- The Supreme Court has nullified the election of Emeka Ihedioha as the governor of Imo state
- The apex court ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return from Ihedioha and issue a fresh one to APC's candidate, Hope Uzodinma
- This piece highlights the three key points the court cited while giving the unanimous ruling
The Supreme Court on Tuesday, January 14, nullified the election of Emeka Ihedioha as the governor of Imo state and declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hope Uzodinma, as the winner of 2019 guber poll in the state.
Uzodinma had challenged the election of Ihedioha who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the tribunal to the apex court level, seeking to be declared as the winner of the election.
According to the earlier results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC's Uzodimma came fourth with 96,458 votes, behind Ihedioha, Uche Nwosu of the AA and APGA's Ifeanyi Ararume.
While Uzodinma had lost at the tribunal and the appeal court, the tenacious APC candidate eventually got a favourable judgment where it matters most; the apex court.
The apex court unanimously declared Uzodinma as the winner of the poll.
Below are three key reasons the apex court cited to justify its ruling.
1. Illegal exclusion of votes from 388 polling units
According to the Supreme Court's ruling, about 230,695 votes were illegally excluded from 388 polling units.
The court, therefore ruled that the excluded votes be added, leading to Uzodinma having the majority of the lawful votes ahead of Ihedioha and others.
2. Wrong ruling at the tribunal and appeal court
The Supreme Court also ruled that the lower courts were wrong in their rulings which dismissed the evidence as lacking in merit.
The court held that the election petition tribunal and the Court of Appeal misunderstood Uzodinma's case when they dismissed the evidence presented before them.
The appeal court had dismissed the appeals filed by Uzodinma, Nwosu, and Ararume ruling that they lacked merit.
The appellate court also awarded N500,000 cost against all the appellants in favour of Ihedioha.
However, one of the judges on the appeal court's panel gave a dissenting judgment; he rejected the cross-appeal filed by Ihedioha and ordered him to pay N1 million to Uzodinma and the APC.
3. Ihedioha not duly elected as he did not secure the majority votes
Based on the aforementioned points, the apex court held that Ihedioha was not duly elected as the Imo state governor. The court, therefore, ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return from Ihedioha and issue a fresh one to Uzodinma.
Before the ruling declaring Uzodinma as the winner of the election, the apex court had stood down the judgement on Ararume's appeal against Ihedioha's election while the AA's candidate, Nwosu (who has returned to the APC) had withdrawn the other appeal filed against the election of Ihedioha.
Nwosu's withdrawal was based on the earlier judgment of the apex court which held that he was not qualified to participate in the governorship election.
However, some pundits believe there are some political intrigues involved in Nwosu's withdrawal of his appeal.
Meanwhile, INEC has on Wednesday, January 15, issued a certificate of return to Uzodimma hours after he was declared authentic governor of Imo state.
Reacting to the ruling, President Muhammadu Buhari said it is a well-deserved victory to the APC and Uzodinma.
A statement by Garba Shehu, the presidential spokesperson, quoted the president as saying: “The road to justice may be long and tortuous, but it is the best path for anyone aggrieved."
The president also commended the Supreme Court for its "courage and perseverance” in the decision to return Uzodinma's mandate.
The president said that under the new administration, a new journey to build a new Imo with new energy is about to begin.
The PDP is, however, at a loss concerning the ruling. The party, in its official reaction to the judgement recalled how Uzodinma came fourth at the poll and wondered how such a person could be declared the winner.
The PDP lamented that the people's collective destiny had been taken from the governor they chose and handed over to someone and a political party that the residents do not want.
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