CSOs Ask Ihedioha to Seek S’Court’s Review of Judgment

Emeka Ihedioha

Alex Enumah in Abuja

Former governor of Imo State, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, has been asked to approach the Supreme Court for a review of its judgment that sacked him as governor of the state.

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous judgment delivered on January 14, 2020 had ordered the immediate removal of Ihedioha because he did not win majority of votes cast at the March 9 governorship election.

In the unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the apex court held that Ihedioha was not duly elected and voided his election.

The apex court set aside the  judgment of the Imo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and that of the Court of Appeal, both of which had refused to recognise and accept the votes of 388 polling units as being unlawfully excluded in the general collation as canvassed by Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) whom the Supreme Court declared as winner of the governorship election.

But the Executive Director of the Abuja Discussion Group, Dr. Manzo Abubakar, at a press conference by a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on the Imo governorship poll, faulted the judgment of the apex court, and called on Ihedioha to file an application for review of the January 14, 2020 judgment of the court, stressing that a review of the judgment would save both Nigeria’s democracy and constitution.

Abubakar noted that if the Supreme Court reviewed its decision in the Imo State governorship appeal, it would restore justice, peace, hope and faith in the nation’s democracy and regain the confidence of the people in the judiciary.

He, however, said, that if not reviewed, “the judgment will go down in infamy and may make Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of nations.”

In faulting the apex court decision, the group noted that Section 176(2b) of the constitution is clear that to be declared as governor, a candidate must have not only the majority of total votes cast but also 1/4 of the votes in 2/3 of the local governments of the state.

“It is axiomatic that nowhere in the petition or evidence did the petitioner, (Uzodinma) claim that he met the constitutional requirement of spread to be declared the winner”, the group stated.

The CSOs noted that the Supreme Court, by the judgment, has denied the Imo people the opportunity to choose their leaders.

 “We sympathise with their Lordships, as mortals who are not infallible.

“To err is human. It would be practically impossible for any human to have read briefs and record of proceedings exceeding 5,000 pages in the matter within two hours after hearing, when it also had pressure of time to deliver judgment in the remaining pending governorship appeals. No doubt, this accounted for the mistakes made by the Supreme court,” the group stated.

Abubakar said, “The Supreme Court is supreme and can creatively reinvent its rules to do justice. It is necessary to do so now more than ever to save Nigerian democracy, constitutionalism and retrieve the judicial and justice system from its present opprobrium.”

The group said the apex court was left with no other option than to review and reverse the anomaly in the judgment, even if it means applying a judicial doctrine of necessity. 

The coalition of CSOs that endorsed the statement that was led by Manzo include; Transparency Centre Network, Movement for the Protection of Peoples Rights, Coalition for Good Governance and Accountability, Network for Freedom and Defence of Democracy, and Centre for Human Rights and Justice.

Others are: Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, and Concerned Nigerians.