• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Kogi: INEC, APC, Ododo ask tribunal to dismiss SDP’s petition as court reserves judgment

INEC presents certificates of return to Kogi Governor-Elect, Usman Ododo, Deputy

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Governor Usman Ododo, on Monday asked the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal to reject the Social Democratic Party’s petition, challenging the governor’s election result.

The commission, the governor, and his party, represented by their respective legal counsels, argued for the dismissal of the petition before the three-member panel of justices, headed by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu, citing lack of merit and competence. They presented these arguments while adopting their final written addresses.

In contrast, the lawyer for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate, Murtala Ajaka, appealed to the tribunal to ignore the opposing arguments and consider their petition valid.

The tribunal, having heard from all involved, has decided to reserve its judgment.

The dispute stems from the November 11, 2023, governorship election in Kogi, with the commission, the governor, and his party named as respondents.

The tribunal had previously set a date for the adoption of final written addresses following the closure of the case by the involved parties.

During the hearing, Kanu AgabI, the INEC’s counsel highlighted the insufficiency of the evidence presented by the petitioners and questioned the reliability of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machines mentioned in the testimony. The counsel also noted the absence of polling unit agents among the witnesses called by the petitioners.

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

Joseph Daudu, the governor’s counsel, supported the motion to dismiss the petition, raising additional points regarding the timing of the filing and the relevance of certain sections of the Electoral Act.

Emmanuel Ukala, the lawyer for the APC concurred, urging the tribunal to dismiss the petition due to its lack of merit.

Pius Akubo, the SDP’s lawyer countered the arguments, insisting that the petition was filed within the legal timeframe and requested the tribunal to acknowledge this.

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

With the arguments presented, the presiding judge reserved judgment in the petition which he said would be communicated to parties.