Photo: Dele Momodu
From the outset, let me declare unequivocally that I am breaking away from the norm by not recognising a Supreme Court judgment. With malice to no one, I am personally not going to dignify and acknowledge Senator Hope Uzodinma as the legitimate, duly elected governor of Imo State. I have taken this extraordinary approach to this issue based on the multifaceted challenges we are facing and the extraordinary times we are in, that demand extraordinary action. Even more so is the fact that the Supreme Court judgment gifting him the governorship was anchored in inconsistencies and a statistical sleight of hand of the worst sort.
Uzodinma is an imposition on the good people of Imo and so, I have decided not to join the madness in the land by being an accomplice in legitimising the fraud which breached the universal laws of arithmetic. The mandate he is exercising is blemished forever by a withering injustice. I scorn at anything that rises close to this level of absurdity. The astonishing mendacity at the core of his case and the ultimate outcome has dragged the reputation and confidence in the judiciary to an all-time low.
In an article published late last year titled, Nigeria’s Confounded Judiciary, I had stated inter alia that the “demons of our democracy have amassed on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the judiciary, which has essentially abandoned its core duty of doing justice for the pursuit of mundane pecuniary benefits. Men of courage in our judiciary have since gone into extinction”. But this time around, it appears even INEC, which is its partner in electoral heists, was scandalised by the judgment of the Supreme Court. The coven of judges has declared war on truth and justice and usurped the power of the people to choose their leaders, annulling an election mandate on the filmiest of grounds. By that, the Supreme Court has constituted itself into the ultimate electoral principality, whimsically rubber-stamping electoral malfeasance.
While I have no power to change the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment, no one, not even the Supreme Court can take away my right to register my disagreement with its most contemptuous and abhorrent judgment in living memory. I reject the incoherent evidence on which the judgment was predicated. At the heart of this judgment were the results of 388 polling units which had been rejected by INEC as a forgery; results which in all probability did not make sense were inexplicably accepted by the apex court.
According to summary of trial materials, “no ward collation agent was called to show that at the collation center, results were brought from the 388 polling units where the alleged exclusion took place and INEC refused to accept or collate them. The petitioner, rather called 28 polling unit agents who came to identify some of the results tendered by the petitioner from the bar. All the electoral documents from Forms EC8A – EC8E were tendered from the bar and thus dumped on the court without anybody giving evidence correlating the contents of the result Forms with the tabulation done by the petitioner himself.
“Each of the 18 polling unit agents under cross-examination, manifested ignorance of the contents of the documents and never convinced anybody of being present in their claimed polling units. These witnesses were called to testify in respect of the disputed 388 polling units where the petitioner tendered what he called pink copies of result sheets.
“Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had in their reply to the petition disowned those result sheets and averred emphatically that no results were generated from those polling units as elections in those polling units were cancelled by presiding officers as a result of violence, over voting, snatching of electoral materials, etc. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) stated that any result from those polling units presented by any of the candidates, in this case, the petitioners, must be fake.
“These polling units’ agents were called to testify that the election took place in those polling units. When confronted with the purported result sheets tendered by the petitioners, each of the witnesses admitted as follows:
i. The names and signatures of the Presiding Officers are not well found on those results.
ii. The names and signatures of other party agents did not appear on the result sheets, neither could they mention even one party agent of the other political parties in those booths.
iii. The result sheets do not contain the total number of ballot papers used and number of ballot papers unused or invalid. The scores of political parties are not clear on the face of the documents.
“It was on account of this and many other material contradictions that the tribunal found as a fact that the evidence adduced by these 28 polling units’ agents of the petitioner has been so contradicted under cross-examination and rendered so manifestly unreliable that no reasonable tribunal or court can ever rely on them for any purpose whatsoever.”
Based on the above, it appears the Supreme Court was desperately working to an answer in favour of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to please the powers that be and the only opening to do that was to accept the fictitious results of the 388 polling units willy-nilly. And instead of doing substantial justice on the matter, it ended up delivering one of judiciary’s greatest infamies which even a kid learning arithmetic can see through. The judgment turned logic on its head, rewrote the basic universal laws of arithmetic and did grave and substantial injury to our democracy and the power of the people to choose who governs them. With this judicial precedent, the Supreme Court has inevitably rubber-stamped political rascality and the judgment could shape our democratic future.
The court has widened the opening which politicians exploit and manipulate to get into elective offices. All one needs to do is to stay somewhere, maybe in one’s room, probably with one policeman or so, write one’s own results, submit to INEC for counting and if it refuses, don’t worry, bid your time till you get to the court. With supreme arrogance, the final court of appeal will recognise the results as legitimate, credible and authentic and pronto, you will be declared duly elected. There is no more need for the people to troop out to elect their leaders. No need for candidates contesting elections to even campaign and sell their vision and programmes to the people. All that is old school and a sheer waste of time, money and resources. It just doesn’t matter anymore. Just forge the results and get a policeman to attest to them, boom! You are good to go.
The most basic quality of leadership is lacking in men and women in leadership positions across the country – in politics, judiciary and the generality of the public sector. Our democratic institutions have sold their soul for a mess of pottage. Any system that works this way is doomed to failure. Any wonder things are the way they are and our country’s fate increasingly looks precarious? Is it any wonder Nigerians have been labelled as corrupt, dishonest and unreliable, that the country, in violation of its rights as a sovereign nation to conduct its own affairs, entered into a humiliating agreement with the United States on how to spend the late General Sani Abacha loot on the grounds that previously released loot was allegedly looted? Too many things are wrong with this land of our fathers.
Clearly, Uzodinma did not win the March 9, 2019, governorship election. But he has been sworn in as governor of Imo State because his mindless forgery and falsehood have received the validation of the highest court in the land. The breakdown and analysis of the results of the 388 polling units validated by the Supreme Court, show alarming trends. Not only did every registered voter vote in some polling units, recorded voter turnout exceeded the total number of registered voters. Where in the world have elections recorded such turnout of every registered voter? So in the calculation of the justices who sat on that panel, no registered voter died, nor travelled, nor relocated since the last registration exercise? Even more perplexing was the fact that in some of the polling units, voter turnout was more than the registered voters. How is this possible?
In Uzodinma’s result sheets, there was no voided vote and only two parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and APC participated and were reflected in the election results of the 388 polling units. Yet, 70 political parties participated in that election and were all reflected in the INEC declared results of other polling units all over the state. Strangely, his result sheets in the disputed 388 polling units only reflected a contest between the PDP which came first and his party, the APC which came fourth prior to the Supreme Court judgment. There was no tabulation for other parties. Does it mean that other parties such as All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Action Alliance (AA), etc., did not participate in the election in those 388 polling units contrary to INEC’s results in other areas of the state?
Why did the result sheets reflect only two parties when so many parties participated in the said election? Apparently, Senator Uzodinma concocted those results that fly in the face of the basic laws of arithmetic and common sense between the PDP and the APC after the fact that the PDP had won the election and he only scored his party a vote figure higher than the PDP vote. The corollary to that is that if it was any other party that was on the cusp of victory, Uzodinma’s results would have been between just the APC and that party! Yet our almighty Supreme Court glossed over all these fundamental anomalies in Uzodinma’s result sheets which had been rejected by even INEC, its fellow demon as fictitious, and accepted same as authentic.
A further assessment of the result sheets of the disputed 388 polling units showed that the said units are all in the Orlu Senatorial Zone where Uzodinma and the candidate of the Action Alliance Ugwumba Uche Nwosu come from. So even if the 388 polling units were concentrated mostly in Uzodinma’s ancestral home, surely, Nwosu who emerged second in the March 9, 2019 election in Imo State and was backed by the incumbent governor at the time, Rochas Okorocha, his father in-law, must have amassed some votes from the units. But these votes were curiously missing, for the simple reason that they forged the results, and very badly at that.
Furthermore, that Uzodinma of the APC scored an average of 98% of the total votes cast in the 388 units, whereas he scored an average of 13% in the remaining polling units in the state jumped out at me. How could this be? Why was it that it was only in these 388 units throughout the state that the voter turnout was either more than the registered voters or achieved 98 to 100 percent of the registered voters? Please note that my emphasis is NOT on the number of accredited voters which is usually far less than the number of registered voters. Uzodinma’s fake results validated by our Supreme Court defy reason. The pattern of the results from the disputed 388 polling units clearly shows the improbability of such an occurrence. And on the basis of the testimony of one policeman, and 28 discredited polling units’ agents who gave contradictory statements at trial, the Supreme Court accepted the results.
Perhaps it’s time to ask the Supreme Court what happened to the precedent it set in the Atiku Abubakar case. Why did the Supreme Court not request for witness testimony of every polling unit of the 388 polling units in contention, a request it demanded of Atiku? The fact remains that there was none. There were neither witnesses nor party agents that were witnesses to the fraud. So on the strength of the testimony of one policeman who is not omnipresent and 28 polling units’ agents out of 388 disputed polling units, the nation’s apex court took such a monumental decision with far-reaching implications to override the mandate of the people?
Did the Supreme Court forget its judgments and decisions as contained in law reports on the need to call eyewitness evidence in proof of election petitions, inadmissibility of hearsay evidence including documentary hearsay, and also the import of dumping of documents without having them demonstrated in open court or relating them to aspects of the petitioners’ case? What was denied Atiku must equally be unavailing to Uzodinma.
In declaring Uzodinma governor of Imo State, the Supreme Court simply annulled a valid mandate freely given to an individual and transferred it to another person who came fourth in the election. The question also is this: Did Uzodima meet the constitutional requirement of spread? The Supreme Court MUST answer this question.
The Supreme Court decision on the Osun State governorship election between Ademola Adeleke of the PDP and Adegboyega Oyetola of the APC where the court relied solely on technicalities to dismiss the appeal filed by the PDP was another case that permanently tarnished the image of the court . The court ruled that the absence, during a previous sitting of Justice Peter Obiorah, who read the election tribunal’s majority judgment declaring Adeleke of the PDP winner, nullified the tribunal’s judgment. How could that be? But even if he was absent, he read all the proceedings and testimonies.
I have heard some of the establishment lawyers argue the soundness of the Uzodinma magic judgment, the same lawyers also argued that the abhorrent judgment that brought the former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi to power in 2007 as sound. For whatever extraneous motivation, the Supreme Court imposed on Rivers State a man who did not even contest the governorship election as governor. Such was the tyranny of our Supreme Court then. Many years after, that absolutely blemished judgment has been consigned to the dustbin of history, where it belongs. But with this record-setting infamy, the Supreme Court has now found itself in another unenviable position.
Oh my God, how can the number of votes exceed the number of registered voters? For the weak and the oppressed, the fear of not getting justice is increasingly making the Supreme Court a social leper. There are a few issues in the history of modern-day Nigeria that have been so overwhelmingly and atrociously destructive as some of the judgments that have emanated from the courts. The system has unleashed a generation of gangsters, thugs, certificate forgers, certified fraudsters, convicted looters, thieves, etc., to run the affairs of government. That has made it near impossible for a generation of good people who cannot engage in all the monkey tricks to participate in leadership contests. Without mincing words, the Supreme Court is, by the Uzodinma magic judgment, leading Nigeria down a slippery slope to ruin and global infamy.