It has been confirmed that Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is approaching the Supreme Court for a review of the apex court’s judgment of January 14, 2020 which sacked him from office as governor of Imo State is a welcome development.
The Supreme Court, in its ruling said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Imo State governorship election tribunal and the Court of Appeal were all wrong in refusing to admit results from 388 wards presented by Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Party (APC) and therefore stated that by admitting the results, Uzodinma is the rightful winner of the election.
But the ruling of the apex court generated national uproar with many legal and political analysts accusing the Supreme court of usurping the constitutional powers of INEC as the body responsible for conduct of elections in the country.
Those who hold the view added that it is INEC alone that should determine which votes are authentic or not, arguing that if the Supreme court’s ruling is allowed to stand Nigeria’s future elections may be in jeopardy.
Reports however had it Monday that Ihedioha would be heading back to the Supreme Court to request a review of the judgment in order to return his mandate as governor of Imo State.
According to the report published by Daily Times, an associate of Ihedioha Dr. Manzo Abubakar, disclosed this in Abuja at a press conference in which a group of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) queried the rationale behind the Supreme Court’s decision.
Abubakar, who said he is the Executive Director of the Abuja Discussion Group (ADG), said Ihedioha’s legal team will be at Supreme Court to seek a review of the judgment.
“He said Ihedioha’s decision to return to the apex court was part of effort to deepen the nation’s democracy and explore democratic means of ensuing justice, the report said, quoting him to have added that “The judgment will go down in infamy and may make Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of nations, if not reviewed”, he said.
According to the report, “He added that Section 176(2b) of the constitution is clear that to be declared as governor, a candidate must have not only the majority of total votes cast but also 1/4 of the votes in 2/3 of the local governments of the state.
“It is axiomatic that nowhere in the petition or evidence did the petitioner, (Uzodinma) claim that he met the constitutional requirement of spread to be declared the winner”, the group stated.
The CSOs noted that the Supreme Court by the judgment has denied the Imo people the opportunity to choose their leaders, adding that, “We sympathise with their Lordships, as mortals who are not infallible.
“To err is human. It would be practically impossible for any human to have read briefs and record of proceedings exceeding 5000 pages in the matter within 2 hours after hearing, when it also had pressure of time to deliver judgment in the remaining pending governorship appeals.
No doubt, this accounted for the mistakes made by the Supreme Court”, the group stated. Abubakar said: “The Supreme Court is supreme and can creatively reinvent its rules to do justice. It is necessary do so now more than ever to save Nigerian democracy, constitutionalism and retrieve the judicial and justice system from its present opprobrium”.
Also on Monday, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while addressing the party’s national executive council (NEC) in Abuja informed them that the leadership has decided that Ihedioha will apply to the Supreme Court for review of the judgment in order to retrieve his mandate.
It would recalled that Daily Times had last week published a lead story titled “Legal Experts give seven reasons supreme could can reverse itself on Imo guber,” where it said among other things that all may not have been heard about the March, 2019 governorship contest in Imo State between incumbent Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma and Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha who was recently sacked by the Supreme Court in a judgment that has become source of controversy across Nigeria.
According to Daily Times, a group of legal experts under the aegis of Partners for Justice and Equity (PAJE), believe the Supreme Court can decide to review the facts of the case with a view of ensuring that justice is not only done, but seen to have been done.
“PAJE therefore gave seven reasons or grounds on which it said the Supreme Court can take a second look at the Imo Governorship election judgment. The statement was signed by Bar. Uwajiogu Ikeokwu Udemba, National Secretary of the group.
“There are several reasons for the Supreme Court to look at the case involving the March 2019 governorship election in Imo State with a view of ensuring that justice is given to those that deserve it. Because of time, we will only provide seven of the grounds as follows:
“The sum total of votes added by Supreme Court exceeds accredited votes. This is in violation of Section 53 of Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended) and Section 8 (b) of INEC Guideline for 2019 election.
“The Acceptance of Results from 388 polling units by Supreme Court without certification is a violation of Section 89 ( e) and (f ) and 90 (c ) of the Evidence Act 2011 which requires all public documents to be certified before it can be tendered in evidence.
“The results from the disputed 388 polling units were neither certified by INEC who are the issuers of the document nor Police in whose custody they claimed the documents emanated.
“The Acceptance of Evidence of a Police Officer who neither made the document nor knew anything about the document is in violation of Section 37, 38 and 126 of Evidence Act 2011,” the statement said.
Continuing, PAJE said that “The Acceptance of the 388 results by the Supreme without any evidence from polling agents or INEC officials is a clear departure from the existing judicial precedence on the proof of election results as established by Supreme Court in long lines of cases including most recently Atiku vs. Buhari, Alex Otti Vs. Ikpeazu.
“It is obvious that the Supreme Court relied only on the submission of Hope Uzodimma without any reference to the records of proceedings of the Tribunal/Court of Appeal or otherwise, it would have realized that even though Hope Uzodimma claimed 388 polling units, he only brought 366 polling units results yet the Supreme Court unilaterally credited him with results from 20 polling units that were not produced.
“The Supreme Court judgment was erroneously premised on 388 polling units results when indeed only 366 polling units results were presented to the court who knows if the exclusion of the 20 added results could have, if not wipe out the margin make it impossible for the APC candidate to make spread requirement,” it said,” the Daily Times report stated.
It is on that note that we think both Emeka Ihedioha and his party, the PDP are not the right track by approaching the Supreme Court to review the case and see if justice was done or denied.
We also hope that all concerned stakeholders would accept whatever the apex court decides finally concerning the Imo Governorship election.