The governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma is literally running from pillar to post and also meeting with those that matter to stop the Supreme Court from hearing an appeal on the 2019 Imo governorship election, which the apex court has already fixed for October 31, 2023, eleven days to the November 11 governorship poll.
Uzodinma is seeking re-election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The governor’s apprehension is that in considering and ruling on the appeal, which borders on the qualification of the APC to participate in the 2019 governorship poll, the apex court could reach a decision that might upend his governorship, as it were, and do the same to his re-election bid.
The notice, which has got Uzodinma apprehensive and jittery, is between Ugwumba Uche Nwosu (appellant) and Action Peoples Party & 3 Others.
Signed by the Registrar of the Supreme Court, Usman B. Bature and dated October 16, 2023, it reads: “take notice that the above appeal/motion will be listed for hearing before the Supreme Court of Nigeria sitting at Abuja on Tuesday, 31st of October 2023.”
It continued: “And further take notice that in accordance with Order 2, Rule 1(2) of the Supreme Court Rules 1985 as amended, this NOTICE is deemed sufficiently served on you if it is left at your address of service or sent by registered post and since the date of service by post is material, Section25 of the Interpretation Act, 1954 shall apply.”
There are credible feelers that Governor Uzodinma has been running helter-skelter, trying to pull the necessary strings to stall the hearing of the appeal/motion by the Supreme Court.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had also filed its appeal/motion on July 9, 2020, seeking the apex court to enforce its judgment that disqualified APC from the 2019 Imo governorship election.
Media reports on Friday morning said that the Supreme Court was set to hear the motion by the Action Peoples Party [APP], and the PDP, seeking enforcement of its judgment that disqualified the All Progressives Congress [APC] from the 2019 Imo guber poll.
Both the PDP and the APP had applied to the Supreme Court to give effect to its judgment, which was delivered on December 20, 2019.
The parties are worried by Governor Uzodinma’s moves to stall the hearing of the appeals/motions by the Supreme Court on October 31, 2023.
Recall that the judgment had disqualified Uche Nwosu from the Imo governorship election on the grounds of double nomination.
The apex court had, in the judgment, delivered on December 20, 2019, found that Nwosu was nominated by both Action Alliance (AA) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) and consequently nullified his nomination.
“A political party is not capable of sponsoring two candidates for the same office in the same election,” the Supreme Court had reasoned.
This had informed the decision of the PDP and APP to file different applications at the Supreme Court seeking that the PDP candidate, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, be declared the winner of the election since APC was precluded from sponsoring two candidates in the Imo State governorship election.
In an affidavit filed in support of the application, which was deposed to by a legal practitioner, Adedamola Farokun, working in the Legal Department of the PDP, he averred thus:
“The third Respondent/Applicant (PDP) is neither in any way seeking a review of the valid, subsisting and well considered judgment of this court delivered in this appeal nor seeking a review of the judgment of this court delivered on 14th January 2020 in SC/462/2019 but rather it is humbly seeking that this court gives effect to its judgment delivered on 20th December,2019.
“That this court has the constitutional, inherent powers and jurisdiction to grant the reliefs sought and give effects to its judgment.
“That it is in the interest of justice for this court to exercise its wide discretionary powers in favour of granting this application as prayed.”
In the application, PDP is asking the court to declare that the governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma was not the candidate of the APC based on the court’s judgment that Nwosu was nominated by both the APC and the Action Alliance.
PDP, which sees itself as advantageously positioned to awarded the governorship position if the court upholds its argument, asked the court for an order enforcing or otherwise directing the enforcement and or giving effect to the judgement of the court in the case delivered on the 20th December 2019 wherein the court held that Nwosu was nominated by both APC and AA and consequently declared his nomination a nullity.
Specifically, the PDP asked the Supreme Court to hold that “both the Action Alliance (AA) and the All Progressive Congress (APC) did not sponsor and/or field any candidate for the governorship election held in lmo State on 9th March, 2019 in view of the double nomination of the Appellant/Respondent by the two political parties (the PDP and APP), and his subsequent disqualification as their gubernatorial candidate, as found by this honourable court in the judgment delivered on 20th December, 2019.”
The party asked the court for an order sequel to the above that Senator Hope Uzodinma was not a candidate by himself or of any party at the Imo State Governorship election held on 9th March, 2019.
PDP also asked the court for an order directing the Independent National Electoral Commission to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Senator Hope Uzodinma.
It asked the court “for an order further directing the 4th respondent to issue a certificate of return to the gubernatorial candidate of the 3rd Respondent Applicant, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ehedioha in the lmo state Governorship election held on 9th March 2019 as the duly elected governor of lmo state, having scored the second highest number of votes in the said election sequel to the judgment of this court in Appeal No SC/1462/2019 to wit: Hope Uzodinma & Anor vs Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha & Others delivered on 14th January, 2020.”
The party further sought an order sequel to the above, directing that the said gubernatorial candidate of the 3rd Respondent/Applicant in the lmo state Governorship election held on the 9th March 2019 Rt. Hon. Emeka lhedioha be immediately sworn in as the governor of lmo State.The PDP stated the grounds for the application thus:
a. “The court found that the Appellant/Respondent was nominated by both APC and AA as their gubernatorial candidate for the lmo state governorship election and conclusively held that he was disqualified by the provisions of S. 37 of the Electoral Act (as amended), for double nomination.
b. That after the said election, the governorship candidate of the 3rd Respondent/Applicant, Rt. Honourable Emeka lhedioha, was returned by the 4th Respondent as the winner of the election and consequently sworn into office.
c. That subsequently, the return of the governorship candidate of the 3rd Respondent/Applicant was challenged up to this court by one senator Hope Uzodinma who claimed to be the gubernatorial “candidate of the APC.”
e. That, the Supreme Court, in its judgment, delivered on 14th January, 2020, held that it was the said Senator Hope Uzodinma and not Rt. Honourable Emeka lhedioha that scored the highest number of votes in the election and ought to be returned as the duly elected governor of lmo state.
f. That by the clear terms of the judgment in this appeal, neither the AA nor the APC fielded any candidate for the lmo state governorship election held on 9th March 2019 and, as such, the said Senator Hope uzodinma could not have been returned as the winner of the lmo State Governorship election as a candidate of the APC.
g. That APC could not have substituted the appellant with a view to further nominating the said senator Hope Uzodinma as their candidate because that right was not available to the party under the Electoral Act.
h. That Senator Hope Uzodinma could not have been a candidate in the election as an independent candidate as such right is not available to him. That the 3rd Respondent/ Applicant, PDP, as the main beneficiary of the judgment ought to enjoy the fruits of the said judgment.
i. That Rt. Honourable Emeka lhedioha, who was the candidate nominated by the 3rd Respondent /Applicant, and who scored the second highest number of votes after Senator Hope Uzodinma, from the judgment of this court ought therefore to be issued a certificate of return by the 4th respondent and sworn in accordingly.
That it will advance the cause of justice to grant this application, particularly as none of the parties will be prejudiced by its grant.