A Twitter user, @MrAfobaje on the 14th of January decided to ‘shed some light’ (as he put it) on the latest developments in Imo State – removal of Emeka Ihedioha as the governor of the state. The user- Ahmed Ibn Mustapha- made some bold claims that got our attention. According to him, a candidate MUST win in 18 Local Government Areas (LGA) to be declared winner; hence, Emeka was a governor based on illegality. He also said Emeka won just 9 LGAs and lost in 18.
This post came after the ruling of the apex court in Nigeria on Tuesday, 14th of January where the judges nullified the election of Emeka Ihedioha as the governor of Imo state and declared Hope Uzodinma as the new governor. However, he was governor for about 8 months (May 2019 – January 2020), which is perhaps the bone of contention.
While reading the judgment of the court, Justice Kekere-Ekun revealed the reasons for the ruling. According to him, the Imo electoral results were a function of the unlawful omission of 388 polling unit results; adding that Mr Hope Uzodinma would have been declared the winner by the Independent Electoral Commission without this omission.
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It should be noted that this issue has been under review since after the election in March last year where Ihedioha polled 273,404 after scoring the highest in 11 LGAs.
Interestingly, after the election, the unsuccessful parties and their candidates voiced their discontentment regarding the results. Amongst this group were Action Alliance’s (AA) Uche Nwosu (190,304); All Progressive Grand Alliance’s (APGA) Ifeanyi Araraume (114,676); and the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) Hope Uzodima (96,458).
They wanted Ihedioha to be removed or have a rerun, alleging that the winner did not attain the seat legally. They took the issue to court and Emeka won in the Tribunal and Appeal courts but lost in Supreme Court.
What happened to AA and APGA? Why Hope Uzodinma?
The Imo Election court cases started with 3 people: Uche Nwosu (AA), Ifeanyi Araraume (APGA) and Hope Uzodima (APC) – who were not satisfied with INEC’s decision on the election and decided to seek legal action. This begs the questions… What happened to AA and APGA? Why Hope Uzodinma? This is because Hope Uzodinma who was later chosen by the supreme court as the new governor was known to be the fourth in line after Emeka won the election.
In the pursuit of victory, Uche Nwosu of AA had challenged the victory of Emeka of PDP in court, April 2019. And in what seemed like a complete turn of events, the Federal High Court, Abuja, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove his (Uche Nwosu) name as a governorship candidate in the Imo Election.
Mr Nwosu’s candidacy was nullified on the grounds of double nomination by two political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Action Alliance (AA); which is in violation of section 37 of the Electoral Act.
Then, on Tuesday, 14 of January at the supreme court, INEC revealed it had initially excluded 388 polling units during the collation of the Imo state election. INEC has, however, added these results now. This led to Mr Uzodinma’s victory as his new votes now surpasses that of the other two candidates – Emeka (PDP) and Ifeanyi Ararume (APGA).
Dubawa messaged the user on Twitter in an attempt to ascertain the source for his assertions. He responded, basing his claims on two publications by the Guardian and Punch. However, both of these publications made no mention of any concrete claims; they were rather reports of Rochas and Uche Nwosu’s sentiments. When Dubawa brought this to the attention of the user, he challenged us to disprove him.
1. The constitution says you MUST win in 18 LGAs to be declared winner.
The Nigerian constitution states that the candidate must have won not less than one-quarter of all the votes cast in two-thirds of all the local government areas in the state. Therefore, in Imo state, the candidate must have won 25% of the votes cast in two-thirds (18 LGAs) of the established 27 LGAs of the state. The key discrepancy missing in this claim was omitting the one-quarter which can make or break an electoral result; hence rendering the assertion unfactual.
“A candidate for an election to the office of Governor of a State shall be deemed to have been duly elected where there being two or more candidates –
(a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and
(b) he has not less than one-quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the State.”
According to section 179 of the Nigerian constitution, before anyone is announced as a governor, he must have gained at least one-quarter (25%) of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of the available local government areas in the state. For instance, if there are 30 local governments in a state, the candidate must have won 25% of the votes cast in two-thirds of the 30 local government areas which corresponds to 25% of legal votes in 20 LGAs.
In the case of Imo state with only 27 local government areas, two-thirds correspond to 18 LGAs. Hence, a candidate ought to win 25% of the 18 LGAs to be declared winner.
2. The Twitter user alleged that Emeka won just 9 LGAs and lost in 18.
Emeka Ihedioha won in 11 Local Government Areas and not 9 according to news reports. Additionally, he lost in 16 LGAs and not 18 as stressed by the claim’s source.
Out of the existing 27 LGAs in Imo, @MrAfobaje claimed that the PDP flag bearer won in just 9 local government areas and lost in the remaining 18. He further stressed that the votes that made Emeka governor, came from just 3 local government areas.
Dubawa’s first point of contact was the INEC to verify the claim. Sadly, all efforts to reach the electoral commission through calls and messages proved futile. We had first called the spokesperson on Tuesday but due to some circumstances he revealed, he could not help but agreed to engage us on Thursday; we contacted him several times on this day but did not pick up. Next, we sent a text but he never replied.
Nonetheless, we sort out independent research. Findings led to news reports from ThisDay and Vanguard published after the March 9th elections last year. They state that Ihedioha won in 11 local government areas. Vanguard’s publication went on to give the number of local government areas won by each of the major candidates.
The breakdown revealed the Peoples Democratic Party- Emeka Ihedioha- gained victory in 11 local government areas out of the 27 LGAs with a recorded wide margin. The Action Alliance’s Uche Nwosu obtained victory in ten (10) LGAs. Results for the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Ifeanyi Araraume, showed victory in 4 local government areas. And finally, the All Progressives Congress’ Hope Uzodinma’s results showed success in only 2 LGAs.
As we have sorted the number of local government areas won by Emeka, it is also important to know the number of polling units he lost in. We did this by simply subtracting the PDP’s number of successful LGAs- 11- from the total number of LGAs in the state- 27; the result is 16 which corresponds to the LGAs Emeka lost in.