Today, the Supreme Court will take a second look at its January 15 controversial judgment, which upturned the election of Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party as Imo State Governor and the declaration of Hope Uzodinma of the All progressives Congress, APC, as the winner of the March 9 governorship election in the Eastern Heartland State.
The decision by the apex court to review its judgment came following the protest by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, led by Uche Secondus, on the need for the court to revisit its earlier verdict and possibly set it aside.
As Nigerians and the world at large await the ‘second leg’ of the Supreme Court judgement, News takes a critical look at the chances of both candidates and what may play out at the sacred shrine of justice.
Ihedioha: The journey to Douglas House
Chief Emeka Ihedioha’s journey to the Douglas House became an easy ride when Uche Nwosu, the anointed candidate and son-inlaw to immediate past governor, Rochas Okorocha was denied the APC ticket.
The defection of Nwosu to a little known Action Alliance made the journey smooth for Ihedioha, who was the Deputy Speaker of the 8th Green Chamber.
Expectedly, the Independent National Electoral Commission, on March 12, 2019 declared Ihedioha winner after polling 273,404 ahead of his closest rival and candidate of the Action Alliance, Uche Nwosu, who polled a total of 190,364.
The candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Ifeanyi Ararume came third ahead of Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The former polled 114, 676 while the latter polled 96,458.
Surprisingly, Uzodinma, who came fourth approached the tribunal on the ground that his results in some polling units were illegally cancelled.
The tribunal and the appellate court threw out his petition on the ground that it lacked merit and was not substantial enough to give him victory.
Dissatisfied with the lower courts unfavourable verdicts, Uzodinma stormed the apex court for a final shot.
The big hammer
Exactly 230 days into his government, a controversial judgment by the apex court announced a new government in Imo following the nullification of the election of Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor of Imo State.
The apex court declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the March 9 governorship election in imo state.
In the unanimous judgment of the seven-member panel, read by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the apex court agreed that results in 388 polling units were unlawfully excluded during the collation of the final governorship election result in Imo State.
Justice Kekere-Ekun said with the results from the 388 polling units added, Mr Uzodinma polled a majority of the lawful votes and ought to have been declared the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Amazingly, the judge did not provide the details of the new votes scored by each of the candidates after the addition of the results from the 388 polling units. This development left many Nigerians bewildered.
Of course, the judgment was greeted with mixed reactions, with most Nigerians faulting the apex court for the verdict.
The victim of the apex court sledge hammer, the Peoples Democratic Party, led by its chairman, Uche Secondus stormed the streets in protest of the controversial judgement, thus, demanding the Supreme Court to set aside its judgment.
However, documents obtained showed that the Collation Officer, Prof. B.C. Ozunda, had announced a total number of registered voters in Imo to be: 2,037,569
He also said 585,741 were accredited while a total number of 542,777 votes were cast. Valid votes were 511,586 and rejected votes were 31,191.
A quick look at the results of the three main contenders showed that
Ihedioha got 273,404 votes
Nwosu polled 190,364 votes
Ararume got 114, 676 votes
Uzodinma garnered 96,458 votes
Total: 560,226 – 542,777, which was the number of the valid votes =17,449.
Many Nigerians are still wondering how Uzodinma got the judgement.
Human rights lawyers, James Ubah, while speaking with News men described the judgment as ‘an embarrassment to the legal profession.’
“What happened in Imo is a joke. This is a huge embarrassment and this must be revisited. The apex court needs to clear itself of this mess. This judgment must not stand.
“I have done a critical check on the whole stuff and I could hear the voice of Jacob but the hand of Essau.”
Many people believe that the judgment was influenced by the ruling APC, whose candidate was eventually declared winner.
This became evident following the earlier prophecy by Fr Ejike Mbaka that Uzodinma was going to govern Imo; many believed the judgement was leaked to him by the powers that be.
However, others think it was a sound judgment as no one has the right to cancel any valid vote accrued to a candidate in an election from polling unit.
Today, the apex court is left with two options, to either upturn or uphold its decision.