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Op-ed: THE IMO GUBERNATORIAL JUDGMENT – A PAINFUL BUT LEGALLY CORRECT VERDICT!

What happened was this: during the governorship election in Imo State, apparently concocted results, perhaps not having any basis whatsoever in reality, BUT SIGNED BY INEC PRESIDING OFFICERS, were turned in from more than 350 polling units, giving Hope Uzodinma of the APC an incredibly unassailable lead. When those results were transmitted to the wards collation centers, the collation officers, who had no power in law to cancel or reject them, rejected the said polling units results and refused to collate them, thereby effectively excluding them from the total tally of the governorship result that was eventually declared by the Returning Officer. In the aftermath of the said exclusion, the Independent National Electoral Commission declared Governor Ihedioha the winner of the election.

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It is indeed a perplexing paradox: Hope Uzodinma may not have won the 2019 Imo State gubernatorial election, yet the Supreme Court, on the facts, was right in declaring him the winner of that election in law. The error was not the Supreme Court’s, but that of Governor Emeka Ihedioha’s legal team, and it was a crucially fatal error.

What happened was this: during the governorship election in Imo State, apparently concocted results, perhaps not having any basis whatsoever in reality, BUT SIGNED BY INEC PRESIDING OFFICERS, were turned in from more than 350 polling units, giving Hope Uzodinma of the APC an incredibly unassailable lead. When those results were transmitted to the wards collation centers, the collation officers, who had no power in law to cancel or reject them, rejected the said polling units results and refused to collate them, thereby effectively excluding them from the total tally of the governorship result that was eventually declared by the Returning Officer. In the aftermath of the said exclusion, the Independent National Electoral Commission declared Governor Ihedioha the winner of the election.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screenshot_1-3.png
Emeka Ihedioha

The exclusion of the results of those polling units was the fulcrum of the petition presented at the Tribunal by Hope Uzodinma. Ever since David Mark V. ABUBAKAR USMAN, and DOMA V. INEC, the law has been settled that neither collation officers nor a returning officer, has the power in law to exclude a polling unit result duly signed by the presiding officer at the polling unit; only the election tribunal possesses the power to cancel or exclude such a result. So, at the point of its presentation, Senator Uzodinma’s petition was potentially viable, in spite of the apparent dubiousness of the polling units results on which it was anchored, there being a REBUTTABLE presumption of regularity and correctness, by virtue of both the Electoral Act and Evidence Act, enuring in favor of any result declared by a presiding officer.

The backbreaking and fatal error made by Ihedioha’s legal team was in not filing a CROSS PETITION fiercely challenging the integrity of the suspect polling units results upon which Uzodinma was relying and praying the election tribunal to formally nullify the said results. Without a cross-petition, none of the grounds under section 138 (1) of the Electoral Act for questioning the elections conducted in those polling units in which Uzodinma “won” could have been competently raised by Governor Ihedioha in his defense to Uzodinma’s petition. This was the ratio decidendi of the old Court of Appeal decision in IDRIS V. A.N.P.P.(2008)8 NWLR(PT.1088) Page 1. In the recent Court of Appeal decision in ATIKU ABUBAKAR V. BUHARI, the Court of Appeal again invoked the principle in dismissing Buhari’s contention that Atiku ABUBAKAR was born in Cameroun to parents who originally were Camerounians, and thus disqualified from contesting the election. Dismissing the contention, the Court of Appeal held that the issue was incompetent since Buhari did not file a cross-petition.

Ihedioha indeed did set up facts in his Reply to the petition rehashing the serial infractions that led to the exclusion of the results of the said 300 plus polling units. But that was legally not enough, in the absence of a cross-petition. Besides, such renditions by a Respondent in a mere Reply or Statement of Defence are clearly incompetent. The reason for the incompetence was made clear by the Court of Appeal in NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL & ORS V. HON. JUSTICE JUBRIL BABAJIDE ALADEJANA & ORS(2014) LPELR – 2413 (CA) Page 31, paras C – F, at ratio 3 thus –

“The law is that it is a plaintiff who by his statement of claim primarily nominates issues to be tried in a suit and which he relies on to have the judgment of the Court. For a defendant, it is only necessary to resist the plaintiff’s claim on the facts pleaded. It is not for a defendant to set up facts which would convey that it is not just setting up a defense but setting up a new case of his own. He can only do so by way of a counterclaim…”

Shorn of the legalese, what the above authority is simply saying is that since the issue nominated for trial by Hope Uzodinma was the unlawfulness or otherwise of the exclusion of the results of the 300 plus polling units by the ward collation officers, Ihedioha’s defense was therefore necessarily restricted by law to showing that those who excluded the results had the power in law to exclude them. Without a cross-petition praying for the nullification of those results, the law forbade Governor Ihedioha as respondent from raising the issue of the alleged serial corrupt practices and irregularities marring the said results, in a mere statement of defense; that was a new issue not nominated by Uzodinma as the petitioner. Ihedioha, being a Respondent, could only have competently raised them via a cross-petition, being a new issue not nominated by Uzodinma, the petitioner.

Tragically, Ihedioha’s legal team forgot to include the pivotal cross-petition. And in the absence of a cross-petition, the Supreme Court was right in law, painfully though it may seem, to rely on the presumption of regularity and correctness enshrined by both the Electoral Act and Evidence Act in favor of the said results, and to reckon with them and add them up to the final result, since Ihedioha’s legal team had woefully failed to effectively attack the results and rebut that presumption. For the Supreme Court, this was the legally correct conclusion to come to, having found that INEC had no power in law to exclude polling unit results duly affirmed by the various polling units presiding officers!

by Kenneth Ikonne

thenewscap
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the newscap

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Inside America

A strange Inauguration eve: why this night’s so different-AGU writes.

Earlier in the day, I saw the incoming President, Joe Biden, wept openly. I equally saw a woman, a staunch member of Qanon, who said President Biden would be arrested and won’t be sworn in as the President.

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Many of us quarreled, fought, and became enemies and passionately supported our candidates. In the next 12 hours or less, a new President will be sworn in. Let's bury the hatchets and be friends again. In politics, they say, there's no permanent friendship but permanent interest.

Washington DC is like a City under a military siege, right at this hour. I was an eye witness on the eve of then-President-elect Obama’s swearing-in ceremony. I got selected to headline the African Inaugural Ball; the day was the 19th of January 2009. I performed to honor the incoming President around 1.a.m Eastern time.

After my performance, the entire crew rode freely amid thousands of folks to Capital Hill, where the swearing-in ceremony would occur. We also visited Baily’s house, where the Obamas stayed on the eve of his swearing-in ceremony. Our next port of call was the White house. I can never forget when a White Secret Service agent told me bluntly not to pass through his ‘yard.’ That night, around 3.a.m, President Bush and his family had their last night in the White House.
Thousands of people camped out at the national mall and folks who kept coming from different directions.

Corona Virus memorial-Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

It was around 4.a.m that I drove back to New York City, leaving my crew behind in Washington D.C. I don’t have a word to describe what I saw as I saw thousands of people smiling, singing, and dancing in the streets. People partied across the United States all night long. Candidate Obama had mesmerized and dazzled a distressed nation with messages of hope. You can see that millions of people hoped that Obama would succeed after the economy took a turn for the worse.

Millions of people had lost their jobs. Companies went out of business.
A vast majority of Americans saw the President-Elect, Barrack Obama, who campaigned with a catchy phrase that says ‘Hope you can believe in,’ put their hopes on him. The man went to work as soon as he got sworn in; there was no drama, no scandal. Obama and Biden worked for the American people, who gave them a mandate. Obama, just like every other mortal out there, is not a perfect man; some of his policies, as controversial as they were, he dug the nation out of a hole. His detractors agreed.
Tonight as the United States people mourn the deaths of over four hundred thousand lives lost due to the coronavirus, Washington D.C is a no-go area. With over twenty thousand members of the national guard in military Kakis, their hands on the long guns, this night is the complete opposite of 2009 or even 2017 when the current President took over. The national guards are dealing with the harsh cold weather too. I don’t know how they do it, but this is hard. Imagine staying outside under this cold condition? Horrible. You can see hundreds of them sleeping on the bare floor. How do they even eat or shower under this condition? I salute these men and women who put their lives in harm’s way for us.

The national Guards, all over the City

I remain grateful that I witnessed history in 2009, by every standard, Kamala Harris’s rise from slum to become the Vice president lect is historic. She was born and raised like an ordinary child out there. She rose from nothing to become somebody. Kamala also went to a regular school like every other poor kid in our neighborhood. The man who selected her ( President- Elect Joe Biden) is also an ordinary American whose parents lived from paycheck to paycheck. Many of us quarreled, fought, and became enemies and passionately supported our candidates. In the next 12 hours or less, a new President will be sworn in. Let’s bury the hatchets and be friends again. In politics, they say, there’s no permanent friendship but permanent interest.

It is an unusual night, surreal, frightful, and unprecedented in so many ways. Historians will never refer to this transition as a peaceful transfer of power. It reminds me of a military take over in Banana Republics. This night in Washington, D.C, looks nothing like an inauguration eve; it is a sad night. Earlier in the day, I saw the incoming President, Joe Biden, wept openly. I equally saw a woman, a staunch member of Qanon, who said President Biden would be arrested and won’t be sworn in as the President. Guys, these are challenging times; please pray for the United States, the land of the impossibilities.

https://allafrica.com/stories/200901120544.html

AGU’s a New York-based Musicologist, Singer, songwriter, producer, web developer, and businessman.

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Entertainment

Trump Pardons Lil Wayne and other Rappers

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Lil Wayne and Donald Trump

Trump’s final act in office is the pardoning of so many people including rappers. The plan to pardon Young Money boss, Lil Wayne has been put in motion.

Yesterday, the 18th of January, Trump’s administration put in place, article No. 45, as stated by media giant Bloomberg. The news was leaked by an anonymous source in Trump’s cabinet.

Lil Wayne amongst many other rappers, regardless of race, endorsed Trump during his failed 2020 elections, which was well reciprocated by the outgoing President.

The charge emanated from a December of 2019 incident in which Wayne was stopped at the Miami Airport by police who discovered a gold-plated Remington 1911, .45-caliber handgun loaded with six rounds of ammunition, personal use amounts of cocaine, ecstasy, and oxycodone in the rapper’s bag. He was charged with possession of a firearm in November of 2020.

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Entertainment

Bow Wow Encourages Coronavirus Infections – Social Media Users

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The infamous Bow Wow has been under fire from social media users for performing at a packed crowd show in a Houston club on Friday.

Twitter users called the superstar all sorts of names for encouraging the spread of the virus which has killed over 200,000 people so far.

The Houston club promoter Larry Morrow organized events with multiple club events slated at venues throughout the city which saw Bow Wow perform in one.

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Entertainment

Yeezy Sues Former Intern $500,000

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Yeezy, the clothing brand owned by the famous rapper and producer Kanye West has sued its former intern Ryan Inwards for $500,000.

The Yeezy brand claimed the former intern shared confidential information about the company on social media, after signing a nondisclosure agreement before his internship.

The lawsuit which was filed on Friday in a Los Angeles County Superior Court claimed that Inwards posted confidential information about the company on Instagram multiple times while he was being warned to desist from the act.

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Earlier in the day, I saw the incoming President, Joe Biden, wept openly. I equally saw a woman, a staunch member of Qanon, who said President Biden would be arrested and won’t be sworn in as the President.

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