Many have called privately to ask me questions as to what happened in Imo Governorship election petition.
This little intervention is a summary of the legal contest. I must apologize in advance if some aspects of it is somewhat technical.
I am one of Senator Hope Uzodinma’s lawyers. I am not a member or a fan of APC but just an ordinary lawyer who did law job for the man who hired his services.
The petition was fought on the basis of exclusion of election results from 388 polling units in Imo State.These 388 polling units happened to be those in areas where Hope Uzodinma won massively. Many of them are around his father’s village.
INEC in its pleading offered no explanation as to the whereabouts of election results of the 388 polling units. INEC only pleaded that no polling units’ results were excluded.
In our Law of Evidence, there is what we call presumption. Applied to election litigation, there is the presumption on the 9th March 2019 Governorship election held in all the polling units in Imo. The implication of this is that it is the legal burden on INEC to account for what happened in the 388 polling units.
We put in evidence results of the 388 contested polling units through the collation agents of Hope Uzodinma who witnessed the unlawful exclusion. Neither INEC nor Emeka Ihedioha put in a different set of election results. Interestingly, neither INEC nor Ihedioha denied that those polling units in respect of which 388 Forms EC.8A were tendered and admitted, existed.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police in Charge of Operations during the election was subpoenaed. He responded and tendered copies of the Forms EC.8A given to Police officers in the 388 polling units in evidence. These documents were admitted as Exhibits PPP1_PPP366.
Hope’s petition was not taken seriously. Emeka focussed more on 1st runner-up’s petition. 1st runner-up asked for only nullification on ground that Emeka did not get required geographical spread. Hope Uzodinma asked to be returned as the winner of majority of the votes cast (declared result + excluded) AND ALTERNATIVELY for nullification and re-run.
In the fullness of time and sensing the futility of 1st runner-up’s prayer, we abandoned Uzodinma’s ALTERNATIVE PRAYER. The life of the law is not logic but experience. (O. W. Holmes).
We had spilt decision at the Court of Appeal. The minority judgment was in favour of Hope Uzodinma.
What the Supreme Court did was to examine the fact of the case, cross-check on the health of the jurisprudence behind the majority and minority decisions of the Court of Appeal.
If anything was wrong failure of INEC to give account is to be blame not the Supreme Court.
Barrister Remi Olatubora is Former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ondo State.