APC & ANOR v. OBASEKI & ORS (2021) LCN/4981(SC)
In The Supreme Court (On Friday, May 28, 2021)
Before Our Lordships:
Ejembi Eko -Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
Mohammed Lawal Garba-Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
Abdu Aboki-Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
Tijjani Abubakar- Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
Emmanuel Akomaye Agim- Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
- ALL PROGRESSIVE CONGRESS (APC)
- EDOBOR WILLIAMS -Appellant(s)
- GODWIN NOGHEGHASE OBASEKI 2. PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC PARTY (PDP)
- INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC) -Respondent(s)
CHIEF AKIN OLUJIMI, SAN WITH HIM, ROLAND OTARU, SAN,
- T. KEHINDE OGUNWUMIJU SAN AND OLUMIDE OLUJIMI For Appellant(s)
KEN E, MOZIA SAN, WITH HIM, OLUSEGUN O. JOLAAWO, SAN,
ROBERT EMUKPAERUO, SAN, O. OSAZE UZZI AND S.N ERNEST EGBURA – For 1st Respondent
- O. ISENALUMHE –For 2nd Respondent
IDAHOSA M. A. BAWA – For 3rd Respondent -For Respondent(s)
Emmanuel Akomaye Agim, J.S.C. (Delivering the Leading Judgment):
This appeal No. SC/CV/376/2021 was commenced on 30-3-2021 when the appellant herein filed a notice of appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Appeal No. CA/A/71/2021 delivered on 18-3-2021 dismissing the applicant’s appeal to it against the judgment of the Federal High Court delivered on 9-1-2021 in suit No. FHC/B/CS/74/2020 and affirming the said judgment.
The notice of appeal contains 24 grounds for the appeal.
The 1st respondent to this appeal, on 31-3-2021 filed a notice of cross appeal against the said judgment of the Court of Appeal. The notice of Cross Appeal contains two grounds for the Cross Appeal.
In respect of the appeal, the following briefs were filed – appellant’s brief, 1st respondent’s brief, 2nd respondent’s brief and appellant’s replies to the 1st and 2nd respondent’s brief.
Learned counsel for the 3rd Cross-Respondent stated that the 3rd respondent filed no brief.
In respect of the cross appeal, the following briefs were filed – Cross-Appellant’s brief, 1st and 2nd Cross-Respondent’s brief and Cross-appellant’s reply brief.
The appellants elicited evidence through six witnesses whose testimonies in examination in chief in substance restated the facts pleaded in the statement of claim and tendered several documentary evidence to prove that the 1st respondent’s documents that accompanied his Form EC9 submitted to the 3rd respondent were forged or false. Therefore, the argument of Learned SAN that “the appellants made no allegation in their pleadings of forgery and/or falsification of documents against the 1st respondent” is wrong.
In the light of the foregoing I hold that Court of Appeal and the trial Court correctly understood and construed the case presented by the appellants in their pleadings and evidence.
It is obvious that the appellants’ complains in issues nos. 2 to 7 in their brief result from their view that the trial Court and the Court of Appeal misconstrued the case presented by the appellants, set up and decided a case different from that presented by the appellants in their pleadings and evidence. This position is confirmed by the submission of Learned SAN for the appellant that “If the lower Court had not misconstrued the appellants’ case it would have found that on the evidence led by the appellants in support of their case and supported by the evidence extracted from the 1st respondent’s witnesses under cross-examination, the appellants established their case and ought to have been given judgment as will be shown anon.” Now that we have held that their said view is wrong, it follows that their complains in issues nos. 2 to 7 based on this erroneous view are now baseless and that the decision of the Court of Appeal affirming the decision of the trial Court that the appellants did not prove their case is correct. Therefore, there is no need considering those issues.
Be it as it is, let me, for whatever it is worth, still consider the issue of whether the Court of Appeal was right in affirming the decision of the trial Court that the appellants did not prove their case.
In the light of the foregoing, I hold that the Court of Appeal correctly affirmed the decision of the trial Court that the appellants did not prove their case.
In the light of the above determinations, no useful purpose would be served considering the other issues and even the cross-appeal.
On the whole this appeal fails as it lacks merit. It is accordingly dismissed.
The cross- appeal having become academic is hereby struck out. The appellants shall pay costs of one million naira to the 1st respondent.
In the premises of all I have said above, the case presented by the Appellants against the Respondent in their pleadings before the trial Court was one which, without interpolation, questioned and challenged the truth, genuineness and authenticity of the information, documents and certificates on the educational qualifications of the 1st Respondent to contest the election as prescribed by the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
In that regard, both the trial Court and the lower Court correctly and rightly comprehended, conceived and properly appreciated the pith and substance of the Appellants’ case against the 1st Respondent contrary to the assertions in the Appellants’ Brief.
I therefore agree that the two (2) lower Courts did not misconceive the case presented by the
In the case of Atiku Abubakar & Anor v. INEC & Ors (2020) 12 NWLR (PT 1737) 37 at 110, this Court, per I.T. MUHAMMAD ON, held thus:
“Let it be clearly stated here that the allegation made against the 2nd Respondent by the Appellants that he gave false information in his affidavit to the 1st Respondent is firmly rooted in criminality which must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. It is not enough for the Appellants to make such allegations, they must go further to lead credible evidence to prove such allegations.”
I endorse the above dictum of the Honourable CJN, and adopt it as mine. Having failed to establish by credible evidence the allegations of forgery and giving of false information, against the 1st Respondent, I am of the firm view that the Court below was right in dismissing the case of the Appellants.
It is for this, and the fuller reasons postulated by my learned brother, EMMANUEL AKOMAYE AGIM, JSC, that I too adjudge this appeal to be unmeritorious. It is hereby dismissed by me.
I also agree with my learned brother that the Cross-Appeal has become otiose and academic. No useful purpose will be served in delving into it.
I abide by all the orders made in the lead judgment.
In this appeal, the trial Court found that the allegation of falsification and forgery was a sham, the Appellants led no credible and believable evidence in proof of the weighty allegations and therefore dismissed the claim of the Appellants with speed. Appellants became nettled by the decision of the trial Court and made for the Court of Appeal, the lower Court also found no merit in the appeal, it was again dismissed, Appellants finally found their way to this Court on appeal.
It is therefore clear from all I have said that the case of the Appellant was not misconceived by the trial and lower Courts, and the Appellant failed to establish his claim against the Respondents beyond reasonable doubt, the order of the trial Court dismissing the claim was made properly so also the decision of the lower Court affirming the decision of the trial Court. I therefore resolve the sole issue in favor of the Respondents, against the Appellants. For the reasons set out in this judgment and the more detailed reasons in the leading judgment prepared and rendered in this appeal by my learned brother AGIM, JSC, I am of the view that Appellants’ appeal is frivolous, vexatious, patently devoid of merit and therefore deserves to be and is hereby dismissed by me. I endorse the leading judgment and abide by all consequential orders including the order on costs.