Similarly, the doctrine of estoppel per rem judicatam prevents a person from reopening questions that are “res judicata” (that have been adjudicated upon by a court of competent jurisdiction).
From the above, a court cannot walk-back its verdict even if it was made per incuriam (by mistake). The exceptions are: (a) if there is a clerical mistake in a judgement, the Slip Rule allows the judge to correct it; and (b) a court may expatiate on a verdict that is unclear.
In Zamfara and Imo, the applicants want the Supreme Court to upturn its own judgement in the very matter in question. If the Court accedes to them or even gets into the substance of the applications, that will be new era in Nigeria’s legal procedure and jurisprudence.
Furthermore, granting the request will allow lower courts (Court of Appeal, High Courts, National Industrial Court, etc) to start revising their judgement too. That will spell disaster to Nigeria’s legal system because litigation will become an (endless) circuit.
By Audu Bulama Bukarti