Supreme Court adjourns hearing in Ihedioha’s appeal to March 2

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned till March 2, 2020 hearing in the appeal filed by Mr. Emeka Ihedioha seeking his reinstatement as governor of Imo State.

It would be recalled that a seven-man panel of the court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, had in its January 14, 2020 ruling removed Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as governor and declared Mr. Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who came forth as the winner of the governorship election held in the state on March 9, 2019.

Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who read the lead judgment had upheld Uzodinma’s appeal ruling that the votes polled in 388 out of the 3,523 polling units were excluded in the final results declared by INEC in the state.

Justice Kekere-Ekun ordered that the certificate of return issued to Ihedioha be immediately withdrawn while a fresh one should be issued to Uzodinma.

The court also directed the immediate swearing in of Uzodinma as the governor.

Ihedioha approached the Supreme Court with an application to reverse itself on the judgement.

In the appeal filed on February 6, Ihedioha and his party, the PDP asked the court to set aside its judgment which removed him from office on the grounds that the judgment was a nullity and as such liable for a review and subsequently reversal.

The applicants further stated: “The 1st Appellant/Respondent alleged that votes from 388 polling units were unlawfully excluded or cancelled and urged the court to include in the computation of the election results the votes from those polling units. At the same time the 1st Appellant/Respondent prayed that fresh elections be conducted in the said polling units thus rendering the petition speculative.”

They also contended that Uzodinma and his party, APC failed to plead the votes scored by all the parties in the 388 affected polling units as only votes allegedly scored by APC and PDP were pleaded, “an omission which rendered the petition incompetent”. 

Besides, the plaintiffs argued that by Exhibit A1 (Form EC8D) the total number of voters accredited for the Governorship Election held on 9th March 2019 in Imo State was 823,743,while the total valid votes cast was 731,485.

They submitted that with the inclusion of 213,695 votes for the 1st Appellant/ Respondent and 1,903 to the votes of the 1st Applicant, as ordered by the apex court, the total number of votes cast at the election now stands at 953,083 (i.e. 731,485 + 213,695 + 1,903) making the total number of votes cast at the election to be far in excess of the total number of voters accredited for the election, 129,340.

“It is unlawful for the total number of votes cast in an election to exceed the number of accredited voters and that illegality rendered the judgment sought to be set aside null and void,” they stated.

The court had fixed today to hear the appeal.

At the hearing today, Ihedioha’s counsel, Mr. Kanu Agabi, filed an application stating that he needed a little time to file some processes before the Court.

Lawyers to Uzodinma and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not oppose the application.

The seven-man panel of the court Justice Mohammed, after listening to all the parties, adjourned the hearing to March 2, 2020.

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