A constitutional lawyer named Daniel Bwala recently spoke out about a decision made by the Court of Appeal regarding the Plateau State elections. He believes that this decision challenges the authority of the Supreme Court, which is supposed to be the highest court in the land.
Bwala pointed out that while the Court of Appeal has previously deferred to the Supreme Court’s authority in election petitions from other states like Benue and Ebonyi, they decided to take jurisdiction over the issue in Plateau State. This raises questions about why they made this exception.
Bwala predicts that when the Plateau State case reaches the Supreme Court, it will essentially become a battle between the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court will have to decide whether the judgment they delivered in the Presidential Election Tribunal should be followed by subordinate courts in Nigeria.
Bwala explains that a decision made by a final court, like the Supreme Court, is considered a settled law. This means that once the final court has made a decision, it is binding and cannot be changed. However, if a case is not determined by the final court, it is not considered a settled law. Therefore, the Supreme Court must determine whether the Court of Appeal is above it or if it is above the Court of Appeal.
Bwala expresses concern about the diminishing confidence people have in the judiciary due to inconsistencies like this. He questions why courts in other states have obeyed the Supreme Court’s judgment, but the Court of Appeal in Plateau State has chosen to disobey it when it comes to pre-election matters. This inconsistency undermines the trust people have in the judiciary.
Bwala is curious to see how the Supreme Court will handle this situation. He recalls that in the past, when Justice Tobi was serving, the Supreme Court would chastise lower courts for disobeying their judgments. He wonders if the Supreme Court will speak with the same level of authority and firmness in this case.