Supreme Courts sacks Ihedioha, orders swearing in of Uzodimma as Imo governor

-PDP condemns verdict as APC, Uzodimma celebrate
The Supreme Court in a unanimous Judgment on Tuesday sacked Emeka Ihedioha as Governor of Imo State on grounds that he did not win majority of the votes cast in the March 9, 2019 governorship election.
The court also ordered the immediate swearing in of candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Senator Hope Uzodinma, as lawful winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Imo State.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had in March declared Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the governorship election.
However, not satisfied by the INEC decison, Uzodinma and his party went to the Imo State Election Petition Tribunal to nullify Ihedioha’s election on grounds that he did not win majority of votes cast in the election.
He also cited noncompliance with the electoral guidelines as another grounds for the sack of Ihedioha.
But the tribunal dismissed Uzodinma’s appeal on grounds that he was unable to prove allegations made against the election.
The same date befell Uzodimma when he took his case to the Court of Appeal in Abuja, as the appellate court upheld Ihedioha’s victory on November 19, forcing the APC candidate to approach the apex court to get justice.
In the Court’s unanimous Judgment delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the Supreme Court held that the case of the appellants had merit and consequently granted the reliefs sought by them.
According to the apex court, the concurrent judgments of the lower court erred in law when it excluded votes totalling 213,295 from 388 polling units from the total scores at the election.
The Supreme Court said that Ihedioha was returned as Governor of Imo State based on wrong computation of the election results in the state.
Justice Kekere-Ekun said 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.
He added that the lower courts were also wrong in holding that PW 54, a police officer, who was on subpoena, was not the appropriate person to have tendered documents that showed the exclusion of votes in the 388 polling units during collation.
The apex court consequently set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which upheld the election of Emeka Ihedioha, on the grounds that he did not win majority of the votes cast during the March 9 governorship election.
In addition, the court held that the excluded votes from the 388 polling units be ascribed to the appellants.
Consequently, it ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Ihedioha and issue a fresh Certificate of Return to candidate of the APC on grounds that he won majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
Reacting to the Supreme Court judgment, Senator Hope Uzodinma in a statement through Declan Emelumba, his special adviser on media: “Yes today, my mandate given to me by the people of Imo State has been restored by the highest court in the land.
“This meant that the victory given to me by the people, but denied me, has been restored. I give glory and thanks to God Almighty.”
In its own reaction, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) expressed surprise at the judgment, describing it as yet another very sad commentary on our nation’s democratic order.
The Party said it found it difficult to understand how Senator Hope Uzodinma/APC, who came fourth in the March 9, 2019 governorship election, with just 96,458 votes, will suddenly, by the token of the judgment of the Supreme Court, defeat Gov Emeka Ihedioha/PDP that scored 276,404 votes.
“In fact, the PDP and indeed, most Nigerians are still at a loss as to understand the basis upon which the Supreme Court arrived at its decision,” the party said, adding, “it is lamentable that the destiny of the people of Imo State is being taken from the governor they chose and voted for and handed over to individuals and a political party that do not have their blessing and mandate and which they rejected at the election.
“The people of Imo state are now confronted with the challenge of having a government that they cannot identify with and which cannot connect with them, having not emanated from them.
“Moreover, all the gains, including the development and stability already achieved by the people-based government, under Governor Emeka Ihedioha/PDP administration in the state are now heavily jeopardized.
“Indeed, the mournful and despondent ambience that now pervades in Imo State is a loud testimony that the judgment did not reflect the expectation of the people of Imo state as expressed at the polls.”
While recognising that the judgment of the Supreme Court as final, the PDP, however, urged all “party stakeholders in the state to remain united and calm, and await further instruction from the national leadership on this very sad development.”

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