Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Ahead of the Supreme Court hearing of his application on Monday, March 2, the former governor of Imo state, Emeka Ihedioha, has told the court that the facts and circumstances of his application are different and distinguishable from the one filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, David Lyon, with respect to the Bayelsa State governorship election.
The apex court had adjourned the hearing of Mr Ihedioha’s application seeking the review of the January 14 judgement which sacked him as Imo State governor and installed Hope Uzodinma as his replacement, to March 2.
The seven-man panel of the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, adjourned the hearing after Ihedioha’s lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), told the court that processes were still being filed.
“My lords, processes are still coming in. Up till this morning, we were still receiving processes. We, therefore, apply for an adjournment to enable all the processes to come in,” Agabi had said.
The lawyer representing Uzodinma and his party, the APC, Damian Dodo (SAN), and that of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Taminu Inuwa (SAN), did not oppose the application for adjournment.
The panel subsequently adjourned till March 2 for hearing.
However, in between the adjourned date, a similar application brought by the APC and its sacked governor-elect for Bayelsa State, David Lyon, and his deputy, Degi-Eremienyo, for a reversal of its judgment was dismissed by the court.
In a unanimous judgment, a seven-man panel of justices of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta dismissed the two different applications that sought the setting aside of the February 13 judgment that went against Lyon and his deputy.
Justice Amina Augie, who delivered the lead judgment, described the fresh applications that were filed by Lyon and his deputy, as well as the APC, as “highly vexatious, frivolous and gross abuse of the judicial process.”
It held that the applications were aimed at “desecrating the sanctity of the court,” stressing that it was an invitation for the Supreme Court to sit on appeal over its final judgment in violation of the Constitution.
But in his further and better affidavit in support of his application dated February 28, Ihedioha insisted that his action is not an invitation of the apex court to sit on appeal over its judgment.
Rather, he explained that his application is seeking the court to set aside its January 14 judgement that removed him from office for being a nullity.
He argued through his lead counsel and former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi (SAN) that, “the application is not an academic exercise or an invitation to this honourable Court to answer hypothetical questions as the issue of nullity of the judgment of January 14, 2020, is neither academic nor hypothetical.
The former governor added that “contrary to the deposition by Governor Hope Uzodinma, he (Uzodinma) never stated the results of the other 68 candidates that participated in the election at the 388 polling units, as their scores were not indicated anywhere by the appellants.
“Contrary to the depositions by the respondents, there is nowhere in the judgment of this honourable Court delivered on January 14, 2020, in which the decision of the lower court striking out the petition for incompetence was set aside or upturned.
“On the contrary, the judgment of this honourable Court only set aside the judgment of the lower court affirming the judgment of the Governorship election tribunal. The order of the lower court striking out the petition was not an affirmation of any decision of the Governorship election tribunal.
“That the failure to state the results of the other 68 candidates that participated in the election in the disputed 388 polling units and the 1st appellant/respondent’s (Uzodinma) admission under cross-examination of allocating to himself more votes than the total registered voters in the identified units are all manifest on the face of the record of the Supreme Court.
“That no evidence was led as to how governor Uzodinma satisfied the mandatory spread required under section 179(2) of the 1999 constitution.
“That while Uzodinma and his APC claimed that “results from 388 polling units were excluded which this court ordered to be added to him, PW54, whose evidence they relied upon, testified that he came to tender results of only 366 polling units.
“Under cross-examination, PW54 admitted that the result he tendered was even less than the number (366) he alleged he had come to tender.
“Even going by the number of 366 polling units stated by PW54, nothing in the judgment of this court explained the difference, particularly the number of votes in 22 polling units that the appellant/respondents misled this court to add to the 366 polling units to make up the 388 polling units.”
A seven-man panel of the apex court led by the CJN had in the January 14 judgment removed Ihedioha as the Imo State governor and declared Uzodinma as the winner of the last governorship election in the state.
Justice Kekere-Ekun, who read the lead judgment, had upheld Uzodinma’s appeal, ruling that the votes polled in 388 out of the 3,523 polling units were excluded in the final results declared by the INEC in the state.
The apex court held that Uzodinma emerged winner of the election after the addition of the excluded votes.
But Ihedioha, through his lead counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), a former Attorney General of the Federation, had on February 5, filed an application before the court seeking “an order setting aside as a nullity” the January 14 judgment.