- Ihedioha’s legal team opens up, faults verdict
Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
All is now set for a mass protest being organised by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for today against the judgment of the Supreme Court that nullified the election of Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as governor of Imo State.
Ahead of today’s main protest, members of the main opposition party in Abia and Imo States yesterday marched on the streets of the states over the removal of Ihedioha and his replacement by Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Also, the legal team of the removed governor has opened up on the controversial judgment, faulting the apex court’s verdict.
The National Organising Secretary of PDP, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd), had said that “in line with the approval of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of our great party, the national chairman has directed that a peaceful, civil and non-violent protest be organised in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to register the displeasure of the party against the current state of affairs in the country, especially the miscarriages of justice by the Supreme Court against the lawfully elected governor of Imo State.”
According to him, the date of the protest is today (January 20), while the take-off point is the Legacy House, Maitama District.
The statement added that the protest match is a “clarion call to all lovers of democracy as we join hands to save our dear nation.”
Details of the protest obtained by THISDAY showed that all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory will be involved.
It was gathered that the party had sent signals to all its state chapters and members to converge on Abuja for the protest.
A source within PDP said at least three buses filled with members were expected in Abuja from each of the 36 states of the federation.
The protesters are expected to assemble at the Legacy Office of PDP at 9 a.m. with members of the National Working Committee (NWC) and the procession would march peacefully from the Maitama office through the Hilton Hotel junction to the Federal Secretariat near the Three Arms Zone.
The source said the PDP’s peaceful march would end at the Supreme Court.
According to the source, “The party has informed the police of its intention to conduct a peaceful protest,” but “it was not known whether the police have granted permission for the protest or not.”
The source explained that the protest would have taken place last Friday but for the Jumat Prayers for Muslims and the need to obtain permission from the police.
It was gathered that PDP was desirous of obtaining police protection to avoid hoodlums from hijacking the protest and causing troubles.
All members of the National Executive Committee of the party are expected to participate in the protest.
The National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, told THISDAY that the party had obtained intelligence reports before the verdict on the Imo State governorship appeal that the hierarchy of APC was allegedly lobbying the Supreme Court to overturn the victories of PDP in Imo, Sokoto, Bauchi, Adamawa and Benue.
According to Secondus, “Can the PDP rightly trust the impartiality and independence of the panel headed by Justice Tanko Muhammad, the CJN, to adjudicate on the remaining cases involving the PDP like Kano, Sokoto, Benue, Bauchi, Adamawa, Plateau and others?
“Is the same fate not awaiting the governors of these states that are controlled by the PDP and other states like Kano where the PDP clearly won and was robbed?”
Ihedioha’s Legal Team Opens up
Meanwhile, the legal team of Ihedioha has opened up on the controversial judgment of the Supreme Court installing Uzodinma as governor.
The legal team said its response had “become imperative to put the records straight for the benefit of the reading public, even if it would not reverse the unfortunate decision of the Supreme Court and the obvious injustice it has occasioned.”
Ihedioha’s lawyers said: “In allowing the appeal, the Supreme Court did not state the new scores, which the petitioners proved from the 388 polling units, especially having regard to the following facts: (a) that only 28 polling unit agents out of the 388 polling units testified and they admitted that the result sheets had all the vices itemised earlier; (b) that PW11 also admitted over voting apparent in some of the results in the chart in the petition; (c) that more than 90 per cent of result sheets were neither identified nor referred to by any witness; (d) that the respondent, particularly, INEC denied the existence of those result sheets and tendered documentary evidence to show that election did not hold in 388 polling units; (e) that PW54 tendered purported result sheets that were less than the number of polling units mentioned in the petition; (f) that PW54 did not open or read any of the purported result sheets and stated clearly that he did not know the figures or scores they contained or whether there were “mutations or tampering” in them, and that the documents were not submitted to him.
“The Supreme Court did not state that it has computed the new scores, local government by local government, and determined that the petitioners had satisfied the requirements of section 179(2) of the Constitution before it arrived at the decision that Senator Uzodinma should be sworn-in as the new Governor of Imo State.
“In reaching its decision, the Supreme Court ignored well-established principles of law that had guided its previous decisions in similar cases. Perhaps, it is better to state that the court turned those decisions upside down thereby creating the impression of double standards.
“Two recent decisions of the Supreme Court easily come to mind. The first decision, SC. 409.2019: PDP v. INEC & Others was delivered on 24.5.2019. It was in respect of the Ekiti State governorship election.
“The second decision, SC. 1211/2019: Atiku Abubakar v. INEC (unreported) was delivered on 15.11.2019. At pages 62-63 of the judgment, the Supreme Court reiterated, thus: Before I conclude on this issue, let me state that whenever documents are tendered from the bar in election matters, the purport is to speed up the trial in view of time limitation in election matters. Such tendering is not the end itself but a means to an end. The makers of such tendered documents must be called to speak to those documents and be cross-examined on the authenticity of the documents. The law is trite that a party who did not make a document is not competent to give evidence on it. It is also the tested position of the law that where the maker of the document is not called to testify, the document would not be accorded probative value by the Court. That indeed is the fate of Exhibit P80 and P24.
“If the decisions in the above cases were applied to the appeal of Senator Uzodinma and APC, the outcome would have been a dismissal of the appeal,” the legal team added.
Abia, Imo PDP Members Protest against Ihedioha’s Removal
Meanwhile, the members of the PDP in Abia and Imo states yesterday embarked on a protest against the removal of Ihedioha by the Supreme Court and the declaration of Uzodinma as the duly elected governor of the state.
Led by the Abia State, Chairman of PDP, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, the members of the main opposition party marched on some major streets of Umuahia, the capital city.
They bore placards with inscriptions such as ”Independent judiciary is sine qua non to justice;” “Can a government that doesn’t obey the rule allow justice to thrive?” and “President Buhari, leave judiciary alone.”
Onuigbo told journalists after the protest that their main demand was for the Supreme Court to reverse its judgment and return Ihedioha as governor.
“What the Supreme Court had done is injurious to our democracy,” he said, adding that “state governors are not appointed but elected by the people.”
He called on the international community to intervene and save Nigeria from tyranny, which according to him, is strangulating the nation’s nascent democracy.
“It’s not about Imo; it is not about Emeka Ihedioha. It’s about Nigeria’s democracy,” he said.
Also, the Imo State chapter of PDP said that the Supreme Court was destroying the country’s democracy with its last Tuesday judgment, which removed Ihedioha.
Adorning black attires, PDP members in the state marched on Owerri, the state capital, calling on the jurists to revisit Ihedioha’s removal.
They said the protest would persist if the apex court refused to revisit the Imo governorship judgment.
A member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Henry Nwawuba, who spoke to journalists, said that the Supreme Court justices had murdered democracy in the state.
Nwawuba, who represents Mbaitoli/Ikeduru Federal Constituency of Imo State, said the apex court had done grave injustice to the people of the state.
He said: “I am a lawmaker and I believe that the Supreme Court must redeem the judiciary. Since the judgment was delivered, the state is now a graveyard this is unlike what was happening when PDP was holding sway.
“How the Supreme Court justices gave victory to a candidate who came fourth at the election remains a mystery to many of us. We call on them to revisit the Imo case and do justice.”
The PDP woman leader in Imo State, Mrs. Maria Mbakwe, said women in the state were crying.