The Supreme Court has given reasons why it nullified the governorship election of Imo State and allowed the appeal filed by Hope Uzodinma of All Progressives Congress.
The seven-man panel led by Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, agreed that results in 388 polling units were unlawfully excluded during the collation of the final governorship election result in Imo State.
The apex court noted that the result from the 388 polling units indicated that Uzodinma polled majority of the lawful vote and ought to have been declared winner of the election by the electoral body.
Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who read the unanimous judgment of the apex court, said, “Votes due to the appellant, Senator Hope Uzodinma, and APC from 388 polling units were wrongly excluded from scores ascribed to the appellant (to them).
“It is thereby ordered that the votes from 388 polling units unlawfully excluded from the appellant 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, having satisfied the mandatory constitutional requirement.
“It is hereby declared that first appellant, Senator Hope Uzodinma, is winner of the governorship of Imo State held on March 9, 2019.
“The certificate issued to Ihedioha is hereby withdrawn.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 governor of Imo State.”
Uzodinma had asked the court to set aside the decision of the election petition tribunal and declare him winner of the election or in the alternative order a rerun.
Three governorship candidates had filed separate appeals against the judgment of the Imo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which upheld the election of Ihedioha.
The candidates include Ifeanyi Ararume of All Progressive Grand Alliance, Uche Nwosu of Action Alliance, and Hope Uzodinma of All Progressives Congress.
By Emeji K. Noble