Nigeria: The Crux of Imo Guber Election Petition

19 December 2019

On the Imo governorship election petition, the truth is that the startling facts cannot be easily wished or washed away, not even with the judgments so far by the tribunal and the court of appeal. When facts are so real and are as visible and as constant as the northern star, it is impossible to obliterate or suffocate them, no matter how hard you try.

Yes, in the petition between the APC candidate, Sen Hope Uzodimma and the PDP candidate, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, the tribunal and four Justices of the Court of Appeal dismissed Uzodimma's claim to the results from 388 polling units, where he won ,but were unlawfully excluded. But does that really erase the fact that Uzodimma's results from those units were unlawfully excluded from the final governorship results by INEC? The answer is No. From all the ramifications arising from the two judgments aforementioned and given the fact of an audacious dissenting judgment by one of the court of appeal Judges, it is self evident that the question is no longer whether results from the 388 polling units were unlawfully excluded but why.

Both the tribunal and the four Court of Appeal Judges who upheld the judgment of the tribunal did not deny the fact of exclusion but rather based their judgments on whether those who testified about the exclusion were the rightful persons to do so. That is conclusive evidence that they relied on technicalities to throw out the claim. Nowhere in their judgments did they categorically state that there was no exclusion. Rather they insisted that the witnesses that testified about the exclusion were not the rightful persons to do so. Does that mean there was no unlawful exclusion? Obviously NO.

Now before someone will cry blue murder and say that this is about law and not logic, or that it is a layman's option which is not in tandem with legal correctness, let me admit that such people are entitled to their opinions. However in a matter as weighty as to who actually won the governorship election in Imo state, a matter that impacts directly on the political and civil rights of the people, their children and grandchildren, everyone is entitled to a say.

In doing so no one should be constrained nor shut out by the opinion of legal experts or luminaries.

After all if these experts were infallible there would have been no provisions for appalled courts. And if the judgments of tribunals and or the court of appeal are pronouncements of divinity there will be no need for the Supreme Court. So let those making the trite and boring argument that victory at the tribunal and court of appeal translates to a divine finality take heed and tread with less arrogance and impudence. The case of Peter Obi should serve as a constant reminder that it is not really over until it is over.

So, yes, we will continue to say it as loudly as possible that there was crass miscarriage of Justice at the lower courts and that we are confident that the Supreme Court will serve Justice in the end. Let us take more than a passing interest in the matter of the results from the 388 polling units and the abarakataaba (procurement by due process) that led to its technical dismissal.

The APC candidate, Sen Uzodimma tendered results from the 388 polling units where he won and the results (213,699) when added makes him the winner of the governorship elections with a total score of 310,153 votes, thereby securing majority of votes cast and 25% spread in two thirds of the 27 LGAS. The police corroborated his submissions with their own copies of the results via a subpoena by the tribunal.

The PDP and Rt Hon Ihedioha opposed the admissibility of the results on the grounds that they were fake. But they failed to produce their "genuine " results. The tribunal ruled that the results were admissible and accepted them as exhibits. The PDP and Ihedioha appealed against the ruling and the appeal is still pending.

Let us also consider these hard facts:

(1) The results Uzodimma and the APC tendered were duplicate originals of form EC8A from thier agents(2) The APC further obtained and tendered certified true copies of the same results from INEC, the custodians of election results (3) The police upon subpoena by the tribunal the same results,corroborating the APC results(3) INEC did not tender any results to counter the results from APC but rather confirmed the serial numbers on the APC tendered results as thier own, a confirmation of the genuineness of the results (4) The results tendered by Uzodimma were signed by the agents of all the political parties and INEC presiding officers and none of the parties disputed them at hearing (5) In the governorship election result sheet announced by INEC, results from the 388 polling units were conspicuously absent. What was see on the coloums for the results was either Not Available or Not Seen, a clear evidence of unlawful exclusion (6) If the results were not legible, as the PDP propagandist now claim, it is the tribunal that admitted them that should have complained, not PDP

With these avalanche of breathing facts as listed above, it was not surprising that a judge in the appeal panel disagreed with his colleagues and gave a dissenting judgment which declared Uzodimma the winner of the election. His judicial pronouncements clearly outline a miscarriage of Justice and why it occurred.

Once again, this misconception by the trial tribunal is contrary to the case made out in Appellant' pleading. The settled position of the law in a case founded on exclusion of results is that a candidate whose results have been excluded is in a position to tender the excluded results. In the case of OMOBORIOWO vs AJASIN(1984)1 SCNLR 108, which learned Appellants' Counsel have rightly referred to as the Locus Classics on cases bothering on exclusion of election result, it was the Local Government Collation Agents and Security agents that tendered and spoke to the results to prove exclusion.

There is indeed no gainsaying that there is miscarriage of Justice by trying to sweep a clear case of unlawful exclusion under the carpet of technicalities. This is the crux of the Imo governorship election petition and its resolution is at the heart of Justice.

In that Spirit, it remains the fervent prayers of all men of good conscience that Justice should be done and seen to be done in the Imo Governorship election petition.

Emelumba wrote from Owerri

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