Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo state has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss an application filed by former Governor Emeka Ihedioha, seeking the setting aside of it’s January 14 judgment that removed him from office.
The governor position is contained in his preliminary objection challenging the competence of Ihedioha’s motion.
In the said motion dated February 5, 2020, Ihedioha prayed the apex court for an order setting aside “as a nullity the judgment delivered by it on the 14th of January, 2020 in Appeal No. SC.1462/ 2019 and Cross-Appeal No. SC.147Y0/ 2019.
However, governor Uzodinma in his preliminary objection dated February 6, 2020, urged the court to strike it out.
In addition, motion on notice brought pursuant to Section 6(6)(a) of the 1999 Uzodinma and his political platform, the All Progressive Congress (APC),
predicated their objection on the grounds that “the appIication being a proceeding relating to or arising from election of a governor is barred by effluxion of time.
“The application constitutes an invitation to the Supreme Court to sit on appeal over its final decision” Uzodimma posited.
Besides, the objectors through their counsel, Damien Dodo (SAN) submitted that “having delivered its final decision on the 1st and 2nd Respondents’ Appeal No. SC. 1462/2019 between Senator Hope Uzodinma & Anor v Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha & 2 Ors., the Supreme Court has become fuctus officio and divested of jurisdiction over the same subject matter”.
“Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules 2014 prohibits this Honourable Court from reviewing its judgment once given and delivered, save to correct clerical mistakes or accidental slip.
“The judgment sought to be set aside having been given effect by the inauguration of the 1st Respondent/Objector as Governor of Imo State, this Honourable Court lacks the jurisdiction to grant the prayer sought” Uzodimma argued.
More so, Uzodimma stated that Ihedioha’s application “constitutes an abuse of court process” and “is against public policy”.
He added that the application filed by the ousted governor amounts to an invitation to the Court to indulge in academic exercise and answer hypothetical questions.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had after the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial election in Imo state, declared Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as winner of the poll.
Aggrieved by the declaration of Ihedioha by the INEC as winner of the governorship election, Uzodimma and APC challenged the said declaration by way of a petition.
The litigation that ensued from the petition ultimately led to the appeal by Uzodimma and APC against the decision of the Court of Appeal which by majority decision dismissed their appeal against the decision of the Election Tribunal to apex court.
Ihedioha and PDP also cross appealed.
However, in its judgment of 14th January, 2020, the Supreme Court held that there was merit in the appeal filed by Uzodimma and allowed same.
Consequently, the judgment of the lower court affirming the judgment of the Governorship Election Tribunal which declared Ihedioha winner of the Imo governorship election, was set aside.
Among the orders, the Supreme Court declared that votes due to the Appellants, Uzodinma & APC from 388 polling units were wrongly excluded from the score ascribed to them.
It ordered that the Appellants’ votes from the 388 polling units unlawfully excluded from the Appellants’ score shall be added to the results declared by the INEC.
The Supreme Court also dedared that the 1st Respondent, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast at the said election, and that his return as the elected Governor of Imo state was null and void and accordingly set aside.
“It is hereby declared that the 1st Appellant, Sen. Hope Uzodinma polled a majority of lawful votes cast at the Governorship Election held in Imo State on 9th March, 2019 and satisfied the mandatory constitutional threshold and spread across the state.
“It is hereby declared that the 1st appellant, Sen. Hope Uzodimma is the winner of the Govemorship Election of Imo State held on 9th March, 2019.
“The Certificate of Return issued to the 1st respondent Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha is hereby withdrawn.
“It is hereby ordered that a certificate of return shall be issued to the 1st appellant, Sen. Hope Uzodinma forthwith and he should be sworn in as the Governor at lmo State immedately” the Supreme Court held on January 14, 2020.
In its objection, Uzodimma reminded the Supreme Court that “It is “mortar“ to note that amongst the orders issued in the judgment by His Lordships was Order 7 which reads: “It is hereby ordered that a certificate of return shall be issued to the 1st appellant, Sen. Hope Uzodinma forthwith and he should be sworn in as the Governor at lmo State immedately” the Supreme Court held on January 14, 2020.
He said the above order has since been made effective by his inauguration as the Governor at lmo State.