Uzodinma

Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State has said the Supreme Court no longer has powers to hear the application for the review of the January 14, 2020 judgment which sacked his predecessor, Emeka Ihedioha, from office and installed him as his replacement.

The governor, through his lawyer, Damian Dodo (SAN), argued that the time within which the court was permitted to entertain the case which emanated from an election petition had passed.

He also cited the provision of Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules 2014 which he said “prohibits the court from reviewing its judgment once delivered, save to correct clerical mistakes or accidental slip.”

This is contained in his preliminary objection which he filed against the application filed by Ihedioha, seeking the review and reversal of the January 14, 2020 judgment of the apex court.

 The preliminary objection stated in part, “The application being a proceeding relating to or arising from election of a governor is barred by effluxion of time.

“The application constitutes an invitation to the Supreme Court to sit on appeal over its final decision.
“Having delivered its final decision on the 1st and 2nd respondents’ Appeal No. SC. 1462/2019 between Senator Hope Uzodinma & Anor v Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha & 2 Ors., the Supreme Court has become functus officio and divested of jurisdiction over the same subject matter.

“Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules 2014 prohibits this honourable court from reviewing its judgment once given and delivered, save to correct clerical mistakes or accidental slip.

“The judgment sought to be set aside having been given effect by the inauguration of the 1st respondent/objector as Governor of Imo State, this honourable court lacks the jurisdiction to grant the prayer sought".

Uzodinma added that Ihedioha’s application “constitutes an abuse of court process” and “is against public policy.”

Uzodinma, who is of the All Progressives Congress, also described it as an invitation to the court to indulge in academic exercise and answer hypothetical questions.
A seven-man panel of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, had in its January 14, 2020 judgment removed Iheodioha as the Governor of Imo State and declared Uzodinma as the winner of the last governorship election in the state.
Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who read the lead judgment, had upheld Uzodinma’s appeal ruling that the votes polled in 388 out of the 3,523 polling units were excluded in the final results declared by INEC in the state.

The apex court held that Uzodinma emerged winner of the election after the addition of the excluded votes.

But Ihedioha, through his lead counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), a former Attorney General of the Federation, had on February 5, 2020 filed an application before the court seeking “an order  setting aside as a nullity” the January 14 judgment.
He argued in the application anchored on Section 6 (6) of Nigerian constitution and Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act 2004, that the judgment was obtained by fraud or deceit.

He added that the apex court was misled to give the judgment.

In alleging fraud, however, Ihedioha and the PDP claimed that Uzodinma and his party fraudulently misled the apex court into holding that 213,495 votes were unlawfully excluded from the votes they scored in the governorship election held on March 9, 2019.
They said by Exhibit A1, the total number of voters accredited for the election was 823, 743 while the total valid votes cast was 731, 485.

The inclusion of 213, 695 votes for the first appellant/respondent, they argued, made the total number of votes cast at the election to be more than the total number of votes accredited for the election.

The apex court has fixed Tuesday for the hearing of the application.