Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo state no longer has any legal obstacle ahead that can threaten his status as the number one citizen of the state: the Supreme Court has dismissed the application filed by Emeka Ihedioha challenging his declaration.
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On Tuesday, January 14, the Supreme Court delivered a verdict on the Imo state governorship election that left many Nigerians shocked.
Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who had come fourth in the election, according to the results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was declared as the winner of the election by the apex court.
The new governor of Imo state had earlier lost his petition at the tribunal and the Court of Appeal before he got a favourable verdict where it matters most; the Supreme Court.
The apex court held that the appeal court erred in law by dismissing Uzodinma's appeal and excluding votes from 388 polling units from the total scores at the poll.
It affirmed that the votes from the 388 polling units were illegally excluded by INEC.
Thus, after ordering the electoral body to include the unlawfully removed votes in the final result, Uzodinma rose from behind to get more votes than Ihedioha and was subsequently declared the winner.
Why Ihedioha, PDP wanted the Supreme Court to reverse the verdict
In a statement on Wednesday, February 26, the PDP explained that it was seeking a review and reversal of the judgement which sacked Ihedioha because it contains "obvious mistakes".
The opposition party added that the judgement was "threatening the stability of our nation".
The PDP also said its application was not contesting the authority and finality of the Supreme Court "but a patriotic effort to assist the Supreme Court affirm its infallibility by correcting the inherent mistakes in the judgment which came as a result of misleading presentation to it by the APC."
While the PDP did not specify the mistake it spotted in the judgement, Legit.ng understands that political observers have noted that Uzodinma’s result in the 388 polling units is more than total accredited voters at the election.
For instance, in an earlier report, Dr Charles Omole, a revered legal expert, agreed with the verdict of the apex court sacking Ihedioha but said that the court should have ordered a fresh election in the state due to the error in the total results.
How the Supreme Court justices stand on the review of the verdict
The apex court did not unanimously dismiss Ihedioha's application; it was a six-to-one judgement. Out of the seven-man panel headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, six justices including the CJN dismissed the review request why the remaining judge gave a dissenting opinion.
Why the six justices dismissed the review
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The CJN and five other judges on the panel dismissed the application on the major grounds that the court’s decision is final.
This is a re-echo of what the court said when it rejected the review application filed by the APC on the Bayelsa governorship election verdict.
The court had said that its decision is final no matter how anybody feels!
The justice who read the lead judgement, Olukayode Ariwoola, held that the Supreme Court lacked the jurisdiction to review its judgment once it is delivered and that there is no law that mandates the court to reverse itself.
Why the remaining judge gave a dissenting opinion
Justice Centus Nweze, in his lone dissenting view, held that the court has the power to overrule itself on any decision in a situation where such a judgment was not seen to have met the justice of the case.
He added that the court has done so in the past.
According to the senior judge, Governor Uzodinma misled the court in arriving at the judgment which removed Ihedioha from office.
He also said there is no evidence that Uzodinma satisfied the required spread to have been declared the winner of the election.
Justice Nweze added that the judgement upholding Uzodinma’s victory would continue to haunt the nation’s electoral jurisprudence.
He insisted that the portion of the judgment of the Court of Appeal which struck out Uzodinma's petition was not resolved by the apex court.
The senior judge concluded that the apex court lacked jurisdiction to have given the judgment it gave declaring Uzodinma winner.
Though Justice Nweze disagreed, the lead judgement by the other six judges (the majority judgment) stands. This means APC's Uzodinma remains the governor of Imo state till 2023, other things being equal.
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Ihedioha also remains sacked. He will have to wait till 2023 to have another shot at the Imo state's Government House.
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