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Supreme Court sacked Imo state Governor, Emeka Ihedioha . Directs Uzodinma to be sworn-in immediately

   The Supreme Court has sacked Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State, declaring his election as null and void, and has in his place pronounced the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma, as the governor-elect.

Left is the Sacked Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State and the incoming Governor,Senator Hope Uzodinma.
   The seven-man panel of the apex court led by Chief Justice Tanko Muhammad unanimously declared Sen. Uzodinma as the winner of the March 19 governorship election in the state. The appellant, Sen. Uzodinma contended that he scored the highest number of votes in the election, but alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) returned Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor of the state.
    Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who delivered the judgment on Tuesday, declared that the votes due to Sen. Uzodinma were unlawfully excluded from 318 polling units by INEC which she ruled should be added to the votes scored by the governor-elect.
    In arriving at the monumental decision, the apex court considered the submissions of a principal witness who was on a subpoena to present results and held that the lower court was wrong in its ruling. She said that Uzodinma’s total votes exceeded the number of votes scored by Ihedioha at the election.
    Justice Kekere-Ekun said that the concurrent findings of the two lower courts, the Imo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal were perverse because the evidence adduced by a witness under subpoena was rejected by the two lower courts. The court held that the lower courts erred in law when it rejected evidence tendered before them by a police officer under subpoena to the extent that votes from 318 polling units were excluded.     Justice Kekere-Ekun, while reading the lead judgment, declared Sen. Uzodinma as the validly elected governor of Imo State and directed INEC to immediately withdraw the certificate of return issued to Ihedioha and issue a new certificate of return to Uzodinma. It further held that Sen. Uzodimma should be sworn- in immediately.
    Before delivering the judgement, the Supreme Court had briefly adjourned and reserved judgment in the appeal filed by another governorship contender, Ifeanyi Ararume challenging the legality of Ihedioha as governor of Imo State.
   Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Mohammad indicated that the apex court will deliver its judgment; shortly after counsel representing parties in the appeal adopted their written statements as brief of their arguments in the appeal. The appeal was filed by candidate of the All    Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Ifeanyi Ararume, in the March 9 governorship election in   Imo State and his party seeking the nullification of the election of Ihedioha on grounds of non- compliance and irregularities during the governorship election.
    While the appellants urged the apex court to allow the appeal and set aside the declaration of Ihedioha as winner of the governorship poll in Imo State, the respondents however, urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit. After listening to their submissions for and against the appeal, the chief justice said that the “appeal is stood down for judgment.”
    Also, Justice Muhammad dismissed the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance, Uche Nwosu in the March 9, 2019 Imo State governorship election The dismissal followed the withdrawal of the appeal by the appellant counsel, Solomon Umoh (SAN).
     Umoh told the apex court that he advised Nwaosu to withdraw the appeal in the light of an earlier judgment of the Supreme Court dated December 20, 2019, which nullified Nwosu’s candidacy on the ground that he was sponsored by two political parties.
      Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has reserved judgment on the Kano, Benue, Plateau and Bauchi states governorship disputes till January 20, for ruling.
    In the appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Abba Yusuf challenging the election of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, the apex court said it will deliver judgement on January 20. Alhaji Yusuf, the runner up in the Kano State governorship election held on March 9, 2019 had appealed against the concurrent decisions of the tribunal and Court of Appeal that affirmed the election of Gov Ganduje.
   But, Yusuf’s counsel, Chief Adegboyenga Awomolo (SAN), on Tuesday, urged the apex court to allow the appeal and upturn the decision of the lower court. Chief M. Duru, the counsel to All Progressives Congress (APC), the second respondent, adopted his brief of argument and asked the court to dismiss the appeal.
    He added that Awomolo’s oral submissions have been adequately addressed. According to him, the appellant’s case was predicated on wrong premises, adding that Form EC8B which the appellant based his arguments don’t contained all the results from the 44 local government areas of Kano State. “It did not contain the result of 207 polling units therefore the returning officers would not have declared the result,” he told the court.
     He also said that 62 polling units from Gama were not collated because one Dr. Yakassi, an agent of appellant, carted away the results of these 62 polling units locked himself up in a room for hours and later took the result to the commissioner of police. “To allow the appeal will mean sanctioning election violence. We have INEC form containing the result from polling units that were cancelled and their expert witness admitted that INEC was right to have cancelled them,” he added.
    Reacting to the Supreme Court verdict on Imo State governorship election, the All Progressives Congress (APC) congratulated Senator Hope Uzodinma over his declaration as the duly elected governor of Imo state by the Apex Court.
    The party in a statement by its publicist, Lanre Issa – Onilu, said it was still pertubed on why APC lost elections it clearly won in Zamfara State at the Supreme Court and how the same court ruled the party out of the electoral race in Rivers State. The APC said it however as a political party never 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 entire South East”, the party said.
    However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed shock at the judgment of the Supreme Court on the Imo State governorship election, describing it as yet another very sad commentary on the nation’s democratic order.
    The party said it finds it difficult to understand how Senator Hope Uzodinma/APC, 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 Governor Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP that scored 276,404 votes.
     In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, Tuesday night, it said 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 said 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 people of Imo State are now confronted with the challenge of having a government that they cannot identify with and which cannot connect with them, having not emanated from them.
    “Moreover, all the gains, including the development and stability already achieved by the people-based government, under Governor Emeka Ihedioha/PDP administration in the state are now heavily jeopardized
.    “Indeed, the mournful and despondent ambience that now pervades in Imo State is a loud testimony that the judgment did not reflect the expectation of the people of Imo State as expressed at the polls”, the party submitted.
     While recognizing that the judgment of the Supreme Court is final, the PDP however urged all party stakeholders in the state to remain united and calm, and await further instruction from the national leadership on this very sad development.

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