A group is urging the Supreme Court to rule on pending suits against the governor of Imo State before November 11

Association for Public Policy Analysis, a non-governmental organization, has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear and rule on all cases related to the 2019 governorship election in Imo State before the gubernatorial election on November 11.

Two appeals filed since 2020 ask the court to identify the real All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the 2019 election, and that date has been set for October 31, 2023.

The two appeals are direct results of two rulings handed down by the court in late 2019 and early 2020, when questions of the APC gubernatorial candidate’s legitimacy arose.

Because he was nominated by both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Action Alliance (AA), the Supreme Court ruled that Uche Nwosu could not run in the upcoming election.

The Peoples Democratic Party’s Emeka Ihedioha was deposed from his position as governor by a Supreme Court ruling in 2020. It announced that APC candidate Hope Uzodimma had won the governor’s race for 2019.

In 2019, the PDP and Action People’s Party (APP) filed a motion on notice asking the Supreme Court to interpret the effect of the judgment that held Nwosu as the APC’s candidate but disqualified him for having double nomination of APC and AA at the same time, thereby making Uzodinma the APC’s gubernatorial candidate.

The APC’s participation in the 2019 Imo governorship race has been called into question after Senior Advocate of Nigeria Philip Umeadi SAN filed a notice application asking the Supreme Court to interpret the ruling that fired Nwosu and to execute that judgment.

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At a news conference in Abuja, the group called on the Supreme Court to rule on the two motions on notice before calling for new elections.

Comrade Princewill Okorie, the association’s national president, applauded the court for setting October 31 as the date for both lawsuits but expressed concern that the date would be moved.

Supreme Court decisions from December 20, 2019 (SC/1384/ 2019) and January 14, 2020 (SC/462/2019) are on file.

“The two judgments raised fundamental issues affecting politics in Imo State and yet to be resolved by the Supreme Court in the past three years,” he explained.

Ahead of the November 11 governorship election in Imo State, he urged Nigeria’s top judge, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, to ignore any pressure that would shorten the hearing of the ongoing petitions or delay their prompt disposal.

Okorie said that because of the political instability and security concerns in the State since 2020, the association had written to the Chief Justice of Nigeria on October 10th, 2023, pleading with him to expedite the hearings and decisions on the motions so that they can be implemented before the 2023 governor’s race.

“While it is gratifying to note that the Chief Justice of Nigeria granted our plea by fixing 31st October 2023 for hearing of the motions, it is regrettable that information arriving to us from our analysts in the judiciary is pointing to the fact that some staff at the Supreme Court have been induced to compromise by making frantic efforts to shift the hearing date which has already been served on parties in the cases to December 2023.

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Why would traditional leaders try to influence a change in the hearing date of the two motions, and why would judicial personnel even consider moving the date agreed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria?

After receiving our letter, the Chief Justice of Nigeria formally granted a date for hearing the motions, therefore this came as a surprise to him, Okorie stated.

He claimed that some members of the court, legislators, and traditional authorities are intentionally dragging their feet on the case to advance their own personal agendas and undermine national unity.

Resolving the legal battle over the 2019 governorship election before the next election will promote justice, fair play, and allow all parties concerned to move on with their lives, as well as restore the faith of the Imo people in the court system.

“Finally, it is important to remind the Chief Justice of Nigeria that shifting the date of the motions that have stayed at the Supreme Court for over three years will present the Supreme Court as the institution that is not consistent with her decisions on policies, bypassing the will of justice, fueling political instability in Imo State, and lacking integrity.

To quote the report: “This image and perception will be very wrong in the eyes of the international community who are relying on Nigeria to champion effort towards sustainability of credible democracy in Africa.”

He urged the court to ignore outside pressure and work to rule on the two outstanding motions so that the political deadlock in Imo State may be resolved once and for all.

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