As Izunaso Battles Hope Uzodimma for Orlu Senate Seat, Lawyers Favour Izunaso to Win Appeal

Our Reporter
 As Izunaso Battles Hope Uzodimma for Orlu Senate Seat, Lawyers Favour Izunaso to Win Appeal

 

Hope Uzodinma is the senator representing Orlu Senatorial zone of Imo State in the National Assembly for a second term running after trouncing Senator Osita Izunaso to clinch the coveted seat in the year 2011 general election. Again in 2015, Mr. Hope Uzodinma defeated Senator Osita Izunaso to go for a second tenure of four years. But just like the last time the duo contested both the elections and the post election litigation, they are back in the legal trenches.

In the Election Petition Tribunal which sat in Owerri Imo state, the incumbent Senator Mr. Uzodinma floored erstwhile Senator Izunaso after many weeks of legal wrangling. Izunaso not happy with the unfortunate turn of events at the Election Tribunal has proceeded to the appellate court to seek to overcome the incumbent Senator. Two lawyers at his behest have already assured him of possible victory.  

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria Mr. Okey Amechi and Mr. Naths Epelle have written legal opinions to affirm that Senator Izunaso could defeat Hope Uzodinma at the Appeal Court. Okey Amechi (SAN) in his legal opinion titled: “RE:EPT/IM.SEN/4/2015: Tribunal Judgment in Senator Izunaso and another versus Senator Hope Uzodinma and others- requested for legal opinion”, made available to TNIN stated thus:

With reference to your letter to us, dated 17/10/2015, on the above subject matter, we hereby proffer a legal opinion on the case, as follows:

1.     The judgment of the Tribunal can be faulted on a number of grounds, including but not limited to:

(a)           Misplacement of burden of proof;

(b)           Decision of the Tribunal on the petitioners’ objection to 3rd – 17th respondents tendering documents they could not produce during hearing after being duly given notice to produce;

(c)            Decision of the Tribunal on the petitioners’ objection to 3rd – 17th respondents tendering documents they did not frontload;

(d)           Decision of the Tribunal admitting in evidence the questioned documents of the 3rd – 17th respondents;

(e)           Decision of the Tribunal to the effect that the petitioners did not lead any evidence to establish criminal allegations in the petition;

(f) Decision of the Tribunal with regard to the competence of the Petitioners’ Reply to the 1st Respondent’s Reply;

(g)           Decision of the Tribunal to the effect that the 3rd – 17threspondents proved thatb elections held in Oru East, Ohaji Egbema, and Oguta LGAs;

(h)           Decision of the Tribunal to the effect that the 1stRespondent won the election with a majority of lawful votes cast at the election;

(i) Decision of the Tribunal to the effect that bthe Petitioners did not win the election with a majority of lawful votes cast at the election; and

(j) Decision of the Tribunal to the effect that the petitioners did not rebut the presumption of genuineness of the result declared by the 3rd Respondent.

Having stated so much above, it is our view that ultimately the decision whether or not the petitioners should go on appeal from the judgment in question is that of the petitioners to make.

Similarly, Naths Epelle wrote that;

From the foregoing, can it be said that the Respondent proved their case, the tribunal having deliberately and in utter violation of the Section 245 of the Evidence Act, 2011, received in evidence, results of the three local government areas which they refused to produce when the petitioners’ counsel in course of conducting thye Petitioners’ case, demanded of them?

Against the backdrop of the foregoing, if the results of the three local government areas are excluded (as they ought not be admitted in evidence in the first place) having regard to Section 245 of the Evidence Act, 2011, and the results of the election to the government areas where all the parties agreed that due elections were held, can it then be said that the 1st Respondent (Senator Hope Uzodinma) polled majority of the lawful votes cast at the election for him to be declared winner of the said election by INEC?

Can it be said that the Petitioners did not rebut the presumption of regularity of official acts as to whether or not due elections were conducted in respect of the three local government areas of Oru East, Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta?

From the foregoing, can it be said that the Petitioners did not rebut the presumption of regularity of official acts as it relates to the results declared by INEC in respect of Imo West Senatorial District Election, the Petitioners having established that elections were not conducted in the three local government areas of Oru East, Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta?
I do not have any doubt in my mind that the Petitioners have very solid grounds for which they could proceed on appeal. However, the scenario in election petition and other political cases are completely different from ordinary civil matters, as not even the law can be said to be certain in this class of cases. It is for this reason that I cannot confidently state here that an appeal against the decision of the election tribunal must succeed.

Comments powered by Disqus