Nigeria is currently being targeted by the United States government for fresh sanctions over alleged schemes that foisted Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the rightful governor of Imo State in Eastern Nigeria.
The only way out for Nigeria at the moment is for the Supreme Court Judges and other top government officials allegedly linked to the controversial January 14, 2020 judgment that saw the declaration of Uzodinma as the rightful governor, take appropriate steps to defend judicial independence in the country.
Failing to do so, they risked sanctions by the United States government.
Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Reagan, Bruce Fein, in a statement issued in Washington DC, this Tuesday said the Supreme Court judgment on the Imo governorship tussle which sacked Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) remains a mathematical puzzle and wondered how the fourth-place finisher, Uzodima was declared the winner.
Under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (GMHRAA), the US government can sanction foreign officials deemed to be complicit in rigging elections and undermining democratic values.
The GMHRAA also empowers the President, with the advice of the Secretary of State or Congressional committee chairmen, to publicly sanction foreign officials implicated in denial of the internationally recognized human right to participate in free and fair democratic elections.
The statement comes as the Supreme Court was set to review the earlier judgment that gave the APC governorship flag bearer victory.
The PDP flag bearer, Ihedioha had last week approached the apex court seeking the nullification of the judgment on grounds that the scores credited to Uzodinma was fraudulent especially when it did not meet the constitutionally required geographically spread, and without stating the scores and percentages of all the 70 candidates that contested the elections in each of the local councils.
Fein who had earlier spoken at a seminar on the dangers of the erosion of the independence of Nigeria’s Supreme Court in Washington DC said by the court’s own tally on the Imo Election judgment, the number of votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters by more than 125,000.
“Even Uzodinma accepted that his judicial appointment as governor was both beyond the court’s jurisdiction and was discredited by the court’s own tally showing that the number of votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters by more than 125,000.
“ The Nigerian Supreme Court lacked the polling unit information necessary to determine whether Uzodinma had achieved the constitutionally required 25 percent threshold in two-thirds of the local government units”, Fein added.
He explained that the right of citizens to free and fair elections is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and warned that the United States does not want a corrupt electoral process that would lead to instability and upheavals in Nigeria which is already undergoing religious-ethno tension.
The former Associate Deputy Attorney General disclosed that scores of foreign officials had been listed and sanctioned under the statute, explaining that such likely action by the US government in the face of the judicial fraud should be worrisome to the Supreme Court leadership and the leadership of the APC.
“The sanctioned officials are ineligible for visas to enter the United States; and, their United States assets are blocked,” he warned further, adding ‘ the APC leadership should behave accordingly and defend judicial independence and impartiality.”
He insisted that circumstantial evidence discredits the January 14, 2020 ruling, querying: “ How could the Court accept 213, 295 votes (virtually all for Uzodinma) from 388 polling units, or an average of 549 votes per polling unit, when that calculation left 610, 448 votes from the remaining 3,137 polling units, or an average of 194 votes per polling unit?”
Yesterday, the leadership of the PDP had written the Chief Justice of the federation asking that the 7-member panel that decided the earlier case recuse themselves from the matter scheduled for hearing today, a demand that further adds to the allegation of bias over the controversial ruling.