UPDATE: Supreme Court sacks Ihedioha as Imo governor, orders swearing-in of Uzodinma as governor

•To decide Ganduje, Tambuwal's fate on Monday

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the removal of Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as Governor of Imo State on the ground that he did not score the lawful majority votes in the March 9, 2019 governorship election held in the state.

In his place, the apex court ordered that Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressive Congress (APC) be immediately sworn in as the duly elected governor of the state, in place of Ihedioha.

In the unanimous judgement delivered 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 result from the 388 polling units, the APC governorship candidate polled majority lawful votes and ought to have been declared the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC).

She held that the lower courts erred in law when they rejected the evidence tendered before them to the extent that the votes from the cancelled polling units, totalling 213, 295 in 388 polling units were not credited to the APC and Hope Uzodinma.

The court held that Ihedioha was not duly elected, “His election is void and.”

The court ordered that the certificate of return wrongly issued to lhedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), be immediately withdrawn by INEC and a fresh one be issued to Uzodinma as the elected governor of the state.

Justice Kekere-Ekun in the judgment set aside the judgment of the Imo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and that of the Court of Appeal, both of which had refused to recognize and accept the votes of the 388 polling units as being unlawfully excluded in the general collation.

Uzodinma and APC had in their appeal pleaded with the apex court to review the judgment of the two lower courts against them and restore their victory in the March 9 governorship election.

The two apellants maintained that the unlawful exclusion of votes from 388 polling units denied them victory in the election.

Meanwhile, the apex court will on Monday, January 20 deliver judgment in the appeals challenging the election of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State as well as governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.

The apex court presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammad fixed the date after arguments have been taken from the lawyers involved in the legal battle.

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The appellant in the case of Kano State Abbah Kabir Yusuf, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party had through his counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) asked the Supreme Court to nullify the election that brought Ganduje to office on the ground of the illegality of the election .

Awomolo in his argument informed the court that the Returning Officer with the Independent National Electoral Commission unlawfully cancelled elections in 207 polling units in the 44 local government Ares of Kano State during the March last year gubernatorial election

The senior lawyer also pleaded with the apex court to nullify the result of the March 23 supplementary election conducted by the Returning Officer and which led to the emergence of governor Ganduje adding that the supplementary election was unlawfully conducted after the purported cancellation

However, Dr Alex Izinyon (SAN), counsel to governor Ganduje urged the Supreme Court Justices to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.

He said that contrary to the claim of the appellant, form EC8E is the final result sheet for the governorship election and not form EC8D adding that the appeal has no legs to stand upon.

Also, counsel to INEC Malam Ahmed Raji (SAN) sought dismissal of the appeal on the ground that there was no established evidence of election cancellation by any Returning Officer on the election day.

Raji told the Justices that the Returning Officer was unable to collate results in the 207 polling units due to violence and snatching of election results sheets.

He specifically informed the court that it was the agent of the appellant who allegedly snatched election results sheets prompting the conduct of the supplementary election in the affected polling units

Raji pleaded with the apex court to uphold the concurrent findings of the election petition tribunal and the Court of Appeal and sustain the election of Ganduje as been validly conducted and lawfully declared as the governor of Kano State.

The appeals of Governors, Bala Mohammed of Bauchi, Simon Lalong of Plateau, Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa, and Samuel Ortom of Benue, were adjourned to a date that would be communicated to counsel.

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