Association for Public Policy Analysis, a non-governmental organization, has petitioned the Supreme Court to settle all pending disputes regarding the 2019 governorship election in Imo State prior to the election for governor, which will take place on November 11.
The date of October 31, 2023 was chosen by the court as the date on which it would hear two distinct appeals that had been filed since 2020 in an effort to determine who the legitimate candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 election was.
The two appeals are the result of two judgments that were handed down by the court in late 2019 and early 2020. In those judgments, questions regarding the authenticity of the candidate for governor nominated by the APC became problematic.
Uche Nwosu was prohibited from running for election in 2019 by the supreme court because he held duplicate nomination from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Action Alliance (AA).
Emeka Ihedioha, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was ousted from his position as elected governor by the Supreme Court in a separate ruling in the year 2020. It announced that Hope Uzodimma of the APC had been proclaimed the victor in the 2019 governorship election.
A motion on notice was filed in 2019 by the People’s Democratic Party (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. The PDP and APP are dissatisfied with the manner in which Uzodinma became the APC gubernatorial candidate.
Philip Umeadi SAN, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, had previously brought another move on notice to the Supreme Court for the interpretation of the judgment that terminated Nwosu and seeking enforcement of the same judgment as it relates to the APC’s participation in the 2019 Imo governorship race. This motion was filed with the intention of having the Supreme Court provide an interpretation of the ruling that sacked Nwosu.
At a news conference held in Abuja on the two outstanding motions on notice, the group urged with the highest court to decide the two issues before another election is held. The conference was on the subject of the pending motions on notice.
Comrade Princewill Okorie, the National President of the Association, applauded the court for setting October 31 as the date for both of the pending lawsuits, but he also expressed concern regarding purported attempts to move the date.
“It should be noted that there were two judgments handed down by the Supreme Court on the 20th of December 2019 (SC/1384/ 2019) and the 14th of January 2020 (SC/462/2019).
“The two judgments raised fundamental issues affecting politics in Imo State and have yet to be resolved by the Supreme Court in the past three years,” he added. “The issues have yet to be resolved by the Supreme Court in the past three years.”
He pleaded with the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, to dismiss any pressure from any quarters that would truncate the hearing of the ongoing matters or postpone their expedient disposal before the election for governor of Imo State on November 11.
Okorie stated that taking into consideration that the State has been politically unstable and unsafe since the year 2020, the association, on the 10th of October 2023, wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria and appealed to him to see to it that the motions are heard and rulings are given expeditiously before the 2023 election for governor. Okorie said that this was done in light of the fact that the State had been politically unstable and unsafe since the year 2020.
“While it is gratifying to note that the Chief Justice of Nigeria granted our plea by fixing the 31st of October 2023 for the 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 members 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 even consider 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? “[T]he issue is: [T]he question is: why will traditional rulers attempt to influence shift in the hearing date of the two motions?
“The Chief Justice of Nigeria, who by his action after receiving our letter approved the date for hearing of the motions,” Okorie said. “This is without the notice of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.”
He made the accusation that some public workers working in the judiciary, legislators, and traditional authorities are attempting to delay the hearing and the determination of the case for motives that are both self-serving and unpatriotic.
“Putting to rest the legal dispute over the 2019 governorship election before the next election will not only restore the faith of the people of Imo in the court system, but it will also promote justice and fair play, as well as provide the parties engaged in the matter the opportunity to move on with their lives.
“Finally, it is important to remind the Chief Justice of Nigeria that moving the date of the motions that have been pending at the Supreme Court for more than 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 is why it is important to remind the Chief Justice of Nigeria that moving the date of the motions that have been pending at the Supreme Court for more than three years.
“This image and perception will be very incorrect in the eyes of the international community, who are depending on Nigeria to champion effort towards sustainability of credible democracy in Africa,”
He pleaded with the court to not give in to any pressure from the outside and instead make every effort to hear the two current motions and hand down decisions in some fashion or another in order to permanently resolve the political impasse in Imo State.
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