George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
That Sen. Hope Uzodinma is now the new governor of Imo State, is no more in doubt. The governor has already settled down to his responsibility as the Chief Executive of Imo, the ‘Land of Hope’. However,
since the Supreme Court sacked Chief Emeka Ihedioha, Imo State has been caught in the web of protests and counter solidarity rally by the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the controversial decision by the apex court. Apparently not to be outdone by the PDP, the leadership of the APC on Monday mobilised its members and supporters across the 27 Local Government Councils of the state for what they described as a mother of rallies. In the case of the PDP, the protest was in solidarity with Ihedioha who they believed won the Imo governorship election. But for the APC, its rally was in support of Justices of the Apex court who had nullified the election of Ihedioha and declared Senator Hope Uzodinma as the validly elected governor of Imo State.
On Sunday, the PDP protested over the judgment of the apex Court which ousted Ihedioha, lamenting that as the decision of the apex court was a gross miscarriage of Justice. The PDP had accused the APC and the Apex court of colluding to deny the people of the state their mandate to Ihedioha.
Similarly, Imo State APC members on Monday also took Owerri by storm as hundreds of the party members and supporters as early as 9 am had gathered at the Heroes Square in Owerri, in readiness to commence their solidarity march to the Government House. But the march could not commence till about 2 pm when they got the signal that the new governor, Uzodinma was at the Government House.
Unlike the protesting members and supporters of the PDP who were kept at bay by armed security agents who barricaded the entrance to the Government House with their vehicles, the APC members and supporters who were mostly attired in White clothes effectively blocked the entire entrance to the Government House chanting solidarity songs in support of Governor Uzodinma and the Federal Government.
Addressing the mammoth crowd of supporters, several hours later, Governor Uzodinma told the cheering supporters that the Peoples Democratic Party are mischief makers who want to overheat the state over spurious claims that they were robbed of their victory when indeed, it was the APC that was robbed until its mandate given to the party by the entire Imo people was redressed by the Apex Court.
He said: “We must thank the justices of the Supreme Court which has the most experienced Judges in the country for doing the right thing and today the PDP which had celebrated their victories both at the Tribunal and Appeal Court and even though we knew that the Judges of the lower courts were wrong in their judgment except the minority judgment which was in our favour, the party did not protest but we continued, knowing that we will get justice at the Apex court.”
He called on the Security agencies to investigate the sponsors of the PDP nationwide Protests with the view of prosecuting them alleging that the protesters want to destabilise the government of President Muhamadu Buhari.
Speaking earlier, the Deputy Chairman of the party, Ugochukwu Nzekwe said that they are not protesting but are on a solidarity rally in support of the supreme Court Justices and their new governor of the state, Uzodinma.
The former State legislator noted that when Ihedioha was declared winner of the governorship election by both the tribunal and Appeal court, that members of the APC did not protest and that the PDP had celebrated and praised the judges but that today, they are now castigating the justices of the Apex court who had done justice to Imo people by restoring their stolen mandate.
In the same vein, a chieftain of the party, Chief Blyden Amajirionwu, noted that the justices of the Apex court have restored the people’s mandate and pointed out that Senator Uzodinma has what it takes to provide the needed good governance for the people of the state.
He called on the people of the state to give him the maximum support to move the state forward.
Surprisingly, the protests were happening even when the full reasons for the decision in Hope Uzodimma V Emeka Ihedioha are yet to be made public. Many legal analysts have gone to town criticising the decision reached on that case, and most of the criticisms are directed at the seeming departure from the precedent already established by the same Supreme Court on the probative value to be attached to documentary evidence like EC8 forms (INEC Result Sheets) when the documentary evidence is tendered by person or persons who were not present when the said documents were made. The Supreme Court has held and it remained a notorious precedent that where a petitioner needs to establish the regularity or irregularity of election results in the poling units with the documentary evidence which is the result sheets made out after the announcement of the voting, the proper person to tender the said documentary evidence during trial is the presiding officer or the poling agents of the political parties that participated in the election at that unit level.