“It is the proper of each individual male, in parliament or out of it, in the push or in excess of the broadcast, to make truthful comment, even outspoken remark, on issues of community fascination. All those who remark can deal faithfully with all that is completed in a court of justice “. – Lord Denning in R vs. Metropolitan Law enforcement Commissioner, Exparte Blackburn (No. 2) (1968) 2 Q.B. 150.
In an unanimous judgement in Go well with No: SC 1462/2019 (Senator Hope Uzodinma& Anor vs. Rt Hon. Emeka Ihedioha& 2 Some others) shipped on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, a 7-person panel of the Supreme Court docket of Nigeria nullified the election of the erstwhile governor of Imo Point out, Emeka Ihedioha, and requested the fast swearing in of Hope Uzodinma as the validly-elected governor of Imo Point out.With the higher than dictum of Lord Denning in mind, Imo Progressive Attorneys Association (IPLF) has considered it important to request certain pertinent concerns regarding the Supreme Court rulingthat sacked Emeka Ihedioha.
Initially off, we make bold to condition that each Ihedioha and Uzodinma are highly regarded sons of NDI IMO. This reflection specifically responds to the controversy which the Supreme Courtroom judgement created because it was sent. And far more importantly, it is not dropped on us thatformer governor Ihediohahas approached the apex court for a critique of the judgement that ousted him. The consequence is that the matter acquiring been submitted to the Supreme Court continues to be subjudice. As legal professionals, we are mindful that commenting on cases sub judice are frequently regarded inappropriate. On the other hand, we are constrained to elevate the pursuing issues immediately after owning examine the complete judgement of the apex courtroom.
Prior to delving into the points of the matter, it is instructive to note that Area 179 (2) of the Structure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) promotions with the votes that a candidate will have to garner at a gubernatorial election to be declared winner. That area supplies:
179 (2): A applicant for an election to the place of work of governor of a point out shall be considered to have been duly elected where by, there remaining two or much more candidates –
- he has the optimum number of votes solid at the election and
- he has not less than just one-quarter of all votes cast in every of at minimum two-thirds of all the local authorities spots in the point out.
Guided by the constitutional directives over, we look at the undisputed information in the recent judgement. The distinct information to be aware are:
- The 1st Appellant (Hope Uzodinma) filed a petition difficult the return of the 1st Respondent (Emeka Ihedioha) on two grounds:
(a) The 1st Respondent was not validly elected by majority of lawful votes solid and
(b) The declaration and return of the 1st Respondent is invalid by reason of non-compliance with the Electoral Act. (See web site 2 of the guide judgement delivered byKudiratMotonmoriOlatokunboKekere-Ekun JSC).
- Elections were held in 27 Community Govt Locations, 305 electoral wards and 3, 523 polling models. The 3rd Respondent (INEC) cancelled the election in 252 polling units, collated outcomes from 2,883 polling models and excluded results from 388 polling models. The 1st Respondent averred that he scored 213,695 votes from only the 388 polling units excluded. (See pages 2-3 Kekere-Ekun JSC’s judgement).
- Paragraph 7, a, b, c, d, e and f of the 3rd Respondent’s (INEC’s) Reply categorically denied the claims in the Appellant’s petition, specifically the incorrect computationof election results as alleged. (See webpages 31-32 of Kekere-Ekun JSC’s judgement).
Owning established the regulation and the undisputed specifics in the make a difference, we find to increase the following thoughts concerning the judgement –
A. The Appellant (Hope Uzodinma) pleaded that he scored around 213,000 votes from 388 polling models. Nevertheless, for the duration of the demo, his star witness, PW54, a police officer, only tendered the benefits of 366 polling units in its place of 388. The findings by the Tribunal, Courtroom of Enchantment and the Supreme Courtroom also established that PW54 tendered outcomes of 366 polling units as versus 388 polling units. Does this discrepancy not place the Supreme Courtroom on its enquiry?
B. The court docket is bound to get judicial recognize that the most number of voters for every polling device is 500 unless there are added voting factors made. Once again, 500 voters multiplied by 388 polling models cannot be extra than 194,000.00 votes. That is to say that 500 voters multiplied by 366 would also, give only a maximum achievable of only 183,000 votes. Cognizant of the certainty of fatalities, voter transfers and voter apathy, the risk of all 500 voters in every single of the 388 (or 366) polling models voting in the course of an election is quite distant, if not impossible. So, no matter whether by 366 or 388 polling models, the figures presented by the Appellant go away each mathematical and rational gaping holes that ought to place the apex court docket on its enquiry.
C. Curious more than enough, the Supreme Courtroom refused to search into the cross-appeal of the Initial Respondent (Emeka Ihedioha), holding that the principal enchantment experienced built it needless to consider the cross-attraction. With owing regard to the apex court docket, possibly, if the cross-attraction experienced been evaluatedon its benefit, some of questions highlighted higher than would been dealt with.
D. In mild of A and B above, has the Supreme Court glad alone that the ailments set out in Part 179 (2) of the Structure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) have been entirely complied with as would warrant the nullification of Ihedioha’s election and the declaration of Uzodinmaas the real winner?
Justice, they say, is not a cloistered virtue. She need to be permitted to endure the scrutiny and respectful, even outspoken, responses of common gentlemen”. – “Lord Atkin in Ambard vs. Attorney-Basic for Trinidad & Tobago (1936) AC 322, 335. As ministers in the temple of justice and equally as stakeholders in the Imo governance architecture,
Imo Progressive Lawyers Affiliation are moved by Lord Atkin’s admonition to increase the earlier mentioned legal inquiries. We desk these problems as amicus curia, fuelled by the deep issue that the doctrine of stare decisis would be threatened if these troubles are not exhaustively reconsidered by the apex court docket.
In the closing investigation, the Supreme Court docket is a policy courtroom, with its selections binding not only on each individual decrease court, but on all other institutions and executive arms of authorities. In line with the whole bindingness of Supreme Court’s judgement, Hope Uzodinma was sworn in as governor with alacrity. Our major issue for that reason is that justice prevails. Not only that, each individual routine of the point out need to derive its legitimacy from preferred democracy and audio software of the rule of law.
We finish our reflections by reference to the subsequent offers by Lord Denning in his guide ‘The Highway to Justice'(1955):
“In every single courtroom in England, you will, I think, find a newspaper reporter… He notes all that go on and makes a good and exact report of it… He is, I verily feel watchdog of justice… The choose will be mindful to see that the demo is relatively and appropriately carried out if he realizes that any unfairness or impropriety on his section will be famous by people in courtroom and may perhaps be documented in the push. He will be extra nervous to give a appropriate selection if he is aware that his explanations need to justify them selves at the bar of public opinion’.
“When a choose sits on a situation, he himself is on trial… If there is any misconduct on (his) aspect, any bias or prejudice, there is a reporter to maintain an eye on him.” Lord Denning in his handle just before the Large Court Journalists Affiliation as described in the Moments of 3rd December 1964.
Signed Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, General Secretary
Matthias Emeribe, Publicicty Secretary,