PDP asks CJN to replace panel on Ihedioha, Uzodinma case

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mohammed Tanko, to constitute a new panel to review the Supreme Court verdict of January 14, 2020, which sacked its candidate in the 2019 governorship election, Emeka Ihedioha as Imo state governor and ordered the swearing-in of the APC candidate, Hope Uzodinma.

In a letter signed by the PDP National Chairman and Secretary, Prince Uche Secondus and Senator Ibrahim Tsauri, the PDP said it had become imperative that Tanko and other Justices who presided over the case be replaced to ensure that fairness and justice was not only done but seen to have been done.

EDITOR’S PICK: Supreme Court sacks Ihedioha, declares APC’s Uzodinma winner of election

The letter dated February 14, 2020, is titled “Demand for recusal of justices that heard the earlier case and request for a different panel to hear the application to set aside judgement.”

The party said it was not unmindful of the fact that a litigant cannot dictate to the court the panel that should hear its case, but pleaded that due to “extraordinary circumstances” and nature of the case, its request was fair.

The letter reads in part: “As a follow up to our earlier call on all members of the Panel to recuse themselves, we have now sought to formalise that request or demand.

“We hereby request that the 7 persons that heard the case earlier, recuse themselves from participating in the consideration of this new application.

“Consequently, we feel it as our patriotic duty to hereby humbly request that your Lordship constitute a different panel of this great Court (other than the one that delivered the judgement) for the purpose of hearing this application.

“The judgement sought to be set aside has generated so much misgiving, not only among lawyers but in the general polity as a whole because of the uncertainty it has introduced into our electoral jurisprudence, its potential for crisis in our democracy, the irreconcilability of the calculations contained therein and their resultant effect.

“My Lord, our request is founded on Section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which guarantees fair-hearing to every citizen or entity in the determination of his rights or obligations.

“Furthermore, the time honoured and tested principles of natural justice, particularly that no man shall be a judge in his own cause is particularly relevant to this solemn request.”

Daily Trust reports that the Supreme Court had on January 14, 2020 declared Senator Hope Uzodimma as the governor of Imo State.

The seven-member panel of justices had held that Emeka Ihedioha was not duly elected Governor.

Uzodimma had challenged the decision of the Court of Appeal which upheld the election of Ihedioha. The Court of Appeal in Abuja had in November 2019 dismissed three appeals challenging the election of Ihedioha.

A five-member panel of justices presided by Justice Oyebisi Omoyele  dismissed the appeals by the Action Alliance (AA) candidate, Uche Nwosu; All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Hope Uzodinma and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Ifeanyi Ararume challenging the election of Ihedioha.

While the appeal by the AA and APGA were dismissed by unanimous judgements, that of the APC was decided by a four to one split judgement.

The appellants had in their appeal against the judgement of the Imo State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Owerri contended that the election was marred by corrupt practices, non-compliance with the electoral laws and failure to secure the majority of lawful votes cast.

But the appellate court upheld the findings and conclusions of the tribunal in the March 9 election where Ihedioha polled 273,404 votes to emerge victorious.

The panel fined Ararume, Uzodinma and Nwosu N500,000 each.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC had declared Ihedioha winner of the guber poll in Imo state as he polled 273,404 to defeat the candidate of the Action Alliance (AA), Ugwumba Uche Nwosu who got 190, 364, leaving a difference of 83, 040.

The candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Senator Ifeanyi Araraume got 114, 676, followed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Hope Uzodinma, who polled 96, 458.

In the results announced by the Returning Officer, Prof. Francis Otunta, out of 2, 210,008 registered voters, 823, 743 were accredited out of which the election had 741, 355 valid votes cast and 25, 130 rejected votes.

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