Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje
A former leader of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and former ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, Buba Galadima, yesterday described the Supreme Court verdict, which declared Hope Uzodinma Imo State governor-elect as the greatest wonder in world history.
He said: “What has happened is that the Supreme Court has now tied itself because how can they do that to Emeke Ihedioha and refuse Abba Kabiru Yusuf in Kano? It was exactly what had happened in Kano.
“If an election had to be cancelled, it has to be at the polling unit level according to the Supreme Court. But in Kano, the votes were not cancelled at the polling unit; they were not cancelled at the ward level but they were cancelled at the local level. So, it goes without saying that Ganduje is gone, and anything to the contrary, Nigeria will see the fire.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) meanwhile presented its Certificate of Return to Uzodinma yesterday.
INEC National Commissioner in charge of Rivers, Bayelsa and Edo, May Agbamuche-Mbu, presented the certificate during a short ceremony at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman Rotimi Oyekanmi had told journalists earlier that the electoral umpire would comply with the Supreme Court ruling that sacked the former governor, Emeka Ihedioha, once it received the order.
Late Tuesday, the apex court, in a unanimous judgment by a seven-man panel of justices led by Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Tanko Muhammad, had held that Ihedioha, who contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was not duly elected.
Uzodinma has since placed a “Post No Debit” order on Imo State funds. A letter to that effect dated January 14, signed by the director-general of his campaign organisation, Chief Cosmas Iwu, was addressed to all financial institutions in the state.
In a valedictory statement he issued in Owerri, Ihedioha described his ouster as a “contravention of the will of people.” He said: “I am reporting back to you, our great Imo people, on the fate of the mandate you freely gave to me as governor and Engr. Gerald Irona as deputy governor. This mandate has now been truncated and cut short by the Supreme Court, in contravention of the will of the people.
“I do not agree with the judgment of the Supreme Court. I think it is unfair, unjust and does not reflect the voting that took place during the elections. It also didn’t take care of the sensibilities of the people of Imo State. But as true democrats, Engr. Gerald Irona and I have no option but to respect the outcome of that judgment.”
He said: We have put machinery in motion to hand over the reins of office to the APC candidate as the next governor of Imo State. The Secretary to the State Government will coordinate this. I, therefore, direct all members of Imo State Expanded Executive Council and all political appointees to write their handover notes and return all government property in their custody, forthwith. I shall not be a party to the pilfering of government property or funds.”
Reacting to Uzodinma’s triumph, the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) expressed optimism that the new governor would empower the citizenry in the state.
PGF’s chairman, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, in a statement said that the forum would work with Uzodinma to strengthen the capacities of progressive states to create jobs, stimulate economic activity, reduce inequality and diminish poverty.
“We rejoice with you and the people of Imo State, and all lovers of democracy and justice in Nigeria in this rightly deserved victory that restored your stolen mandate.
“We, in particular, wish to commend your doggedness, resilience, commitment to the rule of law and abiding faith in the judiciary that culminated into this ultimate victory. It is victory at last for us all. We welcome you to the fold of Progressive Governors as you take over the mantle of leadership in Imo state.”
Also reacting to the judgment, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar urged the PDP and Ihedioha to accept the verdict and move on.
“With regard to the judgment of the Supreme Court, which nullified the election of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Emeka Ihedioha, as governor of Imo state, I can only say that since the Supreme Court is final, we must accept its judgment, however unexpected and unpalatable it may be,” Atiku said in a statement yesterday.
He advised: “The rule of law must guide our paths even if logic sheds light on a different path,” adding: “Let me state unequivocally that I solidarise with Emeka Ihedioha, a man I know to be a great leader of men and resources. In the fullness of time, I am convinced that he will overcome this setback and emerge stronger.”
He urged the people of Imo all Nigerians not to despair, stressing: “This nation has gone through despotic times before, and we have survived them and thrived. I am very certain that this history will repeat itself.”