Kogi guber: Tribunal decides Bello, Wada’s fate today

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The Kogi state governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja, will today, Saturday deliver its judgment in the petition brought by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the November 16, 2019 governorship election, Engineer Musa Wada against the outcome of the polls.

A three-man panel of Justices headed by Justice Kashim Kaigama had on May 7, 2020 reserved judgment after the adoption of final addresses by counsel to all the parties to the petition.

But in a hearing notice issued to parties to the petition, the tribunal said it’s judgment will be delivered on Saturday. According to the hearing notice signed  by the secretary of the tribunal, Umar Abubakar, the panel will sit at 10am.

In the petition marked EPT/KG/GOV/06/2019, the petitioners have asked the tribunal to order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue Wada a Certificate of Return as duly elected governor of Kogi state. The reliefs were contained in a three-volume petition of over 500 pages each, dated December 5, 2019 and filed at the tribunal sitting in Abuja

Wada and his political platform, the PDP, have called a total of 32 including the INEC Chairman and a Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) to  prove their claim that the election was characterised by irregularities, violence, ballot snatching and stuffing, and non-compliance with the electoral act, constitution and INEC’s guideline for governorship elections.

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While Governor Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) called just one witness through his counsel, Joseph Daudu, SAN, both the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) represented by Dr. Alex Izinyon, SAN and  Ahmed Raji, SAN who appeared for the APC did not call any witness at the tribunal. Before the hearing of the petition, INEC had listed a total of 271 witnesses, Governor Bello listed 120 witnesses, while the APC had announced that it will call 250 witnesses.

Regardless, all the three respondents had in their separate papers urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition filed in December 2019 and affirm the return of Governor Bello by INEC as the validly elected governor of Kogi state.

They equally argued that the petitioners had through their witnesses failed to prove the allegations of irregularities and other acts of election malpractices contained in the petition.

PDP and its candidate had in their petition, prayed the tribunal to declare that Governor Bello of the APC, was not the valid winner of the Kogi state gubernatorial contest. Counsel to the petitioners, Jibril Okutepa, SAN, insisted that the APC with the aid of security agents, had a field day in rigging the election in favour of Bello.

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