Imo: Supreme Court disappoints residents, adjourns 2019 election case seeking to sack Uzodimma till December

The Supreme Court has slated 5 December for hearing of two applications seeking to invalidate Hope Uzodimma’s election as Imo State governor.

This is coming three years after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Action Peoples Party (APP) filed the two separate applications seeking to have the Supreme Court nullify Mr Uzodimma’s All Progressives Congress (APC) candidacy in the state’s 2019 governorship election.

Mr Uzodimma was declared governor of Imo in January 2020, after it sacked PDP’s Emeka lhedioha whom Nigeria’s electoral commission, INEC, declared winner of the election.

The applications subsequently filed to challenge Mr Uzodimma’s emergence as the governor were scheduled for hearing on Tuesday. 

However, an official of the Supreme Court who did not want his name mentioned told journalists that the appeal had been postponed until 5 December.

The applicants had hoped that the Supreme Court would decide their requests before the next governorship election scheduled to hold on 11 November in the state.

The applicants in their separate cases urged the Supreme Court to activate its decision delivered in 2019, disqualifying Uche Nwosu from the Imo governorship race on the grounds of double nomination as the candidate of both the APC and Action Alliance (AA).

They contended that the APC, having been adjudged by the Supreme Court to have, alongside AA, jointly sponsored Mr Nwosu for the 2019 election. could not have at the same time fielded Mr Uzodinma for the same election

On its part, the PDP also asked the Supreme Court to return its flagbearer, Mr Ihedioha, as winner of the election since the APC was precluded from sponsoring two candidates in the Imo State governorship election.

Hearing date after three years

After three years, the Supreme Court only gave the PDP Tuesday for the hearing of its application. The application was lodged on 9 July 2020, yet the hearing was, on Tuesday, rescheduled to December 2023.

The electoral umpire had declared Mr Ihedioha winner of the 2019 governorship election in Imo State. The Supreme Court, however, in a judgement in 2020, sacked Mr Ihedioha and declared Mr Uzodinma as the lawful winner of the poll.

Background

The pending applications emanated from the run-up to the 2019 Imo State governorship election.

The Action Peoples Congress (APP) along with its governorship candidate, Uche Nnadi, and the PDP, had approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking, amongst other prayers, the disqualification of Uche Nwosu from contesting the Imo State governorship election on the ground that he (Mr Nwosu) was nominated by two political parties, Action Alliance (AA) and APC, contrary to provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which forbids double-nomination.

The PDP and APP won at the High Court and the Court of Appeal levels.

The Supreme Court concurred in a December 2019 judgement that Mr Nwosu was guilty of double nominations on the platform of two political parties, the APC and AA, a decision which led to the instant applications.

A lawyer, Adedamola Farokun, working in the Legal Department of the PDP, had averred in a supporting affidavit that, “The third Respondent/Applicant (PDP) is neither in any way seeking a review of the valid, subsisting and well considered judgement of this court delivered in this appeal in 2019, nor seeking a review of the judgement of this court delivered on 14January 2020.”

However, the PDP subsequently filed an application, urging the Supreme Court to give effect to its judgement delivered on 20 December 2019 which adjudged Mr Nwosu to be the candidate of both the APC and the AA.

“That this court has the constitutional, inherent powers and jurisdiction to grant the reliefs sought and give effects to its judgement.

“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,” the affidavit read in part.

The deponent, Mr Farokun, averred that Mr Uzodimma was not the candidate of the APC based on the court’s judgement that Mr Nwosu was nominated by both the APC and the Action Alliance. 

He urged the Supreme Court to so hold.

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