be allowed to drag the image of the judiciary in the mud.
The Attorney general of the federation, AGF also has a lot to do in this regard. He should not allow any attempt at judicial impunity to succeed.
Clearly, the time for the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN and other relevant authorities to act and stem this negative wind is now!
It is only when this is done that we can restore public confidence in the nation’s judiciary and in the legal profession.
…Chief Okpala ia a Public Affairs Analyst
When Senator Hope was declared winner, the PDP had sought the Supreme Court to sit over its own judgment but the apex court ruled that their decision was final and could not be upturned.
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