July 21, 2024

The Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja has announced that it will deliver its judgment on Monday, May 27.

The case, brought by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate Murtala Ajaka, contests the election of Usman Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the November 11, 2023 election.

Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu, leading the three-member tribunal, communicated the judgment date through David Mike, the tribunal’s Secretary, informing the legal teams of both parties.

The hearings, which began in December 2023, concluded on May 13. The SDP, Ajaka, APC, Ododo, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have all presented their final written addresses, after which the tribunal reserved its judgment.

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INEC, the APC, and Ododo have all called for the dismissal of the petition, arguing it is without merit. Kanu Agabi (SAN), counsel for INEC, argued that the petition was incompetent and urged the tribunal to dismiss it. He cited recent judgments from the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, which stated that petitions with inconsistent grounds should be dismissed.

Agabi also criticized the petitioners’ evidence, pointing out that only 3.6 percent of the witness depositions were adopted, which he argued was a significant failure. He referenced a Supreme Court case where a similar situation led to the dismissal of the petition.

Additionally, Agabi noted that the petitioners’ main witness could not confirm the use of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines during the election and that no polling unit agents testified.

Joseph Daudu (SAN), Ododo’s lawyer, argued that the petition was filed out of time and dismissed the forgery allegations as pre-election matters inappropriate for post-election litigation. He also contended that the petitioners misinterpreted Section 137 of the Electoral Act regarding over-voting allegations.

Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), representing the APC, also called for the petition’s dismissal, arguing that it lacked merit. In contrast, Pius Akubo (SAN), representing the petitioners, refuted claims that the petition was filed late, asserting that evidence showed it was submitted on December 2, 2023, within the legal timeframe.

Akubo argued that the petitioners had provided substantial evidence of election irregularities and corrupt practices, urging the tribunal to uphold the petition and overturn Ododo’s victory.

As the tribunal prepares to deliver its judgment, all eyes are on this pivotal decision that could reshape the political landscape of Kogi State.

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