Chief S. O. Adedayo Vs P.D.P (2013)
LAWGLOBAL HUB Lead Judgment Report
SULEIMAN GALADIMA, JSC
This is an appeal against the Judgment of the Court of Appeal llorin delivered on 5/3/2012 affirming the Judgment of the Federal High Court, llorin delivered on 7/4/2011.
The facts as laid bare by the Appellants as plaintiffs before the trial Federal High Court are simple and straightforward.. On 9/1/2011, the 1st Respondent (PDP) set up National Electoral Panel which conducted the State Congress for the election of the 1st Respondents Gubernatorial candidate for Kwara State in the April general elections. At the end of the exercise, the majority of the votes cast by the accredited delegates and the scores recorded for the aspirants were duly entered in the prescribed Form PD004/G. The name of the 3rd Respondent was thereafter forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the 1st Respondents candidate.
On 18/2/2011, the Appellants took out an Originating Summons before the Federal High Court Abuja, and the suit was later transferred to the Federal High Court, llorin. The basis of the Appellants approaching the court was that the State Executive Committee of the party being the duly recognized body for the Kwara State branch of the party its electoral process should be the recognized primary election and the result thereof. From the THREE main questions the appellants presented to the trial court for determination SIX Reliefs were sought on the following terms:
‘1, A declaration that under and by virtue of Articles 12 1(i);12. 36, 12.37 and 14.1 of the constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) the 1st defendant the Kwara State Executive Committee of the 1st defendant led by the 1st and 2nd plaintiff is the duly elected and authenticState Executive Committee of the 1st defendant in Kwara State and therefore entitled to run and manage the affairs of the 1st defendant in Kwara State.
- A declaration that the gubernatorial primary of the 1st defendant held in llorin on 9th January, 2011 organized and concluded by the State Executive Committee of the 1st defendant led by the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs is the authentic governorship primary of the 1st defendant for the purpose of nomination and submission of names of governorship candidate to the 3rd defendant.
- A declaration that the 3rd plaintiff is the duly elected and authentic governorship candidate having won the governorship primary of the 1st defendant held on 9th January, 2011 and he is the only person entitled to have his name accepted and submitted to the 3rd defendant as the 1st defendants governorship candidate for Kwara State for the forthcoming April 2011 governorship election.
- An order of the court restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants from recognizing adopting and or accepting or submitting or sending to the 3rd defendant the name of the 4th defendant or any person other than the name of the 3rd plaintiff as the 1st defendant governorship candidate for Kwara State for the forthcoming April,2011 governorship election
- An order of the court nullifying/setting aside the submission of the name of the 4th defendant by the 1st defendant to the 3rd defendant as the 1st defendants governorship candidate for Kwara State for the forthcoming April, 2011 governorship election.
- An order of the court restraining the 3rd defendant from accepting, recognizing and/or treating as the 1st defendants governorship candidate for Kwara State for the forthcoming April 2011 governorship election the 4th defendant or any other person than the 3rd plaintiff submitted or sent to the 3rd defendant by the 1st and 2nd defendants’
At the trial Federal High Court the two issues formulated for determination were resolved in favour of the Defendants. On an appeal to the Court of Appeal, it dismissed the appeal. Hence the instant appeal is a further appeal to this Court by the Appellants. Appellants filed their brief of argument on 28/1/2013 and distilled (THREE ISSUES for determination as follows:
’31 Whether or not the lower court was right in its conclusions that the trial court properly and correctly evaluated and drew correct inferences from the affidavit and documentary evidence placed before it and that by the tenure of Exhibits 1, 2, 3 & 4 and Articles 2, 12, 1(i) &(j), 14.1 and 14.5 of Exhibit 1 (PDP Constitution) the 1st appellants led State Executive Committee of the 1st respondent is not the authentic Kwara State Executive Committee (Grounds 1 and 2).
3.2 Whether or not the lower court was right in its conclusions that by Articles 12.72;17.1 and 12.2 of the constitution of the 1st respondent (Exhibit 1) the powers of the State Chairman and the State Executive Committee under Articles 12.3 (b)& (d); 12.41(c) and 13.22 of Exhibit 1 with respect to the congress for the election or nomination of the governorship candidates of the party have been taken away. (Grounds 3 and 4).
3.3 Whether or not the lower court was right in its conclusions that the holdings of the trial court on issues raised suo motu by it were inconsequential and did not occasion a miscarriage of justice on the appellants who were said to have been tardy in not addressing the issues (Grounds 5 and 6).’ 1
In addition to these three issues formulated above, learned counsel for appellants has invited this Court to depart from its decision in the case of LADO V. CPC (2012) All FWLR (Pt.607) 598 and other decisions in that line pursuant to Order 6 Rule 5(4) of the Supreme Court Rules.
The grounds upon which the invitation to depart from LADOs case (supra) are predicated are stated as follows:
‘1. The decisions of the Court overlooked the status, aim and intendments and effects of the Constitution of a political party
- The decisions have the likely effect of allowing the party leadership to foist on the party candidates of their choice in flagrant disregard and violation of the constitution of the party and section 87(7) and 10 of the Electoral Act, 2010 thereby leaving the aggrieved members without redress.
- Adherence to the decisions is likely to cause and or perpetuate injustice’.
On his part, learned counsel for the 1st and 2nd Respondents filed their brief of argument on 18/9/2012. He submitted that the Supreme Court is invested with powers to review, depart or overrule its previous decisions, which power must be exercised with greatest hesitation and caution but in consideration of established guiding principles so as to allow for consistency in the decisions of the courts. Reliance was placed on the case of PAUL ODI V. OSAFILE (1985) 1 NWLR (Pt. 1) 17 at 34. He however distilled a sole issue for determination thus:
‘Whether the lower court was not right when it held that the trial court evaluated the affidavit and documentary evidence placedbefore it.’
On his part learned counsel for 3rd Respondent in the brief filed on 10/9/2012 has submitted that the invitation to this Court to depart from its decision in LADO V. C.P.C. is baseless and is not rooted in the appeal before the court, that the decisions of the lower courts were based on the interpretation of the Constitution of the 1st respondent and never based on the decision of this Court over party affairs as stated in LADOS case (supra). Relying on SHAMSIDEEN ABOLORE BAKAREV. NIGERIAN RAILWAY CORPORATION (2007) All FWLR (Pt. 391) 579 at 1603, it submitted further that the Appellants have failed to show that the decision in LADOV. CPC is an instrument of injustice. He urged the court to decline the invitation. However, learned counsel raised THREE issues for determination as follows.
‘(a) Whether the lower court was correct in holding that the trial court properly evaluated and drew inferences from the affidavit and documentary evidence placed before it to arrive at the conclusion that the 1st appellants led State Executive Committee is not the authentic and recognized Kwara State Executive Committee of the 1st respondent.
(b) Whether the lower court was right in its conclusion that with respect to the congress for the election or nomination of the Governorship candidate of the 1st respondent in a State, the powers of the State Chairman and its Executives under Articles 12 – 3 (b) & (d), 12.41 (c) and 13.22 of the 1st respondents constitution has been taken away by the provisions of Articles 12.72, 17.1 and 17.2 of the same constitution.
(c) Whether the alleged issue raises suo motu by the trial court were in fact issues raised suo motu and whether the lower court was right in its conclusion that the alleged issues were inconsequential to have affected the judgment of the trial court.’
I shall consider first the Appellants invitation to this Court to depart from its earlier decision in LADO V. CPC(supra). Generally, this Court may depart from or overrule its previousdecision under certain circumstances and in accordance with laid downprinciples of law, or given per incuriam or that it has become an instrument of injustice and so on. See: BAKARE V. NRC (2007) All FWLR(Pt. 391) 1663; VEPEE INPUSTRIES LTP. V. COCOA INDUSTRIES LTD. (2008)All FWLR (Pt. 425) 1667 at 1687. It is also note-worthy that the Order 6 Rule5 (4) of the Rules of this Court provides as follows:
‘(4) If the parties intend to invite the court to depart from one of its own decisions, this shall be clearly stated in a separate paragraph of the Brief,to which special attention shall be drown, and the intention shall also be restated as one of the reasons.’
From the above it is clear the reasons for invitation extended to court to depart from its previous decision must be strong, and coherent. See IDONIBOYE V. NNPC (2003) FWLR (Pt.146) 959, MACLEAN V. IN LARS LTD. (1980) 8-11 SC. 11.
The provisions of Order 6 Rule 5(4)(supra) above does not confer a right of appeal on a party or any person for that matter to complain about a decision not favourable to his case. The court does not, as a matter of course overrule, reverse its previous decisions whether on questions of substantive or procedural law. The court must be satisfied or convinced that the earlier decision was clearly and patently wrong.
Well guided by a plethora of cases on this point, particularly in the case of VEPEE INDUSTRIES LTD. V. COCOA INDUSTRIES LTD. (supra) and in the circumstances of and facts of the case at hand which are similar to those in LADO V. CPC (supra), the Appellants in my view have not made a case for departure from the decision of that case and other similar decisions of this Court.
A point has been made here, however,that the difference between this case and Lados case lies in the fact that that case is limited to the issue of nomination of party candidates for elections, the present case goes some steps further in that it includes the question as to who is the authentic State Executive Committee of the 1st Respondent (PDP) in Kwara State. Lados case did not decide that the courts have no jurisdiction to determine any issue relating to the provisions of the Constitutions of political parties, as it relates to the rights and privileges of the organs of the parties and the members interest.
The question remains, however, whether Appellants have satisfied the legal requirements necessary for this Court to depart from its decision in Lados case. It is my view that they have not. They have not shown that the decision in Lados case is wrong in law or it has been given per incuriam. It has been decided that a party in an action founded on party nomination for elections who fails to bring himself within the provisions of Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), has no cause of action to be enforced in the courts and as such the courts will have no jurisdiction to entertain such an action, particularly as the issue as to who should be a candidate in a political party still remains a political question within the domestic jurisdiction of the political parties, and therefore not justifiable.
It is my firm view that the sole issue formulated by the 1st and 2nd Respondents is apt and appropriate and sufficient to determine this appeal. It has been reproduced above. It is all about evaluation of the affidavit and documentary evidence at the trial. Whilst the appellants have contended that the learned trial judge failed to adequately evaluate the evidence on record and thereby drew wrong conclusion from accepted credible evidence and took erroneous view of the matter, the learned counsel for the Respondents have all submitted that the trial court properly and correctly evaluated the evidence on record by coming to the conclusion it arrived at; that it was after exhaustive consideration of the case of the parties that the lower court proceeded to hold that the trial court was thorough in its evaluation of both the affidavit and documentary evidence before it affirmed the decision. The lower court even went further to consider Exhibits 9 and 10 which the trial court failed to evaluate.
The Appellants have not demonstrated that this is a proper case for this Court to interfere with the concurrent findings of facts by the two lower courts. See: EZEOKE V. NWABO (1988) 1NWLR (Pt. 72) 616: DURO SARO V. AYORINDE (2005) 3 – 4 SC 14: AKEREDOLUV. AKINYEMI (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 108) 164.
The ascription of probative value to evidence is a matter primarily before the trial court, where the trial court has thoroughly and unquestionably evaluated the evidence and appraised the facts, it is not the business of the appellate court to substitute its own views of undisputed fact with the views of the trial court. See BALOGUN V.AGBOOLA (1974) 1 All NLR. (Pt. 2) 60. Also FATOYINBO V. WILLIAMS(1959) 1 FSC 87.) Appellate court can only interfere with such findings after evaluation by the trial court, where the said finding are perverse as it is not supported by the evidence on record or is based on wrong evaluation or not based on the evidence on record or is based on wrong evaluation, or not based on the evidence led at the trial at all. See: WOLUCHEM V. CHIEF GUDI(1981) 5 SC 291 and EBBA V. OGODO (1984) 4 SC 84.
It is my view that the lower court was perfectly in order in affirming the evaluation of evidence by the trial court and the conclusion it arrived at. I do not see any reason why this Court should interfere with the concurrent findings of facts.
For the above reasons and the fuller ones lucidly adumbrated in the leading Judgment, I too feel that this appeal should be dismissed.
I order accordingly, but I abide by order made as to costs.