Shettima, Ihedioha And The Supreme Court By Arinze Anogwi
Arinze Anogwi urges the apex court to give effect to its judgment disqualifying Uche Nwosu from the Imo governorship election on the ground of double nomination.
While delivering judgment last May 26, 2023 on the suit by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against All Progressives Congress (APC) on Kashim Shettima’s double nomination as senatorial candidate as well as vice presidential candidate of the APC, the famous case of APP v Uche Nwosu featured prominently.
The Supreme Court in the judgment read by Amina Augie, JSC, reaffirmed that Uche Nwosu was found by the court to have held double nominations of both APC and AA in the 2019 gubernatorial elections and disqualified him on that basis. Almost three years after the PDP applied to the Supreme Court to give effect to its judgment delivered on December 20, 2019, disqualifying Uche Nwosu from the Imo governorship election on the ground of double nomination, the apex court has refused to list the application for hearing.
No reason has been given by the court on why it has refused to list the application for hearing, especially considering the public interest of the subject matter. Legal analysts reason that a political party is not capable of sponsoring two candidates for the same office in the same election. This informed the decision of the PDP to file an application at the Supreme Court seeking that its candidate, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha be declared the winner of the election since APC was precluded from sponsoring two candidates in the Imo State governorship election.
In an affidavit filed in support of the application which was deposed to by a legal practitioner, Adedamola Farokun, working in the Legal Department of the PDP, he averred thus: “The third Respondent/Applicant (PDP) is neither in any way seeking a review of the valid, subsisting and well considered judgment of this court delivered in this appeal nor seeking a review of the judgment of this court delivered on 14th January 2020 in SC/462/2019 but humbly seeking that this court give effect to its judgment delivered on 20th December,2019. “That this court has the constitutional, inherent powers and jurisdiction to grant the reliefs sought and give effects to its judgment.
“That it is in the interest of justice for this court to exercise its wide discretionary powers in favour of granting this application as prayed.”
In the application filed on behalf of the PDP by Philip Umeadi, the party is asking the court to declare that the governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma was not the candidate of the APC based on the court’s judgment that Nwosu was nominated by both the APC and the Action Alliance.
PDP is also asking the court for an order enforcing or otherwise directing the enforcement and or giving effect to the judgement of the court in the case delivered on the 20th December 2019 wherein the court held that Nwosu was nominated by both APC and AA and consequently declared his nomination a nullity.
PDP is asking of the Supreme Court to hold that “both the Action Alliance (AA) and the All Progressive Congress (APC) did not sponsor and/or field any candidate for the governorship election held in lmo State on 9th March, 2019 in view of the double nomination of the Appellant/Respondent by the two political parties aforesaid, and his subsequent disqualification as their gubernatorial candidate, as found by this honourable court in the judgment delivered on 20th December, 2019.”
The party asked the court for an order sequel to the above that Senator Hope Uzodinma was not a candidate by himself or of any party at the Imo State Governorship election held on 9th March, 2019. PDP also asked the court for an order directing the Independent National Electoral Commission to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Senator Hope Uzodinma.
It asked the court “for an order further directing the 4th respondent to issue a certificate of return to the gubernatorial candidate of the 3rd Respondent/Applicant, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ehedioha in the lmo state Governorship election held on 9th March. 2019 as the duly elected governor of lmo state, having scored the second highest number of votes in the said election sequel to the judgment of this court in Appeal No SC/1462/2019 Hope Uzodinma & Anor vs Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha & Others delivered on 14th January, 2020.”
The party further sought an order sequel to the above, directing that the said gubernatorial candidate of the 3rd Respondent/Applicant in the lmo state Governorship election held on the 9th March 2019 Rt. Hon. Emeka lhedioha be immediately sworn in as the governor of lmo state.
PDP stated the grounds for the application thus: “The court found that the Appellant/Respondent was nominated by both APC and AA as their gubernatorial candidate for the lmo state governorship election and conclusively held that he was disqualified by the provisions of S. 37 of the Electoral Act (as amended), for double nomination.
That after the said election, the governorship candidate of the 3d Respondent/Applicant Rt. Honourable Emeka lhedioha, was returned by the 4th Respondent as the winner of the election and consequently sworn into office.
That subsequently, the return of the governorship candidate of the 3rd Respondent/Applicant was challenged up to this court by one senator Hope Uzodinma who claimed to be the gubernatorial ‘candidate of the APC.’
That this court in its judgement delivered on 14th January, 2020 held that it was the said Senator Hope Uzodinma and not Rt. Honourable Emeka lhedioha that scored the highest number of votes in the election and ought to be returned as the duly elected governor of lmo state.
That by the clear terms of the judgment in this appeal, neither the AA nor the APC fielded any candidate for the lmo state governorship election held on 9th March 2019 and as such the said Senator Hope Uzodinma could not have been returned as the winner of the lmo State Governorship election as a candidate of the APC.
That APC could not have substituted the appellant with a view to further nominating the said Senator Hope Uzodinma as their candidate because that right was not available to the party under the Electoral Act.
That Senator Hope Uzodinma could not have been a candidate in the election as an independent candidate as such right is not available to him. That the 3rd respondent Applicant, PDP, as the main beneficiary of the judgment ought to enjoy the fruits of the said judgement.
That Rt. Honourable Emeka lhedioha, who is the candidate nominated by the 3rd Respondent /Applicant, and who scored the second highest number of votes after Senator Hope Uzodinma, from the judgment of this court ought therefore to be issued a certificate of return by the 4th respondent and sworn in accordingly.
That it will advance the cause of justice to grant this application particularly as none of the parties will be prejudiced by its grant. Although the suit was filed on July 9, 2020, the apex court has yet to consider it for hearing.
Anogwi is a Lagos-based legal practitioner