BREAKING: Kogi Guber: Ajaka loses as Tribunal affirms Ododo’s election

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The Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Monday, affirmed the election of Governor Usman Ododo of All Progressives Congress, APC, in the November 11, 2023 governorship poll.

The three-member panel of justices, headed by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu, held that the petition filed against Ododo’s election was bereft of substance and accordingly dismissed.

The tribunal held that the petitioners – the Social Democratic Party, SDP, and its candidate, Murtala Ajaka – failed to prove the allegations of over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022, in the petition.

The panel, in a unanimous decision, held that all the witness evidence filed before it were incompetent and full of inconsistencies.

It also agreed with the submissions of the respondents that the allegations of forgery raised in the petition were a pre-election matter, which ought to have been raised 14 days after the documents were submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Kogi had, on November 11, 2023, held its off-cycle election in which Ododo of the APC emerged winner beating his closest rival, Ajaka of the SDP, with a wide margin.

Ajaka, dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, filed a petition before the tribunal, challenging Ododo’s victory.

The case, which commenced in December 2023, came to its highest point on May 13 when SDP, Ajaka, APC, Ododo and INEC adopted their final written addresses, after which the tribunal reserved judgment in the petition.

It would be recalled that INEC, Ododo and his party, APC, had prayed the tribunal to dismiss Ajaka and SDP’s petition in its entirety for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

The trio had, through their lawyers, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, Joseph Daudu, SAN and Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, respectively, insisted on the dismissal of the petition while adopting their final written addresses.

However, Ajaka’s lawyer, Pius Akubo, SAN, had urged the tribunal to discountenance the respondents’ submissions and uphold the petition.

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