By Mike Ikem Umealo.
Many people in Imo state and across Nigeria genuinely believe that Sen. Hope Uzodinma did not win the election in Imo state. And therefore it makes sense to them that what happened at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, 14 January, 2020 was a miscarriage of justice. But it is not.
Sen. Hope Uzodimma went to court for one purpose and one purpose only: to challenge and win his argument against the foolishness of INEC, in the hope that Rt. Hon. Ihedioha’s legal team will not “catch the joke” until the judgement is over. And it worked.
Like during the APC’s governorship primaries, Gullak came with his own results with the name of Sen. Hope Uzodimma boldly written on the results sheets as the winner. It was written on the original result sheets and were therefore acceptable to the party leadership and INEC admitted it.
Likewise, on the day of the governorship election in Imo State, a lot of result sheets from about 380 (possibly more at the time) on original INEC papers duly and correctly signed by INEC Presiding Officers showing Sen. Hope Uzodinma a clear lead in those result sheets were transmitted to the Collation Centres at the wards to be certified.
Recklessly, the INEC Collation Officers, who were probably not taught by INEC that they had no legal power to cancel or reject such results, rejected and refused to collate the polling units results in their own rights. Once it was on record that the COLLATION OFFICERS excluded them from the final result of the governorship elections declared by the Returning Officer, “Gullak’s second coming” was concluded.
It didn’t matter that INEC declared Governor Ihedioha the winner of the election. The legal loophole was there and Sen. Hope Uzodimma waited to see if Rt.Hon. Ihedioha’s legal team will “catch the joke.” And they didn’t.Those “legal” but excluded results from the polling units was the foundation of the petition that Sen. Hope Uzodimma fileded at the Election Tribunal.
Under the law, “No (CO) collation officers, No (RO) returning officer, will have any legal authority to exclude a polling unit result already signed by the (PO) presiding officer at the polling unit. The only legal authority with the power to exclude or cancel results or even admit results is the election tribunal.
Rt. Hon. Ihedioha’s team did not challenge that the rejected results submitted by Sen. Hope Uzodimma at the Polling Units were fake. In the absence of such counter argument, the Court presumed those results to be correct based on the existing electoral law regarding results signed by a (PO) presiding officer.
It was the failure of Rt. Hon. Ihedioha’s talented legal team to “catch the joke” by not attacking the “Gullak like polling Unit results” as fake, that left the Apex court with no choice but to follow the law. Rt. Hon. Ihedioha’s team, knowing that the election tribunal has power to nullify those “fake results” failed and never prayed to the tribunal to declare those results as null and void. Instead, what the team of the sacked governor appear to have done was to raise arguments to support the reasons why the Collation Officers rejected the duly and legally signed results submitted by Sen. Hope Uzodimma.
Rt. Hon Ihedioha’s team did NOT pray against the petition of Sen. Hope Uzodimma on the FACTs. His team did not show reason to the court that those results were fake. Instead they tried to tell the court that “they were correctly rejected and cancelled by those who were not authorised to cancel such results.”
Thus, the APEX court reasoned that although the Queen may have gotten pregnant by adultery, but since the law says that any male child born by the Queen would be King, and given that nobody has provided any DNA to support their argument that the boy born by the Queen is of a strange blood, the court was left with no other choice but to declare the young man King.
Thus, while Rt. Hon. Ihedioha’s defence was unable to show that the Collation Officers had the legal authority to exclude a candidates results, they also failed to argue and show evidence that indeed those results were fake and therefore invalid.
As a result, The Supreme Court refused to admit the behaviour of the Collation officers, admitted the rejected results, which put Sen. Hope Uzodimma in first place and thus declared him the winner in an election that he didn’t even campaign.
The questions now are:
1) Under Gullak 101, were the Collation Officers paid to take powers into their hands by rejecting election results duly signed by the presiding officers as their own part in the scheme?
2) If they were paid, then who failed to pay Rt. Hon. Ihedioha’s legal team for such a botched job and their strategy to not challenge the integrity of the rejected results?
This is because, if they had challenged the intergrity of the results from the over 380 units and its ruled in their favour, despite the error of the Collation officers in rejecting the results, the results would still be considered as fake and therefore inadmissible.
The final question therefore is: did Rt. Hon. Ihedioha chop alone? God bless.