Kogi guber dispute: Tribunal fixes judgment for Monday in Ajaka’s petition against Ododo

0 114

The Kogi governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has scheduled judgment for May 27, in the petition by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate in the last governorship election in Kogi, Murtala Ajaka.

The SDP and Ajaka are challenging the declaration of Usman Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the election held on November 11, 2023.

The three-member tribunal, headed by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu, announced the date on Thursday in a message communicated to counsel to the parties through its Secretary, David Mike.

Hearing in the case, which commenced in December 2023 ended on May 13 when SDP, Ajaka, APC, Ododo and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) adopted their final written addresses, after which the tribunal reserved judgement.

INEC, the APC and Ododo urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for being unmeritorious.

INEC’s lawyer, Kanu Agabi (SAN) argued that the petition lacked merit and was incompetent.

He urged the tribunal to either strike it out or dismiss it.

Agabi said: “It is our humble submission that your work in the determination of this petition is simplified in recent judgments by the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.”

He noted that the Court of Appeal has decided that if the grounds of a petition are inconsistent with one another, and are not consistent with the reliefs, it should be struck out.

Agabi added that the evidence led by the petitioners was grossly insufficient, citing a Supreme Court decision in the case of Tonye Cole against INEC.

He said the Supreme Court’s decision in that case “is to the effect that once the evidence called is grossly insufficient, there is no evidence.

“In that case, the petitioner filed 305 witness depositions but only adopted 40 of them. The petitioner only adopted about 13.1 percent of the witness depositions.

“In this case, (the petition by the SDP and Ajaka) the depositions adopted represent just about 3.6 percent of their witness depositions,” Agabi said.

He noted that the petitioners only called 25 witnesses, adding that in the mathematical calculation of evidence, 3.6 percent of Ajaka’s witness deposition adopted in the petition amounted to a failure and therefore, ought to be dismissed.

Agabi argued that the petitioners’ witness, who testified about the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines clearly stated that he could not guarantee whether those were the BVAS used.

He said the witness was not the maker of the inputs in the BVAS machines, adding that the evidence contained in the BVAS machines fell short of what was required under the law.

Agabi argued that out of the 25 witnesses called by the petitioners, there was no single polling unit agent among them.

“In other words, not a single person who observed the election was called. Besides, the star witness could not distinguish between what he heard and what he saw when questions were put to him,” Agabi said.

Lawyer to Ododo, Joseph Daudu (SAN) argued similarly and faulted the competence of the petition, which he said was statute barred having allegedly been filed out of time.

Daudu urged the tribunal to dismiss the allegation of forgery made by the petitioners against his client.

He argued that such an issue bordered on pre-election matters, which could not be raised at the state of post-election litigation.

Daudu also argued that Section 137 of the Electoral Act cited by the petitioners on allegations of over-voting was inapplicable.

Lawyer to the APC, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) equally urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for lacking in merit.

Petitioners’ lawyer, Pius Akubo (SAN) faulted the claim by the respondents that the petition was filed out of time.

Akubo argued that the respondents themselves confirmed that the petition was filed on December 2, 2023, even by their own witness.

“I urge your lordship to hold that we filed this petition within time under our law,” he said.

He argued that the petitioners have led sufficient evidence to support their case that the election was marred by irregularities and corrupt practices.

Akubo prayed to the tribunal to allow the petition and reverse Ododo’s victory.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More