Emeka Ihedioha, the sacked governor of Imo State, southeast Nigeria, says the Supreme Court judgment that declared Hope Uzodinma winner of the 2019 governorship election came to him as a “rude shock“.
Naija News had reported earlier that the Supreme court sacked Emeka Ihedioha as governor of Imo state and affirmed Uzodinma as the winner of the March 9 governorship election.
Giving judgment on the election on Tuesday, a seven-man panel of justices in a unanimous decision, held that Ihedioha did not win the majority of votes cast in the election.
Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who read the judgment, ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Ihedioha and give a fresh one to his APC rival.
“The votes due to the appellant, Hope Uzodinma and the All Progressives Congress (APC) from 388 polling units were wrongly excluded from scores ascribed to them,” Justice Kekere-Ekun ruled.
“It is hereby ordered that Emeka Ihedioha, was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the said election. His return as the elected governor of Imo state is hereby declared null and void and accordingly set aside.
“It is hereby declared that the first appellant (Uzodinma) holds the majority of lawful votes cast at the governorship election held in Imo State on March 9, 2019, and has satisfied the mandatory constitutional requirement.
“It is hereby declared that first appellant, senator Hope Uzodinma is the winner of the governorship of Imo State held on March 9, 2019.
“The certificate issued to the first respondent (Ihedioha) is hereby withdrawn. It is hereby ordered that the certificate of return shall be issued to the first appellant, senator Hope Uzodinma, forthwith and he should be sworn in as the governor of Imo State,” the judge added.
Reacting to the judgment in a statement on Wednesday in Owerri, Ihedioha said: “The judgment did not reflect the wishes of the people as expressed on election day; it is unfair.”
“I do not agree with the judgment because it did not take care of the sensibility of the people, but my Deputy, Mr. Gerald Irona, and I have no option but to accept the outcome of the verdict.
“No doubt, yesterday’s judgment came to us as a rude shock considering the facts on the ground, the legal precedence, and the people’s mandate,” he added.
The former governor said he had put machineries in motion to hand-over the office to Uzodinma as the next governor, adding that the hand-over would be coordinated by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Uche Onyeaguocha.
Ihedioha urged all political appointees to write their hand-over notes and also return all government property in their custody.
The former Imo governor said he would always cherish the support he got in the last seven months, adding that he sought to elevate merit, unity of purpose and transparency and inclusive approach to governance.
Ihedioha further stressed that he restored dignity to Imo by setting a new roadmap for good governance which reversed its negative trajectory within a space of seven months.
“It is significant to note that Imo was looking good again; we were declared the least corrupt state in Nigeria and the state with the fastest-growing economy,” he said.
On the governorship election, Ihedioha said he ran a good race, fought battles and governed the state well, and regretted that the court truncated his mandate.