Imo: Is Hope Uzodinma Jittery?

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Recent reactions by the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, to the ongoing hearing for a review of the Supreme Court judgment on the governorship debacle in the state, revealed a man not yet at ease with himself, writes Amby Uneze

Finally, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has accepted to review her controversial judgment of January 14, 2020 on the Imo State governorship election. In the ruling, which took the nation by surprise, the apex court sacked Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and installed Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

But as Nigerians and the international community appealed to the respected jurists of the Supreme Court to take a second look on that judgment, many observers heaved a sigh of relief when the Apex court scheduled February 18, 2020 to commence hearing for the review.
This has afforded Nigerians the opportunity to note that the apex court has a listening ear. To the international community, it has also brought back the confidence they have for the Nigerian judiciary, and of course, to the legal profession, it was an opportunity to redeem her image.

The underlining fact remains that once there are mistakes or errors in the judgment of any level of court, such can be corrected to keep the records of justice straight and unblemished. This is done, because such records of judgment could be quoted or referred to at anytime. That is why enough caution is being taken especially at the apex court to ensure once judgment is given it could not be faulted, meaning it is completely error-free.
Ihedioha and his party, the PDP are seeking a review of the apex court ruling due to very obvious reasons. That the apex court did not consider decisions and judgments of the tribunal and Appeal Court that had dismissed the claim of Hope Uzodinma.

According to Ihedioha and PDP, the apex court did not take cognizance of the submission of Forms EC40G (Incident Form) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the tribunal. This certified true copy (CTC) of Forms EC40G submitted to the tribunal by INEC indicated that the controversial 388 polling units were cancelled due to obvious irregularities as prescribed by the Electoral Act.

Again, the apex court did not consider the arithmetical miscalculation of the controversial 388 polling units that gave Uzodinma the highest votes. Going by the Supreme Court summation, the total votes cast at the governorship exceeded the total accredited votes, thereby nullifying the governorship election.
Adducing reasons why Uzodinma seems jittery over the Supreme Court review, many political analysts believe that the evidence canvassed by Ihedioha and PDP are germane and that could not be ignored in order to arrive at a sound judgment.

According to the pundits, the 60 days argument of Uzodinma that the election matter had lapsed were described as “layman argument”. They claimed what is currently before the Supreme Court has nothing to do with the timeframe allowed by the Constitution but on how the mistakes or errors done by the apex court could be corrected for a better Nigeria.
Another area that might be a source of worry to Uzodinma is the issue of alleged electoral fraud credited to him as he evidently presented before the apex court, which led to the ‘miscarriage of justice’.

A civil society organisation, Democracy Study Group (DSG) has therefore called for the prosecution of Uzodinma for forgery of election results and fraud.
“It is obvious that the narrative remains that the judgment in favour of the APC candidate, who actually came fourth in the election was obtained by deceit as new revelations have shown that the 388 results presented by Hope Uzodinma were fake, because INEC presented Form EC40G (incidence form to establish the fact that election did not take place at the 388 polling units for various reasons.

“The Appellants/Respondents fraudulently misled Supreme 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 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,” the statement alleged.

Back in Imo state, citizens are asking many questions as to why Governor Uzodinma had not settled down more than one month he took over the mantle of leadership. They are of the view that the governor had spent more time outside the state than settling down to work for the people of the state.

To them, this action of the governor amounts to being jittery and also, a function of lack of confidence to himself since he has not made any meaningful move to put governance in its stead.

However, reacting to the issue of being jittery, the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the governor, Oguwike Nwachuku responded to a text message sent to him thus:

“Jittery over what? Who is peddling such useless rumour to you? Are you the only Nigerian, who does not know that those seeking a review are simply deceiving themselves and trying to distract the nation’s judicial system? Please, don’t discredit THISDAY with such beer parlour insinuations.”