Imo Governorship Election: Supreme Court adjourns Ihedioha’s appeal until March 2

Ihedioha and Uzodinma

The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned until March 2, hearing in an application filed by Chief Emeka Ihedioha, a former governor of Imo, seeking a review of the Jan. 14 judgment sacking him from the office. Ihedioha had prayed the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment it delivered on Jan. 14.

The apex court nullified his election as Imo governor and declared Hope Uzodimma of the All Progressive Congress (APC) as winner of the March 9 governorship election in the state.

Ihedioha made the request in an application he and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) filed at the Supreme Court through their lawyer Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN.

The seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Tanko Muhammad, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) adjourned the hearing after Ihedioha’s lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), told the court that processes were still being filed.

 “My lords, processes are still coming in. Up till this morning, we were still receiving processes. We therefore, apply for an adjournment to enable all the processes to come in,” Agabi said

The lawyer representing Uzodinma and his party, the All Progressives Congress, Damian Dodo (SAN), and that of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Taminu Inuwa (SAN), did not oppose the application for adjournment.

That the apex court had, in a unanimous judgment, nullified the election of Ihedioha and ordered that Sen. Hope Uzodinma of the APC be sworn in as governor.

The court, which set aside the judgments of the state governorship election petition tribunal and the Court of Appeal, which affirmed Iheodioha’s election, held that he (was not validly elected as the governor of the state and consequently ordered that the certificate of return issued to him be retrieved and issued to Uzodinma.

Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who read the unanimous decision of the apex court on Jan. 14, held that the lower courts erred when it rejected the evidence tendered before them to the extent that the votes from the 388 polling units were not credited to the APC and Uzodinma.

Dissatisfied with the verdict of the apex court, Ihedioha, through his legal team, approached the Supreme Court in a motion on notice dated Feb. 5, seeking to nullify the judgment delivered by the Court on Jan. 14.

Ihedioha argued in a motion filed on his behalf by the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, leading other seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria and four other lawyers that, the order of the Court of Appeal striking out Uzodinma’s petition for being incompetent raised a jurisdictional issue, which the Supreme Court ought to have resolved before delving into the merits of the appeal.

Ihedioha contended that the judgment sought to be set aside is a nullity in that it was delivered without jurisdiction by reason of the following: “Having regard to Section 140(2) of the Electoral Act (as amended), the appellants/respondents divested this court of the relevant jurisdiction to declare the first appellant/respondent as the winner of the gubernatorial election conducted in Imo State on March 9, 2019 by branding or stigmatising the entire election as invalid

Ihedioha and PDP held that the apex court did not have the jurisdiction to declare that Uzodinma was duly elected in the absence of any proof that the votes ascribed to him met the mandatory geographical spread stipulated in section 179 (2) of the constitution.

NAN reports that Uzodinma in a preliminary objection dated Feb. 5, asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the application filed by Ihedioha. He prayed the Supreme Court for an order setting aside “as a nullity the judgment delivered by it on Jan. 14.

Uzodimma and APC’s preliminary objection against Ihedioha was brought pursuant to Section 6(6)(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.

The objection raised and argued the competence of the motion and the jurisdiction of the court to entertain same and therefore urged the apex court to strike out the motion filed by Ihedioha.

They said that the application being a proceeding relating to or arising from election of a governor is barred by effluxion of time.

“The application constitutes an invitation to the Supreme Court to sit on appeal over its final decision,” Uzodimma posited.

They submitted that having delivered its final decision, the Supreme Court has become fuctus officio and divested of jurisdiction over the same subject matter.

They said: Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules 2014 prohibits the apex court from reviewing its judgment once given and delivered, save to correct clerical mistakes or accidental slip. (NAN)
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