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Imo: Why Hope Uzodinma Floored Ihedioha at Supreme Court

By James EzemaThe Supreme Court on Tuesday declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of Imo state 2019 governorship poll and nullifying the election of Emeka Ihedioha.

Abuja Business Reports recall that Action Alliance’s governorship candidate in the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Imo State, Mr Uche Nwosu had earlier today withdrawn the appeal he filed against the election of Governor Emeka Ihedioha.

The seven-man panel of the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision held that Ihedioha did not win the majority of votes cast at the March 9 governorship election.

Emeka Ihedioha
Emeka Ihedioha

In the Judgment delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Ihedioha and issued a fresh Certificate of Return to the candidate of the APC having won the majority of lawful votes cast at the election.

The court held that the lower courts erred in law when it were rejected evidence tendered before them to the extent that votes from 388 polling units were not credited to the APC and Hope Uzodinma.

The apex court agreed that results in the 388 polling units were unlawfully excluded during the collation of the final governorship election result in Imo State.

Justice Kekere-Ekun said with the results from the 388 polling units added, Mr Uzodinma polled a majority of the lawful votes and ought to have been declared the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Consequently, she voided and set aside the declaration of Mr lhedioha as the winner of the 2019 governorship election in the South-East State.

Hope Uzodinma
Senator Hope Uzodinma

“Vote due to the appellant Senator Hope Uzodinma and the APC from 388 Polling Units were wrongly excluded from scores ascribed to the appellant(to them),” the justices ruled.

“It is thereby ordered that the appellant votes from 388 Polling Units unlawfully excluded from the appellant vote declared shall be added and that the first respondent, Emeka Ihedioha, was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast at the said election.”

“His return as the elected governor of Imo State is hereby declared null and void and accordingly set aside

“It is hereby declared that the first appellant (Mr Uzodinma) holds the majority of lawful votes cast at the governorship election held in Imo State on March 9, 2019.”

The Justice said Mr Uzodinma has satisfied the mandatory constitutional requirements to be declared governor.

“It is hereby declared that first appellant, Senator Hope Uzodinma, is the winner of the governorship of Imo State held on March 9, 2019.

“The certificate issued to the first defendant (Mr Ihedioha) is hereby withdrawn.

“It is hereby ordered that the certificate of return shall be issued to the first appellant, Senator Hope Uzodinma, forthwith and he should be sworn in as the governor of Imo State,” she ruled.

The Court of Appeal on November 19 had affirmed the victory of Mr Ihedioha as the governor of Imo State.

A five-member panel of the court led by Oyebisi Omoleye delivered the judgement following the appeals filed by the Action Alliance, All Progressives Grand Alliance and the All Progressives Congress challenging the election of the governor.

The appellants had argued that Mr Ihedioha did not obtain the constitutionally required one-quarter of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of the 27 local government areas of the state, as provided under Section 179 of the Constitution.

The appellants, therefore, asked the court to set aside the decision of the election petition tribunal and declare them the winner of the election or in the alternative order a rerun.

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