Imo Guber Tussle: Ripples Over Supreme Court’s Mathematical Flaw

Imo Guber Tussle: Ripples Over Supreme Court’s Mathematical Flaw

…PDP says It’s a Recipe for a Blowout, Coup Against Democracy …Ihedioha’s Legal Team Gave it Away by Paying Scant Attention to Uzodinma’s Application, says Lawyer The verdict of the Supreme Court which resolved the Imo state governorship contest in favour of Mr Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressive Congress (APC), who came fourth in

…PDP says It’s a Recipe for a Blowout, Coup Against Democracy

…Ihedioha’s Legal Team Gave it Away by Paying Scant Attention to Uzodinma’s Application, says Lawyer

The verdict of the Supreme Court which resolved the Imo state governorship contest in favour of Mr Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressive Congress (APC), who came fourth in the March 9, 2019 election, is still generating lots of ripples owing largely to what is now perceived as a mathematical flaw. It really stands logic on its head. How can there be more votes than the total number of voters in the state?

A distraught National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Uche Secundus thinks this has really passed the brink. “That the judgment of the Supreme Court voiding the lawful election of Hon. Emeka Ihedioha (who scored 276,404 votes) and awarding fictitious votes to declare Hope Uzodimma of the APC, who scored 96, 458 votes as Governor of Imo state, is highly irrational, unfounded, a provocative product of executive manipulation and a recipe for crisis, which should not be allowed to stand.”

According to him, “The Supreme Court, in a host of cases, the latest and most celebrated being Atiku V Buhari & Ors, consistently decided that for a petitioner to succeed in an allegation of infraction of any provision of the Electoral Act especially one complaining about malpractice, as in this case, wrongful exclusion of votes, the petitioner must call witnesses polling unit by polling unit.

“The question is, how many witnesses did Uzodinma/APC call from the 388 polling units from where the Supreme Court allocated votes to him.

“The so called results from the 388 Polling units were rightfully rejected, in line with several decisions of the Supreme Court, by the Tribunal and Court of Appeal as it was merely dumped on the tribunal in a Ghana Must Go bag, by a policeman who had no mandate of the police to testify at the Tribunal.

“The Tribunal did not even open the Ghana Must Go bags as there was no basis to do so. It is one of the great wonders of the world how the Supreme Court opened the bag, counted the results and added them to only the APC Candidate.

“What is more perplexing is the fact that INEC produced a schedule of reasons why results were not produced from the 388 units.

“Indeed election did not even take place in most of the units for one reason or another, like violence, etc and so no result could possibly be obtained from those units. The results were not merely rejected or cancelled by INEC.

“None of the candidates or their Counsel, except perhaps APC, as we speak, are aware of the number of votes scored by each party from the 388 polling units. The Tribunal or Court of Appeal did not mention or ascribe any figure from the units to any party in their decisions.

“In fact, in the cross examination of the APC Candidate, Sen. Hope Uzodinma, he could not read any figure from the “Oluwole” results. He said that the figures were not clear. And so it beats our imagination where the Supreme Court conjured and manufactured the figures it used in declaring Uzodinma/APC as duly elected.

“But the law is settled as decided by the same Supreme Court in Buhari v. INEC (2008); that “weight can hardly be attached to a document tendered in evidence by a witness who cannot or is not in a position to answer questions on the document. One of such persons the law identifies is the one who did not make the document. Such a person is adjudged in the eyes of the law as ignorant of the content of the document”.

An obviously enraged PDP chairman says this raises lots of questions

“Does the Supreme Court have powers to formulate and allocate votes as election results?

“Were the said results certified by INEC as required by law?

“Did Hope Uzodinma call 388 witnesses from the 388 polling units to speak to the results to obviate the principle of dumping which the Supreme Court used against the PDP and her candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in the last Presidential Appeal.

“Were the presiding officers and or party agents of the 388 polling units called to testify by Uzodinma/APC, who were the Petitioners?

“What are the figures from each of the various 388 polling units generated and allocated to Hope Uzodinma/APC by the Supreme Court?

“Is the Supreme Court saying that all the votes from the alleged 388 polling units were for the APC alone in an election that was contested by over 70 candidates?

“It is on record that the votes analysis from the Imo governorship election as at March 11, 2019 when the results were declared were as follows:

-Total Accredited Votes: 823,743

-Total Valid Votes: 739,485

-Cancelled Votes: 25, 130

-Total Valid Votes: 714,355

“But at the Supreme Court the Total Valid Votes have increased to 950,952.

This accounts for 127, 209 votes in excess of Total Accredited Votes of 823,743.

“The question is; can the Supreme Court sit in Abuja on January 14, 2020 to increase the total number of accredited votes in election held in Imo State on March 9, 2019,” asks Secundus who believes the Supreme Court judgement is “groundless”..

“Is there any law, which permits the Supreme Court or anyone else for that matter, to unilaterally increase the total accredited votes by any margin after the accreditation and or the election?

“Where did the Supreme Court get the numbers to declare Uzodinma/APC from a paltry 96,456 votes over Ihedioha/PDP votes of 276,404.

“Even if all the excess accredited votes of 127,209 manufactured by the Supreme Court were added to Uzodinma/APC it will be 223,657 votes, still less than Ihedioha’s votes of 276,494 by 42,747 votes.

“The victory of Ihedioha/PDP were confirmed by 2 concurrent judgments of both the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal and the tradition is that the Supreme Court hardly tamper with such decisions except it was found to be perverse. What was the evidence of perversity?”

Can there be two different sets of results for an election held on the same day? This raises further riddle about the judgement in the views of Secundus..

“It is important to also bring to the consciousness of well-meaning members of the public, particularly Nigerians, that there were 2 elections on March 9, 2019, namely, Governorship and the House of Assembly.

“As already known, there was only one accreditation for the 2 elections. The APC did not win any of the 27 seats in the Imo State House of Assembly which were won as follows:

PDP      won      13

AA         won      8

APGA    won      6

APC       won      0

Total                  27

“The above further questions and confronts the rationale for the judgment of the Supreme Court on Imo State.

“How then did the Supreme Court arrive at its decision to allocate results to void a lawful governorship election and imposed an unelected person as governor?

 “That the Supreme Court, as presently constituted under Justice Mohammed Tanko, has become heavily compromised; lost its credibility and is now annexed to execute ignoble agenda of the APC-led Federal Government against the Nigerian people.

“With the verdict, the Supreme Court executed a coup against the PDP and the people of Imo state as well as other Nigerians, and such must not be allowed to have a place in our democracy.

“If the people no longer repose confidence in the Supreme Court, then our democracy, national cohesion and stability are at great risk,” he argues.

“The PDP firmly holds that if the flawed judgment of the Supreme Court on Imo governorship election is allowed to stand, it would be a recipe for anarchy, chaos and constitutional crisis not only in Imo state but in the entire country.

“Our party has it in good authority that Justice Tanko and his panel are working on instruction from certain forces in the Presidency to use the Supreme Court to take over states lawfully won by the PDP and award them to the APC.

“The PDP therefore advises Justice Tanko not to allow himself to be used to push our nation to the path of anarchy and constitutional crisis as any further attempt to subvert justice in the pending petitions on Sokoto, Bauchi, Benue, Adamawa as well as Kano and Plateau states will be firmly and vehemently resisted.

“In other to avoid an imminent breakdown of law and order, the PDP demands that Justice Tanko Mohammed immediately steps down as CJN and chairman of the National Judicial Council as Nigerians have lost confidence in him and a Supreme Court under his leadership,” Secundus demanded.

Former Vice President and PDP Presidential Candidate, Mr Atiku Abubakar, has however proposed to the national leadership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to set up a committee to review recent elections in the country.

Abubakar gave the advice in a remark at the 87th emergency National Executive Council (NEC) of the PDP on Friday in Abuja.

He said that the party should not disregard the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies in the recent elections.

Abubakar noted that the PDP governed Nigeria well from 1999 to 2015, and as a true democratic party handed over power to the All Progressives Congress (APC), when it lost the general elections.

Atiku said the hope of the party was that the APC would continue with good governance but it had proved Nigerians wrong.

“It is has become necessary for us to mobilise Nigerians to resist the threat to our democracy, unity and development.

“Therefore, I will like to propose a strong committee to review the last elections and recommend to the party needed reforms to address the challenges in the last elections be set up forthwith.

“But what cannot wait is that we should not take what has been happening in our democratic processes from the role of INEC, role security agencies and the Judiciary for granted.

“If we take all these roles for granted that will be the end of our hard earned struggle and including our founding members, who are today not alive.

“What can we say we have done to their struggles as they lay in their graves?

“Therefore, as long as we are alive, it is our responsibility to reincarnate the struggle they led that brought about the democracy today that the APC government is threatening,’’ Abubakar said.

But former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ondo State, Mr Remi Olatubora who says he’s one of Mr Uzodinma’s lawyers, explains:

“I am not a member or a fan of APC but just an ordinary lawyer who did law job for the man who hired his services. The petition was fought on the basis of exclusion of election results from 388 polling units in Imo State. These 388 polling units happened to be those in areas where Hope Uzodinma won massively. Many of them are around his father’s village.

“INEC in its pleading offered no explanation as to the whereabouts of election results of the 388 polling units. INEC only pleaded that no polling units’ results were excluded. In our Law of Evidence, there is what we call presumption. Applied to election litigation, there is the presumption that the 9th March 2019 Governorship election held in all the polling units in Imo.

“The implication of this is that the legal burden on INEC to account for what happened in the 388 polling units. We put in evidence results of the 388 contested polling units through the collation agents of Hope Uzodinma who witnessed the unlawful exclusion. Neither INEC nor Emeka Ihedioha put in a different set of election results. Interestingly, neither INEC nor Ihedioha denied that those polling units in respect of which 388 Forms EC.8A were tendered and admitted, existed.

“The Deputy Commissioner of Police in Charge of Operations during the election was subpoenaed. He responded and tendered copies of the Forms EC.8A given to Police officers in the 388 polling units in evidence. These documents were admitted as Exhibits PPP1_PPP366.

“Hope’s petition was not taken seriously. Emeka focussed more on 1st runner-up’s petition. 1st runner-up asked for only nullification on ground that Emeka did not get required geographical spread. Hope Uzodinma asked to be returned as the winner of majority of the votes cast (declared result + excluded) AND ALTERNATIVELY for nullification and re-run.

“In the fullness of time and sensing the futility of 1st runner-up’s prayer, we abandoned Uzodinma’s ALTERNATIVE PRAYER. The life of the law is not logic but experience. (O. W. Holmes). We had split decision at the Court of Appeal. The minority judgment was in favour of Hope Uzodinma. What the Supreme Court did was to examine the fact of the case, cross-check on the health of the jurisprudence behind the majority and minority decisions of the Court of Appeal. If anything was wrong failure of INEC to give account is to be blamed not the Supreme Court,” Olatubora says.

In the view of Mr Ike Onyia, “Those accusing Emeka Ihedioha’s legal team as doing so little, are not informed. They did what they should do but Supreme Court  chose their way”.

According to him, Ihedioha’s legal team filed a cross petition and the briefs were adopted alongside Hope Uzodinma’s appeal.

“The Supreme Court in its Judgement never referred to it as they are expected to. The Supreme Court merely adopted and relied on the 1st two issues for determination raised by the appellant  and entered Judgement.

“INEC at the Tribunal up-to the Supreme Court disowned the election results from those polling units as elections were not held therein.

“The Question that should have bothered the Supreme Court was “where did Mr Hope Uzodinma get those forms EC 8As, which was not tendered by INEC, rather was tendered through a policeman via subpoena?”*

“Can you talk about results from 388 polling units without presiding officers these polling units or  witnesses from these polling units? No !

“Did the petitioner call 388 presiding officers of these polling units or witnesses across these 388 polling units to render the said results? No !

“Elections are conducted at the polling units and in a case like this, ingredients of prove or otherwise should be generated from these polling units and ought to be anchored on human witnesses.

“No matter how anyone try to defend this, it is a sad judgement for our Democracy. Sad that we must live with it, but for posterity sake, I am making my position known on this matter. It is about our Constitutional Democracy and not about anyone or party here!,” he offers

Ihedioha believes the judgement is unfair and not reflective of the wishes of the people:

“I address you today, following recent developments affecting our dear state, and in particular the Supreme Court judgement of 14th January 2020. In my relationship with you as Governor of Imo, I had employed regular consultations and dialogue as a tool of political discourse. This informs this course of action.

“I am reporting back to you our great Imo people on the fate of the mandate you freely gave to me as Governor and Engr. Gerald Irona as Deputy Governor. This mandate has now been truncated and cut short by the Supreme Court, in contravention of the will of the people.

“We shall always cherish the tremendous goodwill and support you gave us as we grappled with setting up a new administration to rebuild a state that was devastated by bad governance.

“In the last seven months, we sought to elevate merit, unity of purpose, honesty, transparency and an inclusive approach to governance, as the hallmarks of our administration. We sought to restore once again, the pride and dignity of Imo people. We worked very hard to re-engineer the Imo renaissance. But God knows why he has allowed this current state of affairs.

“No doubt, yesterday’s Supreme Court verdict, came to us as a rude shock and surprise considering the facts on ground, legal precedence and clear verdict of Imo People on March 9 2019, that returned me as Governor with the highest valid votes of 273,404.

“I do not agree with the judgement of the Supreme Court. I think it is unfair, unjust and does not reflect the voting that took place during the elections. It also didn’t take care of the sensibilities of the people of Imo State. But as true democrats, Engr Gerald Irona and I have no option but to respect the outcome of that judgement.

“Consequently, we have put machinery in motion to hand-over the reins of office to the APC Candidate as the next Governor of Imo State. This will be coordinated by the Secretary to the State Government. I therefore direct all members of Imo State Expanded Executive Council, and all political appointees to write their handing-over notes and to return all government properties in their custody, forthwith. I shall not be party to pilfering of Government property or funds.

“May we use this opportunity to express our gratitude to God for the opportunity to serve, within the short period he granted us. We sincerely appreciate you for all your solidarity and goodwill. We would forever cherish and treasure your love, your trust and your partnership.  We made our mark. Rebuilding our dear state is neither easy nor personal, but a task undertaken for our today and tomorrow,” the former Governor says.

Photo: Gov Uzodinma, left at the swearing in ceremony


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