SUPREME COURT DECLINES TO SACK IMO GOVERNOR, HOPE UZODINMA

‘Well-deserved victory’, Ohanaeze congratulates Uzodimma

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA – The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, declined to sack Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State from office.

A seven-man panel of the court, led by Justice Inyang Okoro, dismissed an application that sought to remove Uzodinma from office on the premise that he was not validly nominated by the All Progressives Congress, APC, to contest the election that led to his first tenure in 2019.

The application further sought to invalidate the years that Uzodinma spent in office as the governor of Imo State.

Though the appeal was initially brought before the apex court by Mr. Uche Nwosu, who was the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance, AA, in the 2019 election, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its own candidate, Emeka Ihedioha, who won the said contest, applied to be joined as interested parties in the matter.

Specifically, the PDP and Ihedioha prayed the Supreme Court to give effect to its 2019 verdict that disqualified Nwosu on the ground that he was nominated by both the AA and the All Progressives Congress, APC, to contest the election.

The appellants argued that if the apex court recognised Nwosu as a candidate of the APC, there was no legal basis for its subsequent judgement that sacked Ihedioha and declared Uzodinma, who was also sponsored by the same APC, as the valid winner of the governorship poll.

Consequently, the PDP urged the apex court to restore its candidate, Ihedioha, back to office since the APC was precluded from sponsoring two candidates in the election.

In an affidavit it filed in support of the application, which was deposed to by a legal practitioner, Adedamola Farokun, PDP, averred: “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 effect 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 Uzodinma was not the candidate of the APC based on the court’s judgement that Nwosu was nominated by both the APC and the AA.

The PDP urged 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.”

It argued that, in view of the fact that Governor Uzodinma did not contest the election as an independent candidate, there was no legal basis for him to be recognized as the validly elected governor of Imo State.

The applicants contended that there was no basis for the recent election that was held in the state on November 11, since Ihedioha had yet to conclude his tenure.

However, when the matter came up on Tuesday, the apex court held that it had no jurisdiction to entertain the appeal, which it described as frivolous and highly vexatious.

The apex court proceeded to award a personal cost of N40 million against Chief Mike Ozehkome, SAN, who represented the PDP and Ihedioha in the matter.

Remarkably, the case, which stayed over three years in the docket of the apex court, was initially fixed for hearing in October but was later deferred until after the recent governorship poll in the state that led to Uzodinma’s re-election.

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