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Imo Guber: Can the Supreme Court Redeem itself?

By Onwuasoanya FCC Jones

22 months after the governorship elections in Imo State and 20 clear months since the change of baton on May 29th, Imo enjoys the awkward record of being the only State among the 29 States whose governorship election held on March 12th, 2019, with valid controversies still hanging around the authenticity of its political leadership at the governorship level.

Apart from being the only State that it’s governorship election was nullified among all the 29 States, Imo is one State that could be rightly said to have the demons of illegitimacy and uncertainties hanging over its clouds. These situations could to a large extent be blamed on the unconscionable tradeoffs by politicians from all divides in the State, in the run-up to the 2019 elections.

When Justice Chima Centus Nwaeze in giving a contrary opinion on the application for the review of an earlier judgement brought to the court by Chief Emeka Ihedioha and the PDP, warned that the decision of the court in that matter, would haunt the Nigerian Supreme Court and the judiciary for a long time, he was not simply giving a judicial opinion, but been prophetic. And very few people would have doubted him. His, was a clear and undeniable truth. Today, the unpopularity of that ‘supreme’ judicial decision still resonates and even the beneficiaries are not at ease with their pyrrhic crown.

Nwaeze

To understand the situation with Imo governorship, and how best the Supreme Court can redeem itself, we must refresh our minds, unbiasedly to the circumstances that put our dear State in this quagmire and the Nigerian Supreme Court – supposedly, the final arbiter and on issues of Constitutionalism within the borders of Nigeria – in an ignoble limelight.

The first of the factors that brought us to this position in the political affairs of our country is the charade passed off as the governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress in Imo State.

Curiously, all three judges on the Governorship Petition Tribunal and all five judges on the Appeal panel closed their eyes to the issue of the Constitutionality of Ihedioha’s victory.

However, by going ahead to adopt an allegedly fabricated and unverified set of results submitted by one of the candidates in that election, the Supreme Court opened more rooms for questioning its impartiality and acclaimed prescience on Constitution and justice.

Uzodimma

Some of the questions begging for answers as long as Governor Hope Uzodimma’s “manufactured” 388 (or is it even 366) polling booth results is concerned are; 1. How come that out of about 70 candidates who participated in the election, only the results of Mr. Hope Uzodimma and Emeka Ihedioha were captured in the results?

2. Did Hope Uzodimma, meet the Constitutional requirement of 2/3 spread, at the end of tabulating these highly controversial results?

3. What logic can explain the reality that a governorship candidate whose election fell on the same day as those of the House of Assembly candidates could win, while non of the 27 House of Assembly candidates who ran on the same platform as him, won their election to the Assembly? Ehime Mbano House of Assembly member was returned by the Appeal Court.

4. What mathematical magic was used in arriving at the figure with which Chief Uzodimma was declared governor?

Now, let us get to the validity of Philip Umeadi’s application before the Supreme Court. Umeadi, apparently, a non-Imolite, is qualified to institute this application, being a Nigerian. His is not an application for review of an earlier judgement of the Supreme Court, but a demand to the Supreme Court to execute its own judgement, vide the Action People’s Party (APP) Versus Uche Nwosu.

By this application, Umeadi accepts the controversial results produced by Chief Uzodimma and upheld by a panel of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Judge, but is calling the attention of the same Supreme Court to an earlier judgement by it nullifying the nomination of Ugwumba Uche Nwosu on the grounds of DOUBLE NOMINATION. The simple grammatical and logical implication of DOUBLE is that something existed in two places. Therefore, if Uche Nwosu was DOUBLY nominated, hence, his disqualification, how could there be another candidate for one of the Parties that duly nominated Uche Nwosu?

Uche

Uche Nwosu couldn’t have been the rightful candidate of the APC and Hope Uzodimma is the governor, purportedly as a candidate of the same APC. One does not need to be a lawyer to appreciate the incongruity in such judgement. Is a political Party empowered by the Nigerian Constitution to field two candidates for the same electoral position, in the same constituency?

Apparently, the judgement returning Chief Hope Uzodimma as governor is a very unpopular one and puts the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the judiciary in general on the headlamps of ignominy.

This application by Philip Umeadi (SAN) therefore offers these justices an opportunity to either redeem the image of the Nigerian judiciary or allow this discontentment and mistrust against her to continue to fester.

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