Counsels to Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, the senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Kogi Central in the February 2023 general elections have urged the National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal to grant all prayers in her petition.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Abubakar Sadiku-Ohere of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the February 25 election for Kogi Central senatorial district with 52,132 votes against Akpoti-Uduaghan’s 51,763 votes.
When the case came up for adoption of written addresses before the tribunal led by Justice K.A. Ojiako in Lokoja on Wednesday, Umeh Kalu (SAN) and Johnson Usman (SAN), counsels to Akpoti-Uduaghan, prayed the tribunal to declare the PDP candidate winner of the election.
Usman, who spoke, said aside other hard facts presented to the tribunal, evidence of 751 votes that was suppressed proved Akpoti-Uduaghan was a clear winner of the senatorial election.
“We have brought before this tribunal facts and figures, which your lordship only need to calculate and come out with the actual results of that election for Kogi Central Senatorial seat.
“We tendered three results at different occasions and all these results from the same origin and in contents and are clear as to our client’s victory and to mean that this petition stands unchallenged.
“If we just go by the results tendered, and pick only one in which reads 751 votes that was suppressed, Akpoti-Uduaghan is a clear winner of that election.
“This is because they claimed Sadiku-Ohere won with only 369 votes. Therefore, if the 751 votes are added to Akpoti-Uduaghan’s, that one alone settles the matter to declare her as the winner of that election,” Usman argued.
However, while adopting their written addresses, counsels to Sadiku-Ohere, APC and INEC, Messers M.Y. Abdullahi (SAN), S.A. Abbas and Dayo Akinlaja (SAN) as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively, prayed the tribunal to dismiss her petition for lacking in merit.
Akinlaja argued in his final written address that the petitioners in paragraphs 31 – 44 of their petition could not give concrete evidences as to their claims and therefore, had only embarked on mere academic exercise.
“In those paragraphs, 31 – 44 and even paragraph 47, there are no evidences in support of their claims in the petition, which goes to show that it is but a sheer academic exercise.
“My Lord, in the absence of evidence in these crucial paragraphs, there’s no way this petition can stand. So l urge your lordship to dismiss the petition for lack of merit,” Akinlaja argued.
Also, Abdullahi, in his written address alleged that no witness gave evidence to the claims of the petitioners, which means that they (petitioners) only dumped documents on the tribunal without activating them.
“We pray that those paragraphs in which the petitioners couldn’t activate should be expunged and the petition be dismissed for want of evidences,” the counsel pleaded.
But the counsel to Akpoti-Uduaghan debunked the claims of INEC and Sadiku-Ohere, and prayed the Court disregard their submissions and prayers and allow the petition.
Usman SAN said their address was explicit about their disagreement with the issues raised by the INEC and Sadiku-Ohere in their written addresses.
“My Lord, the replies of the 1st and 3rd respondents are frivolous and of no effect and should be disregarded. We urge your lordship to grant all our prayers in the petition.
“INEC is the conductor of the election and didn’t deny all the wrongs on the day of the election even as we cited authorities to prove that.
“Again, 1st and 3rd respondents alleged we failed to activate our statements. What about Prosecution witnesses (PWs) from the 2nd to 18th, who were eyewitnesses of all that happened at the polling units that came here and testified?
“Therefore, there are no other evidences that overshadowed those of PW2 – PW18. What’s even more concrete, is that PW20 is an INEC official, that gave evidence in this case,” he submitted.
The lead judge, Justice Ojiako, after hearing from all the counsels as they adopt their written addresses, declared that the judgement has been reserved to a date to be communicated to all the parties involved.