Imo: Hope Uzodinma’s controversial Supreme Court victory

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court nullified the victory of Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha, while it affirmed the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Hope Uzodinma as the winner of the March 9 governorship election.

The APC candidate had challenged Ihedioha’s victory at the court, claiming he was the actual winner of the state election.

At the court, it was unanimously held that Ihedioha, “was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the said election,” citing irregularities and misappropriation of votes.

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Delivering the ruling, the judge, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, ordered revocation of the certificate of return given to the governor by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the issuance of another to Uzodinma.

The judge had held: “The votes due to the appellant, Hope Uzodinma and the All Progressives Congress (APC) from 388 polling units were wrongly excluded from scores ascribed to them.

“It is hereby ordered that Emeka Ihedioha, was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the said election. His return as the elected governor of Imo state is hereby declared null and void and accordingly set aside.

“It is hereby declared that the first appellant (Uzodinma) holds the majority of lawful votes cast at the governorship election held in Imo State on March 9, 2019, and has satisfied the mandatory constitutional requirement.

“It is hereby declared that first appellant, senator Hope Uzodinma is the winner of the governorship of Imo State held on March 9, 2019.

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“The certificate issued to the first respondent (Ihedioha) is hereby withdrawn. It is hereby ordered that the certificate of return shall be be issued to the first appellant, senator Hope Uzodinma, forthwith and he should be sworn in as the governor of Imo state.”

The Supreme Court’s judgement has been generating ripples across the country, with many challenging its credibility.

Critics’ arguments have majorly been on election results of the poll where Uzodinma emerged fourth.  In the election results announced by INEC, Ihedioha garnered 273,404 votes to win the election. He was followed by Uche Nwosu of Action Alliance who had 190,364 votes and Ifeanyi Ararume of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) with 114,676 votes to clinch third-place respectively.

Uzodinma only had 96,458 votes according to the election results. Opponents of the court’s ruling therefore wondered why someone who came fourth in an election was declared winner.

Commenting on this, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Mike Ozekhome called out Uzodinma’s victory, stating there was need to re-examine the court’s judgement.

His words: “There is ordinarily a presumption by the society that the supreme court, being the final court of the land, is supposed to be right in its decisions, after rigorous and painstaking perusal of cases brought before it between feuding parties.

“However, the next stage is for legal pundits, analysts and academicians, to dissect the judgement thoroughly, to decipher if it met the justice of the case, having regard to the available facts. I do not have these facts, not being one of the counsel in the appeal. They must interrogate whether the judgement actually delivered justice according to law.

“After all, law is but a handmaid instituted by man to deliver justice. The two are siamese twins. One without the other is bare and vacuous. One area that needs critical analysis and  interrogation is what makes a candidate that came 4th in an election to be declared the winner of that election. Another area that requires an urgent answer is why INEC has so failed the nation that presidents and governors are now being packaged and delivered for the country and states, against  the clear choice of the electorate at the polls.

“If INEC got its acts right, the judiciary’s frequent interventions would have been greatly minimised. Today, INEC is neither independent, impartial, nor well equipped to count the electorate’s votes and also allow such votes to count. That is the sorry state we are in today, especially since 2015. May God help Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, Uzidinma on Tuesday stated the declaration was a restoration of his “stolen mandate.”

His spokesman, Declan Emelumba, quoted him as saying in a statement: “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.”

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