In less than 24hours that the news filtered from the Supreme Court nullifying the election of Emeka ihedioha directing the independent National Electoral Commission INEC to issue a certificate of return to hope uzodinma, the All Progressive Congress APC says the electoral body should issues a certificate of return without any further delay.
The APC, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, asked INEC to immediately issue certificate of return to Uzodinma.
The statement stated, “Even as we are still wondering why we lost elections we clearly won in Zamfara State at the Supreme Court and how the same court ruled our party out of the electoral race in Rivers State, we have never, as a political party, lost faith in the judiciary.
“We salute Senator Hope Uzodinma, our supporters and members for their temperance displayed in the aftermath of the blatant rigging of the Imo governorship election.
“We chose to focus on the judicial route to reclaim the party’s mandate. We are confident that our other stolen electoral mandates will be restored by the courts.
“The APC calls on all Imo State APC stakeholders to come together in support of Senator Uzodinma to ensure the success of the party’s Next Level agenda and to democratically entrench the APC in the state and the entire South-East, the party stated!
Meanwhile the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party had express surprise over the judgment.
Explaining further, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement, described the judgment as yet another very sad commentary on the nation’s democratic order.
He said, “The party finds it difficult to understand how Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress, who came 4th 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 Chief Emeka Ihedioha/PDP who 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 says 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 Supreme Court had on Tuesday (yesterday) nullified the election of Emeka Ihedioha as the Governor of Imo State.
In a unanimous judgment led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship election and the validly elected governor of the state.
There was a lull in the courtroom as the apex court handed down the judgment. Ihedioha’s lawyers and supporters were visibly shocked after the apex court delivered the judgment at 6:20pm during an eight-hour sitting with two intermittent breaks.
More than 10 minutes after the apex court panel members departed the courtroom, Ihedioha’s lawyers and supporters were unable to move as they remained stuck to the same position
But Uzodinma’s supporters in the courtroom burst into shouts of joy as they stepped out of the courtroom.
They joined others, who could not gain entry into the courtroom, to celebrate the court’s pronouncement. Some of them appeared to be making calls informing their supporters back home of their court victory.
Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who read the lead judgment, ordered that the certificate of return issued to Ihedioha be immediately withdrawn. She directed that a fresh certificate of return should be issued to Uzodinma.
She also directed that Uzodinma, who came a distant fourth in the results of the election declared on March 11, 2019, be immediately sworn in as the Governor of Imo State.
Justice Kekere-Ekun dismissed the All Progressives Grand Alliance’s Ifeanyi Ararume’s appeal for being academic following the court’s declaration of Uzodinma as the winner of the election.
In upholding Uzodinma’s appeal on Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed with him that the votes polled in 388 out of the 3,523 polling units were excluded in the final results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the states, on March 11, 2019.
Justice Kekere-Ekun ruled that with the addition of the excluded votes to the earlier declared final results, Uzodinma polled the highest lawful votes with the required spread of votes in the state.
She set aside the judgments of both the Imo State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal and the Court of Appeal which had both affirmed Ihedioha’s election.
She stated, “The lower court misunderstood the case of the appellants,” she ruled, adding that “the case was not a case of exclusion from the election but exclusion of votes from final results.”
She explained that the lower courts were wrong to have rejected the results of the 388 polling units on the grounds that they were not tendered before the tribunal by the proper person.
The results were said to have been tendered by the 54th petitioners’ witness.
Ihedioha had argued that the Supreme Court had earlier in its judgment delivered on December 20, 2019 declared that Uche Nwosu was the candidate of both the APC and the Action Alliance and on the basis of that declared the nomination of Nwosu for the March 2019 election as null and void.
His lawyers argued that the apex court’s judgment implied that Uzodinma was not the APC’s candidate in the election.
Justice Kekere-Ekun held that the issue of nomination was a pre-election issue that could not be raised in a post-election litigation.
As a consequence of the findings, she ordered, “The judgment of the lower court which declared the first appellant as the winner with the majority of lawful votes are hereby set aside.
“It is hereby declared that votes due to the appellants – Hope Uzodinma and the All Progressives Congress – were wrongfully excluded, “It is ordered that the votes unlawfully excluded should be added.