Palpable fears and high wire tension have enveloped the atmosphere in Owerri, the capital of Imo State as political gladiators await the outcome of tomorrow’s review of the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment on the governorship tussle in the state. The Supreme Court had on January 14, 2020 sacked Hon Emeka Ihedioha of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the Imo State governor, a ruling which seen to had run contrary to popular opinion prompting a call for the review of the case.
The Supreme Court judges have set aside tomorrow, February 18 for the hearing of the petition filed by the ousted governor seeking a revisit of the judgment which enthroned Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the incumbent governor.
Prior to the earth-shaking judgment, Senator Hope Uzodinma and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Chief Uche Nwosu of the Action Alliance (AA) had dragged Ihedioha and INEC to the State Election Petition Tribunal which sat in Owerri and the Appeal court seeking the nullification of the election results that brought Ihedioha to the Imo state government House Owerri but lost.
As a last resort, they proceeded to the apex Court which after critical study of the matter unanimously set aside the ruling of both the election petition tribunal and the Appeal Court and declared Uzodinma as the winner of the election.
This has expectedly altered the political equation in the state as almost all members of the state House of Assembly who were originally not of the APC political family have abandoned their parties and defected to the now ruling APC.
Fighting like a wounded lion, Chief Ihedioha and the NWC of the PDP have cried blue murder over the ruling of the Supreme Court, pleading that the ruling be reversed.
Ihedioha and the PDP are not alone in this struggle as not a few indigenes of the state believed that the position of the nation’s apex court was a perversion of justice and a mockery of the rule of law.
Impeccable sources told the Daily Champion that while the struggle by Ihedioha and his political disciples to reclaim his mandate continue to gather steam, the APC is not taking anything for granted as the party is doing its best to retain its Supreme Court victory.
Clandestine, overt and covert meetings, consultations lobbying, nocturnal meetings all geared towards securing the ears of the Supreme Court were rumoured to be the order of the day in Imo Sate.
Expectations and permutations also have become common discourse in most public places such as fast food centres, markets, schools, churches, and private offices as well as among commercial vehicle operators and their passengers with the common poser ”where will the pendulum of the clock swing to and who laughs last and who weeps last after the now much awaited February 18, 2020 adjudication by the Apex Court”.
Reacting to the development in the state when contacted yesterday, a seasoned technocrat, Chief George Azunna Ejiogu lamented the ugly experience of Imo people as a result of this level of uncertainty of governance.
He said that following this situation every economic activity in the state seem to be on stand still, thereby increasing the level of economic hardship in the state.
According to him, “nobody knows who becomes the governor of the state, as each of the two major parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) are very optimistic of clinching the ticket.
He advised the Supreme Court to do the needful to save the image of the Nigerian judiciary, as everybody including the international communities are watching the ongoing drama of election results in Nigeria.
Chief Ejiogu recalled the incident in Bayelsa State, where, All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate was declared winner of an election and suddenly the Supreme Court, had on the eve of the swearing-in ceremony upturned the result and declare the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate winner and ordered INEC to withdraw immediately the certificate of return already issued to the APC candidate.
“These ugly developments are too childish and diminishes the image of the electoral umpire and the Supreme Court of Nigeria’ he concluded.
Also reacting, a woman leader, Mrs Patricia Ijezie Nduka of the APC believed that the truth must be told by the Supreme Court.
According to her, “though I am a strong member of the APC, I believe that the truth this time must be told, the right thing should be done by the Supreme Court to save the economy of the state”.
She noted that the people of the state have suffered so much set back since the problem began in the state, pointing out that the state is greater than any of the party.
Meanwhile, the state House of Assembly on Thursday, Irked by the incessant protests arising from the supreme court judgment that ousted Chief Emeka Ihedioha out of office as governor of the state passed a vote of confidence Senator Hope Uzodinma as the new governor of the state.
Imo State House Assembly had warned that it would no longer fold it’s arms and watch the peace of the state threatened as the house has concluded to write to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to deal decisively with trouble makers in the state.
The motion which was moved by honourable Kennedy Ibeh representing Obowo state constituency was supported by 19 other co-sponsors.
Hon. Ibeh argued that the protesters who are being imported from Abia and Anambra states if allowed to continue with their actions would set the state on fire thereby disrupting the existing peace in the state.
Ibeh alleged that INEC conspired to “rob Imo people of their mandate “.
“I urge my colleagues to commend the judiciary for its courage in standing for justice and for restoring the mandate of Imo people to Senator Hope Uzodidnma who they elected on March 9, 2019.
“Pass a vote of absolute confidence on the judiciary in general and supreme court in particular and follow up with letter to this effect to the chief justice of Nigeria.
“Condemn in its entirety ,the reckless and lawless incitement of the public to stage protest against the judiciary and the government of Imo state by Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha and the PDP.
“Call for the immediate investigation and prosecution of the Resident Electoral Commissioner and the state Returning Officer for criminal conspiracy to rob Imo people of their mandate”
The resolutions were affirmed when the speaker, Rt. Hon. Collins Chiji (Isiala Mbano constituency), put them to a voice vote.
The lawmakers have also called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) and the Returning Officer (RO) of the 2019 governorship election in the state for what they described as a “conspiracy to rob the Imo people of their votes”.
Hon. Ibeh further noted that the electoral officers erred abinition by declaring Emeka Ihedioha winner of the 2019 governorship election.
According to the lawmaker who cited a section of the constitution which prevents the electoral officers from declaring whoever did not win a majority votes cast as a duly elected governor pointed out that this is a clear reason for the INEC officers to be prosecuted.
According to Ibeh “the motion will bring sanity to the people of Imo, we would no longer fold our arms when such things happen , especially when it concerns the peace of the state.”
Also, the state lawmakers has proposed a commendation letter to be written to the Chief Justice of the Federation for reassuring the people that the court is the hope of the common as it said depicted in the case of the incumbent governor and Ihedioha.
In a similar development, the house has passed a vote of confidence on governor Uzodinma for his outstanding performance so far since he assumed office.
According to the lawmaker representing Ideato south state constituency, Duru Johnson “the swearing -in of senator Hope Uzodinma has brought normalcy to the state unlike Ihedioha who came with intimidation, vindictiveness and harassment , his hundred days in office has nothing to show but the twenty eight days of Uzodinma, workers welfare was restored, they have brand new cars, Imo is proud for the turn of event”.
Meanwhile, another member of the house, Uju Onwudiwe who recently defected to APC after her victory in the rerun for Njaba state constituency, has urged Charles Oputa, popularly known as Charlyboy to desist from inciting citizens of the state with his “Our Mumu don do” protests.
“We have had enough of this show” being acted by Charlyboy, Imo is not a theatre for such show biz, he should stop inciting Imo citizens that have been known for peace”. Onwudiwe said.
However, Imo Council of Elders – a group of non partisan elders in the State commended the Supreme Court for its recent acceptance to review its judgement of 14th January, 2020 in respect of the state 9th March, 2019 governorship election.
Rising from a one-day meeting in Owerri, the elders in a communiqué also commended the Chief Justice of the Federation for accepting to hear the matter brought before it by former governor Emeka Ihedioha, praying that the apex court take a second look on his removal as the governor of the state.
The communiqué read by the spokesperson of the elders, chief Peter Mgbenwelu equally thanked the apex court for its courage in accepting to hear the matter scheduled for February, 18.
Mgbenwelu said the elders are pained having watched the avalanche of reaction both from within and outside the shores of the country prayed that the best wishes of the electorate are respected and normalcy restored to the state.
He said “we want to show gratitude , our cries has reached the receptive ears , as elders, interest of the state is paramount to us , in this believe we have come together to thank the CJN and the Justices of the supreme court for the review scheduled for February,18.
“We do not want to preempt them, but thanked them; we hope that all will be put to rest. We are non patient group of elders for stability, prosperity and security of Imo people, we have unshakeable believe on the Supreme Court to review the matter”. Mgbenwelu appealed.
It would be recalled that the state has been embroiled in series of protest against the new government since the Supreme Court upturned the decision of the appeal and tribunal court, giving victory to senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
The most recent was that led by Charles Oputa popularly known as “Charly boy” which saw thousands of citizens of the state protesting what they described as injustice done to Ihedioha.
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