© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Mixed reactions trail S’Court’s verdict on Imo guber election
FOLLOWING the verdict of the Supreme Court on Tuesday which ruled that Imo state governor, Emeka Ihedioha should vacate the governorship seat, and declared the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Hope Uzodinma who came fourth in the poll as the winner of the March 9 election, many Nigerians have questioned the rationale of the judgement, while others argued it followed all legal procedures and devoid of bias.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) whose candidate was dismissed said the decision of the court does not reflect the will of the people in Imo state.
PDP said the apex court’s verdict is ‘lamentable’ and that the destiny of Imo people has been taken away from the government they voted for and handed over to a governor they cannot identify with.
“It is lamentable that the destiny of the people of Imo state is being taken from the governor they chose and voted for and handed over to individuals and a political party that do not have their blessing and mandate and which they rejected at the election,” PDP said.
The PDP candidate in the 2019 presidential elections, Atiku Abubakar urged people of Imo state to accept the verdict of the court.
“I can only say that since the Supreme Court is final, we must accept its judgment,” he said.
He advised that as ‘unexpected and unpalatable’ as the judgement may be, the rule of law must guide the paths of the people of Imo state.
APC through its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Issa-Onilu said the party is in jubilation following the court decision to replace the party’s candidate, Uzodinma as the governor of Imo state.
APC said the party has never lost faith in the Nigerian Judiciary even though it is still wondering why it lost the election in Zamfara, an election it ‘clearly won’ and how the party’s candidate was disqualified in Rivers state.
“We have never, as a political party, lost faith in the judiciary,” APC stated.
“We salute Senator Hope Uzodinma, our supporters and members for their temperance displayed in the aftermath of the blatant rigging of the Imo Governorship election. We chose to focus on the judicial route to reclaim the Party’s mandate,” the party added.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Lawyer, Abdul Mahmud said the election held on March 9, 2019, was pervaded by electoral malpractices in favour of the candidate of APC, Uzodinma.
“2019 Imo governorship poll was rigged by security forces and thugs in 388 PUs in favour of APC,” he said on his social media handle.
He added that PDP failed to defend its case at the Supreme Court while it relied on the judgement of the court of appeal and the state electoral tribunal.
He affirmed the Supreme Court’s verdict on the basis that PDP did not challenge the evidence provided by the APC.
“Did the Supreme Court do the right thing? Law is a strange being, guided by rules of evidence: on the basis of the unchallenged evidence of the APC, the Court acted right,” Mahmud added.
According to the INEC pronouncement of Imo state gubernatorial election in March 2019, Ihedioha had won the election with a large margin compared to the fourth place candidate of APC, Uzodinma.
Although, some Nigerians took to social media platform to ascribe the victory of Uzodinma to a prophecy by the Founder of Adoration Ministry Enugu, Rev. Ejike Mbaka who had said that although he does not know how but he believes that Ihedioha shall vacate the governorship seat for Uzodinma.
Another social media user faulted the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) for excluding the results of 388 polling units from the election in March.
A social media user Olukayode Bakare said“So the court said Hope’s votes from 388 polling booths were excluded? How? The INEC officials that conducted that election should be locked up”.
So the court said Hope's votes from 388 polling booths were excluded? How? The INEC officials that conducted that election should be locked up.
— Olukayode bakre (@kayodebakre8) January 14, 2020
According to a PREMIUM TIMES report, Festus Okoye, the Chairman, Voter Education, and Information of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said that the electoral body would issue a certificate of return to Uzodinma as instructed by the court.
Okoye was quoted to have said that INEC is not empowered to question the judgement or orders from the Supreme Court.
”As a public institution, we are constitutionally and legally bound to give effect to the judgements and orders of the Supreme Court. The commission will give effect to the judgement of the court the moment we receive the enrolled order of the court and will issue the candidate the requisite Certificate of Return,” Okoye said to PREMIUM TIMES.