Imo Governorship: Ihedioha seeks more time to prove case at Supreme Court

Emeka Ihedioha, former Governor of Imo State.
Emeka Ihedioha, former Governor of Imo State.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its Imo State governorship candidate, Emeka Ihedioha, have requested for seven days from the Supreme Court, to regularise their processes.

Mr Ihedioha and the PDP made the request at the resumed hearing of their case asking the apex court to set aside its judgement on Imo governorship that declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of thr March 9, 2019 election.

Not satisfied with the apex court decision that nullified their victory, Mr Ihedioha and the PDP in their application filed through their lawyer, Kanu Agabi, said Mr Uzodinma obtained the judgement by deceit.

Mr Ihedioha added that the apex court was misled to have given that judgment.

The former governor described the apex court’s judgment as a nullity and asked that the decision be set aside.

But in a 19-paragraph affidavit filed in opposition to Mr Ihedioha’s application, Mr Uzodinma and the APC said the 60 days by the constitution has since elapsed.

“The undisputed facts relating to the respondents’/applicants’ motion hereinafter referred to as “the motion” are to the effect that the judgment of the Court of Appeal was delivered on 21st September 2019, while the one sought to be set aside, was delivered on 14th January 2020. Clearly, the 60 days allowed by Section 285(7) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) for this Hon. Court to hear and determine an appeal from the Court of Appeal in an election matter, lapsed on January 17, 2020. The motion to set aside was filed on February 5, 2020, 19 days after the time allowed by the Constitution.

“It is now a settled law that the 60 days’ time limit to determine and conclude litigation on election matters is sacrosanct and cannot be extended by any guise,” they stated in the counter-affidavit filed on their behalf by their lawyer, Damian Dodo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

Court Session

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, Mr Ihedioha’s lawyer, Kanu Agabi, asked the court to grant him a short adjournment of not more than seven days.

This, Mr Agabi said, is to enable him file and receive all processes needed to prove his case.

All the respondents in the case did not oppose Mr Agabi’s application.

After listening to all the parties, the seven-member panel of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammed, adjourned to March 2, for hearing.

Apex court earlier decision

The apex court had on January 14 nullified the governorship election results which had declared Mr Ihedioha the winner and elected him governor of Imo State.

The apex court, thereafter, declared Mr Uzodinma as the winner of the March 9 governorship election in the state.

In the unanimous judgment of the seven-member panel, read by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the apex court agreed that results in 388 polling units were unlawfully excluded during the collation of the final governorship election result in Imo State.

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Justice Kekere-Ekun said with the results from the 388 polling units added, Mr Uzodinma polled a majority of the lawful votes and ought to have been declared the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

READ MORE: Imo Governorship: South-east PDP demands reinstatement of Ihedioha

The judge did not provide the details of the new votes scored by each of the candidates after the addition of the results from the 388 polling units.

Consequently, she voided and set aside the declaration of Mr lhedioha as the winner of the 2019 governorship election in the South-East state.

The court ordered that the certificate of return issued to Mr lhedioha be immediately withdrawn by INEC and a fresh one issued to Mr Uzodinma as the elected governor of the state.

“Vote due to the appellant Senator Hope Uzodinma and the APC from 388 Polling Units were wrongly excluded from scores ascribed to the appellant (to them),” the justice ruled.

“It is thereby ordered that the appellant votes from 388 Polling Units unlawfully excluded from the appellant vote declared shall be added and that the first respondent, Emeka Ihedioha, was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast at the said election.”

“His return as the elected governor of Imo State is hereby declared null and void and accordingly set aside

“It is hereby declared that the first appellant (Mr Uzodinma) holds the majority of lawful votes cast at the governorship election held in Imo State on March 9, 2019.”

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