Political cases decided in courts always, yes always always, end on controversial notes. Those favoured will dance, celebrate, jolificate and extol the judiciary as the last hope of the common man and tag the judgment itself as victory for democracy.
On the contrary, those aggrieved by it go to town shouting blue murder.

That is why the courts are not allowed to adjudicate on political questions except where legal issues are raised.

The recent decision of the Supreme Court in the Ondo Governorship case that ended  with majority (4) and minority (3) judgments in favour of APC and its Governor Akeredolu has expectedly thrown up a lot of debate for and against. 
It was a hairbreadth escape for APC and Governor Akeredolu although no victory is small.

Not a few persons have made too much ado about the minority judgment while shying away from the reality presented by the majority judgment.

In order to illuminate the significance of the majority and minority judgment and place them where they properly belong in our legal system, the following clarifications have become necessary-

1. The Supreme Court is a Panel Court made up of either five or seven Justices (for constitutional matters) at a time. This is to avoid a deadlock. Thus, in a five member panel, the decision of three or more is the judgment of the Supreme Court. 

By the same token, in a seven member panel, the decision of four or more is the judgment of the Supreme Court. 
2. It is neither the law nor practice that all judgments or every judgment of the Supreme Court must be unanimous. Dissenting judgment or minority opinion is part of our legal system and the current split decision of the Supreme Court in the Ondo guber case is not the first, will not and can never be the last.

3. Each member of the Panel of the Court involved in deciding a case or matter is at liberty, based on the weight of evidence and the law as he understands it, to make up his mind one way or the other. One or more judex on the panel need not agree with his other brother justices.

May the day never come when there will be no dissenting opinions/judgment(s) in the apex court.
4. Where there is a dissenting or split decision as in the Ondo guber case, the majority opinion is and remains the judgment of the Supreme Court pure and simple. No one can win a case in a Panel Court with dissenting or minority opinion.
Any other thing outside this practical reality is mere theoretical indulgence.

5. Minority judgments in the Supreme Court are welcome but they are more less “consolation prizes”, good only for future law reform purposes or to agitate informed including ill-informed public discourses.

6. Minority judgments of the apex final court and opinions expresed therein confer no immediate or practical value over and above the majority judgment which is the final crystallisation of fruit of successful litigation.

7. No member of the Court Panel is hounded for delivering minority or dissenting judgment but minority judgments na “nearly” which “can never kill a bird.

8. Under the principle of stare decisis, majority judgments of the apex Supreme Court bind all other courts below it. 

9. Thus, no lower court will rely on the principles enunciated in a minority judgment of the Supreme Court no matter how beautiful or inviting they may appear. To do so will be judicial rascality and it will be deprecated in strong terms upstairs.

10. Minority judgment is akin to “the law as it ought to be” and never “the law as it is”. Cases are decided in court based on “the law as it is”. 

11. Until the Supreme Court overrules itself or there is a paradigm shift in the law by way of an amendment to accommodate the views expressed in the minority judgment, a minority judgment remains what it is – a minority judgment.

12. Minority judgments are not utterly useless especially in the Court of Appeal. Note that the Court of Appeal has a three member panel and appeals lie from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.

A minority judgment of the Court of Appeal may be preferred on further appeal to the Supreme Court and the minority judgment in the Court of Appeal will become the final judgment of the Supreme Court.

This is possible only if the Court of Court Appeal is not exercising final jurisdiction like in some classes of election petitions (State and National Assembly election) that must end in the Court of Appeal. 

13. The hint given by the minority decision that the position of APC Caretaker Committee Chairman occupied by a serving Governor offends a community reading of the provisions of section 183 of the 1999 Constitution and article 17 (iv) of APC Constitution is enough to void the nomination process of Governor Akeredolu is to say the least, a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.

14. Article 17(iv) of APC CONSTITUTION is very insistent that  “No officer in any organ of the Party shall hold executive position office in government concurrently.”

15. Looking at the above clear and unambiguous provision, it will be great disservice and miseducation to teach my undergraduate Law Students that a serving Governor of a State can concurrently be a National or other officer of APC against the clear and express provisions of Article 17(iv) of APC Constitution.

16. APC as a party should be able to obey its own constitution failing which its unconstitutional acts become void expecially when they affect outsiders.

17. All the knee jack reactions from APC whether or not the Supreme Court decided on the implication of a serving Governor serving as its National Officer is avoidable. The minority judgment of the Supreme Court is enough warning that all is not well. A stitch in time saves nine, they say, 

18. Next time around, APC may not be that lucky to run away with a such a slim victory. By the express provision of APC Constitution, it is incumbent on a member of the Executive arm of Government who craves a party position to resign or for party official who gets into the Executive arm of Government to resign immediately.

19. Overtime, political decisions keep presenting our courts in bad and controversial light because of jurisprudential opacity in such judgments, hence the hype and noise about the minority judgment in the Ondo guber case.

20. We can do better, either in our intra-party politics and or the decisions of our Courts.
A new normal is possible!



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