Imo State Governorship Election Case Closed
It seems the cloud of litigation, protest and prayers over the atmosphere of Imo State Governorship Election has finally subsided with the supreme Court verdict on the request seeking the apex court to review its judgement which sacked Emeka Ihedioha of the People Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor of Imo State on 14th January, 2020 and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue certificate of return to Hope Uzodinma of All Progressive Congress (APC) as the duly elected governor of Imo State.
The seven-man panel of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, in a split ruling of six-to-one on 3rd February, had described the application filled by Emeka seeking the review of the Judgement that sacked him as the governor of Imo State on 14th January, as an invitation for the court of final arbiter to sit in an appeal over its judgment.
Though, Justice Chima Nweze, a member of the panel held that the Supreme Court had the power to overrule itself in a desirous situation like this where the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, seems to have misled the court in arriving at the judgment that removed Emeka from the office. Because if not done, the judgment would continue to haunt the nation’s electoral jurisprudence.
However, even before the judgement the country has started experiencing different forms of agitation and discourse that has even created controversies among the legal experts. While at the political arena, created protest from State to State, one embassy to another and turned the prayer grounds to centres of prayer protest.
For instance, the National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, had on 20th January, 2020, led a street protest at Abuja, where he described the judgement that sacked Emeka from office as a miscarriage of justice while the Party State chapters also held different protests to show their displeasure with the Supreme Court verdict.
At another level, the Party also accelerated it's insult, assault and names calling on the Judiciary by going to foreign embassies to submitt protest letters calling the attention of the foreign countries to the development at the alter of Justice in Nigeria. However, despite this demonstrations, the court still maintain it's stands on the removal of Emeka from the State House.
The Journey to the governor's office of Imo State began with the opening of the election space by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 2018, which led to the declaration of Emeka as the winner of the election in March, 2019, before he was sacked by the Apex court after adding the votes cast from the excluded 388 polling units by the returning officer to the votes scored by Senator Hope who came fourth based on INEC calculation in 2019.
Before the Apex court verdict, the Appeal had dismissed the claims of Senator Hope on the disputed votes claiming that he failed to substantiate his claims with concrete evidence Ordinaryly, the Emeka counsel ought to have counter this at the lower court but they failed to do so till the apex court sacked Emeka from the office.
With the suprised removal, the PDP and Emeka went back to the court for review where they claimed that the results presented by Senator Hope was fake because of the inherent errors in the results and the manner at which it was presented because by the virtue of the constitution, INEC ought to be the custodian of election results and not a security agent.
However, whether the results was presented by INEC or Security officer, the question is: what might have made a returning offficer whose job is to collate results and return an elected person to exclude 388 polling units after duly signed by the Presiding Officer? Probably, there was an invisible hands which might have either manifested in terms of threat or money. And if they were concocted results what makes Emeka team not to substantively counter it before getting to the Apex court?
Supreme Court as the final arbiter in the land is to judge based on the evidence and counter claims presented before it by the parties and not on assumption. In a situation where a party or the parties failed to do the needful, the supreme will not because of their neglegence negate the principles of adjudication or help a party or parties to say what it ought to say because there must be an end to ligations.
That is one of the reasons Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) and Chief Olanipekun (SAN) was fined 30 million Naira each for their application to review Supreme Court verdict on Bayelsa State Governorship election.
So, now that the judiciary has proved to the politicians that they cannot because of their four year term ambition destroy the Court of final arbiter by throwing away their request for review, the politicians should try and learn from their mistakes so that they will not because of their carelessness set the nation on fire because where there is constant subversion of people's will, to have peace and progress will be difficult.
Femi Oluwasanmi is a Public Affairs Analyst and writes from Ibafo, Ogun State.