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Imo: CSOs call for reversal of Supreme Court verdict

by on January 25, 2020
 

A coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has revealed that the Supreme Court should reverse itself in its recent ruling that sacked Emeka Ihedioha as the Governor of Imo State.

The CSOs said the court can decide to review the fact of the case with the view to ensuring that justice was not only done, but seen to have been done.

This was contained in a release issued to Breaking Times after their meeting in Abuja, on Saturday.

The CSOs said: “Unlike the other cases, it gave reasons for its judgement. It did not reserve another date to give reasons. The respondents were shocked when they approached the court for a copy of the judgement delivered in open court which lasted less than 10minutes on that day and contained in about 6 pages, only to be given a judgement of 46 pages on 22nd January, totally different from the one read on 14th January.

“It was a full and final judgement on 14th January. The 22nd January judgement unsuccessfully tried to cover up loopholes observed by Nigerians following their outcry and condemnation of the judgement by both local and international community.

“This judgement will go down in infamy and may make Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of Nations, if not reversed.”

While explaining the supremacy of the Apex Court in its ability to invent its own rules, the group urged: “the Supreme Court to take courage and recall the Imo State Governorship matter and correct the error and restore justice, peace, hope and faith in the people of Nigeria.”

Below is the full statement:

SUPREME COURT DECISION IN:

SENATOR HOPE UZODINMA VS RT. HON. EMEKA IHEDIOHA

THE TRUE STORY

BEING TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE BY CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS ON 25TH JANUARY, 2020, ABUJA.

INTRODUCTION

The Supreme Court of Nigeria on 14th of January, 2020 delivered a judgement that removed Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as the Governor and declared Senator Hope Uzodinma as the Governor of Imo State.

  1. THE EXISTENCE OF 2 DIFFERENT JUDGEMENTS OF THE SUPREME COURT ON THE SAME CASE

On 14th January 2020, the Supreme Court in open Court gave judgement in the Imo State Governorship Appeal. However, unlike the other cases, it gave reasons for its judgement. It did not reserve another date to give reasons. The respondents were shocked when they approached the court for a copy of the judgement delivered in open court which lasted less than 10minutes on that day and contained in about 6 pages, only to be given a judgement of 46 pages on 22nd January, totally different from the one read on 14th January. It was a full and final judgement on 14th January. The 22nd January judgement unsuccessfully tried to cover up loopholes observed by Nigerians following their outcry and condemnation of the judgement by both local and international community.

This is unprecedented in Nigeria’s judicial history. We have the audio recording of that judgement and the transcript which we shall release shortly. It is outright fraud, fake and judicial corruption. No wonder Nigeria’s anti-corruption index continues to fall in the transparency international ratings inspite of anti-corruption efforts of the Federal Government. This judgement will go down in infamy and may make Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of Nations, if not reversed.

It is unprecedented fraud for the Supreme Court to manipulate or doctor its own judgement to cover its tracks.

This new judgement was not given in open court and not in the presence of the parties as required by S.36 (3) of the Constitution.

This last futile effort by the Supreme Court to manipulate its own judgement is unnecessary as it failed to explain why total votes it allocated to only 2 parties is still more than the total accredited votes by 129,340 on the face of the record on Form EC8D accepted by all the parties and even also tendered and relied on by Senator Hope Uzodinma.

  1. THE ISSUE OF SPREAD

Section 179(2b) of the Constitution is clear that to be declared elected as Governor a candidate must have not only the majority of total votes cast but also ¼ of the votes in 2/3 of the Local Governments of the State.

It is axiomatic that nowhere in the petition or evidence did the Petitioner, Hope Uzodinma claim that he met the constitutional requirement of spread to be declared the winner. He only claimed it in the reliefs without any supporting pleadings or evidence. It is one of the wonders of the world that the Supreme Court declared him winner without any evidence of spread. There was no breakdown of the total votes legally added to him and no tally of votes for each candidates that conducted the election. The relief granted the petitioner was based on nothing and therefore illegal.

  1. UPTURNING OF SETTLED LEGAL JURISPRUDENCE OVER THE YEARS

The Supreme Court judgement overthrew all known legal and electoral jurisprudence and settled principles as applied in other election cases. Such principles as the Burden of Proof, documentary hearsay, admissibility and weight attached to documents came under severe assault end the law was turned on its head. The onus of proof does not easily move especially for declaratory actions. In this case, the Supreme Court is saying that the onus shifted to the respondent to prove the validity of the election when there was no credible and admissible evidence to rebut the presumptions of law that enures in favour of INEC.

The Supreme Court adopted the correct reasoning in the recent Bauchi, Sokoto, Abia cases etc. it was only in Imo that the burden shifted based on inadmissible and improven facts.

Judgement delivered by the Supreme Court did not take into account the evidence adduced by the parties at the trial.

There is no material reference in the Supreme Court judgement to any page or parts of the record and evidence of the parties.

The Supreme Court unsettled well established principles of evaluating evidence. The Supreme Court treated the painstaking evaluation of evidence made by the trial tribunal and concurred to by the Court of Appeal in a cavalier and whimsical manner. The trial court saw and heard these witnesses, observed their demeanour and ruled them out as not credible. Trial Court receives evidence, not the appellant Courts. They perceive the evidence and attach weight or importance to it.

The petitioner had the burden to establish that election indeed took place at the 388 polling units by calling requisite witnesses, since the fact of holding of election in those units had been put in issue.

There was no basis to presume that election took place at the 388 Polling Units on account of production of results which the Respondents contended were false. The 3rd Respondent being the electoral body rejected the results as suborned and thus the issue of presumption of regularity did not arise for the fake results. Indeed, their lordships of the Court of Appeal found that the results were not authenticated. Likewise the Court of Appeal agreed with the Tribunal that the Sen. Uzodinma did not discharge the burden placed on him and accordingly the burden did not shift to Rt. Hon. Ihedioha.

  1. PETITIONER’S WITNESSES AND THEIR TESTIMONIES

In its Judgment, the Supreme Court unfortunately relied heavily on the testimony of PW54 (Rabiu Hussein) a Deputy Commissioner of Police and the results tendered by him marked Exhibits PPP1-PPP366 in holding that Hope Uzodinma scored the majority of lawful votes in the Imo State Governorship Election and declaring him winner of the election.

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The judgement further posited that:
“A careful perusal of the appellants’ pleading reveals that they did not, at any stage challenge the holding of elections in any polling unit. I am of the view that this is crucial. Indeed, their contention was that elections held, they scored votes but their votes were excluded at the collation stage. The need to call the polling unit agents to prove that elections actually held in those polling units did not arise. The authorities of this court requiring the evidence of polling unit agents, polling unit by polling unit, are therefore not applicable in the circumstances. This is more so because the respondents, particularly the 3rd respondent denied excluding the votes scored by the appellants in the affected units. In other words, they did not contend that elections did not take place in the 388 polling units. Their contention is that the results relied upon by the appellants are false. That they are not genuine”.

The tendering of Exhibits PPP1 – PPP366 through PW54 was to show that the scores recorded therein were excluded from the forms EC8B (ward collation results). It is also to be reiterated that PW54 was summoned by the court to produce and tender the documents.

They held further:
“I am of the view and I do hold that the burden of proof was misplaced, as a result of which the bulk of the evidence relied upon by the appellants was disregarded by the two lower courts. The evidence of PW11 and PW51 were rejected on the ground that they were unable to prove any anomalies in the 388 polling units. The appellants did not plead or base their claims on any anomalies in the polling units”, the Court said.

Analysis
In the first place, a careful perusal of the petition will show that the petitioner pleaded that the 388 polling unit results were CANCELLED. This is shown clearly from the Table of Registered Voters in the 388 units in the petition which the petitioner claimed was 252,452 votes.

However, on Page 30 of the petition, the Petitioner himself said:

“The margin of lead between the 1st Respondent and the runner up is 83,040 while the total number of registered voters in the cancelled areas is 252,452. The petitioners shall rely on the registers of voters for the cancelled units, the polling unit results (Form EC8A) and the final declaration of results (hereinafter called form EC8E).

The Petitioner continued:

The petitioners aver that the Returning Officer did not call for polls to be taken in the excluded or wrongly cancelled units before he returned the 1st Respondent as the winner of the election. The 3rd Respondent ought to conduct supplementary election where as in this case, the number of registered voters in the units where the results were not reckoned with or were purportedly cancelled was higher substantially than the difference between the scores of the 1st Respondent and the 1st Petitioner who was next to him in the wrong computation upon which the 1st Respondent was declared”.

The testimony of PW54, DCP Rabiu Hussain at the Tribunal was relied on heavily by the Supreme Court to reach its perverse verdict.

From the C.TC. of the proceedings of the Tribunal on 31July, 2019 DCP RABIU HUSSAIN testified in the Tribunal as follows:
“In Exhibit NNN1 to NNN18, (subpoena) I was asked to produce 388 Forms EC8As retrieved by the Police Officers. I have some of the FORMS. I don’t have 388 FORMS. The total number I brought is 368 and I cannot lay my hands on 20 FORMS”.

DCP RABIU HUSSAINI CONTINUED:

“I didn’t tabulate the scores in Exhibit PPP1 to PPP166 (366?).
I didn’t observe the entries in any of them.
I didn’t go through Exhibits PPP1 to PPP166 (366) because Police are not interested in the scores of the parties”.
“I am surprised that the number of forms I tendered are not up to the number I told the Hon. Tribunal”.
“I cannot know whether there are mutilations or tampering in Exhibit PPP1 to PPP366.”

Furthermore “The PW54 in his evidence under cross-examination at pages 2599-2600 of the Record of Appeal said inter alia:

“There could be presiding officers but I do not know them. In respect of this 366 Polling Units there could be presiding officers but I don’t know them. I did not receive any of these FORMS from any presiding officer. I don’t know all the polling units these 366 FORMS relate to …….

I did not personally collect any of these exhibits PPP1 – PPP366. The said Exhibits were received by our administrative officer and all of them are still alive. They are the ones to testify as to who brought the said documents and when they were brought. I did not tabulate the scores in exhibits PPP1-PPP166 (sic) I did not observe any entries in any of them. I was the one who sorted the documents out exhibit PPP1 to PPP166 (sic) one by one. I did not go through exhibits PPP1 to PPP 166(sic) because police are not interested in the scores of the parties. Exhibits PPP1 to PPP166 were bolded by me for the purpose of delivery. Officers do not sign before they collect result sheets ….Tribunal, Exhibits PPP1 to PPP366 (sic) were not directly submitted to me I cannot mention the name of the officers and the polling units they worked. I cannot know whether there are mutations or tampering in exhibits PPP1 to PPP366. When I was posted out of Imo State other officers remained and continue the work I was doing. Exhibits PPP1 to PPP366 are the result handed to me by the admin officer as the results from the polling units”.

This witness is clearly and completely ignorant about the contents of these Exhibits… These exhibits were directly in the custody of PW54. The genuineness of these Exhibits were in doubts before the Tribunal.

The PW54 is not the maker of Exhibits PPP1 to PPP366. He was not present when they were made. The witness also cannot answer any of the question in respect to these Exhibits PPP1 to PPP366.

From the foregoing, it is certain that the decision of the trial Tribunal to expunge Exhibits PPP1-PPP366 from the evidence cannot be faulted”.

Our Comment and Analysis of PW54 False Testimony:

The record of Court only showed that 366 FORMS EC8As (not 368 and definitely not 388) were admitted in evidence and marked as Exhibits PPP1 to PPP366. These conflicting figures of 366, 368, or 388 Forms make his evidence completely unreliable.

The above evidence of PW54, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, did not say what each candidate scored or the figures.

PW54 did not give evidence with regards to 388 polling units. PW54 did not tender results from 388 polling units.

PW54 stated in his testimony that he did not know the contents of Exhibits PPP1 to PPP366, or PPP1 to PPP388 or any of the forms whatever the number.

PW54 did not testify that results from 366, or 368 or 388 polling units were excluded.

Our Submission

Our allies have submitted and we adopt same that the Supreme Court is left with no other option than to review and reverse this anomaly, even if it means applying a Judicial Doctrine of Necessity (borrowing from the intervention of the National Assembly, when Nigeria was in a big fix). The confidence of Nigerians in the Judiciary is at the lowest and we believe that the Supreme Court can help to restore it and save future elections. This is the time to apply the famous dictum:

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“Justice must be rooted in confidence and confidence is destroyed when right-minded people go away thinking: The Judge is biased.”

Question?
If, from the Certified True Copy of the evidence/testimony of PW54 which the Supreme Court relied upon to give its final judgement, there is no evidence of the votes scored in Exhibits PPP1 to PPP366, or PPP1 to 368 or 388 where did the Supreme Court get the 213,695 votes it added to the scores of Hope Uzodinma?. And from where did the Supreme Court get the evidence that results from 388 polling units were excluded when PW54 testified that he brought only 366 or 368 FORMS EC8As. Since 366 and not 388 FORMS were eventually found to be tendered by DCP Rabiu Hussaini, where did the Supreme Court get the 213,695 votes it added to Hope Uzodinma? Or did Supreme Court merely copy the pleadings of Hope Uzodinma and regarded it as evidence? It is trite Law that averment in pleadings or Address of Counsel cannot take the place of evidence?
From the 20 or 22 EC8As forms PW54 admitted that he omitted to tender at the Tribunal from the 388 he was subpoenered to produce, how many votes did it contain for each candidate? What is the spread? These are questions the Supreme Court must answer, since their judgment did not cover these issues and contain unbelievable gaps.
It is obvious that the Supreme Court relied only on the submission of Hope Uzodinma without any reference to the records of proceedings of the Tribunal/Court of Appeal or otherwise, it would have realised that even though Hope Uzodinma claimed 388 polling units, he only dumped 366 discredited polling units results through the Police, yet the Supreme Court unilaterally credited him with figures from the 388 units which figures did not remove the 20 or even 22 polling units that were in fact not tendered or dumped before the tribunal.

The Supreme Court judgement was erroneously premised on 388 polling units results when indeed only 366 polling units’ results were admitted in the Tribunal before being expunged on very solid grounds by both the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal. We may never know the impact the exclusion of the results from the 20 or 22 units by the Supreme Court based on its own perverse findings could have had on the scores of each candidate.

  1. INEC POSITION AND TESTIMONY

Furthermore, it is patently wrong for the Supreme Court to say that INEC said nothing about the concocted 388 polling unit Results.

Firstly, INEC in its pleadings made it clear in 7, paragraphs 18-26 particularly (c), (f) & (g) as follows:

“(c) The 3rd Respondent did not omit to record and reckon with votes due to the Petitioners as alleged or at from any table set out in the said Petition and any such showing results are fictitious and suborned.

(f) The tables drawn and shown by the Petitioners as containing the purported accurate results from the various polling units are incorrect and the 3rd Respondent further states that it did not exclude the results of the Petitioners.

(g) Furthermore, the 3rd Respondent states that in some instances with respect to the table under reference, despite the fact that election was cancelled based on irregularities in some polling units, the Petitioners proceeded to alter the results of voting at the polling units with unofficial, illicit and contrived Form EC8A. Some of the affected polling units were”.

Indeed, an INEC official, the Head of Logistics testified in the Tribunal as DW5, on Subpoena directed to the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Imo State, or any of his staff. He brought the following documents:
List of Presiding Officers for the 9th March, 2019 Election.
FORMS EC40G in respect of some polling units where election did not hold or were cancelled (mostly the 388 units in contention).
The INEC witness further testified that “where election is cancelled the appropriate form to be used is FORM EC40G and that such cancelled results cannot form part of results announced at the end of the election”.

INEC produced FORM EC 40G as exhibit D2RI-R27, to prove that elections did not hold or was cancelled in the 388 units.

The relevant question is how did the Supreme Court ignore this relevant testimony from INEC and claimed that INEC offered no response?

It is thus clear that issues were joined as to the holding of the election itself, inspite of the manufacturing of the fake results, and the Supreme Court is clearly in error to have decided that it is only exclusion of votes that was in issue.

It is immaterial whether what is sought to be proved is patent irregularities on the result sheets. There can be no greater irregularity than an assertion that election took place at a Polling Unit and Results issued, yet the Respondents contended that no such elections in fact took place. Proof by those who were present is imperative to establish that election indeed took place at the locations.

Out of the 388 Polling Units, Appellants called only twenty-eight (28) polling units agents leaving 360 polling units unattended. The Tribunal disbelieved all the 28 polling unit agents and the Appellants did not challenge the findings and cannot contend that those findings were perverse. The question is: where are those agents from the 366 polling units and why were they left out? The law is settled that only polling officers, polling unit agents and registered voters at a particular unit can give admissible evidence with respect to what transpired at each polling unit. This is the consistent decision of the Supreme Court in every other cases.

Senator Hope Uzodinma did not prove entitlement to the reliefs sought by cogent, credible and sufficient evidence. Attention is drawn to a particular contradiction which was common to the evidence of all the Polling Unit agents.

In the review of evidence, the Tribunal concluded that there was no credible evidence to justify the votes claimed by the Appellants, a position affirmed on appeal. All the 28 Polling Unit agents without exception confirmed that no other polling unit agents signed on the Forms tendered by them, despite stating under Oath that they signed alongside other witnesses. Under cross-examination, as the records will show, the said Polling Unit agents including PW10, PW52 and PW53 stated that they were not the first Polling Unit agents to sign results and that many agents signed before them. Also, when asked to identify other signatures, to avoid speaking the truth that there were no other signatures and to further confirm that these witnesses were untruthful witnesses, they claimed that they could not read because the entries were not legible or not clear. Only APC agents signed the 388 or 366 forms. Justifiably, the Court of Appeal and the trial Tribunal concurred in their finding that the witnesses were thoroughly discredited. The question which now arises is: if the results relied on by the Appellants were indeed not legible through the eyes of their own witness, on what basis can any arbiter credit them with the results which they tabulated in their petition?

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When cross-examined as to the veracity of the table and the evidence, PW11 that is Senator Hope Uzodinma, contradicted his own case. He testified thus:
At page 100 of my deposition at serial No. 69 the vote I scored is 819 and the column for registered voters in the polling unit is 462.

At page 110 serial No 285, the registered voters is 449 and the No of votes scored by APC is 780.

See also the evidence under cross-examination by 2nd and 3rd Respondents’ Counsel where he further testified thus:
“The chart I presented in my petition did not take any particular form or order. In exhibit B123 the total valid vote is not clear and I cannot read. The result of APC in exhibit P23 is 500 votes. At page 104 of my petition column 159 the score for APC is 560. All the pink copies I tendered before the court were brought to me by my agents. In the column for contested/not contested there is no any cancellation.

A perusal of the Table of the 388 polling units in question shows how ridiculous the Supreme Court decision is.

The table shows that Hope Uzodinma’s APC scored an average of 95% votes in those 388 units. The general percentage he scored in the rest of the results during the election is 12%. Indeed, to make matters worse, there were many instances where the votes scored was more than the registered voters.

For instance:

  1. Note No. 69 on the table, where registered voters was 492; APC scored 819 votes; PDP 7. That is 334 voters more than registered voters, not to talk of accredited voters which is lower, though not stated.
  2. Note no 377 on the table, where registered voters was 367; APC scored 367; PDP 4. That is 4 voters more than registered voters, not to talk of accredited voters which is lower, though not stated.
  3. Note no. 384 on the table, where registered voters was 526; APC scored 526; PDP 2. That is 2 voters more than registered voters, not to talk of accredited voters which is lower, though not stated.
  4. Note no. 282 on the table, where registered voters was 591; APC scored 586; PDP 9. That is 4 voters more than registered voters, not to talk of accredited voters which is lower, though not stated.
  5. Note no 285 on the table, where registered voters was 449; APC scored 780; PDP 4. That is 335 voters more than registered voters, not to talk of accredited voters which is lower, though not stated.
  6. Note that Hope Uzodinma’s APC scored an average of 95% in the 388 units, whereas he scored an average of 12% in the remaining units in the state!!
  7. Note further that Sen. Hope Uzodinma’s table of results from 388 polling units below, did not have any scores for any other political party, such as APGA, AA, Accord etc. indeed, there were 70 political parties that contested the election. Did the 68 other parties not have even agents or ward officers that voted?
  8. This is the highest form of criminality which should send some people to jail! Yet our almighty supreme court endorsed it.

During the hearing when Sen. Hope Uzodinma was cross-examined as PW11, he agreed that the votes in his own petition did not add up:

  1. SUPREME COURT COMPUTATION OF VOTES AND ACCREDITATION
    The pertinent INEC document before the Tribunal is INEC form EC8D. The CTC shows that the Total No of Accredited voters is 823,743. Total votes cast 739,435. Total valid votes cast at the election for all the parties was 714,355. Total rejected votes 25,130.

However, the Supreme Court added 213,695 votes to Hope Uzodinma of APC from the fake 388 units and 1,903 votes to PDP, thereby making the total votes scored at the election to be 953,083. This is far above the Accredited voters clearly shown in the FORM EC8D before the Tribunal as 823,743. 129,340 votes cannot be accounted for by the Supreme Court decision.

The question is, how can the Supreme Court declare more votes than accredited votes? Impossible. Ridiculous. An avoidable slip that should be re-visited.
Note, that there is no challenge on the accredited number of voters either in the petition or evidence by any witnesses.

Sen. Uzodinma besides the inconsistencies was categorical that the Table in both the petition and their Witness Statement on Oath did not show the number of accredited voters in each of the 388 polling units allegedly excluded. This instigates the inquiry of how valid votes can ever be computed in the absence of a clear record of the number of accredited voters. This will show whether over voting occurred which is the bench-mark for validity of votes. Where this is not the case, it shows that Section 49 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) was not contemplated in the sham 388 alleged polling unit results.

Mathematics is a precise science, particularly in the circumstances where a specific score for which Appellants hinge their reliefs on was pleaded with supporting mathematical Tables presented. Such that, the incorrectness of the said Table by itself disentitles Appellants to the reliefs claimed. This is more so that by paragraph 9 of the Petition, appearing at page 2 of the record, it is stated that 70 political parties contested the election, but the Tables presented in the testimonies of PW 11 and PW51 contain only the alleged scores of two parties; and which said alleged scores in multiple instances exceeded the allegedly stated number of registered voters. On what basis then, can any Tribunal act on these clearly fallacious testimonies to grant the reliefs sought by the Appellants?

Even though Appellants pleaded exclusion at Ward Collation centres, as shown above as rightly found by the Tribunal and affirmed by the Appeal Court, they did not field a single Ward Collation agent as a witness.

  1. DEMANDS

In the light of the above facts, we are sad to confirm that the Supreme Court by that casual treatment of a matter that carries the fate of millions of Imolites, has assaulted the sensibility of all Nigerians and occasioned grave miscarriage of justice in the Imo State Governorship case.

However, we sympathise with their Lordships, as mortals who are not infallible. To err is human. It would be practically impossible for any human to have read the Briefs and record of proceedings exceeding 5000 pages in the matter within 2 hours after hearing. No doubt this accounted for the error done by the Supreme Court in this matter.

The Supreme Court is supreme and can invent its own rules. It is necessary do so now more than ever to save Nigerian Democracy, constitutionalism and retrieve the judicial and justice system from its present opprobrium.

We therefore, call on the Supreme Court to take courage and recall the Imo State Governorship matter and correct the error and restore justice, peace, hope and faith in the people of Nigeria.

Long Live

Federal Republic of Nigeria!

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