Tribunal decides Bello, Wada’s fate tomorrow

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The Kogi state governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja, will on Saturday deliver its judgment in the petition brought by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the November 16 governorship election, Engineer Musa Wada against the outcome of the polls.

A three-man panel of Justices headed by Justice Kashim Kaigama had on May 7, 2020 reserved Judgment after the adoption of final addresses by counsel to all the parties to the petition.

But in a hearing notice issued to respect parties to the petition, the tribunal said it’s judgment will be delivered on Saturday.

According to hearing notice signed by the secretary of the tribunal, Umar Abubakar, the tribunal will sit by 10am.

In the petition marked EPT/KG/GOV/06/2019, the petitioners have asked the tribunal to order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue him a Certificate of Return as duly elected Governor of Kogi state.

The reliefs, which was contained in a three-volume petition of over 500 pages each, was dated December 5 and filed at the tribunal sitting in Abuja

Wada and his political platform, the PDP, have called a total of 32 including the INEC Chairman and a Residence Electoral Commissioner (REC) to prove their claim that the election was characterised by irregularities, violence, ballot snatching and stuffing, and non-compliance with the electoral act, constitution and INEC’s guideline for governorship elections.

While Governor Yahaya Bello of the All Progressive Congress (APC) called just one witness through his counsel, Joseph Daudu (SAN), both the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) represented by Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN) and Ahmed Raji (SAN) who appeared for the APC did not call any witness at the tribunal.

Before the hearing of the petition, INEC had listed a total of 271 witnesses, Governor Bello listed 120 witnesses, while the APC had announced that it will call 250 witnesses.

Regardless, all the three respondents had in their separate papers urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition filed in December 2019 and affirmed the return of Governor Bello by INEC as the validly elected governor of Kogi state

They equally argued that the petitioners had through their witnesses failed to prove the allegations of irregularities and other acts of election malpractices contained in the petition.

PDP and its candidate had in their petition, prayed the tribunal to declare that governor Bello of the All Progressive Congress, APC, was not the valid winner of the Kogi state gubernatorial contest.
Counsel to the petitioners, Jibril Okutepa (SAN) insisted that the APC with the aid of security agents, had a field day in rigging the election in favour of Bello.
Consequently, the petitioners want the tribunal to determine and declare that the 2nd respondent (Yahaya Bello) was not duly elected and/or returned by a majority of lawful votes cast during the election.

They are seeking a declaration that neither the second nor the third respondent (APC) scored the majority of lawful votes cast at the election to the office of the Governor.

The petitioners there ask the court to issue an order nullifying the Certificate of Return issued to Bello by INEC and in addition, issue an order nullifying the entire governorship election conducted in the state on by reason of substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Constitution and extant Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

Further more, Wada wants an order declaring that he scored the majority of votes cast at the election and that having fulfilled the requirements of section 179(2)(a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria 1999, (as amended), he is the winner by majority of lawful votes cast and thus returned elected.

Alternatively, the petitioners are praying for an order directing INEC to conduct supplementary election in the polling units where elections were cancelled; the margin of lead between the 2nd respondent and the first petitioner being Iess than the registered voters in the cancelled polling units.

In further alternative to the reliefs above, the petitioners want a declaration that the election of November 16 and the subsequent declaration and return of the 2nd respondent are voided by corrupt practices in breach of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), which substantially affected the results of the election. Wada and his party are also asking for an order for fresh elections, the November 16 election, having been plagued with corrupt practices, which substantially affected the outcome.

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