Posted by News Express | 12 October 2020 | 1,874 times
By Collins Ughalaa KSC
On Monday, September 28, 2020, the news emerged that the governorship candidate of the Reform and Advancement Party (RAP) for the 2019 governorship election in Imo State, Barr. Kingdom Okere, had on September 24, filed a motion for the withdrawal of his suit challenging the judgement of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, which declared Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodimma the Governor of the State. Barr. Okere had, among other things, asked a Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Okon Abang to interpret and enforce the earlier judgement of the Supreme Court, that Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, who participated in the governorship election under the platform of the Action Alliance (AA), had double nomination from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and AA, at a time. Based on the said double nomination, the Supreme Court quashed Nwosu’s participation in the election. This judgement had raised the hope in some quarters that Senator Hope Uzodimma would not be declared winner of the election by the Supreme Court on January 14. But that was not the case, as the Court found merit in Uzodimma’s case and declared him Governor.
Understanding the implications of what the Supreme Court said about Uche Nwosu on the 2019 governorship election of Imo State is imperative for understanding the recent move to remove the Governor. Delivering judgment on the application brought before it by the PDP to reject Uzodimma’s appeal, based on the Uche Nwosu matter, the Supreme Court said that the Uche Nwosu matter was a pre-election matter raised before it for the first time without leave. The Court said that it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain it, and that it was not a judgement “in rem”. The Court said that the case on Uche Nwosu bothered on the grounds that his nomination by the AA was made during the pendency of a similar nomination by the APC.
We cannot adequately comprehend the ramifications and implications of the expression, “during the pendency of a similar nomination” if we did not understand what happened during the contest for the APC governorship ticket in 2018. The Court was clear that Uche Nwosu should not have obtained the governorship ticket of AA during the pendency of his APC ticket, which he purportedly obtained on October 6, 2018. By its judgement, the Supreme Court meant that both the APC and AA did not simultaneously present Uche Nwosu for the 2019 governorship election, but that Uche Nwosu at a point – after he purportedly got the governorship ticket of the APC as of October 6, knowingly allowed himself to be nominated by another party, AA, for the same position.
Obviously, Uche Nwosu had double guber ticket at a time but did not stand for election as the candidate of the APC, or APC/AA but AA only. Therefore, when did the pendency of Uche Nwosu’s purported nomination by the APC end? To unravel this we have to recall that Senator Hope Uzodimma emerged the governorship candidate of the APC in Imo State on October 1, 2018. This was accepted by the national leadership of the party, except Okorocha and his group. They purported to have conducted a fresh primary election where Uche Nwosu purportedly emerged the governorship candidate of the party. This occasioned a logjam in the party. Something needed to be done to resolve this tango. To bell the cat, Prince Eze Madumere, former Deputy Governor of the state and a governorship aspirant in the APC, approached the High Court of Imo State seeking redress. He got judgement on Wednesday, November 21, 2018, quashing Uche Nwosu’s candidature in the APC.
According to www.vanguardngr.com, “An Imo State High Court, presided over by Hon. Justice Kemakolam A. Ojiako, Wednesday, upheld the prayers of the Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, and quashed the purported gubernatorial primary allegedly held on October 6, 2018, by the Governor Rochas Okorocha faction of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state… Justice Ojiako granted all the prayers sought by Prince Madumere, including the prayer that the October 1, 2018, APC primary election was credible, relevant and meets the parameters for the exercise…Justice Ojiako equally upheld that the judgement was based on the subsisting Order of the Court, granted by Abuja High Court, restraining the party from conducting any fresh primary elections until the determination of the matter before it over the October 1, 2018 primary election”.
Justice Orjiako particularly ruled that the defiant act of the Agbakabia-led committee in conducting a fresh election on October 6 which purported to have produced Uche Nwosu as the governorship candidate of the APC was an effort in futility and an affront to the extant laws guiding court processes.
But at what point did Uche Nwosu become the governorship candidate of the AA? We are not unmindful of the fact that politics is a game of intrigue. Some politicians do things that appear weird to the ordinary eye. Thus, while the battle for the real candidate of the APC lingered at the Imo State High Court, Uche Nwosu was reported to have obtained the governorship ticket of the AA. Having obtained the AA ticket, all attention shifted to building the new party and his support base as well. But then there was a huge lacuna that would nail his new ticket, that is, that he emerged the governorship candidate of the AA while his purported governorship ticket in the APC was yet un-settled. This is the crux of the matter, and it presented no ambiguity when the Court quashed his participation in the election.
This was why the news that RAP had approached a Federal High Court in Abuja to interpret and enforce its judgement on Uche Nwosu’s nomination seemed to us like an abuse of the court process. Remarkably, striking out the suit filed by RAP on Tuesday, September 29, 2020, the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Okon Abang affirmed Governor Uzodimma as the validly elected Governor of Imo State. Justice Abang, in his well-received judgement described RAP’s suit as weak and unsupportable, and awarded cost against them. The Court said: “Having filed counter affidavit and objections filed and served, and then the plaintiff decides to withdraw the suit that is weak and manifestly unsupportable”, noting that the weak suit brought before him had already been settled by the Supreme Court.
Then, Chief Philip Umeadi (SAN) shows up with similar application at the Supreme Court. Chief Umeadi, a former INEC Commissioner, filed the motion on July 27, 2020, asking the Apex Court to enforce or to ensure the enforcement of its judgment on Ugwumba Uche Nwosu over who is the authentic governorship candidate of the APC in Imo in the 2019 election, citing sections 6 (6) A and 287 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended). This application by Chief Umeadi makes us wonder whether he is aware that the High Court in Imo State had on November 21 2019 quashed Uche Nwosu's candidacy in APC, and that by that judgement he was no longer a candidate of the APC in any form by November 21, 2018.
We do not speak for the courts, but we think that what is going on, no matter its hue, is mere sensation, a distraction orchestrated by the PDP to keep its membership intact. We also see this move as an effort to arm-twist the Supreme Court to review its classical January 14th judgement, which it had on March 3, 2020, refused to review.
Having suffered the unexpected loss, and having been in the opposition since 2007, the PDP needed to keep its house intact. This need is also the reason for the rumour that President Buhari and the national leadership of the APC are not interested in what is going on about Imo. With Edo State gone to the PDP, methinks that losing Imo State would mean losing the entire Southeast and Southsouth. Only a President who does not understand political underpinnings, or a politician that is so only in name, would take this kind of risk.
In all of this, Imo people expect the Supreme Court to rise to the occasion and put paid to this matter that has become vexatious, so that Imo State would move on.
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