Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha
By Tobi Soniyi
The Supreme Court Friday in Abuja upheld the election of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and Owelle Rochas Okorocha as governors of Delta and Imo states respectively.
In two separate judgments, the apex court adopted a similar reason for upholding the election.
The court held that the judgments of the Court of Appeal which formed the basis of the appeals to the Supreme Court were a nullity because the reasons for the judgments were delivered outside the 60 days allowed by the constitution.
In the case of Delta State, Justice Tanko Muhammed who delivered the lead judgment nullified the judgment of the Benin Division of the Court of Appeal, which formed the bedrock of Great Ogboru's appeal to the apex court.
In its place, the court upheld the judgment of the Delta Governorship Election Tribunal, which had earlier upheld the declaration of Uduaghan as the winner of the election.
The court noted that the appeal court on January 5, this year gave its judgment but reserved its reason for the judgment to January 27.
From November 11, 2011 when the Delta State Governorship Election Tribunal delivered its judgment to January 27, 2012 when the court of appeal gave its reasons were more than 60 days allowed by the constitution.
His lordship held that the Court of Appeal had no power to defer reasons for its judgment on governorship election petition since it was not the last court.
Justice Muhammed said, "Judgment and reasons are inseparable twins which must be given together. There can be no judgment without reasons”.
He held that the Court of Appeal was wrong to have given its reasons for its judgment on a different date other than the day it delivered the judgment.
"A court whose judgment is appealable must give its judgment and the reasons for it together to avoid judicial anarchy," His Lordship said.
He consequently declared the appeal court judgment null and void.
Justice Mohammed consequently held that the verdict of the Delta State Governorship Election Tribunal which was won by Uduaghan was the subsisting judgment.
In upholding the election of Okorocha, the court declared as a nullity the judgment of the appeal court which was the basis of the appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court held that the judgment of the Imo State Governorship Election Tribunal which had earlier upheld Okorocha's election subsisted.
Justice Sylvester Ngwuta who delivered the lead judgment cited Section 285 (7) of the constitution, which requires that judgment must be delivered within 60 days.
He noted that even though the court of appeal delivered its judgment within 60 days, it gave the reasons for the judgment outside the 60 days.
According to him, the judgment, therefore, is a nullity. The reason given outside the 60 days rendered the judgment a nullity.
Meanwhile, former Imo State Governor Ikedi Ohakim said yesterday that he accepted the judgment of the Supreme Court which upheld Okorocha’s election.