Alex Enumah in Abuja
Former governor of Imo State, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, has given reasons for approaching the Supreme Court for an order setting aside its own judgment sacking him from office.
A seven-member panel of the apex court had in a judgment delivered on January 14 removed Ihedioha from office on the grounds that he did not win majority of the votes cast in the March 9 governorship election in the state.
The final court in the land had held that the electoral umpire in declaring Ihedioha winner of the governorship poll failed to take into recognition votes cast in 388 polling units in the said election, adding that if the over 200,000 votes are added, it will give the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator Hope Uzodinma the highest votes cast in the poll.
Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who read the lead judgment consequently held that with the votes added to Uzodinma from the 388 polling units originally excluded from the figures declared by INEC, Uzodinma is the lawful winner of the March 9 governorship election.
Bewildered by this decision Ihedioha on February 5 approached the court to set aside the judgment removing him from office.
He said he had to do so because the judgment of the apex court was a nullity in the sense that the court was misled in arriving at the decision to remove him from office.
In the application filed by Ihedioha and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) through his lawyer, former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), the applicants said the court was misled because the petition against his election was speculative.
“The 1st Appellant/Respondent alleged that votes from 388 polling units were unlawfully excluded or cancelled and urged the court to include in the computation of the election results the votes from those polling units. At the same time the 1st Appellant/Respondent prayed that fresh elections be conducted in the said polling units thus rendering the petition speculative.”
Another ground he said, is that Uzodinma and his party, APC failed to plead the votes scored by all the parties in the 388 affected polling units as only votes allegedly scored by APC and PDP were pleaded, “an omission which rendered the petition incompetent.”
“This Honourable Court was consequently misled into making a vague order directing the inclusion of votes from the 388 polling units without stating or specifying the particular number of votes to be included from those polling units for all the parties.
“Without computing the votes for all the parties from the 388 polling units, this honourable court was misled into making a declaration that the 1st Appellant/Respondent was the winner of the gubernatorial election in Imo State – an election that the Appellants/Respondents had themselves branded or stigmatised as invalid on account of non-compliance.
The applicants further argued that by Exhibit A1 (Form EC8D) the total number of voters accredited for the governorship election held on March 9, 2019 in Imo State was 823,743,while the total valid votes cast was 731,485.
He submitted that with the inclusion of 213,695 votes for the 1st Appellant/ Respondent and 1,903 to the votes of the 1st Applicant, as ordered by the apex court, the total number of votes cast at the election now stands at 953,083 (i.e. 731,485 + 213,695 + 1,903) making the total number of votes cast at the election to be far in excess of the total number of voters accredited for the election, by 129,340.
“It is unlawful for the total number of votes cast in an election to exceed the number of accredited voters and that illegality rendered the judgment sought to be set aside null and void”.
Another reason Ihedioha and PDP gave in their application was that the judgment was obtained by fraud and deceit.
“The Appellants/Respondents fraudulently misled this court into holding that a total of 213,495 votes were unlawfully excluded from the votes scored by the 1st Appellant/Respondent in the gubernatorial election of 9th March 2019 in Imo State.
“The 1st Appellant/Respondent admitted under cross-examination that he was the person (and not the 3rd Respondent (INEC) or any of its officials) who computed the result that gave him the 213,495 votes alleged to have been excluded from his total votes in the election.
“The fraudulent nature of the additional votes was demonstrated by the fact that the total votes cast as shown in the 1st Appellant/ Respondent’s computation was more than the total number of voters accredited for the election and in some polling units more than the total number of registered voters.
“The fraud was also demonstrated by the fact that the result computed by the 1st Appellant/Respondent showed only the votes of the 1st Applicant and the 1st Appellant/Respondent without specifying the votes scored by the other 68 candidates who participated in the election.
“The fraud was further demonstrated by Exhibits 63RD1 to 63RD19 (INEC Forms EC40G) which show that there were no valid elections in the 388 polling units where the additional 213,495 votes claimed by the 1st Appellant/Respondent were allegedly generated.