Appeal court affirms Ododo’s election as Kogi governor

Appeal court affirms Ododo’s election as Kogi governor
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The court of appeal in Abuja has affirmed Usman Ododo as the
duly elected governor of Kogi state.

 

In the judgment delivered on Thursday, a three-member panel
of the appellate court dismissed the petition filed by the Social Democratic
Party (SDP) and Murtala Ajaka, its governorship candidate.

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced
Ododo, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the winner of the
Kogi governorship election held on November 11, 2023.

 

Ododo polled 446,237 votes to defeat Ajaka who came second
with 259,052 votes; and Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who
scored 46,362 votes.

 

After the poll, the SDP and Ajaka filed petitions to
challenge Ododo’s victory.

 

TRIBUNAL VERDICT

 

Among the several issues raised, the petitioners contended
that Ododo was not qualified to contest the election due to alleged certificate
forgery.

 

They also posited that Ododo’s sponsorship by his political
party was invalid and unconstitutional.

 

They contended that there was over-voting and substantial
non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

 

They asked the court to declare that the votes cast for APC
and Ododo amounted to “wasted votes”.

 

They prayed the court to withdraw the certificate of return
issued to Ododo and declare Ajaka the winner of the poll.

Alternatively, the petitioners asked the court to order a
supplementary poll in the affected polling unit, while demanding that the APC
and its candidate be exempted from the poll.

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In its unanimous verdict, the court held that the issue of
forgery and non-qualification is a pre-election matter.

 

The tribunal also held that the petitioners failed to adduce
credible evidence to prove their allegations of over-voting.

 

The tribunal said the petitioners abandoned 96.4 percent of
the case they set out to make.

 

The trial court also faulted the petitioners for failing to
call credible witnesses to prove their case, noting that none of the 25
witnesses called were polling officers or polling unit agents.

 

APPEAL COURT

Aggrieved by the decision of the tribunal, SDP and its
candidate approached the court of appeal.

 

However, the appeal court agreed with the verdict of the
lower court.

The appellate court also held that the issue of alleged
certificate forgery ought to have commenced at a federal high court as a
pre-election matter.

 

The appeal court held that the appellant could not prove its
case “beyond reasonable doubt”.

 

Consequently, Ododo’s election as governor was upheld by the
court.

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