By Ikeddy ISIGUZO
WHEREVER the final Supreme Court verdict on the governorship 9 March 2019 in Imo State goes, it would not end the controversies of the earlier decision that made Senator Hope Uzodinma Governor of Imo State. Uzodinma finished fourth in the election, but the Supreme Court’s admission of votes cast in 388 polling booths propelled Uzodinma to the first position.
The Supreme Court looks at the case again following an appeal for a review that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate Emeka Ihedioha filed. The case on the surface looks easy to resolve with the majority of opinions being that the Supreme Court should not have declared Uzodinma winner of the election based on the evidence a Deputy Commissioner of Police brought.
Among the issues that have been raised on the 213,695 votes were their authenticity since they were not documents from the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, their admissibility as they were not certified true copies, a requirement of the Evidence Act.
Other questions on the Supreme Court decision rested on the points that the Supreme Court failed to reflect on how the result affected all the 70 candidates who participated in the governorship election. Other legal authorities have wondered if the Supreme Court should have reached a decision without references to the decisions the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal made on the same matter. They both rejected the results based on questions about their genuineness as they were not documents of INEC, the organizer of the election.
There has been wonderment at some of the matters that appeared to have escaped the attention of the Supreme Court. They created gaps that would have rendered the computation of results that awarded Uzodinma the governorship void. The gaps ran parallel to existing laws on elections. One of the illegalities was over-voting – the number of cast votes, exceeding the number of registered voters. It was obvious in some of the polling units. The Supreme Court said nothing about it.
The unanimity of the Supreme Court decision was surprising. There had been expectations that at least a dissenting voice would have pointed out the infractions of the Electoral Act.
Ihedioha and PDP seemed to have a strong cased until the 27 February 2020 decision of the Supreme Court on a review of the Bayelsa State governorship election. The All Progressives Congress, APC, and its governorship candidates in Bayelsa State, David Lyon, and Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, sought the review.
In affirming its unanimous decision, Justice Amina Augie, who read the lead judgment, noted that a contrary verdict would have assailed the provision of the Constitution, which makes the Supreme Court the final court of the land. It had no powers to sit on judgement over its own decisions. The Supreme Court further awarded N10 million cost against APC and its candidates in favour of each of the respondents.
Justice Augie said the case was frivolous. The only instance that the Supreme Court can review its judgement is in case of a clerical error, Justice Augie said.
Could the Supreme Court reverse its decision on Imo State by admitting the noted errors in its decision as “clerical errors”? We are only hours away from the final controversial decision on governorship of Imo State.
Isiguzo, former chairman of the Vanguard Editorial Board, Editor In Chief of Momentum Africa Media