The Imo State Governor Senator Hope Uzodinma and the All Progressive Progressive Congress (APC) have formally joined issues with the sacked Governor of the State, Honourable Emeka Ihedioha, seeking judicial review of the apex court’s judgement which had on January 14, 2020, ordered his (Ihedioha) removal from office.
In an application filed by Uzodinma and the APC, they prayed the Supreme Court to strike out Ihedioha’s request for judgment review.
The two respondents claimed that Ihedioha’s request for the review of the January 14 judgment which ousted him from office is a mere academic exercise and an affront on the 1999 constitution.
The Supreme Court had on January 14, removed Ihedioha as Imo State Governor and ordered that Senator Uzodinma be immediately inuagurated to take over the reigns of power in the state.
The Supreme Court after computing the excluded votes in the 388 polling units came to the conclusion that Uzodinma and APC scored majority of lawful votes in the March 9, 2019, governorship election in the state.
In the unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the apex court ordered that the certificate of return issued to Ihedioha be withdrawn and a new one be issued by INEC to Uzodinma.
However, dissatisfied with the apex court decision, Ihedioha through his counsel Kanu Agabi (SAN), returned to the same court with a request that the judgment be reviewed and set aside.
Uzodimma’s preliminary objection is against a motion dated February 5, 2020, filed by the Respondents/Applicants (Ihedioha and PDP), wherein they prayed the Supreme 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.”
Uzodimma and APC’s preliminary objection dated February 6, 2020, was brought pursuant to Section 6(6)(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
The objection raised and argued the competence of the motion and the jurisdiction of the court to entertain same.
In a 19 paragraphs affidavit filed in opposition to Ihedioha’s application, the governor and his party asserted that the 60 days allowed for the Supreme Court by the Constitution has since lasped.
In the counter affidavit deposed to by one Mathew Joseph Mola, on behalf of the two respondents, the supreme Court was said not to be in the habit of sitting on appeal over its own judgment as been demanded by Ihedioha.
The respondents claimed that since January 14 when the apex court delivered the landmark judgment that brought Senator Uzodinma to power, the court has since seized to have the constitutional power to adjudicate on the declaration of Uzodinma as the winner of the March 9, 2019, governorship election in Imo State.
The deponent from the chambers of Damian Dodo (SAN), counsel to the two respondents, averred that by the rule of the apex court, the court is prohibited from reviewing its own judgment once delivered except to correct clerical mistakes or accidental slips.
“As the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court jealously guides its process against abuse by litigants”, he said, “and does not indulge in academic exercise or answer by hypothetical questions”.
The deponent asserted that contrary to the claim of Ihedioha in his application, the scores of all the candidates in the election as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were clearly set out, adding that a petitioner whose votes were excluded from the declared results is entitled to compute the votes excluded in the presentation of his case.
The counter affidavit denied the allegation that Uzodinma admitted that he allocated votes to himself or that the votes in the 388 polling units were in excess of the registered voters.
“I know as a fact that the issue of total number of votes cast exceeding the total number of accredited voters did not arise from the petition or the appeal considered and determined by the Supreme Court.
“I also know that the issue of the votes of 68 other candidates not been reflected was never raised by Ihedioha in the appeal that led to the judgment now been challenged.
Describing Ihedioha’s allegations as wild and baseless, the deponent said that Uzodinma and APC did not mislead the Supreme Court to perpetuate any fraud in the appeal that brought them to power.
Uzodinma and the APC in their joint preliminary objection prayed the Supreme Court to strike out the request for being baseless and unwarranted.
The two respondents claimed that the application by Ihedioha constitute a gross abuse of court process, exercise in futility and an attempt to force the apex court to sit on appeal in its own judgment.
Specifically, they claimed that by section 285 of the 1999 Constitution the Supreme Court can no longer adjudicate in the matter having become statute barred.
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 of lmo State immedately” the Supreme Court held on January 14, 2020.
They said the above order has since been made effective by his inauguration Uzodinma as the governor of lmo State.
Meanwhile, the court will on Tuesday, February 18, consider the merit or otherwise of Ihedioha’s application.