A public advocacy group, the Lower Niger Vanguard, has called on the Supreme Court of Nigeria to take urgent steps to resolve the lingering dispute over the 2019 Imo State governorship election.
The call is coming on the heels of the decision of the court to revisit its judgment of 20th December, 2019 on the governorship election and give effect to its consequential pronouncements.
It will be recalled that the apex court had given two judgments on the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Imo State. On 20th December, 2019, the court disqualified both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Action Alliance (AA) and their candidates from the election on the ground that one candidate, Uche Nwosu, held the tickets of both parties for the election.
Curiously, the same court, on 14th January, 2020 pronounced Hope Uzodinma who was purported to have run the election under the platform of the APC as the winner of the election. Both judgments contradicted each other as two candidates could not have held the ticket of the APC for the same election.
In statement by its Executive Director, Marcus Marizu, the group called on the Supreme Court to resolve the absurdity and inconsistencies that have characterized its judgments on the Imo governorship election without further delay.
The group, in particular, wants the court to give effect to its judgment of December 20, 2919, as this will lay to rest all the disputes and red herring on the issue. It argued that rather than taking Imo people through a needless election, the court should resolve, once and for all, all the unsettled issues so that Imo and its people can have the benefit of a legitimate government.
The statement reads in part:
“We have taken note of the elaborate preparations geared towards holding a new election in Imo state in a couple of weeks. We would have identified with this exercise if all were well with the State. But we have chosen to distance ourselves from this charade because the concerned authorities have, unfortunately , failed to take steps to lay to rest the ghost of the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the state.
“We recall with regret that the Supreme Court in its judgment of January 14, 2020, reversed the declaration of Emeka Ihedioha as the governor of Imo State by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
We recall also that the same court had, on December 20, 2019 declared that two political parties that participated in the election, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Action Alliance (AA) did not have candidates in that election because one person, Uche Nwosu, held the tickets of the two parties, an act that violated the 2010 Electoral Act. Sadly, however, the Supreme Court did not give effect to the December 2019 judgment, a situation that made the judgment of January 14, 2020 possible.
“We are however delighted to know that regardless of the long delay in giving effect to the relevant judgment of December 20, 2019, the Supreme Court has finally chosen to conclude a matter that it started nearly four years ago.
We therefore call on the apex court to do what is required of it by ensuring that it enforces the judgment it willingly made. It should revisit the lingering issues with boldness and sincerity of purpose so that justice will be served in this matter.
“We need not remind the judiciary that it is the bastion of democracy. Democracy will go to seed if the judiciary makes itself a willing tool in the hands of the executive and legislative arms of government. An independent judiciary will always ensure that this does not happen.
“It is therefore time to save the people of Imo State and, indeed, the entire country from the recklessness that has pervaded the state’s political scene since the infamous judgment of January 14, 2020 took place.
The people do not just need good governance, those who ascend exalted political offices, including that of governor, must be seen to have attained such height through the popular will of the people.”