Alex Enumah in Abuja
Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma and his party, the All Progressive Progressive Congress (APC), have told Honourable Emeka Ihedioha, who was sacked as governor of Imo State by the Supreme Court, that his request to the apex court for the review of its own judgment in the Imo governorship election is an academic exercise which would yield nothing fruitful.
Uzodinma and the APC who are respondents in the application by Ihedioha asking the apex court to set aside its earlier order which removed him (Ihedioha) from office, noted that by the provisions of the law and public policy there ought to be an end to litigation.
Ihedioha, sworn into office last May as governor of Imo State, was on January 14 removed as governor on the grounds that he did not win majority of lawful votes cast at the March 9 governorship election before he was declared winner of the polls.
According to the apex court, the failure of INEC to include votes from 368 polling units robbed Uzodinma of victory at the poll.
But Ihedioha, displeased with the judgment of the apex court, had approached the court with an application praying the court to set aside its own decision on the grounds that the apex court judgment was a nullity because it was a product of fraud, adding that the court was also misled in arriving at its judgment.
But the two respondents in reply to Ihedioha’s motion claimed that the request was nothing but a mere academic exercise and an affront to the 1999 constitution.
In a 19-paragraph affidavit filed in opposition to Ihedioha’s application, the governor and his party asserted that the 60 days allowed for the Supreme Court by the Constitution had since lasped.
“The undisputed facts relating to the Respondents/Applicants’ Motion hereinafter referred to as “the motion” are to the effect that the judgment of the Court of Appeal was delivered on 21st September, 2019 while the one sought to be set aside was delivered on 14th January, 2020. Clearly, the 60 days allowed by Section 285(7) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) for this Honourable Court to hear and determine appeal from the Court of Appeal in an election matter, lapsed on 17th January, 2020. The Motion to set aside was filed on 5th February, 2020, 19 days after the time allowed by the Constitution. “It is now a settled law that the 60 days time limit to determine and conclude litigation on election matters is sacrosanct and cannot be extended by any guise”, they insisted in the counter affidavit filed on their behalf by the lawyer, Mr Damian Dodo SAN.
In the counter affidavit deposed to by Mathew Mola, the two respondents, said the apex court was not in the habit of sitting on appeal over its own judgment as being demanded by Ihedioha.
The respondents claimed that since January 14 when the apex court delivered the landmark judgment that brought Senator Uzodinma to power, the court had since ceased to have the constitutional power to adjudicate on the declaration of Uzodinma as the winner of the March 9, 2019, governorship election in Imo State.
The deponent averred that by the rule of the apex court, the court was prohibited from reviewing its own judgment once delivered except to correct clerical mistakes or accidental slips.