14 Quick Legal Takes On The Supreme Court Judgement on The 2019 Imo State Governorship Election Petition.

It is no longer news that the Seven Member Panel of the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision delivered on 14 January 2020 sacked Hon Emeka Ihedioha as Governor of Imo State and declared Senator Hope Uzodinma the lawful winner.

What remains to be explained and understood by all are some of the following legal titbits-

⚖ 1. No further appeals to any court, body or authority can lie in this matter. The decision of the Supreme Court is final and conclusive.

⚖ 2. The judgement takes immediate effect, meaning automatic change of guard has been decreed by the highest court in the land.

⚖ 3. The Certificates of Return issued to Hon Ihedioha and Hon Irona as Governor and Deputy Governor respectively stand invalidated and quashed while INEC is to issue a Fresh Certificate of Return to Senator Uzodinma as Governor and to his Deputy Governor.

⚖ 4. Consequent upon the above, Hon Emeka Ihedioha and Hon Gerald Irona have been sacked with ignominy from the offices of Governor and Deputy Governor respectively which they usurped in the last eight months and can no longer act in those capacities.

⚖ 5. The duo of Hon Ihedioha and Hon Irona having lost out via that Supreme Court judgement are no longer clothed with immunity under section 308 of the 1999 Constitution as amended as they have now become ordinary citizens.

⚖ 6. All political appointments (except those with statutory tenure) made by the sacked Rt. Hon Ihedioha into the Executive Council of Imo State like Commissioners and Advisers, Secretary to State Government, including his personal aides like Chief of Staff, SSAs and EAs stand immediately sacked as the erstwhile offices they occupied are now overtaken by events.

⚖ 7. Imo State Executive Council including its enlarged component constituted by the sacked Hon Ihedioha remains automatically dissolved.

Members of these August bodies including the sacked duo of Hon Ihedioha and Hon Irona are however not liable to refund salaries and allowances they were paid while they functioned in those offices.

⚖ 8. It is highly doubtful if these Supreme Court sacked Governor and Deputy Governor qualify for Pension and other Protocol Privileges available to former Governors and Deputy Governors of Imo State under the relevant Imo State Laws.

⚖ 9. All Adhoc Committees and Panels set up by the sacked Hon Ihedioha government have also become moribund as they are no longer clothed with legal authority to continue to act.

⚖ 10. With this judgement, the unlawful and unconstitutional Interim Management Committees appointed by the sacked Hon Ihedioha government in the 27 Local Government Areas in Imo State also fizzle out with him.

⚖ 11. Any moment from now and without any further delay, the Governor-Elect Senator Uzodinma, armed with a duly issued Certificate of Return, will be sworn into Office by the Chief Judge of Imo State alongside his Deputy Governor-elect (armed with a duly issued Certificate of Return) and thereafter both of them will be clothed with immunity under section 308 of the Constitution as amended.

⚖ 12. The newly sworn in Governor will then become the Chief Executive of the State with full powers and competences to pilot the affairs of the State until the next four years.

⚖ 13. By reason of this judgement, henceforth, Imo State will have staggered Governorship election different from the national general election timetable.

This does not however affect the regular calendar of election into Imo House of Assembly.

⚖ 14. All things being equal, the next Governorship election in Imo State will now be in late 2023 to coincide with the 2024 January handover date.

The above represent some, certainly not all, salient takes on the law of the land and nothing more pretentious.

Congratulations once more to the Imo Governor Elect, Senator Hope Uzodinma of APC.

Congratulations is better than sorry.

A new normal is possible!

*Prof Obiaraeri is my name, the ☆☆☆☆☆ 5-Star Civilian General etc.*


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