Supreme Court of Nigeria

Supreme Court Fixes Tuesday for Review of Imo, Zamfara Judgments

In Nigeria, The Supreme Court has fixed Tuesday for the hearing of an application filed by Emeka Ihediaoha seeking the reversal of the January 14, 2020 judgment which removed him as Imo State governor and installed Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress as his replacement.

It was learnt that the notice for the hearing was served on the parties to the case last Thursday.

Mr Edidiong Usungurua, a lawyer in Ihedioha’s legal team confirmed to newsmen that parties to the case had been served with the notice for the Tuesday’s hearing.

But there are reports that the scheduled proceedings may not proceed to the substantive hearing on Tuesday due to the fact that the respondents to the application had yet to file their replies to the application.

The respondents are Uzodinma, APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

A Supreme Court official said, “Even if the respondents file and serve their replies on Monday, the applicants – Ihedioha and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party – may still ask for time to which they are entitled to file their responses to the replies of the respondents.

“So, there is likely to be further adjournment of the case before the application can be finally heard.”

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 Supreme Court held that Uzodinma emerged winner of the election after the addition of the excluded votes.

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 judgment delivered by this Honourable Court on the 14th of January 2020 in Appeal No. SC.1462/2019 and Cross Appeal No. SC.1470/2019.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s Director of Information, Dr Festus Akande, also informed newsmen that the court had scheduled for hearing on Tuesday, the All Progressives Congress’ request for review of the May 24, 2019 judgment which nullified the victory of all the party’s candidates at the 2019 general elections held in Zamfara State.

Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who is the lawyer to the Kabir Marafa-led faction of the APC in the state, and whose case was upheld in the contested judgment also confirmed the Tuesday’s hearing.

The Supreme Court had on August 22, 2019 struck out the APC’s application but it was refiled in November 2019 by the party’s lawyer, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN).

The five-man panel led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, had on August 22, 2019 unanimously struck out the application on the grounds that it was incompetent as the complete judgments of the apex court comprising all the judgments of the five members of the panel being contested by the party were not attached to the application.

Justice Rhodes-Vivour who delivered the ruling said the applicant only attached the lead judgment and failed to exhibit the consenting judgments of the four other members of the panel which gave the May 24, 2019 verdict.

“By our rules, the application is incompetent, and it is hereby struck out,” he ruled.

The apex court had in a unanimous judgment of the five-man panel led by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, delivered on May 24, 2019, declared that APC never conducted primary elections, thus had no valid candidates for the general elections election.

It held that all the votes credited to the party and its candidates in the elections were wasted.

The apex court then declared the first runners-up in the 2019 general elections in the state as the winners of all the offices earlier declared to have been won by the APC and its candidates.

The APC had been declared the winner of the governorship election, as well as the entire three senatorial seats, seven House of Representatives seats and the 24 House of Assembly seats, contested for in the February 23 and March 11, 2019 general elections in the state.

With the governorship and deputy governorship seats which the party had won in the elections, the APC had won all the 36 elective offices available in the state.

The apex court retrieved the victories recorded the APC, adjudged not to have fielded valid candidates for the said election, and gave them to the second runners-up in the polls.

But the APC, through its counsel, Robert Clarke (SAN), filed an application on June 17, 2019, asking the Supreme Court to “review, amend, correct and/or set aside the consequential orders” contained in the May 24, 2019 judgment of the apex court.

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