Thursday, February 22, 2024

Tension in Imo as Supreme Court set to hear PDP, APP’s appeals seeking to remove Uzodimma

There is tension in Imo State as the Supreme Court has indicated that it will on October 31 sit in two separate appeals seeking to nullify the eligibility of the All Progressives Congress in the 2019 governorship election in Imo State and to remove Hope Uzodimma as governor.

The apex court made the disclosure last Monday through a notice of hearing served on all parties in the appeal, marked SC/1384/2019 between Uche Nwosu and People’s Democratic Party (PDP)/Action People’s Party (APP).

The notice dated October 16, was signed by one of the Registrars of the apex court, A. Bature.

The PDP appeal was filed on July 9, 2020, but the Supreme Court did not give the PDP a hearing date, until this week, over three years after.

Although, the Independent National Electoral Commission had declared the candidate of the PDP, Emeka Ihedioha winner of the 2019 governorship election in Imo State, the apex court, however, in a judgement in 2020, sacked Ihedioha and declared the candidate of the APC, Hope Uzodimma as lawful winner of the poll.

In the run up to the 2019 Imo governorship election, the APP and its Imo State Governorship candidate, Uche Nnadi and the PDP approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking, amongst other reliefs, the disqualification of Ugwumba Uche Nwosu from contesting the Imo State Governorship election on the ground that he (Nwosu) was nominated by two political parties – Action Alliance (AA) and APC contrary to Section 37 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which forbids double-nomination.

The PDP and APP won at the High court and Appeal court levels.

The apex court concurred in a December 2019 judgement that Nwosu is guilty of double nominations under the platform of two political parties – the APC and AA – a decision which led to the instant appeals.

Specifically, both the PDP and APP in these fresh appeals are asking the Supreme Court to give effect to its judgement delivered in 2019, disqualifying Uche Nwosu from the Imo governorship election on the grounds of double nomination.

The grouse is predicated on the grounds that APC cannot have the governorship in person of Uzodimma, when the court had already voided the candidacy of Nwosu, who was nominated by the APC for the said 2019 governorship poll.

On its part, the PDP is asking the Supreme Court to return its candidate, Ihedioha as winner of the election since APC was precluded from sponsoring two candidates in the Imo State governorship election.

In an affidavit filed in support of the application which was deposed to by a legal practitioner, Adedamola Farokun, working in the Legal Department of the PDP, he averred thus, “The third Respondent/Applicant (PDP) is neither in any way seeking a review of the valid, subsisting and well considered judgement of this court delivered in this appeal in 2019, nor seeking a review of the judgement of this court delivered on January 14, 2020 in SC/462/2019 but humbly seeking that this court give effect to its judgement delivered on December 20, 2019.

“That this court has the constitutional, inherent powers and jurisdiction to grant the reliefs sought and give effects to its judgement.

“That it is in the interest of justice for this court to exercise its wide discretionary powers in favour of granting this application as prayed.

”The deponent, Farokun, averred that Uzodimma was not the candidate of the APC based on the court’s judgement that Nwosu was nominated by both the APC and the Action Alliance.

He urged the apex court to so hold.

Besides, PDP is also asking the court for an order enforcing or otherwise directing the enforcement and or giving effect to the judgement of the court, wherein the court held that Nwosu was nominated by both APC and AA and consequently declared his nomination a nullity.

PDP is asking of the Supreme Court to hold that “both the AA and APC did not sponsor and/or field any candidate for the governorship election held in Imo State on March 9, 2019 in view of the double nomination of the Appellant/Respondent by the two political parties aforesaid, and his subsequent disqualification as their gubernatorial candidate, as found by this honourable court in its judgement.

”The party asked the court for an order sequel to the above that Uzodimma was not a candidate by himself or of any party at the Imo State Governorship election held on March 9, 2019.

PDP also asked the court for an order directing the Independent National Electoral Commission to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Uzodimma.

It asked the court “for an order further directing the 4th respondent to issue a certificate of return to the gubernatorial candidate of the 3rd Respondent/Applicant, Emeka Ehedioha in the Imo State Governorship election held on 9th March 2019 as the duly elected governor of Imo State, having scored the second highest number of votes in the said election sequel to the judgement of this court in Appeal No SC/1462/2019 Hope Uzodimma & Anor vs Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha & Others delivered on 14th January, 2020.”

The party further sought an order sequel to the above, directing that the said gubernatorial candidate of the 3rd Respondent/Applicant in the Imo state Governorship election held on the 9th March 2019, Emeka lhedioha be immediately sworn in as the governor of Imo State.

PDP stated the grounds for the application thus, “The court found that the Appellant/Respondent was nominated by both APC and AA as their gubernatorial candidate for the Imo State governorship election and conclusively held that he was disqualified by the provisions of S. 37 of the Electoral Act (as amended), for double nomination.

b. That after the said election, the governorship candidate of the 3d Respondent/Applicant, Emeka lhedioha, was returned by the 4th Respondent as the winner of the election and consequently sworn into office.

That subsequently, the return of the governorship candidate of the 3rd Respondent/Applicant was challenged up to this court by one senator Hope Uzodimma who claimed to be the gubernatorial ‘candidate of the APC.’

That the Supreme Court in its judgment delivered on January 14, 2020 held that it was the said Uzodimma and not Emeka lhedioha that scored the highest number of votes in the election and ought to be returned as the duly elected governor of Imo State.

That by the clear terms of the judgement in this appeal, neither the AA nor the APC fielded any candidate for the Imo State governorship election held on 9th March 2019 and, as such, the said Uzodimma could not have been returned as the winner of the Imo State Governorship election as a candidate of the APC.

That APC could not have substituted the appellant with a view to further nominating the said Uzodimma as their candidate because that right was not available to the party under the Electoral Act.

That Uzodimma could not have been a candidate in the election as an independent candidate as such right is not available to him.

That the 3rd respondent Applicant, PDP, as the main beneficiary of the judgement ought to enjoy the fruits of the said judgement.

That Emeka lhedioha, who is the candidate nominated by the 3rd Respondent /Applicant, and who scored the second highest number of votes after Senator Hope Uzodimma, from the judgement of this court ought therefore to be issued a certificate of return by the 4th respondent and sworn in accordingly.

That it will advance the cause of justice to grant this application particularly as none of the parties will be prejudiced by its grant.

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