Barely eight months in office, Imo State Governor Emeka Iheadioha was sacked on Tuesday.
The Supreme Court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return from him and give it to Hope Uzodinma, who is to be sworn in immediately.
The judgment elicited mixed reactions from the All Progressives Congress (APC), whose candidate is declared the winner and the Peoples Democratic Party, which presented Ihediooha
In Owerri, the Imo State capital, supporters of Uzodinma took to the streets celebrating while Ihedioha’s lamented the loss.
The verdict also gave credibility to the prediction by a Catholic priest Ejike Mbaka of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu, who said in December that Uzodinma would become Imo State governor.
The Supreme Court postponed till Monday, judgments in the cases involving Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal and his Kano State counterpart Abdullahi Ganduje.
Delivering the judgment in the Imo case, members of the seven-member panel of the apex court unanimously agreed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was wrong to have excluded results from 318 polling units from the votes recorded for the APC candidate.
The votes scored by Uzodinma and his party in the 318 polling units and which the court held was unlawfully excluded was put at 213, 695. Ihedioha and the PDP were said to have scored 1, 903 in the polling units said to be located in Uzodinma’s stronghold.
The lead judgment read by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun holds that the election petition tribunal and the Court of Appeal misunderstood Uzodinma’s case when they ruled in favour of Ihedioha.
She said the case of the appellants (Uzodinma and the APC) was about unlawful exclusion of part of the votes he garnered in the election and not whether or not there was a valid election in part of the state where Uzodinma’s results were cancelled.
Justice Kekere-Ekun said the judgment in the appeal marked: SC/14/62/2019 filed by Uzodinma and his party was used to resolve all the issues.
According to her, the other appeals – SC/1461/2019 (filed by Ifeanyi Ararume of the All Progressives Grand Alliance and SC/1470/2019 filed by Ihedioha were no longer necessary as it had become academic in view of the court’s decision in the Uzodinma appeal.