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Update: Kogi guber: Tribunal upholds  Bello’s election

…Fines Wada, PDP N1m

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

The three-man tribunal held that Bello was duly elected governor of the state.

The  panel of three justices headed by Justice Kashim  Kaigama, in its majority judgment in the petition marked: EPT/KG/GOV/06/2019, held that the petitioners failed to prove their allegation of over voting beyond reasonable doubt as required by law.

The tribunal, in the majority judgment ordered the petitioners to pay the sum of N500, 000 to the second and third respondents in the petition.

The tribunal had, on May 7, 2020, reserved judgement in the petition filed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Engineer Musa Wada, in the November 16, 2019, governorship election in Kogi State after parties adopted their final written addresses.

Bello was earlier declared by the electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC),   as winner of the governorship election .

Musa Waha, PDP candidate in the election, who  had 189,704 votes at the election  had challenged  Bello’s victory.

He asked to be declared winner of the  guber poll because of some irregularities during the election. Bello had scored 406,222 votes.

The majority judgment held that: “The petitioners pleaded 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 reasonable doubt”.

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

A member of the panel, Justice Ohimai Ovbiagele differed in his judgment and faulted the majority decision of the two other members on the panel.

Justice Ovbiagele considered the petition meritorious.

He nullified   Bello’s election victory and asked the INEC to conduct fresh election in the seven local governments within three months

Ovbragele held in his minority judgment that Bello is not dully elected governor of Kogi State by lawful majority votes as evidences were tendered to the effect that the election that produced him winner 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.

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