Looming Sanctions Threat Over Supreme Court Justices’ Award Of Imo State Governorship To APC By The US

The Oasis Reporters

February 21, 2020

In reacting to the Supreme Court judgement on the Bayelsa State governorship, the People’s Democratic Party’s national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan had said, “ the PDP receives the Supreme Court judgement on Bayelsa State, insists on Imo“. According to the publicity secretary, “ The Supreme Court recognized the votes concocted by the APC and Senator Hope Uzodinma “ as the basis for its judgement and he claims that the recognition of these results from 388 polling units “ended up increasing the total number of votes in the election to 950,952, over and above the INEC certified total accredited votes of 823,743”.

“Never in the history of this court have your Lordships delivered a judgment which evoked the protest of the public. This one has. Therefore, we urge you, we appeal to you to take a second look at it”, Kanu Agabi, SAN. .

Consequent upon the Supreme Court ruling awarding the Imo State governorship to the third place runner-up, prominent American legal icons and politicians have been breathing fire on the issue, pointedly accusing the justices of having been pur under pressure by the country’s ruling party, the APC. Threats of sanctions have been looming, with increasing domestic agitation for a review of the judgment .

As a follow up, the Supreme Court fixed Tuesday, February 18 for hearing in the fresh application by erstwhile governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha challenging the judgement earlier delivered on January 14, which was further adjourned to March 2, 2020 to also hear former governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha.

It similarly adjourned to the same date, the hearing of an application filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) seeking the review of the May 24, 2019 judgment which nullified the victory of all the party’s candidates at the 2019 Governorship Elections in Zamfara State.

A message was circulated on Saturday announcing the hearing date. But one of the lawyers representing Governor Hope Uzodinma, Festus Jombo Esq said although he heard about the new date, the office has not been served the hearing notice.

The Director of Information of the Supreme Court, Dr Akande confirmed the date for the case.

Ihedioha in the application dated February 5, 2020 and brought through his counsel and former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi (SAN) is praying the apex court to set aside the judgement.

Ihedioha and PDP listed five grounds which they said the apex court erred in arriving at its decision to nullify the March 9, 2019 election and declare Uzodinmma winner of the election after he presented excluded results from 388 polling units.

The fresh application is brought under Section 6(6) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 and Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act, 2004.

A seven-member justices had unanimously ruled that Uzodinma, who is of the APC, proved the allegation of unlawful exclusion of results in 388 polling units of the state where he scored 213,695 votes.

The lead judgment read by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, held that the Court of Appeal was wrong to have ruled that the PW54, subpoenaed police deputy commissioner, who produced the documents of the results, was not the proper person to tender same as he was not at the polling units.

Ihedioha of the PDP had polled 273,404 votes for the election in 27 local government areas of the state; Action Alliance candidate, Uche Nwosu, polled 190,364 votes and APGA’s Ifeanyi Ararume polled 114,676 votes. With the addition of the excluded votes, Uzodinma’s votes now rose to 310,153.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, is presiding over a seven-man panel to hear the appeal of the former Imo State Governor, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, seeking a review of the apex court verdict that removed him from office on January 14.

Other justices sitting in the panel include: Justices Sylvester Ngwuta, Kayode Ariwoola, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Amina Augie, Adamu Galinje and Uwani Aba-Aji.

Ihedioha, in the appeal filed on February 6, is asking the apex court to set aside its judgment which removed him from office on the grounds that the judgment was a nullity and as such is liable for a review and subsequently reversal.

However, the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, has asked the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit and a waste of the court’s time having been caught up with section 285 of the 1999 constitution, which provides a 60-day life span for the hearing and determination of the appeal.

After hearing the appeal filed by Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), one month after it sacked him on January 14 and declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Hope Uzodinma, as the duly elected governor of Imo State.in which lawyer to Mr Ihedioha, Mr Kanu Agabi, filed an application stating that he needed a little time to file some processes before the Court.

Lawyers to Governor Hope Uzodinma and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not oppose the application.

The seven-man panel of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Mohammed, after listening to all the parties, adjourned the hearing to March 2, 2020.

The Eminent Leaders’ Group has exprenullityeir readiness to mobilise some leaders of conscience to monitor the Supreme Court’s review of its judgment that sacked Emeka Ihedioha as the governor of Imo State.

They said they will mobilise the leaders to monitor the review which has been slated for Tuesday at the apex court.

The spokesman of the group said to have been initiated by the Third Force Movement, Nigeria, Dr Olusegun Obe, disclosed this in a press statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Sunday.

Obe listed those to be mobilised to include Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka; Prof Ben Nwabueze (SAN), former Head of State, Gen Abdusalami Abubakar (retd.); Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Bishop Mathew Kukah and Dr Kalu Idika Kalu.

Others, according to the statement, are Solomon Asemota (SAN); Prof Pat Utomi; Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN); Mr Femi Falana (SAN); Senator Shehu Sanni; Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Dr Oby Ezekwesili; the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association and the international community among others.

According to the statement, the purpose is for the eminent Nigerians “to help monitor the judicial review on Imo governorship elections coming up on Tuesday at the Supreme Court.”

The group however commended the apex court for its decision to review what it called “its controversial ruling” on the election which it claimed has raised serious questions about the present state of the nation’s judiciary.

The statement read,

“The decision of the apex court to review its earlier ruling is a sign of maturity and openness by the judiciary that will go a long way to calm frayed nerves and douse the heightening political tension in the South East and the country at large.

“The group also hails the international community and concerned eminent Nigerians for their diplomatic vigilance and interventions respectively on the worrisome Supreme Court’s judgment on the 2019 governorship election in Imo State, a ruling which has since caused ripples among Nigerians over the survival of democracy and peace in South East and Nigeria at large.”

It will be recalled that the body had previously averred that apart from the fact that the total valid votes, which the Supreme Court based its ruling on, exceeded the total accredited voters Senator Hope Uzodinma may also not have fulfilled the constitutional requirements for a validly elected governor of having to score at least one-quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the state.

The group also raised the question of double standard in the supreme Court judgment, saying,

“If their Lordships have already declared Uche Nwosu as the validly elected candidate of APC, it is then illogical to again declare Hope Uzodinma as the validly elected governor on the platform of same APC, since there’s no provision for independent candidate in the Nigerian constitution.

“Since, it’s not possible to build something on nothing; it may amount to approbation and reprobation on the part of the apex court to declare Uzodinma whose candidature of the APC has been initially rendered a nullity”.

The group charged the people of Imo State and the entire South East to remain calm and be hopeful, expressing the hope that the Supreme Court will do justice to the matter during its review on Tuesday.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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