Says Supreme Court judgment rude shock; Ohanaeze urges calm
Uzodinma gives 4 days to perm secs to submit documents of contracts awarded by Ihedioha
Oshiomhole, Okorocha, Araraume, Nwosu, others unite for Hope
By Chioma Gabriel, Anayo Okoli, Chidi Nkwopara, Omeiza Ajayi, Chinonso Alozie & Chinedu Adonu
The immediate past governor of Imo State, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, yesterday, said he does not agree with the Supreme Court judgment that made Senator Hope Uzodinma governor of the state.
He said it came to him as a rude shock.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ihedioha said: “No doubt, Tuesday’s Supreme Court verdict came to us came as a rude shock and surprise considering the facts on ground, legal precedence and clear verdict of Imo people on March 9, 2019, that returned me as governor with the highest valid votes of 273,404.”
Meanwhile, Senator Uzodinma of All Progressives Congress APC, was, yesterday, sworn in as governor of Imo State, following his Tuesday’s Supreme Court victory.
He also immediately performed his first official assignment as he ordered permanent secretaries and heads of parastatals to submit to him documents on contracts awarded by the short-lived administration of Emeka Ihedioha.
He spoke in Owerri, shortly after he was sworn in as the sixth governor of Imo State, with his running mate, Placid Njoku, by the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Paschal Nnadi.
Earlier in the day, thousands of Imo people had occupied the Heroes Square to witness the ceremony, with National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, and Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajuba, and other notable party leaders, in attendance.
Joined in welcoming of the governor earlier were former governor Rochas Okorocha, governorship candidate of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA; Senator Ifeanyi Araraume; governorship candidate of Action Alliance, AA, Uche Nwosu; House of Representatives member for Okigwe South, Chike Okafor; member representing Oru West, Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta Local Government Areas of the state, Kingsley Uju; member representing Nwangele/Nkwerre/Isu federal constituency, Ugonna Ozuigbo.
Also, Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Chiji Collins; his deputy, Okey Onyeahialam, and other lawmakers were on ground.
Others were former Secretary to Imo State Government, Jude Ejiogu and Mark Uchendu, spokesperson of Allied Forces, Theodore Ekechi, hundreds of Imo traditional rulers led by Imo State traditional rulers council, Samuel Ohiri, Chief Felix Idiga, Chief Charles Orie and others.
Gov Uzodinma’s orders
Speaking after the swearing in, Uzodinma said: “This victory is for all Imo people against corruption and for justice. I shall execute reconstruction, rehabilitation and recovery. I shall begin a reconciliation among our leaders.
“The accountant is given four working days to submit to my office, a comprehensive statement of the expenditure and income of Imo State.
“To all permanent secretaries and heads of parastatals, a comprehensive statement of contracts awarded and payments made so far and state of the contracts should be sent to me. I will allow all arms of the government to work in the principle of separation of powers.”
Also yesterday, Uzodinma, through the Director of his Campaign Organisation, Chief Cosmas Iwu, ordered the immediate freezing of all Imo State government accounts.
A letter dated January 14, by Cosmas Iwu, addressed to the Regional Directors/Managers of all finance institutions operating in the state, was captioned Order of post no debit on the account of Imo State Government, effective immediately.
The letter read in part: “Following the Supreme Court judgment of January 14, I am directed by His Excellency, Senator Hope Uzodinma, to take this as your authority/instruction to place a post no debit, PND, on all accounts of Imo State government, maintained in your various institutions.”
Ohanaeze calls for calm
Ohanaeze Ndigbo has also asked Imo people to remain calm and avoid anything that would cause breach of peace over the recent Supreme Court judgment.
Spokesman of Ohanaeze, Chuks Ibegbu, in a statement yesterday, noted that Imo State is a very important subset of Igboland and anything that happens in the state is of interest to Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Ohanaeze said in the statement: “All the actors in the Imo scene are Igbo sons and daughters and we call for restraint and tolerance. Above all, the greater interest of the Imo people is our concern.
“Those for and those against the judgment should maintain decorum, realising that the Supreme Court is the final bus stop for electoral matters.”
In the statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ihedioha said: “I do not agree with the judgment of the Supreme Court. I think it is unfair, unjust and does not reflect the voting that took place during the elections. It also didn’t take care of the sensibilities of the people of Imo State.
“But as true democrats, Engr Gerald Irona and I have no option but to respect the outcome of that judgment.
“Consequently, we have put machinery in motion to hand over the reins of office to the APC candidate as the next governor of Imo State. This will be co-ordinated by the Secretary to the State Government.
“I, therefore, direct all members of Imo State Expanded Executive Council and all political appointees to write their handing over notes and to return all government properties in their custody, forthwith. I shall not be party to pilfering of government property or funds.
“May we use this opportunity to express our gratitude to God for the opportunity to serve, within the short period he granted us. We sincerely appreciate you for all your solidarity and goodwill. We would forever cherish and treasure your love, your trust and your partnership.
“We made our mark. Rebuilding our dear state is neither easy nor personal, but a task undertaken for our today and tomorrow.
“I thank you all for your support which saw us achieve so much and reversed the negative trajectory of Imo State within a space of seven months. It is significant to note that Imo State was looking good again.
“We were declared the least corrupt state in the country, the fastest state growing economy in Nigeria and the most improved, in terms of the deployment of information technology in service delivery.
“Our infrastructure was significantly coming to life, civil servants and pensioners were now being paid as and when due and optimism returned to Imo State. It is on record that we were acclaimed as the most sports and diaspora friendly state.
“Most importantly, we returned life and activities to our local governments. Yes, we had good plans to make Imo the centre piece of commerce, industry, technology, tourism by providing good leadership and first class infrastructure. Under our watch, Imo became safe with our systematic approach to securing lives and properties.
“It is incontrovertible that we ran a good race, fought tough battles, (including, principalities and powers)and governed the state well, with the fear of God, accountability, transparency and entrenched due process.
“We, however, take solace in the book of Ecclesiastics 3:1: To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
“We step aside with implicit faith in the Sovereign Lord who reigns over the affairs of men. Thank you. Imo bu nke anyi.”
In his reaction, APC’s National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, in a congratulatory statement yesterday, urged the people of Imo State to unite and work towards a brighter future under its new governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma.
He said: “For the new governor, the real work begins now. He must dedicate himself to establishing a government that transforms the fortunes of the people.
“Foes of justice and democracy had engineered a plot by which the improper and willful exclusion of over 200,000 valid votes cast for Uzodinma would deny him the office the people of Imo had chosen him to fill.
“The wrongful exclusion of such a vast number of valid votes threatened to turn the Imo governorship election into an unfortunate rejection of the sovereign will of the electorate.”
Tinubu said they underscored the role of the courts in safe-guarding democracy and bolstered public faith in the integrity of the judiciary to fulfill its vital mission.
Uzodinma must maintain Ihedioha’s pace— ICC
Meanwhile, Imo Concerned Citizens, ICC, said it had critically studied the Supreme Court’s judgment and resolved to support the incoming administration of Senator Hope Uzodinma.
Part of the group’s statement by Amadichi Chike, the Convener, read: “We, therefore, plead with the incoming administration of Senator Hope Uzodinma to maintain the due process standard put in place by the outgoing administration of Ihedioha.
“The ICC wishes to thank the rebuild Imo administration of former Governor Ihedioha on his outstanding performance showcased within eight months in office.”