By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.
A civil group, Association for Public Policy Analysis, has asked the Supreme Court to resolve all pending cases on the 2019 Imo State governorship election before the November 11 gubernatorial poll.
The group’s request comes as Abuja-based human rights lawyer, Frank Tietie, on Arise Television submits that the ghost of the Imo gubernatorial election four years ago be put behind the Supreme Court. He recalls that late justice of the court, Centus Nweze, had warned that the ghost of the election would haunt the apex court.
Everday.ng recalls that Hope Uzodinma had been controversially declared winner of the election by the Supreme Court, though he had initially come fourth. Then sitting governor, Emeka Ihedioha, had been sacked by the court.
Below is the interview with Tietie:
Meanwhile, the apex court had fixed October 31, 2023, to hear two separate appeals filed since 2020 seeking to know the authentic candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 election.
The two appeals are fallouts of the two judgments delivered by the court in late 2019 and early 2020 in which issues of authenticity of the APC gubernatorial candidate became thorny.
The apex court had disqualified Uche Nwosu from contesting the 2019 poll because he held double nomination of the APC and the Action Alliance (AA).
In another judgment in 2020, the Supreme Court removed Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the elected governor. It declared APC’s Hope Uzodimma as the winner of the 2019 governorship election.
Dissatisfied with how Uzodinma became the APC gubernatorial candidate, a motion on notice was filed in 2019 by the PDP and Action People’s Party (APP), praying the apex court to interpret the effect of the judgment that held Nwosu as APC’s candidate but disqualified him for having double nomination of APC and AA at the same time.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Philip Umeadi SAN, had filed another motion on notice to the Supreme Court for the interpretation of the judgment that sacked Nwosu and seeking enforcement of the same judgment as it relates to APC’s participation in the 2019 Imo governorship election.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on the two pending motions on notice, the group pleaded with the apex court to determine the two cases before another election is conducted.
National President of the association, Comrade Princewill Okorie, praised the court for fixing October 31 for the two suits, but raised an alarm over alleged plans to shift the date.
“It is on record that there were two Supreme Court judgments of December 20th 2019 (SC/1384/ 2019) and January 14th 2020 (SC/462/2019).
“The two judgments raised fundamental issues affecting politics in Imo State and yet to be resolved by the Supreme Court in the past three years,” he said.
He pleaded with the Chief Justice of Nigeria CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, to jettison any pressure from any quarters that will truncate the hearing of the pending matters or delay their expeditious disposal before the November 11th governorship election in Imo State.
Okorie said considering that the State has been politically unstable and unsafe since 2020, the association, on 10th October 2023, wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria and appealed to him to see that the motions are heard and rulings given expeditiously before the 2023 governorship election.
“While it is gratifying to note that the Chief Justice of Nigeria granted our plea by fixing 31st October 2023 for hearing of the motions, it is regrettable that information reaching us from our analysts in the judiciary is pointing to the fact that some staff at the Supreme Court have been induced to compromise by making frantic efforts to shift the hearing date which has already been served on parties in the cases to December 2023.
“The question is, why should judiciary staff contemplate shifting the date approved by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, and why will traditional rulers attempt to influence shift in the hearing date of the two motions?
“This is without the notice of the Chief Justice of Nigeria who by his action after receiving our letter approved date for hearing of the motions,” Okorie said.
He alleged that certain public servants in the judiciary, politicians and traditional rulers are trying to delay the hearing and determination of the case for selfish and unpatriotic reasons.
“Putting the 2019 governorship election judicial struggle to rest before the next election will not only restore the confidence of the Imo people in the judiciary but promote justice and fair play as well as give parties involved in the matter the opportunity to move on with their lives.
“Finally, it is important to remind the Chief Justice of Nigeria that shifting the date of the motions that have stayed at the Supreme Court for over three years will present the Supreme Court as the institution that is not consistent with her decisions on policies, circumventing the will of justice, propelling political instability in Imo State and lacking in integrity.
“This image and perception will be very wrong in the eyes of the international community who are relying on Nigeria to champion effort towards sustainability of credible democracy in Africa.”
He asked the Court not to bow to any external pressure but to strive to hear the two pending motions and deliver rulings in one way or another to settle the political impasse in Imo State permanently.