- Uzodinma sworn in as gov
Ejiofor Alike in Lagos, Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Former governor of Imo State, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, thursday described Tuesday’s judgment of the Supreme Court, which nullified his victory at the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the state, as truncating the will of the people.
He spoke shortly before the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Hope Uzodinma, who declared winner of the contest by the apex court, was sworn in.
Ihedioha, in a message to the people, said the Supreme Court verdict came to him as a rude shock and surprise considering the facts on the ground, legal precedence and clear verdict of Imo people on March 9 2019 that returned him as governor with the highest valid votes of 273,404.
In sacking him, the Supreme Court had declared Uzodinma as winner of the election and ordered his swearing-in.
It also directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Ihedioha and give Uzodinma a new one.
INEC complied with the apex court’s order yesterday as it issued Uzodinma the certificate of return to pave the way for his inauguration.
However, Ihedioha yesterday disagreed with the judgment, describing it as unfair, unjust and not in line with the voting that took place during the elections.
He said the verdict also did not take care of the sensibilities of the people of Imo State.
“But as true democrats, Mr. Gerald Irona (deputy governor) and I have no option but to respect the outcome of that judgment,” he said, adding: “I am reporting back to you our great Imo people on the fate of the mandate you freely gave to me as governor and Mr. Gerald Irona as deputy governor. This mandate has now been truncated and cut short by the Supreme Court in contravention of the will of the people.”
He said he had cherished the tremendous goodwill and support the people gave his administration as it grappled with setting up a new administration to rebuild a state that was devastated by bad governance.
“’In the last seven months, we sought to elevate merit, unity of purpose, honesty, transparency and an inclusive approach to governance as the hallmarks of our administration. We sought to restore once again, the pride and dignity of Imo people. We worked very hard to re-engineer the Imo renaissance. But God knows why he has allowed this current state of affairs.
“No doubt, yesterday’s Supreme Court verdict, came to us 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,” he said.
Ihedioha added: “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.”
He said the handover process had begun and it would be coordinated by the Secretary to the State Government.
He directed all members of the Imo State Expanded Executive Council and all political appointees to write their hand-over notes and to return all government property in their custody, immediately.
“I shall not be a party to pilfering of government property or funds,” he said and added: “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.”
Ihedioha Will Overcome, Says Atiku
Meanwhile, Atiku in a statement has said Ihedioha, in the fullness of time, would overcome his setback and emerge stronger.
He stated that since the Supreme Court was final, everybody must accept its judgment, however, unexpected and unpalatable it might be.
“Let me state unequivocally that I solidarise with Emeka Ihedioha, a man I know to be a great leader of men and resources. In the fullness of time, I am convinced that he will overcome this setback and emerge stronger.
“I also stand fully with the PDP. In good and bad times, we must continue to be the object of hope that the Nigerian people have for their escape from the prevailing despotism and despair that has gripped almost every aspect of our national life. We provided genuine democracy for this nation once before, and I believe it is our destiny to democratically restore what has been lost due to the encroachment of anti-democratic agents,” Atiku said.
Uzodinma Sworn in
Uzodinma was last night sworn in as the Governor of Imo State by the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Paschal Nnadi.
He took the oath of office and oath of allegiance before the chief judge at 7.28 pm before a mammoth crowd at the Heroes Square Arena, in Owerri, the state capital.
His deputy, Prof. Placid Njoku, also took the oath of office and allegiance before the chief judge.
The National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, and a former governor of the state, Senator Rochas Okorocha, were present at the event.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had earlier yesterday issued Uzodinma his Certificate of Return for the Imo State governorship election.
Also yesterday, the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) congratulated Uzodinma on his victory at the Supreme Court.
The Chairman of the PGF and the Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, in a statement commended Uzodinma for his doggedness.
He said: “We rejoice with you and the people of Imo State, and all lovers of democracy and justice in Nigeria in this rightly deserved victory that restored your stolen mandate.
“We in particular wish to commend your doggedness, resilience, commitment to the rule of law and abiding faith in the judiciary that culminated into this ultimate victory. It is victory at last for us all.”
The forum also congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari, party leaders in Imo State in particular and at the national level as the forum welcomes Uzodinma to the fold of progressive governors as he takes over the mantle of leadership in Imo State.
In a related development, Uzodinma has given an order to all financial institutions where the state funds are maintained not to honour any draft till further notice.
A letter addressed to the regional directors and managers of all the financial institutions in Imo State and signed by the Director-General of Senator Hope Uzodinma Campaign Organisation, Mr. Cosmos Iwu, on behalf of the governor-elect, ordered the financial institutions to “post no debit” on all the accounts.
The letter which was titled, “Order of post no debit on all accounts of Imo State government effective 14, January 2020” stated that the order was a sequel to the apex court judgment which declared Uzodinma the new governor of the state.
“You are by this letter directed to comply and await further instructions from the office of his excellency, the executive governor of Imo state. Thanks for your cooperation,” the letter said.