*Ihedioha thanking Imo State people shortly after his victory at the polls
Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Imo State Governor who was recently ousted by Nigeria’s Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon. Justice Tanko Muhammad has finally approached the Supreme Court asking it to set aside its own judgment, which removed him and declared Senator Hope Uzodinma as the governor of the state on January 14.
At a press briefing in Abuja, the immediate past Imo State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ndukwe Nnawuchi (SAN), said the former governor is seeking one-relief – that the apex court should set aside its judgment, which nullified his election. Nnawuchi said the former governor and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had earlier put together a team of legal experts to study the judgment and advise them on the next line of action.
He said, “The team of legal experts has advised them to approach the Supreme Court for review of its verdict and based on that advice, we filed our case at the Supreme Court today,” he said, adding: “We are asking for one-relief – asking the Supreme Court to set aside its judgment. The details of our argument are contained in the papers we filed.”
He confirmed that Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), along with over 30 senior lawyers are representing Ihedioha and the PDP in the matter. The former Attorney General also stated that the team was ready to file affidavit of urgency that will ensure that the application is held urgently. He expressed hope that Ihedioha will get justice at the end of the day. The apex court had in a unanimous judgment delivered on January 14, removed Ihedioha on the grounds that he did not win majority of the votes cast in the March 9 governorship election.
The Supreme Court claimed Ihedioha was returned as governor of Imo State based on wrong computation of the election results in the state. In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the court voided the concurrent decisions of the tribunal and Court of Appeal, which had declared Ihedioha winner of the poll on the grounds that they both failed to take into account votes from 388 polling units in the election. According to the apex court, the concurrent judgment of the lower court erred in law when it excluded votes totaling 213,295 from 388 polling units from the total scores at the election.
Justice Kekere-Ekun said that the lower court misconstrued the case of the appellants that he was challenging the validity of the election whereas he was challenging the unlawful exclusion of votes in the 388 polling units. In addition, the court surprisingly held that all the excluded votes from the 388 polling units be ascribed to the appellants alone. Not even a vote was ascribed to other contestants.
Consequently, the apex court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Ihedioha and issue a fresh one to candidate of the APC, Uzodinma, on the ground that he won majority of lawful votes cast at the election. But that judgement has been seriously criticized by discerning legal minds both at home and in the Diaspora, which has also necessitated Ihedioha and the PDP to cry foul and are now seeking the Supreme Court to correct itself.