Kogi guber: Tribunal affirms Yahaya Bello’s election, dismisses PDP’s petition

• Awards N1m fine against Wada, PDP • We will appeal judgement ― Wada

The Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, in a two to one judgment on Saturday affirmed the election of Yahaya Bello as the duly elected governor of Kogi State.

Tribune Online reports that the Tribunal had, on May 7, 2020, reserved judgement in the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Engineer Musa Wada, in the November 16, 2019, governorship election in Kogi State, challenging the election of Governor Yahaya Bello.

The three-man panel of justices of the Court of Appeal, headed by Justice Justice Kashim G. Kaigama, in its majority judgment in the petition, marked EPT/KG/GOV/06/2019 on Saturday held that allegations of electoral malpractices are supposed to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Justice Kaigama, who read the lead judgement of the Tribunal held that Wada and his party failed to prove their allegation of over-voting and other alleged electoral malpractices beyond reasonable doubt as required by law.

The Tribunal, in the majority judgment held that: “The petitioners pleaded over over-voting, violence, violation of electoral law, hijacking of polling units and electoral materials by armed in seven local government areas of Kogi State but failed to support their allegations with sufficient evidence.”

The Tribunal, while discountenancing the testimonies of some witnesses for being hearsay, held that: ”On the whole, the petitioners failed to prove the allegation of over-voting beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The Tribunal consequently affirmed the election of Governor Yahaya Bello and ordered each of the petitioners to pay the sum of N500, 000 to the second and third respondents in the petition.

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A member of the Tribunal, Justice Ohimai Ovbragele, in a dissenting judgment, faulted the majority decision of the two other members on the panel.

Ovbragele held in his minority judgment that Yahaya Bello is not duly elected governor of Kogi State by lawful majority votes as evidence were tendered to the effect that the election that produced Bello was marred with violence and other electoral malpractices.

He said his colleagues on the panel ought to give credence to the testimony of Prof. Tanko Ishaya, a professional and an expert called by the petitioners, adding that Ishaya’s testimony was not contradicted and was not challenged by any of the respondents’ witnesses.

“I hereby make an order nullifying the election of the second respondent and INEC should withdraw the certificate of return issued to him and conduct a fresh election into the governorship position of the state,” he added.

Reacting to the judgment, counsel to the petitioners. Jibrin Okutepa (SAN), said his clients will appeal the judgment of the Tribunal and will pay the fine as ordered in the majority judgment.

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