By Ebere Agozie/Ikenna Uwadileke
Abuja, March 2, 2020
The Supreme Court adjourned until Tuesday, hearing in application filed by Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), asking it to review a judgment on Imo governorship that declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the March 9, 2019, election. Ihedioha and the PDP had approached the court after the apex court on Jan, 14 nullified his victory and declared Uzodinma as the winner of the election.
Ihedioha was earlier declared the winner of the election by the electoral umpire, INEC
The apex court had resumed hearing on Monday, however, after announcing appearances, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, counsel to Ihedioha asked for adjournment because they were served with court processes in the court.
The seven-man panel of justices led by Justice Tanko Mohammed adjourned the case until March 2 to allow them time to study the process served.
NAN reports that the application which was slated for hearing on Feb. 18 was earlier adjourned to March 2, based on the applicant’s counsel request.
The lawyer representing Uzodinma and his party, the All Progressives Congress, Damian Dodo,SAN, and that of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Taminu Inuwa, SAN, did not oppose the application for adjournment.
News Agency Nigeria (NAN) reports that the apex court had, in a unanimous judgment nullified the election of Ihedioha and ordered that Sen. Hope Uzodinma of the APC be sworn in as governor.
The apex court had nullified Ihedioha’s election as Imo governor and declared Hope Uzodimma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the March 9 governorship election in the state.
The apex court set aside the judgments of the state governorship election petition tribunal and the Court of Appeal.
The lower court which affirmed Ihedioha’s election, held that he was not validly elected as the governor of the state and consequently ordered that the certificate of return issued to him be retrieved and issued to Uzodinma.
Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who read the unanimous decision of the apex court on Jan. 14, held that the lower courts erred when it rejected the evidence tendered before them to the extent that the votes from the 388 polling units were not credited to the APC and Uzodinma.
Dissatisfied with the verdict of the apex court, Ihedioha, through his legal team, approached the Supreme Court in a motion on notice dated Feb. 5, seeking to nullify the judgment delivered by the Court on Jan. 14.
Ihedioha contended that the judgment sought to be set aside is a nullity in that it was delivered without jurisdiction by reason of the following.
“Having regard to Section 140(2) of the Electoral Act (as amended), the appellants/respondents divested this court of the relevant jurisdiction to declare the first appellant/ respondent as the winner of the gubernatorial election conducted in Imo State on March 9, 2019 by branding or stigmatising the entire election as invalid
Ihedioha and PDP held that the apex court did not have the jurisdiction to declare that Uzodinma was duly elected in the absence of any proof that the votes ascribed to him met the mandatory geographical spread stipulated in section 179 (2) of the constitution.
NAN reports that Uzodinma in a preliminary objection dated Feb. 5, asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the application filed by Ihedioha.
Uzodimma and APC’s preliminary objection against Ihedioha was brought pursuant to Section 6(6)(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
The objection raised and argued the competence of the motion and the jurisdiction of the court to entertain same and therefore urged the apex court to strike out the motion filed by Ihedioha.
They said that the application being a proceeding relating to or arising from election of a governor is barred by expiration of time.
“The application constitutes an invitation to the Supreme Court to sit on appeal over its final decision” Uzodimma posited.
They submitted that having delivered its final decision, the Supreme Court has become fuctus officio and divested of jurisdiction over the same subject matter.
They said: Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules 2014 prohibits the apex court from reviewing its judgment once given and delivered, save to correct clerical mistakes or accidental slip.