Senator Smart Adeyemi
On Monday, the Supreme Court delivered its final verdict on Senator Smart Adeyemi’s appeal regarding the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary election in Kogi State, which took place on April 15. The Supreme Court issued a unanimous judgment, ruling that the appeal lacked merit as it failed to challenge the consistent findings of both the High and Appeal courts or demonstrate any perverseness in those findings.
The apex court further declared that the two issues raised in the appellant’s brief were unreasonable, vexatious, not triable, and ran counter to the provisions of Sections 132 and 133(1) of the Evidence Act 2011. Senator Smart Adeyemi, who represented Kogi West senatorial district in the 9th Assembly, had initially filed a suit at the Federal High Court to nullify the APC primary election. The primary had resulted in the selection of Usman Ododo as the party’s gubernatorial candidate for the election slated for November 11.
Both the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal had previously dismissed Adeyemi’s case for lacking merit. During the recent Supreme Court judgment, the appellant’s first notice of appeal was first struck out, as he had relied on the second Notice of Appeal filed. The Supreme Court emphasized that its power, concerning appeals against concurrent findings of lower courts, could only be exercised when the findings were alleged to be perverse.
The court strongly criticized the practice of parties discussing pending appeals on television, labeling it as contemptuous. Justice E. A. Agim, who delivered the Supreme Court’s judgment, remarked, “You go saying on television that if the court is a court of justice, the appeal should go in your favor. The court frowns at this practice. Once you’ve engaged a lawyer, go and rest. I am giving this elaborate talk so that you don’t go out and say things that are not reasonable. The Court is manned by reasonable persons.”
The Supreme Court clarified that the Notice of Appeal did not challenge the perverseness of the findings from the lower courts. The appellant had not alleged a lack of evidence to support these findings. Consequently, the Supreme Court had no authority to revisit these factual issues unless allegations of perverseness were made.
In conclusion, the appeal was dismissed, and the appellant was ordered to pay a cost of N1 million each to the 1st and 3rd respondents, who were the governorship candidate and the APC, respectively.
The legal representation during the proceedings included Dapo Otitoju for the appellant, Abdulwahab Muhammed, SAN, for the APC, Umar Abdulhamid for the 2nd respondent, and M. Y Abdullahi, SAN, for the 3rd respondent.
The Court of Appeal had earlier, on August 18, 2023, ruled that Adeyemi’s appeal lacked merit, finding that he failed to substantiate the serious criminal allegations made against the conduct of the primary election by the APC and its leaders. The Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of Justice James Omotosho of the Federal High Court in Abuja, delivered on July 12, which had concluded that Adeyemi did not prove his allegations that Ododo was not lawfully nominated by the APC.
Senator Adeyemi had subsequently sought an order from the Supreme Court to set aside the lower courts’ judgments, allow his appeal, and grant all the reliefs sought in his originating summons.