The Supreme Court judgement on Imo governorship that declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of March 9, 2019 election was obtained fraudulently, former governor, Emeka Ihedioha has said.
Mr Ihedioha’s claims are contained in an application which he filed on Wednesday at the Supreme Court.
The apex court had on January 14 nullified the victory of Mr Ihedioha, who was earlier declared the winner by the electoral umpire, INEC.
The apex court declared Mr Uzodinma as the winner of the election.
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.
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.
The court, however, 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, the court 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The court ordered that the certificate of return wrongly or unlawfully issued to Mr lhedioha be immediately withdrawn by INEC and a fresh one issued to Mr Uzodinma as the elected governor of the state.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 justices 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.”
Not satisfied with the apex court’s decision, Mr Ihedioha and the PDP in their application filed through their lawyer, Kanu Agabi, said Mr Ihedioha obtained the judgement by deceit.
Mr Ihedioha added that the apex court was misled to have given that judgment.
The former described the apex court judgment as a nullity, and asked that the decision be set aside.
The aggrieved party brought their application pursuant to Section 6 (6) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act 2004.
The application was supported with an affidavit sworn to by a lawyer, Uchenna Njoku.
To butress their allegation of fraud, Mr Ihedioha and the PDP claimed that Mr Uzodinma and his party fraudulently misled the apex court into holding that 213,495 votes were unlawfully excluded from the votes they scored in the governorship election held on March 9, 2019.
They said Mr Uzodinma, while under cross-examination, admitted that he was the person, who computed the result that gave him the 213,495 votes alleged to have been excluded from his total votes in the election and not INEC.
According to them, “The fraudulent nature of the additional votes was demonstrated by the fact that the total votes cast as shown in the first appellant/respondent’s computation was more than the total number of voters accredited for the election and in some polling units more than the total number of registered voters.
“The fraud was also demonstrated by the fact that the result computed by the first appellant/respondent showed only the votes of the first applicant and the first appellant/respondent without specifying the votes scored by the other 68 candidates who participated in the election.”
They further argued that the judgment, “which is a nullity sought to be set aside because it was given per incuriam.”
Per incuriam, literally translated as “through lack of care”, is a device within the common law system of judicial precedent. A finding of per incuriam means that a previous court judgment has failed to pay attention to relevant statutory provision or precedents.
They also said by Exhibit A1, the total number of voters accredited for the election was 823, 743 while the total valid votes cast was 731, 485.
Also, as part of their argument, was that the inclusion of 213, 695 votes for the first appellant/respondent, made the total number of votes cast at the election to be more than the total number of votes accredited for the election.
The applicants, among other grounds, argued that the majority judgment of the Court of Appeal dismissing Mr Uzodinma’s petition as incompetent continues to subsist as the appeal against that decision was not considered by the apex court.