Imo people should blame INEC for Ihedioha’s removal by Supreme Court
...while INEC in strict compliance with the law has the power to cancel election results in deserving cases, it has no power to exclude any polling unit during an election...
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Ex-Governor Emeka Ihedioha
Beforehand, Nigeria is used to the practice of polarising the acceptance or rejection of Courts judgment in election matters according to the party lines...and the recent judgment that gifted Senator Hope Uzodinma of APC the Imo People's House, Owerri is no exception.
It is usually a victory for democracy for the winning side and another rape on the rule of law for the losing side.
Much as the Supreme Court has been manifestly capricious and unpredictable in their recent election judgments to wit: Osun and Zamfara within the year 2019, I am of the view that the recent judgment sacking Chief Emeka Ihedioha from the People's House cannot be blamed on the Supreme Court but INEC.
Also, read Supreme Court affirms Ganduje's victory
From the available scanty details of the judgment, INEC allegedly excluded votes in about 388 pooling units which were within the Hope Uzodinma's stronghold. It was the view of the Supreme Court that the said exclusion was unlawful as INEC lacked the powers to do so.
It's worthy of note that INEC had allegedly denied excluding any pooling units, lies that crumbled because the number of pooling units in Imo State are within the public domain. Moreover, party agents and policemen who worked in the excluded pooling units had copies of the signed result sheets- Forms EC.8A.
During the trial in the Court, the APC candidate called the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations on subpoena who tendered the results given to Police as Exhibits PPP1-PPP366 in evidence. This evidence we learned, was unchallenged by INEC.
It should be noted that while INEC in strict compliance with the law has the power to cancel election results in deserving cases, it has no power to exclude any polling unit during an election as doing so amounts to disenfranchising the citizens of the area.
So, when the Apex Court validated and reckoned the otherwise excluded results, Hope Uzodinma ultimately edged Emeka Ihedioha.
In all, INEC is to blame. This is not the first time INEC is whimsically applying its powers. Still, in Imo State, INEC had unlawfully withheld the Certificate of a return due to Senator Rochas Okorocha on the ground that the Returning Officer was coerced into declaring him the winner. INEC didn't say that he didn't in fact win. While electoral brigandage of any sort is not justified, INEC should be mindful that election is a very volatile and sensitive business such that it should not exercise powers not expressly conferred on it by law because doing so will not only unnecessarily hit up the polity and erode people's confidence in the electoral system but may also give rise to crises of unimaginable magnitude.
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