Emeka Ihedioha has ceased to be the legitimate Governor of Imo State. This was after the Supreme Court reversed the cancellation of results from 388 polling units in Imo State governorship election and declared the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Hope Uzodinma, as winner of the poll.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the seven-man panel upheld the appeal filed by Uzodinma on the ground that Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not score the majority of the lawful votes in the election, Guardian reports.
The apex court, therefore, ordered that Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) be sworn in immediately as the duly elected governor of Imo State.
The court agreed that results from 388 polling units were unlawfully excluded during the collation of the final results in the state.
Justice Kekere-Ekun noted that with the result from the 388 polling units, the APC governorship candidate polled the majority of the lawful votes and ought to have been declared winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Consequently, the court ordered that the certificate of return, which was wrongly issued to lhedioha of the PDP, be immediately withdrawn by INEC, and a fresh one issued to Uzodinma.
By so doing, the court set aside the verdicts of the Imo State Electric Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal both of which had upheld the election of Ihedioha by dismissing the petition filed by Uzodinma.
The court below had refused to recognize and accept the votes from the 388 polling units as being unlawfully excluded in the general collation.
Uzodinma and APC had in their appeal prayed the apex court to review the judgment of the two lower courts against them and restore their victory in the election. The two appellants maintained that the unlawful exclusion of votes from 388 polling units denied them victory in the election.
Meanwhile, another PDP governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Abdullahi Ganduje of the APC, Kano State will know their fate on Monday as judgment on their appeals would be delivered.
The journey to Uzodinma’s victory began at the Imo State Electoral Petition Tribunal, where his petition was dismissed for lacking in merit. Not satisfied, he approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which upheld the verdict of the lower court.
The hopeful Hope, not daunted by his failures, moved to the Supreme Court to register his grievance. The matter was originally scheduled for Monday but the court arose abruptly as a member of the panel, Justice John Inyang Okoro, was announced to be sick.
The shift in the date of judgment created anxiety among the political parties, as people read different meanings to it.
The seven outstanding governorship appeals then before the apex court included those against Tambuwal; Ihedioha; Abdullah Ganduje (Kano); Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa); Bala Mohammed (Bauchi); Simon Lalong (Plateau); and Samuel Ortom (Benue).
But with the adjournment of those of Plateau, Adamawa, Bauch, Benue and Adamawa states, the court has appeals from only two states to rule on.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, who led the seven-man panel, made the announcement after listening to the written addresses of parties to the appeals.