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Imo: Why Supreme Court must redeem itself

When tomorrow comes, Nigerians from many walks of life will wait with bated breath on the Supreme Court, as it sits once more on the Imo State gubernatorial elections. Specifically, the matter comprises a reconsideration of an earlier judgment delivered by the apex court on January 14, 2020, which removed Emeka Ihedioha from office as the duly elected governor of Imo State and replaced him with Hope Uzodimma. By such a dispensation, the matter should ordinarily have terminated judicially. However, fresh attention of the Supreme Court on the matter has been spawned by the spate of unmistakable glitches which in turn generated an unprecedented groundswell of public outcry across the country, followed by  deep seated resentments on the international scene – especially among friends of Nigeria, which trailed the pronouncement by the apex court on the matter.

Against the backdrop of its status as the ultimate temple of jurisprudence in Nigeria, the apex court has always enjoyed prime attention whenever landmark cases come before it, as its pronouncements come with oracular authority. In the same vein, the  matter that will engage the attention of the learned jurists of the hallowed institution is no less a landmark affair, as it affects not only the litigants, but also the image of the institution along with the future of the judiciary of the country and ultimately the fortunes of democracy in Nigeria.

Admittedly, much has been said and even written about the pronouncement of the court since it happened, with the central thrust of the commentaries pointing to a patent miscarriage of justice in the dispensation. Among the commentators have been distinguished jurists, erudite lawyers, journalists, academics and several other persons who command respect for their ordinarily authoritative opinions. And with most of them concurring over the fact that the pronouncement should have gone some other way than it did, it remains imperative for the apex court to rethink and revisit the matter In the light of the foregoing. The case for tomorrow therefore calls for courage of the same court to redeem itself from the harsh judgment of posterity, which the present state of affairs may have laid in its future.

For the purpose of clarification, the expectation that the apex court will reverse itself is built on incontrovertible facts and breaches of due processes of jurisprudence. For instance, the primary basis for the public displeasure over the judgment remains the fact that the apex court relied on falsehood to rule Hope Uzodimma into office. The figures that were presented in his favour before the apex court have been proven to be questionable and were only intended to deceive the court and thereby obtain a tendentious judgement. Infact, even from the most cursory analysis, the figures add up to create an unreal situation where the total number of votes cast being 953,083, exceeded the total number of registered votes of 731,485. Only the participation of ghost voters in the elections can explain such a situation. Clearly the Supreme Court will be ill-edified to be reckoned in posterity as having validated an electoral result that was contrived on the basis of participation by ghost voters.

Beyond the issue of number of votes, the declaration of Hope Uzodimma as governor of Imo State had largely ridiculed the Supreme Court as it was tantamount to gifting a legally disqualified and underserving individual such a prestigious office. It needs to be recalled that the said Uzodimma had been technically disqualified by the apex court as a candidate of the APC in the March 9 governorship elections in Imo State.

As things stand, the forgoing evidence along with others vitiate any  contention that the pronouncement of the Supreme Court on Imo State of January 14 2020, falls far short of the minimal measure of justice which the institution represents and has ever deployed its valued enterprise to uphold. Hence as they sit on the matter tomorrow, the learned judges should be less interested in the technicality of the processes of law than the factuality behind the evidence on which the entire trial had proceeded. For as facts supercede opinion, so the truth trumps technicality. And given that the evidence on which the Imo State gubernatorial trial was prosecuted at the apex court featured significantly compromised elements in the eyes of the law, it remains controvertible and falls far short of acceptance by the Supreme Court itself. This is the contention of all who favour the revisit of the case by the apex court. It is also for good measure that the court has even allowed the matter a second chance in its hallowed chamber, which implies that the jurists there appreciate the fallibility of their humanity along with that of other actors who played one role or the other in the process of making the case reach its precincts.

One of the most dramatic instances where a superior authority was prevailed upon to reverse a judgment is easily the story in the Bible (Genesis 18) where the patriarch Abraham pleaded with God not to destroy the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah if only ten righteous persons were found there and God accepted. As infallible as God Himself is, he was willing to concede and reverse the destruction of the two cities. That Sodom and Gomorrah were eventually destroyed implied that even ten righteous souls out of then booming cities of Sodom and Gomorrah could not be found at the point of judgment.

The key lesson here is that for God who presciently knew that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were irredeemably corrupt, still conceded to human Abraham, the possibility of reversing His divine order to destroy the cities, the Supreme Court which comprises fallible human actors stands to benefit roundly and most importantly, redeem itself by reversing its ruling especially now that it is crystal clear that the revered institution had been hoodwinked into a questionable ruling on Imo, in its earlier judgment.

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