•Says victory predictable

•It’s endorsement of electoral fraud – PDP

IHEDIOHA VS UZODINMA: Court shouldn't impose candidates on voters — Oshiomhole
Ihedioha(left) and Uzodinma

By Clifford Ndujihe, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Dirisu Yakubu

ABUJA—NATIONAL Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Tuesday, hailed the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the application of Chief Emeka Ihedioha to review its ruling of January 14 that declared APC’s Hope Uzodinma as the winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Imo State.

Describing the apex court’s decision as refreshing, Oshiomhole said that it was not the duty of courts to award victory to a candidate who had not initially been declared the winner of an election.

To this effect, Comrade Oshiomhole hinted of plans to propose an amendment to the Electoral Act wherein the case of a dispute rather than award victory to a different person, the court will only be capable of ordering a re-run.

The APC national chairman spoke to State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja after the Supreme Court ruling.

READ ALSO: Ihedioha loses again as Supreme Court declines to set-aside Imo judgement

However, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Eminent leaders of thought on the platform of Third Force Movement described the ruling as an endorsement of electoral fraud “which places a huge burden on the court and the Lord Justices.”

Ruling predictable

Oshiomhole said: “I think it is refreshing and quite predictable in the sense that from the attitude of the Supreme Court, last week, on Bayelsa that nothing was wrong with the candidate. The lower court did not disqualify the candidate, the issue of the candidate was not before the Supreme Court and yet the Supreme Court made a decision which we thought that the PDP benefited from, in the words of Mr. Olanipekun, some human corrections and the court said no whatever they have done was final.

“If that is the tradition of the court unless they want to be changing it every other day I do not see what has happened today as strange. We know that Ihedioha did not have the required number and that is a fact that nobody has ever disputed.

“How anybody thought he can impose someone who did not meet the spread is only known to PDP because they specialize in rigging and they see rigging as their birth right.

“And that is why they could have the guts to be protesting in front of foreign embassies as if Nigeria is a colony under the supervision of some foreign powers.

“So I think what the Supreme Court has done today is just to reaffirm that they are Supreme and whatever they did the last time was on the basis of what was before them.

READ ALSO: IHEDIOHA vs UZODINMA: Third Force describes ruling as worrisome precedence

“They did not make mistakes, there are no gaps, no ambiguity and therefore there was no basis to re-approach them to sit on the appeal in their own judgement. I think they are just being consistent with the position they took in previous cases.

“Of course as a party chairman, APC members and indeed all Democrats and all those who believe in the rule of law, who believe that as imperfect as the Supreme Court can be, they remain Supreme.

“ We are happy and we thank God that the whole litigation process has come to an end. Because like Justice …said in that judgement that there has to be an end to litigation, and I cannot agree less so that the people of Imo state can relax, sit back and work with their governor and that all hands are on deck to fill up the gaps so that Imo people will witness sustainable growth and development.”

On his reaction to the arguments that votes in the Imo election that gave victory to Uzodinma were more than validly registered voters, he described it as a roadside talk.

“You have made an assumption which is not supported by fact, mainly by the speculation and the roadside talks by some elements in PDP, suggesting that there was over-voting if you add the votes that were ignored.
“Those are not proven because if they were, it was up to their counsel to provide evidence that it was more than the registered votes, not to go and sit on television.

“Matters before the court are canvassed before the court. Issues not raised in the court cannot be raised on television. I assume your question is informed by those uninformed, self-serving speculations. They don’t merit my reaction.

“What I think that we must discuss as a people, which concerns you and I as Nigerians, who believe in democracy, is that the law should be amended, such that no matter what happens, when people have voted, they cannot be dismissed as ‘April Fool’.

“You can’t say that although you have voted, and at the time you did so, you voted in good faith, believing that the candidates before you on parade were competent to be so paraded and as a Nigerian voter you voted, then at some other time some other person tells you that the man you voted is not qualified either because of error in his name or because of chieftaincy title or whatever reason as to lead to disqualification.

“That cannot be the reason why a man who was rejected by the electorate would be imposed on the electorate. Court should not impose. If the court finds out that the preferred candidate did not win, for me the only democratic option, legal option will be to repeat the exercise.

“Nothing should empower the court to impose a man rejected by the people, on the people. That goes to the heart of democracy and it destroys the fabric of our democratic process.

“So in amending the Electoral Act, one of the things I’ll like to see the Parliament do and we are going to make a representation, is that in the unlikely event that the people have voted in good faith, for a candidate that was validly put before them by INEC, and looking at the faces of the candidates they opted for a particular one, if anybody has any issue with that one that the people prefer and has won, the court cannot impose the person that was rejected.

“The very best the court can do is to order that the exercise be repeated because in a democracy, nobody, other than the people, can choose who governs them, not the courts. For me this is fundamental when it comes to who actually won the election,’’ he said.

Ruling, endorsement of electoral fraud — PDP

While describing the majority judgement as an endorsement of electoral fraud the PDP, however, commended Justice Chima Nweze who disagreed with her six colleagues who affirmed the declaration of the APC candidate as winner of the governorship poll.

In a statement issued by party’s Spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said it was unfortunate that “the Supreme Court had the wholesome opportunity to redeem itself and correct its errors but chose to hide behind technicality to justify and endorse an electoral fraud.

“What Nigerians expected of the Supreme Court, since the error in its earlier judgement had been fully established, was to summon the courage to affirm its infallibility by correcting the errors and handing over victory to the rightful winner. Sadly, it failed to do so.

“For the avoidance of doubt, what the Supreme Court had done in this judgement is to uphold and legalise the writing of election results by individual contestants against the will of the people as expressed at the poll.

“As a party, we hold that on this judgement, all election stakeholders must rally to create remedies for this pathetic situation created by the Supreme Court in the Imo governorship election before our entire electoral process becomes vanquished.

“More distressing is the fact that the judgement has heavily detracted from the confidence Nigerians and the international community reposed on the Supreme Court and our entire jurisprudence.

“This judgement will continue to haunt the Supreme Court. It has created a burden of precedence and fallibility on the Court.”

The statement continued: “Our party abides completely by every word of the judgment of Justice Nweze as treated facts, which are truly sacred. Justice Nweze’s pronouncement, which went straight into the substance of our application represents a universal view about the travesty of justice that occurred in the Imo state governorship election judgement.

Third Force describes ruling as worrisome precedence

In like manner, the Third Force Movement said the judgement “has cast serious doubt over the integrity and sanctity of the Nigerian judiciary.”

In a statement by their spokesperson, Dr. Olusegun Obe, the eminent leaders said it will petition the United Nations, UN; United States of America, USA, and the international community “over the fraud and injustice in the judgement.”

They said the latest ruling of the Supreme Court, which rejected application for the review of its earlier judgement, runs contrary to precedence set by the Supreme Court on the matter of review.

They said the judgement violates “the spirit and principle of justice, which is the whole essence of the necessity for the judiciary and so may heighten the political tension in Imo State and the south-east at large.”

READ ALSO: Imo: Court’s verdict will haunt Nigeria’s electoral jurisprudence ― Supreme Court Justice

They said: “We are therefore resolved more than before to be steadfast and resolute as concerned Leaders’ of Conscience in Nigeria to pursue this cause of Justice to its logical end over this worrisome precedence by the supreme court, which has since foisted a dark cloud over the survival of Nigerian democracy and the peace and stability of the South-East.”

“We also make bold to state that the application before the Supreme Court is not an appeal but a review which the Supreme Court in previous instance has claimed jurisdiction over, so as to correct errors of misinterpretation or fraud in Judgement previously given in error.

“So, we wish to remind their Lordships of Oriker Jev & Ors. v. Iyortom & Ors. [2015] NWLR (Pt. 1483) 484, where the Supreme Court had in an earlier ruling mistakenly ordered that INEC conduct rerun election, but upon application for review, the court discovered it gave the said order based on a wrong interpretation of Section 133(2) in conjunction with Section 141 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and subsequently set aside the earlier ruling and ordered INEC to issue the applicant a certificate of return.

“Furthermore, there is also a precedence of review in the case of Olorunfemi v. Asho [2000] 2 NWLR (Pt. 643) 143. The Supreme Court in its 18th March, 1999 ruling set aside its earlier judgement delivered on the 8th January, 1999 and ordered that the appeal be heard de-novo by another panel, on the ground that it ought to have considered the Respondent’s cross-appeal first before allowing the Appellant’s appeal.

“These are examples of where the Supreme Court has previously set aside its earlier rulings, which are not by reasons typographical errors but misinterpretation and administration of justice by errors as evident in the Imo ruling, which gave mandate to Uzodinma who was never a candidate of any political party with votes not in tandem with total accredited voters”

“Therefore the of the Constitutional finality of the Judgement of the Supreme Court, where, its flows from or rest on fraud and misleading evidences can never serve the purpose of justice for which the Constitution created the Supreme Court and therefore defeats the whole essence of the Judiciary. So should be corrected for precedence and posterity sake.”

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