Imo Governorship:  As Ihedioha returns to Supreme Court

Imo Governorship Ihedioha Supreme Court


For the people of Imo, the last may not have been heard about the gubernatorial election held in the state on March 9, 2019 in which Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was declared winner and eventually sworn-in as governor on May 29, 2019.

It is no longer news that following the Supreme Court judgment of January 14, 2020, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in that election, Senator Hope Uzodinma was almost immediately sworn in (and has assumed office) a governor of Imo state.

What may be news is that barely one month after he was removed from office Ihedioha and his party, the PDP, have returned to the Supreme Court, asking the apex court to set aside its judgment based on five substantive grounds.

Indeed, a Motion on Notice has already been filed before the Supreme Court to this effect.  The Application was filed last week by counsel to Ihedioaha and PDP, Kanu G. Agabi (CON), a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), who is leading 12 other lawyers, including seven SANs.

What would also seem to make Ihedioha’s move very interesting is the view in many quarters that the kind of application the sacked governor has taken to the Supreme Court is not an ordinary one. Those who hold this view are quick to point out the fact that for Agabi, a former AGF and Minister of Justice to accept to lead the legal team shows how serious the matter at hand is.

There is also the view that the Imo governorship matter may have gone beyond the interest of Ihedioha and the PDP. His mandate in Imo may turn out to be the binoculars that would be used to thoroughly scrutinize the objectivity of the nation’s judiciary.

It may be argued that this is not the first time the Supreme Court is removing a sitting governor in Nigeria. Still, while a number of commentators have described what is happening in Imo state with particular reference to the January 14 judgment as unprecedented and embarrassing, the mere fact that the Supreme Court is going to revisit or review its earlier decision, further makes the case interesting. It is as if in accepting to entertain Ihedioha’s application, the apex court has also accepted that the inherent finality in the Supreme Court is not because the honourable justices cannot make mistakes.

A source within the legal team told one of our correspondents at the weeked, “we have gone back to the Supreme court because we believe that as Supreme Court justices, they still have that courage to ensure that as a policy court, they will not give judgment that will challenge this nascent democracy.”

According to documents obtained by NATIONAL ACCORD, Ihedioha’s Motion  on Notice is brought  pursuant   to Section  6 (6)  of the  Constitution  of the Federal   Republic   of  Nigeria,  1999 (as  amended);    Section   22 of the    Supreme     Court     Act, 2004;            and    under    the    inherent jurisdiction of the same apex court.

It is seeking an order “setting aside as a nullity the judgment delivered by this Honourable Court on the 14th of January 2020 in Appeal No. SC.1462/2019    and Cross Appeal No. SC.1470/2019and for such   other order (s)   as this Honourable   Court   may deem fit or proper to make in the circumstance.”

The grounds upon which Ihedioha’s Application is brought are as follows:


a. At the Tribunal   the  2nd   Applicant   (as 2nd    Respondent) applied to  have the petition  struck  out on the ground  that it was  incompetent  having  regard  to the fact  that  the  1st Petitioner  who  came  fourth  did  not join  the  2nd   and  3rd runners  up in the Petition.

b. The application was heard and dismissed by the Tribunal whereupon   the  2nd  Applicant  appealed   to  the  Court  of Appeal  by way  of Cross Appeal  to which  the  1st  and 2nd Respondents  replied.

c. The cross appeal was heard and allowed by the Court below. In the words of Adah  JCA, who ‘delivered  the lead judgment  in the cross appeal:

The  preliminary objection of the  1st  Cross Respondent  (sic)   at   the   lower  court  is  allowed and  I hold   that  the  appropriate  order of  the  trial tribunal  would  have   beer  to  have   petition   no EPTIG 0 VIIMIOBI20 19     struck     out      for      being incompetent. I therefore order the petition struck out.  No cost is awarded.

d. The 1st and 2nd Respondents appealed  against  the above order  of the Court below  in ground  18- of their  Notice of Appeal          but  only  to  the  extent   of  showing   that  the  1st Appellant  was  the  1st  Cross  Respondent  at the  Court  of Appeal.

e. The order of the Court of Appeal striking out the Petition for being incompetent raises a jurisdictional  issue which this Honourable Court ought to have resolved first before delving into the merits of the Appeal.

f. In its    Judgment,    this    Honourable      Court     neither considered nor resolved   this jurisdictional issue.  The failure  of the Supreme  Court to consider  and pronounce on  this  issue  amounts   to  a  failure   of jurisdiction    and completely   erodes  the jurisdiction   of the Supreme  Court to consider  the appeal on the merits.

g. Your Lordships   neither   set aside   the decision   of the Court of   Appeal    striking   out   the   Petition   for   being incompetent nor made any pronouncement   on it. In the absence  of any  pronouncement   by the  Supreme  Court on this issue, the judgment  of the Court of Appeal  striking out the  Petition for  being  incompetent  remains  valid  and subsisting.

h. In the  absence   of  any  specific   order  of  the  Supreme Court   setting   aside   the  order  of  the  Court  of  Appeal striking out the petition, the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to countenance the Appellants’ appeal.


(a) Having regard to section 140(2) of the Electoral Act (as amended), the Appellants/Respondents      divested   this Honourable         Court of the relevant jurisdiction   to declare the    1st Appellant   Respondent   as the   winner   of  the gubernatorial              election  conducted  in Imo State on the 9th day                                of  March  2019   by  branding   or   stigmatizing   the entire election  as invalid.

(b) This Honourable  Court  had  no jurisdiction   to  declare the  1st Appellant/Respondent    as  elected  in an election petition   which   was   based   on   two   inconsistent    and mutually   exclusive   grounds,   to   wit,   (i)  that   the   1st Applicant   was  not  duly  elected   by  majority   of  lawful votes  cast  at  the  election,  the  implication   of which  is that the majority  of votes cast at the election  were valid; and (ii) that the election  was invalid  for non-compliance with the Electoral Act, the implication of which is that the election be annulled.

(c) This Honourable  Court  did  not  have  the  jurisdiction   to declare  the 1st Appellant/Respondent    as elected  in the absence  of any proof that the votes ascribed to him met the    mandatory    geographical     spread     stipulated     in section   179   (2)  of  the   Constitution    of  the   Federal Republic  of Nigeria  (as amended).

(d) This Honourable court  did  not  have  the jurisdiction   to declare   that  .the   1st   Appellant/Respondent     met   the constitutional   geographical   spread  without  providing  in its judgment  the reason(s)  for that conclusion.


(a) The Appellants/Respondents     fraudulently    misled   this court into holding that a total of 213,495 votes were unlawfully   excluded   from the votes scored by the 1st Appellant/Respondent     in the gubernatorial election   of 9th March 2019 in Imo State.

(b) The   1st   Appellant/Respondent admitted   under   cross­-examination   that  he  was  the person (and  not  the  3rd Respondent     [INEG]    or   any    of   its   officials)    who computed  the  result  that  gave him  the  213,495  votes alleged  to  have  been  excluded  from  his total  votes  in the election.

(c)   The   fraudulent    nature   of  the   additional    votes   was demonstrated   by the  fact  that  the  total  votes  cast  as shown  in the  1st Appellant!   Respondent’s   computation was more than the total number  of voters  accredited  for the  election  and  in  some  polling  units  more  than  the total number  of registered  voters.

(d)  The fraud    was  also  demonstrated   by the  fact that  the result    computed    by    the    1st    Appellant/Respondent showed  only  the votes   of the  1st Applicant   and the  1st Appellant/Respondent     without   specifying   the    votes scored  by the  other  68  candidates  who  participated  in the election.

(e) The fraud was further demonstrated   by Exhibits  63RD1 to  63RD19   (lNEC   Forms   EC40G)   which   show   that there  were  no valid  elections   in the 388 polling  units where  the  additional  213,495  votes  claimed  by the  1st Appellant/Respondent    were allegedly  gen

(4)       THE   JUDGMENT    SOUGHT   TO   BE SET   ASIDE   IS  A NULLITY         IN THAT   IT WAS  GIVEN  PER  INCURIAM   BY REASON  OF THE FOLLOWING:                              .

(a) By Exhibit A1 (Form EC8D) the total  number  of voters accredited  for  the  Governorship   Election    held  on  March  2019  in Imo State was  823,743,while   the total valid votes  cast was 731,485.

(b) With  the   inclusion   of   213,695    votes   for   the   1st Appellant/Respondent  and  1,903 to the  votes  of the 1st   Applicant,    as   ordered   by   this  court,   the   total number  of  votes  cast  at  the  election   now, stands  at 953,083  (i.e. 731,485  + 213,695  + 1,903)  making  the total  number  of votes  cast  at the  election  to be far in excess  of the total number  of voters  accredited  for the election,  129,

(c) It is unlawful for the total  number  of votes  cast  in an election   to  exceed  the  number  of  accredited  voters and that  illegality  rendered  (he judgment  sought  to be set aside null and void.

(d) The Appellants/Respondents  pleaded  in paragraph   39 of their  petition  that  a supplementary   election   should be   conducted    in  the   388   polling   units   where   the additional  votes that created  the illegality  were  alleged to  have  been  cast  and  that  pleading  was   binding  on the Appellants/Respondents    and the court.


a) The 1st Appellant/Respondent    alleged that votes from 388    polling    units   were    unlawfully    excluded    or cancelled   and   urged the   court   to. Include in the   computation of the election results the votes from those    polling    unit   At   the same time the   1st Appellant/Respondent    prayed that fresh elections be conducted in the said polling units thus rendering the petition speculative.

(b) The   Appellants/Respondents      failed   to   plead   the votes scored by all the parties in the 388 affected polling units.  Only the votes allegedly scored by the 1st Appellant/Respondent    and the 1st Applicant were pleaded – an omission which rendered the petition incompetent.

(c)    This Honourable Court was consequently   misled into making a vague order directing the inclusion of votes from    the    388    polling    units    without    stating    or specifying   the   particular   number   of votes   to   be included from those polling units for all the parties.

(d)    Without  computing  the votes  for  all the  parties  from the     388   polling   units   this   honourable    court   was misled    into    making    a   declaration     that   the   1st Appellant/Respondent      was   the    winner     of    the gubernatorial          election  in Imo State –  an election that the Appellants/Respondents         had  themselves branded  or stigmatized  as invalid  on account  of non-­ compliance.”


(a)    The  1st Appellant/Respondent    alleged  that votes from 388    polling    units   were    unlawfully    excluded    or cancelled   and   urged  the   court   to include  in  the computation  of the election  results the  votes from those    polling    units.   At   the same time  the   1st Appellant/Respondent    prayed  that fresh  elections be conducted  in the said polling  units thus rendering the petition  speculative.

(b)    The   Appellants/Respondents      failed   to   plead   the votes  scored  by all the  parties.  in the  388  affected polling  units.  Only the votes  allegedly  scored  by the 1st Appellant/Respondent    and the  1st Applicant  were pleaded – an omission which rendered the petition incompetent.

(c)    This Honourable  Court was consequently   misled  into making  a vague order directing  the inclusion  of votes from    the    388    polling    units    without    stating    or specifying   the   particular   number   of  votes   to   be included  from those polling units for all the parties.

(d)    Without  computing  the votes  for  all the  parties  from the         388   polling   units   this   honourable    court   was misled    into    making    a   declaration     that   the   1st Appellant/Respondent      was  the    winner     of    the gubernatorial   election  in Imo State –  an election that the                  Appellants/Respondents         had    themselves branded  or stigmatized  as invalid  on account  of non­-compliance.

As all eyes now seem focused on the Supreme Court, and not writing off the chances of Governor Uzodinma, there could be a situation whereby, in the end, Nigerians would have cause to be thankful to Ihedioha and the PDP for going back to the Supreme Court.


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