The Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday issued a certificate of return to Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressive Congress(APC) as the governor-elect of Imo State.
Mr Uzodinma received the certificate in Abuja barely 24 hours after a Supreme Court judgement nullified the election of Emeka Ihedioha of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) as governor.
A seven-member panel of justices of the apex court unanimously declared the APC governorship candidate winner of the March 9 election in the state.
The senator in his appeal had contended that he scored the highest votes in the election but that INEC returned Mr Ihedioha as the governor.
Reading the judgement on Tuesday, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, held that the votes from 388 Polling Units were wrongly excluded and should be added to Mr Uzodinma’s votes.
“It is thereby ordered that the appellant votes from 388 Polling Units unlawfully excluded from the appellant vote declared shall be added and that the first respondent, Emeka Ihedioha, was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast at the said election.”
“His return as the elected governor of Imo State is hereby declared null and void and accordingly set aside
“It is hereby declared that the first appellant (Mr Uzodinma) holds the majority of lawful votes cast at the governorship election held in Imo State on March 9, 2019.”
The judge said Mr Uzodinma has satisfied the mandatory constitutional requirements to be declared governor.
“It is hereby declared that first appellant, Senator Hope Uzodinma, is the winner of the governorship of Imo State held on March 9, 2019.
“The certificate issued to the first defendant (Mr Ihedioha) is hereby withdrawn.
“It is hereby ordered that the certificate of return shall be issued to the first appellant, Senator Hope Uzodinma, forthwith and he should be sworn in as the governor of Imo State,” she ruled.
Meanwhile, in a surprise move on Tuesday, the Action Alliance (AA) ‘s candidate, Uche Nwosu, through his lawyer, Solomon Umoh, withdrew his appeal against Mr Ihedioha.
Mr Nwosu’s withdrawal according to his lawyer, was based on a December 20 filing of the Supreme Court ruling, which held that he was not a validly nominated candidate for the election.
Mr Nwosu is the son-in-law of former governor Rochas Okorocha who strongly backed his candidacy. Mr Nwosu lost his own case from the election petition tribunal to the Supreme Court.