* Says The Tribunal And Court Have Powers To Admit Rejected Results By INEC
* We Cannot Appeal The Judgment Of The Supreme Court
* The Court Of Law Has The Power To Collate, Originate Results And Determine The Winner – Douye Fiderekumo
* As Soon As The Supreme Court Said That Emeka Ihedioha Lost The Election, He Seized To Be The Governor Of Imo State — Kelechi Okparaku
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Paul Ananaba, has said that the Supreme Court ought to handle lesser cases. The learned Silk made this statement while speaking with Channels TV on “Why PDP Lost Imo Governorship Appeals”.
The learned silk while reviewing the Supreme Court Judgment which installed Hope Uzodinma as the Governor of Imo State, stated that the Supreme Court may have made errors in its calculation. Quoting Late Justice Oputa of blessed memory, he said that the Supreme Court is final not because they are perfect, but they are perfect because they are the final court.
“The first point to make is that every Nigerian must realize that by Section 6 of the Constitution, it is the judiciary that has the duty of interpretation of laws, and that came from the jurisprudence of the American Realism. It is the jurisprudential thought that what the judges say are nothing more than the law.
“The Supreme Court has a unique position which was summarized by Late Justice Oputa, who said that the Supreme Court is final not because they are perfect, but they are perfect because they are the final court. So whatever they say is final.
“The Supreme Court should take fewer cases. When the Supreme Court takes about six cases from Governorship appeal, you will hear comments because when the typical Supreme Court gives judgment, it should be a judgment that is thoroughly looked through. Many people are not familiar with the electoral Act. The tribunal and Court have powers to admit rejected results by INEC. By this particular case, the issue is that the Supreme Court respect concurrent findings of fact. Appeal is by Review, the Supreme Court ought to follow them on facts. The Supreme Court did not see the witnesses,” he said.
Speaking further, he asked whether from the day the Supreme Court heard the appeal on the same day and gave judgment, would they have gone up to make that kind of mathematics?
He also added that if one given such a calculation to do from the moment the appeal was heard and stood down for judgment, that’s when the calculation will be done, and so it could amount to error; that the Supreme Could ought to take lesser cases. He also added that if they had one week, they would have looked at what they are going to add.
“The general principle of law is that the Supreme Court will respect concurrent findings of facts, but the Supreme Court also has powers, if it considers that those facts are perverse or they overlooked something they ought to look into. If these results were over three hundred, the position of the law is that they are from polling units, they should come polling unit by polling unit.
“We cannot appeal the judgment of the Supreme Court. The Electoral Act permits the court to do calculation. INEC will do theirs at the electoral point, if you disagree with INEC, you don’t carry placards; you don’t go to the street and start fighting. You go to the Tribunal.
“The Supreme Court can call for a fresh election; they can cancel the entire election. For instance, there is more number of votes than the accredited number of votes; in that instance it will be unsafe. It is better for 99 guilty people to go free than one innocent man to suffer,” he said.
The learned silk also said that Lawyers and Judges make mistake, stressing that a typical case can be lost by one word alone.
“That’s the technicality of the law, and the best of it comes in the election petition. Don’t forget that the two sides have teams of senior advocates. At the Supreme Court, no magic actually ought to happen because there is a record from the Tribunal to the Court of Appeal; what you go to the Supreme Court to do is to review or rehear, not a fresh thing except in few cases you are allowed to bring in fresh evidence. There was no fresh evidence. If there were 300 polling units, how would someone who was not at the polling units when they were issued tender them? He said.
Another lawyer, Douye Fiderekumo, who is based in Yanagoa said that if the case of Uzodinma as reported is that results from polling units were not accepted by INEC; and that INEC agreed that they rejected the results, it becomes a question of what evidence was led by the petitioner, if it was accepted and admissible then a court of law is bound to act upon them.
“The first point we should understand is that we are yet to see the judgment. Except those who were directly involved in the prosecution of the case on both sides, we do not know the facts other than what has been reported in the media. If the case of Uzodinma as reported is that results from polling units were not accepted by INEC; and INEC agreed that they rejected the results, it becomes a question of what evidence was led by the petitioner, if it was accepted and admissible then a court of law is bound to act upon them.
“What should now happen on the other side will now be to provide the legal justification for refusing to accept those results. It is important to understand that polling unit results are the bedrock, the basis; they are the most important results. The Court of law has the power to collate, originate results and determine the winner. We have series of cases. On the basis of that, the first point is that, if you say there was no election which forms the basis of your cancellation, the results that were tendered in court in the first place, were they products of your agents?
If the results are primary evidence, whether they are in duplicate form, persons in law who have the competence to tender them are the makers of the document. They are two forms of evidence with regard to polling units results that can be accepted in judicial proceedings; one, the primary evidence itself which was actually signed by the agents of INEC; the presiding officers who were appointed by them along with agents of the party if they so wish to sign. There is the secondary one which is the certified true copy. Any of those ones can be received. Once INEC designate agents and these agents sign these results in conjunction with agents of the parties, any of those persons have the right to tender them in judicial proceedings. The presiding officers are the Chief Executives; it is when they declare elections that INEC will be bound to accept them,” he said.
Kelechi Okparaku, an Imo State lawyer said that he was a bit surprised at the judgment of the Supreme Court given that the tribunal and the Court of Appeal had upheld the election of Rtd. Honourable Emeka Ihedioha. According to him, we want to read the judgment of the Supreme Court to find out the reason why the Supreme decided to admit those results which were rejected by INEC, the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal.
“I was a bit surprised at the judgment of the Supreme Court given that the tribunal and the Court of Appeal had upheld the election of Rtd. Honourable Emeka Ihedioha. So like every other person, I was quite surprised with the outcome and as someone from Imo State that made my surprise double. But then, a lot of issues have arisen, and as lawyers, though I have not read the judgment, it will be difficult for me to analyze same, but there are a lot of questions that are agitating the minds of lawyers and non-lawyers and Imolites.
“We want to read the judgment of the Supreme Court to find out the reason why the Supreme decided to admit those results which were rejected by INEC, the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal. I will give the Supreme Court the benefit of the doubt that there was a loophole. This is not the first time we are seeing this happen,” he said.
He also justified the directive of the Governor-Elect, Hope Uzodinma, asking all banks to freeze all accounts belonging to the State government. According to him, there is nothing wrong with the directive. He added that as soon as the Supreme Court said that Emeka Ihedioha lost the election, he seized to be the Governor of Imo State.