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BREAKING: Appeal Court upholds Ododo’s election as governor of Kogi State

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has upheld the election of Usman Ododo as the Governor of Kogi state.

The appellate court on Thursday backed the verdict of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja which had affirmed Ododo’s election victory.

The tribunal had dismissed the petition filed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its governorship candidate, Murtala Ajaka.

Legal disputes

Nairametrics previously reported that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Usman Ododo, as the winner of the keenly contested November 11, 2023 Kogi State Governorship Election.

The state Returning Officer, Prof Johnson Urama, who is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics) of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, announced Ododo as the winner at 10:23 pm on Sunday, November 12, 2023.

According to the announced results, Ododo polled 446,237 votes, to beat his closest rival, Murtala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), who scored 259,052, while Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) polled 46,362 votes.

However, the petitioners approached the tribunal seeking an overturn of the election results and an order directing INEC to conduct a fresh election in about five LGAs.

Arguments at the tribunal

Ajaka’s legal team led by Joseph Okutepa(SAN) had challenged the poll on the grounds of alleged forgery, voting and non-compliance to the Electoral Act.

The petitioner called 25 witnesses from the five Local Government Areas including Adavi, and Okene LGAs, and they challenged the results from the disputed polling units.

The petitioners also alleged that over-voting occurred in 5 local government areas of Kogi state including Adavi, Okene, Okeyi, and LGAs.

However, the APC legal team led by Emmanuel Ukala challenged the competence of the witnesses presented by the petitioner, adding that their statements were not filed along with the petition.

Counsel for INEC, Kanu Agabi (SAN) maintained that the witnesses presented by the petitioner were incompetent because “they are not the makers” of the electoral documents submitted as exhibits.

The tribunal dismissed the petition and affirmed the election of Ododo while holding that the petitioner could not prove that the governor presented a forged certificate, among other things.

Parties now approached the appeal court seeking favourable judgements for their clients.

What the Appeal Court said

  • On Thursday, a three-man panel of the appeal court agreed with the tribunal that Ajaka’s witnesses were incompetent because their statements did not accompany the petition in line with electoral laws.
  • The appeal court also held that the issue of alleged certificate forgery ought to have commenced at a Federal High Court.
  • Subsequently, the appeal Court held that the appellant could not prove its case “beyond reasonable doubt”, thereby upholding Ododo’s election.

More insights

  • A governor is an elected official who is in charge of the state affairs including its internally generated and federally allocated revenues.
  • By the judgment of the tribunal, Ododo has been backed by the appeal court to continue discharging his duties as Kogi State governor.
  • Ododo took over from ex-governor Yahaya Bello and he served as former Local Government Auditor-General in Kogi state.

Enews Nigeria