Wednesday, February 3, 2016 10:35 pm
The Supreme Court behaved true to its complexion in recent weeks, by again upholding the election of Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom state, overturning the verdicts of the Election tribunal and the Appeal court that nullified the election.
By the verdict given a few moments ago, Chief Umana Okon Umana of the APC has finally lost the titanic battle to call the PDP governor back to the field for a rerun of the 11 April governorship election.
Supreme Court has also unanimously upturned the judgement of Court of Appeal which sacked Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State.
The Court affirmed the election of Ikpeazu as it ruled that his appeal against the judgment of the lower court has merit.
It was sweet victory for the two governors.
A seven man panel of justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mahmud Mohammed, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN had in what seems a continuation of the practice of the apex court in all the gubernatorial elections appeal that have come before it upturned the nullification of the victories of the two governors at the Court of Appeal.
Scores of supporters of both governors who had besieged the court as early as 8 am and sat through the hearing of both appeals which ended around 8 pm could barely hold back bursting into joy inside the court as the court delivered its ruling.
Notable personalities who were in court for the judgment include Godswill Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Ita Enang, the Special Adviser to the president on National Assembly matters, Senator Ita Enang, Senator Abaribe of Abia State and Labaran Maku, former minister of information.
In their short rulings, the apex court upturned the verdict of the Court of Appeal, which had earlier annulled the election of Udom.
In the unanimous judgment, the Supreme Court Justices allowed the appeal of Governor Udom against the judgment of the Court of Appeal which nullified his election.
The Justices accused the Court of Appeal of engaging in hasty generalizations over some of the decisions it reached on the matter. The apex court said there was considerable merit in the complaint of Governor Udom against the judgment of the Appeal Court.
According to the Supreme Court Justices, the judgment of the Appeal Court was riddled with errors which the apex court has the responsibility of correcting.
All the eight appeals and cross appeals over the Court of Appeal judgment were decided in favour of Governor Emmanuel.
The apex court also upheld Mr Emmanuel’s appeal challenging the cancellation of the results of the elections held in 13 local government areas of Akwa Ibom State.
In the same vein, the appeal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) challenging the cancellation of the election results in some local government areas was also upheld.
Umana Okon Umana, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the April 11, 2015 governorship election had challenged the victory of Governor Emmanuel Udom, alleging that his election was marred by different irregularities and violence which led to disenfranchisement of many eligible voters in the state.
He also alleged that there was over voting and there was no collation of results after the election before Udom was declared winner of the election.
The Akwa Ibom State Election Petition Tribunal had based on the complaints nullified elections in 18 Local Government Areas of the State.
The Tribunal had asked that a rerun election be conducted in the 18 local governments of the state to determine the winner of the gubernatorial poll between Udom and Umana.
But the decision of the Tribunal was appealed by both the PDP and the APC candidate.
In a judgment delivered last December, the appellate court affirmed the nullification of results in 18 local government areas and based on cross appeal by Umana, nullified the results of election in all the local government areas of Akwa Ibom and ordered that a fresh election should be conducted to choose a new governor for the state.
While upturning the Appeal Court judgment, the apex court said it will give reasons for its verdict on February 15, 2016.
But Umana was not the only unlucky fellow.
Also, the hope of Alex Otti of taking over the reins of governance in Abia State was dashed as the apex court also set aside the decision of the Appeal Court declaring him the validly elected governor of the State and affirmed the election of Okezie Ikpeazu as the State chief executive.
The appellate court had upturned the election of Ikpeazu, declaring the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr Alex Otti, as validly elected in the April 11, 2016 in a judgment delivered last December.
Ikpeazu, the candidate of PDP, then went to the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling of the Court of Appeal.
The Justices of the Supreme Court also said they will give reasons for their ruling on 26 February, 2016.