Nigeria: Emeka Ihedioha and the Travesty of Justice

23 January 2020
opinion

Demola Olarewaju argues fiercely that only the justices of the Supreme Court can explain how they reached a final tally of votes in the 2019 Imo governorship election

The judgement removing Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha from office as Imo State Governor and installing Senator Hope Uzodinma in his stead is a travesty of justice that defies all judicial logic.

The Supreme Court is final but not because it is always right; it is only right because it is final.

In other words, the Supreme Court as peopled by humans can be wrong, but being the final arbiter in judicial matters, appeal of their decisions can only be made to God, or in a democracy, to the people as the ultimate power-bloc in any democracy - we have seen this before.

Two major points have been dwelt on publicly - the number of votes cast for each candidate in the Imo gubernatorial election, as well as the total number of duly accredited voters.

That alone is enough to shock anyone as to the spurious outcome from the Supreme Court, but... even more shocking is the shoddy manner in which votes were invented, resurrected and then allocated - neither from the Tribunal nor the Court of Appeal, but from the Supreme Court.

Below are the results as initially announced by INEC: Emeka Ihedioha/PDP - 273,404, Uche Nwosu/AA - 190,364, Ifeanyi Araraume/APGA - 114,676, Hope Uzodinma/APC - 96,458

Total Accredited Voters - 823,743

Total Actual Voted - 739,485

Cancelled Votes - 25,130

Total Valid Votes - 714,355

This was as announced by INEC after the election.

The three candidates filed petitions against Ihedioha and PDP's victory alleging different electoral infractions and asking that they be sworn in (individually) or the elections should be cancelled and re-run. Uzodinma's main argument though was that his votes were not complete.

At the Elections Tribunal, Hope Uzodinma of APC mysteriously presented bags of INEC electoral ballot papers, claiming that they were from 388 Polling Units (PUs) where he had won but the results were wrongly excluded from the final tally by INEC.

PDP/Ihedioha as respondents debunked those bags allegedly containing result sheets or ballot papers as fake and asked Uzodinma/APC to prove their veracity to the utmost, the existence of the PUs they came from and proof that the materials emanated from INEC as should have. INEC itself at the Tribunal denied the result sheets allegedly inside the bag. INEC said: "INEC did not omit to record and reckon with votes due to APC/Uzodinma as alleged... and any such sheets showing results are fictitious and suborned." It was now up to APC to prove it. APC/Uzodinma had to prove three things basically:

That elections held in those PUs; that the results coming from there which were still in the bags were valid and not tampered with and that the results from there if added, would give APC/Uzodinma victory - these were never done. Matter of fact: at no point in the course of the petition hearing at the Tribunal were all the result sheets from 388 PUs brought out of the bags, only 28 were examined.

How the final tally was reached at the Supreme Court, only their Lordships can explain but we'll get there. Uzodinma and APC called 54 witnesses in total, including Uzodinma himself. Only 28 had served as PU agents of APC during the elections. No ward collation agents were called as witnesses; a few LGA collation agents were called, the APC state collation officer and one Policeman.

Recall from the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that the Supreme Court wrongly (based on its own precedent) pronounced that PDP and Atiku should have called witnesses from all PUs to prove electoral infractions. Curious that in this instance, APC didn't need to call witness from the 388 PUs but Supreme Court accepted it.

Remember from this thread also that not only did APC not show the result sheets from each of the so-called 388 PUs, INEC had denied them and APC only presented a chart which it had tallied by itself to show that Uzodinma won.

But let's look at the Policeman. In August of last year during the Tribunal proceedings, DCP Hussein Rabiu showed up as APC witness 54 (PW54) and claimed that the result sheets from the 388 PUs were authentic. He was not authorised to be there by the Inspector General of Police or the Commissioner of Police of Imo - this man was from the Benue command. Ordinarily, Rabiu Hussein should have been deposed before the commencement of the Tribunal and his deposition front-loaded alongside the petition and shared with the respondents - this wasn't done. But Rabiu was APC's star witness and here's what he said basically:

From cross-examination, Rabiu said that the subpoena was served on him by Uzodinma's lawyer - not from the IGP's office as should be done. Rabiu gave a long story about how he came into possession of the bags of results. When asked further under cross-examination, Rabiu admitted that he did not know the figures in the result sheets or which PUs they came from, but he swore they were authentic and valid for APC. 28 APC PU agents and Uzodinma himself under cross-examination with 28 result sheets brought out of the bags of 388 results sheets admitted that the sheets they held (in all 28 presented out of 388) were mutilated, distorted or wrongly and incompletely filled. No result sheet for instance showed the number of ballot papers issued to the respective PU, the number of used and unused ballot papers as it ordinarily should. Most of the 28 examined didn't even have the name or signature of the presiding officers or the date of issuance. In some of the 28 out of 388 result sheets APC presented, the dates written on them were before the March 9th 2019 date of the gubernatorial elections, and some after. For emphasis: only 28 out of the alleged 388 result sheets were brought out by APC, the rest were kept in bags. But Uzodinma had a chart where he had inputted the votes he got from the 388 PUs as contained in his result sheets which INEC had debunked. Under cross-examination of his chart, instances of over-voting were found - and results of many other parties were even totally absent.

The Tribunal rightly (at least even by the pronouncement of Supreme Court on the Atiku petition at the PEPT) dismissed Uzodinma's case built on quicksand, insisting that Rabiu Hussein had no locus to present results he didn't create as INEC and not enough witnesses were presented.

From the Court of Appeal, the story started changing: Uzodinma insisted that Rabiu Hussein was a valid witness and the results should be accepted. Ihedioha's lawyers disagreed but Court of Appeal agreed with Uzodinma on Rabiu Hussein's validity to produce result sheets which INEC disowned.

Court of Appeal, by 4 to 1 however dismissed the results as having no probative value and dismissed the appeal.

The minority (1) judgement however upheld Uzodinma's appeal but didn't specify a number of votes to be added, only that Uzodinma won.

Anyway, Uzodinma appealed the Court of Appeal judgement; Ihedioha also appealed and also cross-appealed the minority judgement plus one. The minority judgement on the validity of PW54, the policeman Rabiu Hussein was appealed. Ihedioha pointed out that under cross examination at the Tribunal, Rabiu admitted that he was not at any of the so-called 388 PUs on Election Day March 9, 2019; that he was not present when the results were recorded into the result sheets or prepared or entries made;that he didn't know (or have) the names of the policemen who allegedly found the result sheets from all over Imo State after March 9 or which PU they had worked in; that none of the policemen who had allegedly found the 388 result sheets had given it directly to him but a Police Administrative Officer who was neither named nor invited as witness had given him the 388 documents.

PDP counter-appealed at Supreme Court but it however dismissed Ihedioha/PDP's counter-appeal and went on to uphold Uzodinma's victory by conjuring up a figure that had never been verified or proven at the Tribunal and added it to Uzodinma's total, thereby over-shooting the number of accredited voters of March 9.

The same Supreme Court which had said in Atiku's petition that the result presented was hearsay based on INEC's denial of having a server now accepted Uzodinma's result sheets which the same INEC denied. Nobody except APC/Uzodinma even saw all the 388 result sheets one by one.

Supreme Court (having decided to agree with APC in this matter and allocate the generated votes) did not bother to do a breakdown of how many votes came from each of the so-called 388 PUs. The point has been brought into public space about APC not having won a single House of Assembly seat on March 9, 2019.

*Olarewaju is a legal practitioner

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