“It’s miles the exact of every man, in parliament or out of it, within the press or over the published, to originate most attention-grabbing articulate, even outspoken articulate, on issues of public passion. Folks that articulate can deal faithfully with all that is finished in a court docket of justice “. – Lord Denning in R vs. Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Exparte Blackburn (No. 2) (1968) 2 Q.B. 150.
In an unanimous judgement in Swimsuit No: SC 1462/2019 (Senator Hope Uzodinma& Anor vs. Rt Hon. Emeka Ihedioha& 2 Others) delivered on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, a seven-man panel of the Supreme Court docket of Nigeria nullified the election of the erstwhile governor of Imo Inform, Emeka Ihedioha, and ordered the immediate swearing in of Hope Uzodinma as the validly-elected governor of Imo Inform.With the above dictum of Lord Denning in mind, Imo Revolutionary Lawyers Affiliation (IPLF) has deemed it essential to demand sure pertinent questions concerning the Supreme Court docket rulingthat sacked Emeka Ihedioha.
First off, we originate daring to insist that every Ihedioha and Uzodinma are revered sons of NDI IMO. This reflection particularly responds to the controversy which the Supreme Court docket judgement generated since it was as soon as delivered. And more importantly, it isn’t very misplaced on us thatformer governor Ihediohahas approached the apex court docket for a overview of the judgement that ousted him. The is that the topic having been submitted to the Supreme Court docket stays subjudice. As lawyers, we’re awake that commenting on conditions sub judice are in overall regarded as sinful. However, we’re constrained to steal the following questions after having read the burly judgement of the apex court docket.
Earlier than delving into the facts of the topic, it is instructive to show masks that Section 179 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) deals with the votes that a candidate must garner at a gubernatorial election to be declared winner. That allotment offers:
179 (2): A candidate for an election to the office of governor of a insist will be deemed to had been duly elected where, there being two or more candidates –
- he has one of the best selection of votes cast on the election; and
- he has now not much less than one-quarter of all votes cast in every of as a minimal two-thirds of the entire local authorities areas within the insist.
Guided by the constitutional directives above, we glimpse the undisputed facts in doubtlessly the most modern judgement. The categorical facts to show masks are:
- The 1st Appellant (Hope Uzodinma) filed a petition bright the return of the 1st Respondent (Emeka Ihedioha) on two grounds:
(a) The 1st Respondent was as soon as now not validly elected by majority of appropriate votes cast; and
(b) The declaration and return of the 1st Respondent is invalid by motive of non-compliance with the Electoral Act. (Undercover agent page 2 of the lead judgement delivered byKudiratMotonmoriOlatokunboKekere-Ekun JSC).
- Elections had been held in 27 Local Govt Areas, 305 electoral wards and 3, 523 polling objects. The third Respondent (INEC) cancelled the election in 252 polling objects, collated results from 2,883 polling objects and excluded results from 388 polling objects. The 1st Respondent averred that he scored 213,695 votes from handiest the 388 polling objects excluded. (Undercover agent pages 2-3 Kekere-Ekun JSC’s judgement).
- Paragraph 7, a, b, c, d, e and f of the third Respondent’s (INEC’s) Answer categorically denied the claims within the Appellant’s petition, notably the unsuitable computationof election results as alleged. (Undercover agent pages 31-32 of Kekere-Ekun JSC’s judgement).
Having established the legislation and the undisputed facts within the topic, we explore to steal the following questions concerning the judgement –
A. The Appellant (Hope Uzodinma) pleaded that he scored over 213,000 votes from 388 polling objects. However, in some unspecified time in the future of the trial, his significant particular person witness, PW54, a police officer, handiest tendered the outcomes of 366 polling objects in preference to 388. The findings by the Tribunal, Court docket of Allure and the Supreme Court docket also established that PW54 tendered results of 366 polling objects as against 388 polling objects. Does this discrepancy now not place the Supreme Court docket on its enquiry?
B. The court docket is plug to take judicial have that doubtlessly the most selection of voters per polling unit is 500 unless there are extra voting suggestions created. Yet again, 500 voters multiplied by 388 polling objects can now not be more than 194,000.00 votes. That is to advise that 500 voters multiplied by 366 would also, give handiest a most conceivable of handiest 183,000 votes. Cognizant of the info of deaths, voter transfers and voter apathy, the chance of all 500 voters in every of the 388 (or 366) polling objects voting in some unspecified time in the future of an election is extraordinarily a long way off, if now not not doubtless. So, whether by 366 or 388 polling objects, the figures introduced by the Appellant bound away every mathematical and logical gaping holes that ought to effect the apex court docket on its enquiry.
C. Strange enough, the Supreme Court docket refused to explore into the incorrect-allure of the First Respondent (Emeka Ihedioha), retaining that the principle allure had made it pointless to take be aware of the incorrect-allure. With due respect to the apex court docket, possibly, if the incorrect-allure had been evaluatedon its merit, some of questions highlighted above would been handled.
D. In light of A and B above, has the Supreme Court docket happy itself that the prerequisites place out in Section 179 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) had been completely complied with as would warrant the nullification of Ihedioha’s election and the declaration of Uzodinmaas the exact winner?
Justice, they disclose, is now not a cloistered advantage. She might want to be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and respectful, even outspoken, feedback of peculiar men”. – “Lord Atkin in Ambard vs. Lawyer-Overall for Trinidad & Tobago (1936) AC 322, 335. As ministers within the temple of justice and equally as stakeholders within the Imo governance architecture,
Imo Revolutionary Lawyers Affiliation are moved by Lord Atkin’s admonition to steal the above appropriate kind questions. We table these concerns as amicus curia, fuelled by the deep distress that the doctrine of witness decisis would be threatened if these concerns are now not exhaustively reconsidered by the apex court docket.
In the final prognosis, the Supreme Court docket is a coverage court docket, with its decisions binding now not handiest on every decrease court docket, nonetheless on all other institutions and govt palms of authorities. In step with the final bindingness of Supreme Court docket’s judgement, Hope Uzodinma was as soon as sworn in as governor with alacrity. Our main distress therefore is that justice prevails. No longer handiest that, every regime of the insist must catch its legitimacy from unique democracy and sound utility of the guideline of legislation.
We discontinuance our reflections by reference to the following quotes by Lord Denning in his guide ‘The Freeway to Justice'(1955):
“In every court docket in England, it is doubtless you’ll maybe, I imagine, get a newspaper reporter… He notes all that bound on and makes a most attention-grabbing and most attention-grabbing picture of it… He is, I verily imagine watchdog of justice… The have will be careful to have that the trial is reasonably and properly performed if he realizes that any unfairness or impropriety on his allotment will be illustrious by these in court docket and would be reported within the press. He’ll be more anxious to give a most attention-grabbing resolution if he knows that his causes must present an explanation for themselves on the bar of public notion’.
“When a have sits on a case, he himself is on trial… If there might maybe be any misconduct on (his) allotment, any bias or prejudice, there might maybe be a reporter to take care of an look for on him.” Lord Denning in his take care of earlier than the Excessive Court docket Journalists Affiliation as reported within the Instances of third December 1964.
Signed Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, Overall Secretary
Matthias Emeribe, Publicicty Secretary,