• APC’s Uzodinma to take over
• Ganduje, Tambuwal know fate Jan. 20
• Hearing on Bauchi, Benue, Plateau adjourned
By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
The Supreme Court, yesterday, sacked Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and declared Hope Uzodinma of All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the March 9, governorship election in Imo State.
The apex court, in a unanimous judgement by a seven-man panel of justices led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, held that Ihedioha who contested on the platform the PDP, was not duly elected.
The panel held that the electoral umpire was wrong to have excluded some votes from the scores of Senator Hope Uzodinma.
Consequently, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun who delivered the lead judgement declared Senator Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress(APC), as the valid winner of the governorship election contest in the state.
The Supreme Court, therefore, ordered the immediate withdrawal of the Certificate of Return that was issued to Ihedioha.
It ordered that a fresh Certificate of Return should be issued to Uzodinma forthwith, adding that he should be sworn-in immediately as the governor of Imo State.
Earlier, counsel representing both 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 Progressives Congress (APC), in the March 9 governorship election in Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma and his party.
The appellant prayed the apex court to sack Ihedioha from office over alleged act of irregularities and noncompliance with the electoral law that marred the credibility of the election.
Uzodinma submitted that the INEC fraudulently excluded votes cast for the APC at the polling units across the state which gave the PDP candidate advantage.
He maintained that after tabulating the valid votes at the polling units, the APC candidate defeated the PDP candidate with a large margin.
“it was at the course of collation of the results at the ward, Local Government and State levels, that the 3rd respondent, INEC, incorrectly stated the votes of the 1st Respondent (Ihedioha) and thus reduced the votes of the petitioners by excluding the results from the polling units where the petitioners scored overwhelming majority of the votes cast.
“In order to give unfair advantage to the 1st and 2nd Respondents, the INEC unlawfully credited the 1st and 2nd Respondents with votes arising from over voting in all of the polling units in Aboh Mbaise, Ezinihitte and Ahiazu Mbaise LGAs.
Uzodinma posited that the INEC did not comply with the Electoral Act 2010 and INEC guidelines for 2019 general elections when it recruited relatives of the PDP candidate, Emeka Ihedioha as collation Officers and Returning Officers in most of the Local Government Areas in the state during the election.
He therefore, prayed the apex court to allow the appeal and set aside the declaration of Ihedioha as winner of the governorship poll in Imo State.
In his reaction, Ihedioha prayed the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
Meanwhile, the court has postponed judgment in the Kano and Sokoto cases till Monday, 20th January.
The Supreme Court of Nigeria, will therefore on January 20th, decide the fate of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, in an appeal challenging his victory in the March 19, 2019 governorship election.
Also yesterday, the Supreme Court has adjourned hearing of governorship appeals involving Bauchi, Benue and Plateau States to dates to be announced.
The seven-man panel of justices of the Apex court led by Chief Justice of Nigeria(CJN) Justice, Justice Tanko Muhammad, took the decision at its sitting on Tuesday.
Shortly after fixing January 20, to deliver judgement on the Kano state governorship election appeal, the panel announced that it could not hear that of the three states.
The CJN said they had to adjourn the appeals involving the three states due to heavy work load and the fact that they have up to January 28 for their appeals to be heard and determined.
Mohamed Abubakar is challenging the election of Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state, while Senator Jeremiah Useni is challenging the election of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State.
Also, Emmanuel Jime wants the apex court to nullify the election of Samuel Ortom as Governor of Benue State.