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Supreme Court to fix hearing in PDP’s suit against Uzodimma

The Supreme Court is expected to fix the hearing date in a motion filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking to sack Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma.

Information at the court’s Registry revealed that the motion by the PDP, in which it’s praying the Supreme Court to reverse its decision sacking Emeka Ihedioha, is now ripe for hearing because some processes were recently filed by some of the parties.

Listed as respondents to the motion on notice, filed by the PDP in an earlier appeal by Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, marked: SC/1384/2019 are: Nwosu, the Action Peoples Party (APP), Uche Nnadi and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

It is PDP’s contention that it was wrong for the court to declare Hope Uzodimma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) the winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Imo State after disqualifying Nwosu from contesting the election on the grounds that he allowed himself to be nominated as the governorship candidate of both the Action Alliance and APC for the same election.

It wants the court to declare that both the AA and the APC did not sponsor any candidate for the election in view of Nwosu’s double nomination by the AA and APC and his subsequent disqualification by the court in its judgment given on December 20, 2019.

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The PDP also wants the court to order that Hope Uzodimma was not a candidate by himself or of any political party at the election; and to order INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Senator Hope Uzodimma.

The party is equally praying the court to order INEC to issue a certificate of return to its candidate in the election, Emeka Ihedioha “as the duly elected Governor of Imo State, having scored the second-highest number of votes in the said election sequel to the judgment of this court in Appeal No: SC/1462/2019 – Senator Hope Uzodimma & another v. Rt.Hon. Emeka Ihedioha & others delivered on 14th January 2020.

It is further praying the court to issue an order, directing that Ihedioha be immediately sworn in as the Governor of Imo State.

The grounds relied on by the PDP in seeking the reliefs include that the court had, in its December 20, 2019 judgment, found that Nwosu was nominated by both APC and AA as their candidate for the election held on March 9, 2019, and conclusively held that he was disqualified by the provisions of Section 37 of the Electoral Act for double nomination.

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It stated that although Ihedioha was declared winner of the election and subsequently sworn in, the Supreme Court, in its judgment delivered on January 14, 2020 in the appeal, marked: SC1462/2019, filed by Uzodimma, held that the appellant (Uzodimma) and not Ihedioha that scored the highest number of votes in the election and ought to be returned as the duly elected governor.

The PDP added that by the clear terms of the Supreme Court’s judgment of December 20, 2019 in the appeal by Nwosu, it was obvious that neither the AA nor the APC fielded any candidate for the election held on March 9, 2019, and as such Uzodimma could not have been returned as the candidate of the APC.

It said: “APC could not have substituted the appellant (Nwosu) with a view to further nominating the said Senator Hope Uzodimma as their candidate because that right is not available to the party under the Electoral Act.

“Senator Hope Uzodimma could not have been a candidate in the election as an independent candidate as such right is not available to him.

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“Rt. Honourable Emeka Ihedioha, who is the candidate nominated by the third respondent/applicant (PDP), and who scored the second-highest number of votes after Senator Hope Uzodimma, from the judgment of this court, ought therefore to be issued a certificate of return by the fourth respondent (INEC) and sworn in accordingly.

In a supporting affidavit, a legal officer in the PDP, Adedamola Farokun, noted that by virtue of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Uzodimma’s appeal, Ihedioha scored the second-highest votes after Uzodimma.

Farokun added that by virtue of the Supreme Court’s earlier judgment in the appeal by Nwosu, which nullified the candidature of Nwosu as the duly nominated candidate of the APC, the APC had no candidate for the governorship election held on March 9, 2019.

He argued that it was Ugwumba Uche Nwosu who was the duly nominated candidate of the APC, which nomination was on the records of INEC up to and after the election, but whose nomination was nullified by the December 20, 2019 judgment of the Supreme Court.

Farokun contended that as at when Nwosu’s candidacy was nullified, the APC could not have validly substituted its candidate as there are no provisions for post-election substitution of candidates.

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