Human rights activist and lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has warned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over its call for some justices to recuse themselves from the Imo governorship case.
Falana warned that should the justices recuse themselves as requested by the PDP, the Supreme Court will not be able to constitute a quorum to hear Emeka Ihedioha and PDP’s case on the review of its decision on the Imo State governorship election.
It will be recalled that the PDP had ahead of the hearing set to begin on Tuesday, 18th February, wrote to Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, demanding that he and five other justices withdraw from the matter.
In a letter signed by PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, and Umar Ibrahim Tsauri, the party’s national secretary, dated February 14, 2020, it had demanded that a new panel be set up to hear Ihedioha’s application.
Other justices listed by the party are: Nwah Sylvester Ngwuta, Olukayode Ariwola, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Amina Adamu Augie, and Uwani Musa Abba Aji.
The PDP cited “likelihood of bias” and “denial of right to fair hearing” as basis for its demand.
But Falana told TheCable that with the Supreme Court currently with 11 justices, if six of them recuse themselves from the case, the apex court would not be able to form a quorum to hear the matter.
”The PDP has asked CJN Mohammad Tanko as well as Justices Nwah Sylvester Ngwuta, Olukayode Ariwola, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Amina Adamu Augie, and Uwani Musa Abba Aji to recuse themselves from the application for the review of the judgment of the court in the Imo governorship case,” he said.
”If the application is granted the court may not be able to hear the application again. In other words, if 6 out of the remaining 11 Justices of the Court recuse themselves the Court will not be able to form another quorum of 7 Justices to hear the constitutional matter. By the time the Court is reconstituted by the federal government the time for the review of the judgment would have long expired.”
Falana recalled a similar application filed by the late MKO Abiola against nine justices out of the 16 members of the court in 1995 in the Chief MKO Abiola v Federal Republic of Nigeria (1995) LPELR-SC.274/1994.
He disclosed that the appeal for Abiola’s bail was never heard after the nine justices recused themselves from hearing the case, and General Abacha refused to reconstitute the court.