Friday, September 18, 2020
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Supreme Court Splits over Imo Governorship Election

By Gowon Emakpe, Abuja

Attempt by former governor of Imo state, Emeka Ihedioha, to review the judgment, which sacked him from office was yesterday dismissed by the Supreme Court with a six to one margin to retain Hope Uzodinma as governor of the state.

Of the seven justices, six agreed with the lead judgment, while one decanted.

The apex court, in a decision led by Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, re-affirmed the judgement it gave on January 14, which declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), as the validly elected governor of Imo state.

In the judgment, which was read by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, the court held that Ihedioha’s application to set-aside the judgement that removed him from office, lacked merit.

Specifically, the justices held that the application was an invitation for the Supreme Court to sit on appeal over its own final judgement.

Though it dismissed the application, the apex court refused to award cost against the applicants.

However, a member of the apex court panel, Justice Centus Nweze, disagreed with the lead verdict and gave a dissenting opinion that allowed Ihedioha’s application.

According to him he was satisfied that the judgement that declared Uzodinma winner was entered in error.

He held that the apex court has a duty to in the interest of justice, set-aside its decision that was given in error.

 Stressing that the decision ought to be reviewed.,  that the court has the power to overrule itself in a situation where such a judgment was not seen to have met the justice of the case.

He added that the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, misled the court in arriving at the judgment which removed Ihedioha from office after about 10 months.

According to the judge, there is no evidence that Governor Uzodinma satisfied the required spread to have been declared the winner of the election.

He, therefore, told other judges on the panel that the judgment upholding Uzodinma’s victory in the March 9, 2019 poll would continue to haunt the nation’s electoral jurisprudence.

INEC had declared Mr Ihedioha as the winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Imo State on the ground that he won the majority of lawful votes cast at the governorship poll.

Meanwhile the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, during appeals filed by Senator Uzodinma, gave a concurrent decision, upheld Ihedioha’s election and dismissed Uzodinma’s petition on grounds that he did not prove his allegations against the election of Ihedioha.

But the apex court held otherwise and sacked Ihedioha on the 14th of January.

The apex court in its judgment disagreed with the decisions of the appeal court on the grounds that they erred in law when they excluded votes from 388 polling units from the total scores at the poll.

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