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Why Supreme Court sacked Ihedioha, declared APC’s Uzodinma winner in Imo

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Cluelessness

The Supreme Court on Monday nullified the election of Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor of Imo State.

The apex court declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the March 9 governorship election in the state.

In the unanimous judgment of the seven-member panel, read by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the apex court agreed that results in 388 polling units were unlawfully excluded during the collation of the final governorship election result in Imo State.

Justice Kekere-Ekun said with the results from the 388 polling units added, Mr Uzodinma polled a majority of the lawful votes and ought to have been declared the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Consequently, she voided and set aside the declaration of Mr lhedioha as the winner of the 2019 governorship election in the South-East state.

The court ordered that the certificate of return wrongly or unlawfully issued to Mr lhedioha be immediately withdrawn by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and a fresh one issued to Mr Uzodinma as the elected governor of the state.

“Vote due to the appellant Senator Hope Uzodinma and the APC from 388 Polling Units were wrongly excluded from scores ascribed to the appellant(to them),” the justices ruled.

“It is thereby ordered that the appellant votes from 388 Polling Units unlawfully excluded from the appellant vote declared shall be added and that the first respondent, Emeka Ihedioha, was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast at the said election.”

“His return as the elected governor of Imo State is hereby declared null and void and accordingly set aside

“It is hereby declared that the first appellant (Mr Uzodinma) holds the majority of lawful votes cast at the governorship election held in Imo State on March 9, 2019.”

The justice said Mr Uzodinma has satisfied the mandatory constitutional requirements to be declared governor.

“It is hereby declared that first appellant, Senator Hope Uzodinma, is the winner of the governorship of Imo State held on March 9, 2019.

“The certificate issued to the first defendant (Mr Ihedioha) is hereby withdrawn.

“It is hereby ordered that the certificate of return shall be issued to the first appellant, Senator Hope Uzodinma, forthwith and he should be sworn in as the governor of Imo State,” she ruled.

Lower court’s earlier decision

The Court of Appeal on November 19 had affirmed the victory of Mr Ihedioha as the governor of Imo State.

A five-member panel of the court led by Oyebisi Omoleye delivered the judgement following the appeals filed by the Action Alliance, All Progressives Grand Alliance and the All Progressives Congress challenging the election of the governor.

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The appellants had argued that Mr Ihedioha did not obtain the constitutionally required one-quarter of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of the 27 local government areas of the state, as provided under Section 179 of the Constitution.

The appellants, therefore, asked the court to set aside the decision of the election petition tribunal and declare them the winner of the election or in the alternative order a rerun.

The Three Appeals

The three appeals filed against the judgment of the Imo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which upheld the election of Mr Ihedioha, include that of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and its candidate, Ifeanyi Ararume; Action Alliance (AA) and its candidate, Uche Nwosu and that of the APC and its candidate, Mr Uzodinma.

The different appellants asked the Court of Appeal to void the election of Mr Ihedioha on grounds that he did not obtain the constitutional one-quarter of the votes in at least two-thirds of the 27 local government areas of the state, in line with Section 179 of the Constitution.

In their various submissions, through their counsel, they asked the court to set aside the decision of the tribunal and declare them the winner of the March 9 governorship election or in the alternative order INEC to conduct a fresh election into the office of Governor of Imo State.

The three-member panel of the tribunal had in a unanimous decision delivered on September 21 held that Mr Ihedioha was lawfully declared the winner of the governorship election by INEC.

The panel led by Justice Malami Dongondaji had in the judgment dismissed Messrs Ararume, Nwosu and Uzodinma’s petitions for lacking in merit on the grounds that they failed to prove the allegations made in their petitions.

Apart from claims that Mr Ihedioha did not obtain the constitutional one-quarter of the votes in at least two-thirds of the 27 local government areas of the state, in line with the provisions of the law, the petitioners had also alleged substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act and Guidelines, including other irregularities.

But the tribunal in its judgement held that the case of the petitioners was unmeritorious because they failed to call relevant witnesses and that evidence of witnesses called were based on hearsay.

The tribunal, in addition, rejected documents tendered by the petitioners in support of their claims on the grounds that those who led evidence in the documents were not the makers of the documents.

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In his appeal, Mr Ararume urged the appellate court to upturn the decision of the tribunal on the grounds that the lower court erred in law when it arrived at the decision that his case and that of his party lacked merit and accordingly dismissed it.

The appeal which was predicated on 22 grounds was argued by his lead lawyer, Awal Kalu, while that of Mr Nwosu and AA, was argued by Niyi Akintola. That of Mr Uzodinma and APC was argued by Damian Dodo.

They all urged the panel to allow the appeal and grant all the reliefs sought by the appellants.

However, the lead counsel to Mr Ihedioha and the PDP, Onyechi Ikpeazu and Kaham Ejelam respectively, urged the court to dismiss the appeals for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

In a surprise move on Tuesday, Mr Nwosu withdrew his appeal, through his lawyer, Solomon Umoh.

He withdrew the appeal based on a December 20 Supreme Court ruling that he, Mr Nwosu, was not a validly nominated candidate for the election.

The respondents in the matter, including Mr Ihedioha and the PDP, did not object to the application of Mr Nwosu to withdraw his appeal before the apex court.

Consequently, the court dismissed Mr Nwosu’s appeal.

Ahead of today’s judgment, controversial catholic cleric, Ejike Mbaka, had prophesied that the Supreme Court verdict would see would lead to Mr Ihedioha losing his position and Mr Uzodinma replacing him.

THE CONTROVERSIAL 2019 ELECTION

INEC had declared Mr Ihedioha, a former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives winner of the governorship election in Imo.

INEC said Mr Ihedioha polled 273,404 ahead of his closest rival and candidate of the Action Alliance, Uche Nwosu, who the electoral body said scored 190,364 votes.

Mr Nwosu is the son-in-law of former Governor Rochas Okorocha who strongly backed his candidacy. Mr Nwosu lost his own case from the election petition tribunal to the Supreme Court.

By the INEC result, the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Ifeanyi Ararume, came third ahead of Hope Uzondinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The former polled 114, 676 while the latter polled 96,458. A total of 70 candidates representing various political parties took part in the election.

Mr Ihedioha is the first of the governors elected during the 2019 governorship elections to be so removed.

Culled: Premium Times

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American Ambassador To Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard Reveal Condition For Visa Ban Review

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Visa Restriction

Mary Beth Leonard, the American ambassador to Nigeria has revealed the condition for reviewing the visa restriction imposed on Nigeria.

Leonard revealed this on Tuesday, February 17, after meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige in Abuja.

The ambassador noted that the US wants Nigeria to sort out problems with information sharing.

“I need to clarify something for you here. The immigrant visa ban does not affect people who are currently resident in the United States. It does not cancel the status of anyone who currently lives in the United States.

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“What Secretary Pompey said was that it was meant to be temporary. And it is about problems with information sharing which are investigable, achievable and resolvable and we look forward to Nigeria in a very short time being able to meet those information-sharing goals so that the decision can be reviewed.”

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Recall that the United States President, Donald Trump added Nigeria and six others to a new list of countries on America’s visa restriction.

According to the report, Nigerians would not be barred from entering the country but would not be issued with certain types of visas.

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SANWO-OLU BIDS JUSTICE BULKACHUWA FAREWELL, AS APPEAL COURT PRESIDENT RETIRES

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Appeal Court

…Lagos’ll Always Keep Faith In The Rule Of Law, Says Governor

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said his administration will not deviate from the tenet of constitutional democracy, promising that actions of the State Government under his watch will be kept within the ambit of the law.

He said his Government’s faith in the judicial system remained unshakable, adding that Lagos had been a beneficiary of the rule of law.

Sanwo-Olu spoke on Wednesday while receiving the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa, on a courtesy visit at the Lagos House in Marina.

Justice Bulkachuwa, who was accompanied by other Justices of the Appeal Court, is retiring from the service after reaching the mandatory retirement period.

The Governor said Lagos would always stand on the good side of the law, adding that his administration would particularly stand in principle against actions that may undermine the independence of the Court.

He said: “Government in Lagos State is committed to ensuring that we all live within the ambit of the law. We will continue to engage the judiciary as an independent arm of the government. All of us in the executive arm will continue to uphold the tenet of the constitution that we swore to in our ways and deeds. We will not run foul of the law or any pronouncement of the Court.”

Sanwo-Olu saluted the outgoing Justice Bulkachuwa for her courage in driving far-reaching reforms in the Court of Appeal, saying her legacies would strengthen administration of justice across the country. The Governor said her legacies would be a guiding light for members of the judiciary and officers in the other arms of government.

The Governor said: “We are happy that you are proceeding to retirement at this prime age. You are now 70 years old but you are looking like a 50-year-old. Glory be to Almighty Allah for the grace of youthful appearance and energy. You have had a wonderful career in the judiciary.

“The several successes you have recorded during your tenure as President of the Court of Appeal will continue to be the legacy we will uphold in remembrance of your service to the nation. You are the oldest serving President of the Court of Appeal and you brought many reforms and laudable initiatives to strengthen the judicial process.

“Whoever is succeeding you will have enough to draw from your legacies. We hope you keep your doors open not only to the judiciary but also all of us who are looking forward to learn from your leadership skills.”

Justice Bulkachuwa said she would dedicate her retirement life to promoting girl-child education across the country, noting that she would not have achieved her potential had her father not given her a chance to go to school.

She was hopeful that the reforms and discipline she had instituted in the judiciary would be strengthened by the serving members, pointing out that she had mentored a new breed of judicial officers to entrench “good legacies” she is leaving behind.

“I will still be with my sisters and brother in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Courts. I have mentored so many young judicial officers and upcoming lawyers to carry on the legacies. I will still be part of the judicial system despite my retirement,” Justice Bulkachuwa said.

Asked why she chose to visit Lagos Governor in her first valedictory visit to any elected official, Justice Bulkachuwa said it was in Lagos the first Court of Appeal was set up among the three divisions created in 1976.

Besides, she said Lagos is playing pivotal roles in the administration of justice system, pointing out that majority of lawyers in the judiciary are serving in the State. She added that most of Appeal Court’s cases were being instituted in Lagos.

 

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FRSC Blames Low Literacy For High Rates Of Road Crashes

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Literacy

 

The Kastina State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Ali Tanimu, has blamed the low level of literacy for the high rate of road crashes on highways.

Tanimu stated this during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday, February 18.

Speaking in Katsina, he said that most drivers do not understand the Highway Code.

His word: ‘’They either don’t buy them or they do not care to read and understand it. Most of the crashes are avoidable if the motorists will abide by the laid down traffic rules and regulations,’’ he said.

‘’Due to the nature of our roads, some drivers overtake on a bridge, sharp bends or hilly areas where they cannot see far distance. ‘’In most cases, what will happen is either the vehicle will jump into the bridge or it will have a head-on collision with another vehicle,’’ he said.

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The sector commander further said that making phone calls while driving also contributes to high rates of accidents on highways.

‘’Some of the drivers even went to the extent of checking or writing SMS text messages while driving, and the worst part of it, is that the passengers will just keep quiet,’’ he said

According to the sector commander, some drivers mix and overloads human beings with animals or goods, and drive at high speed. According to him, in such circumstances, when there is an accident, it will be fatal. He thus advised drivers not exceed 100-speed limits for the safety of passengers.

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‘’If you want to travel far, you should have to start the journey in good time to avoid overspending.”

The sector commander further urged motorists to ensure that their vehicles have good headlamps if they want to travel in the night; good tyres and no mechanical fault, explaining that all those are contained in the code, as such drivers should endeavour to study it.

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