Ihedioha Begins Legal Battle to Reclaim Imo Governorship Seat
Application Served on Uzodinma, APC, INEC
Seeks Accelerated hearing
Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
The legal battle between the sacked Governor of Imo State, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his successor, Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC), may begin this week at the Supreme Court as the former governor is set to file a motion for accelerated hearing of the matter, THISDAY has learnt.
A member of the Ihedioha and PDP’s legal team told THISDAY in confidence in Abuja that Uzodinma, APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had been served their application for an order to set aside the judgement of the Supreme Court, saying the judgment was a “nullity.’’
“The fact that a former Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), is ready to lead other SANs on the matter tells the critical nature of the case. Many Nigerians, who were dissatisfied with the judgment, have in the last few weeks become lawyers in a way.
“It is a very serious matter in the annals of this country. The case has to be decided on its peculiar fact. The Supreme Court judges are humans; they are bound to make mistakes, but because they are expected to be courageous at all time, when courageous lawyers also come to them, they should be courageous enough to look at the merit of the case.
“When ordinary persons begin to lose confidence in the highest court in the land, the institution must redeem its image. The judgment of the Supreme Court on Imo State election is a nullity. And it cannot produce a legitimate governor in the state,’’ the senior lawyer explained.
Stressing the seemingly faulty nature of the judgement, the lawyer said 213,695 votes were added to the total votes scored by the Uzodinma and 1,903 votes were added to the total votes scored by Ihedioha.
“The total number of votes cast at the election after the additional votes ordered by this honourable court now stands at 953,083 (731,485 + 213,695 + 1,903).
“Arising from the judgment of this honourable court (Supreme Court), the total number of votes cast at the election, which now stands at 953,083 votes, is far in excess of the total number of accredited voters which is 823,743.
“The difference between the total number of accredited voters and the votes cast in the governorship election in Imo State based on the judgement of this honourable court is 129,340 votes.’’
He said there were 70 candidates, including the first applicant and the first respondent in the election, but in the table pleaded by the first appellant/respondent, only the votes scored by the first applicant and the first appellant/respondent were reflected whereas votes were cast for the political parties and candidates whose scores were deliberately omitted.
The lawyer added that at the tribunal, Uzodinma admitted under cross-examination at page 2603 in Volume 4 of the records that instead of the third respondent, (INEC), whose duty it was to compute the alleged votes, it was him who computed the alleged votes in the 388 polling units shown in the table at pages 9-27 of the record.
He said the first appellant/respondent further admitted under cross-examination at pages 2601 to 2603 in Volume 4 of the record that the number of votes he allocated to himself in the table were in excess of the registered voters in the polling units where he claimed he obtained the votes.
According to the lawyer, “The appellants/respondents had themselves prayed that the entire election in Imo State be annulled and in the further alternative an order compelling INEC to conduct supplementary elections in the polling units where they alleged that results were not collated or elections were cancelled.
“It was specifically pleaded by the appellants/respondents in paragraph 39 of their petition that a supplementary election should be conducted in the 388 polling units where the excess votes were allegedly cast and that pleading was binding on the appellants/respondents and the court.
“The first appellant/respondent neither pleaded nor led evidence at the trial showing details or particulars that he met one-quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of the local government areas in the state.’’
Ihedioha’s lawyer said
at the tribunal, the second applicant (as second respondent), applied to have the petition struck out on the ground that it was incompetent having regard to the fact that the first petitioner who came fourth did not join the second and third runners-up in the petition.
He said the application was heard and dismissed by the tribunal whereupon the second applicant appealed to the Court of Appeal by way of cross-appeal to which the first and second appellants/respondents replied.
“The cross-appeal was heard and allowed by the court below. In the words of Adah JCA, who delivered the lead judgment in the cross appeal:
“The preliminary objection of the first cross-respondent (sic) at the lower court is allowed and I hold that the appropriate order of the trial tribunal would have been to have petition no EPT/GOV/IM/08/2019 struck out for being incompetent. I, therefore order the petition struck out. No cost is awarded.
“The appellants/respondents appealed against the above order in ground 18 of their Notice of Appeal and argued it as Issue No. 6 in their appellants’ Brief of Argument. Now shown to me and exhibited hereto is a copy of Appellants’ Brief of Argument dated 13 December 2019 marked Exhibit KGA 4.’’
The lawyer added that the order of the Court of Appeal striking out the petition for being incompetent raised a jurisdictional issue, saying that in the judgment subject of the application, the Supreme Court neither considered nor resolved the jurisdictional issue.