The Supreme Court has fixed Tuesday, February 18 to commence hearing of an application brought before it by the sacked governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking to set aside the January 14 judgement of the apex court that sacked him from office.
The apex court had, in a unanimous judgement nullified the election of Ihedioha and ordered that Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) be sworn in as the state governor.
The court, which set aside the judgements 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, 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 February 5, seeking to nullify the judgement delivered by the Court on January 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.
“In its judgment, this Honourable Court neither considered nor resolved this jurisdictional issue. The failure of the Supreme Court to consider and pronounce on this issue amounts to a failure of jurisdiction and completely erodes the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to consider the appeal on the merits.
“Your lordships neither set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal striking out the petition for being incompetent nor made any pronouncement on it. In the absence of any pronouncement by the Supreme Court on this issue, the judgement of the Court of Appeal striking out the petition for being incompetent remains valid and subsisting.”
The motion hinged on five grounds stated that the judgement sought to be set aside is a nullity in that it was obtained by fraud or deceit because the Appellants/Respondents fraudulently misled the court into holding that a total of 213,495 votes were unlawfully excluded from the votes scored by the first appellant/respondent in the gubernatorial election of March 9. 2019 in Imo State.
Ihedioha contended that the judgement 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
“This Court had no jurisdiction to declare the first appellant/respondent as elected in an election petition which was based on two inconsistent and mutually exclusive grounds, to wit, (i) that the first applicant was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election, the implication of which is that the majority of votes cast at the election were valid; and (ii) that the election was invalid for non-compliance with the Electoral Act, the implication of which is that the election be annulled.”
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.