Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal on Saturday upheld the election of Yahaya Bello as the validly elected governor of Kogi State.
Delivering four separate unanimous judgements on Saturday evening, a five-man panel of the appellate court led by Justice Adamu Jauro dismissed the multiple appeals filed against the return of Governor Bello as the valid winner of the November 16, 2019, gubernatorial election.
In the first appeal, Akpoti and SDP submitted that the tribunal erred in law by not taking into consideration the evidence and exhibits that were tendered as proof that the petitioner was excluded from the Kogi State governorship election held on November 16, 2019.
But lawyers to the respondents, Joseph Daudu, SAN, for Bello, Dr Alex Izinyon, SAN, for APC, and Mallam Ahmed Raji, SAN, for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in their separate motions challenging the competence of the appeal, urged the court to hold that the entire appeal is incompetent and should be accordingly dismissed.
In the other appeal by Wada and his party, PDP, their lawyer, Jibrin Okutepa, prayed the court to upturn the decision of the tribunal, and alternatively cancel the election.
He said there was overwhelming evidence that the election was marred by electoral malpractices, which they claimed the tribunal ignored.
However, the Court of Appeal in its judgments, held that the appeals, which sought to upturn earlier verdicts of Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that affirmed Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the governorship contest, lacked merit.
The court said it found no reason to dislodge the decision of the tribunal that the petitioners failed to prove their case to warrant the nullification of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s declaration that governor Bello garnered the highest number of valid votes cast at the election.
Consequently, the appellate court, dismissed the four appeals that were filed against INEC, Governor Bello and APC, by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the Actions People’s Party (APP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the Democratic People’s Party (DPP).