The Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has reserved judgement on the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Engineer Musa Wada, challenging the declaration of Yahaya Bello as the winner of the November 16, 2019, governorship election in Kogi State.
Wada and his party had in December 2019, filed a petition at the tribunal challenging the declaration of Bello as the winner of the election by INEC.
The three-man panel of Justices, led by Kashim G. Kaigama, reserved judgment in the petition after parties adopted their addresses on Thursday.
Respondents in the petition marked EPT/KG/GOV/06/2019 are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Yahaya Bello and the All Progressives Congress (APC) as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents, respectively.
Counsel to the petitioner, Jibril Okutepa (SAN) in his adumbration, urged the court to uphold the petition and order that the first petitioner (Wada) be returned as the duly elected governor of Kogi State, having won majority of votes cast in the election.
Moreso, he prayed the court to reject every objection raised by the respondents in the matter.
Okutepa in further argument alleged massive rigging at the election and substantial non-compliance to electoral laws.
“There was massive thumb printing of ballot papers in seven Local Government Areas of the state by people believed to be agents of Bello and APC rather than voters”, Okutepa held.
“It is therefore my submission that the court upholds the petition and grant the reliefs, and not to be persuaded by the highly technical submissions done by my learned colleagues.”
Earlier, lawyers to the respondents had urged the court to dismiss the petition in its entirety for lacking merit.
Counsel to the respondents, Dr. Alex Iziyon (SAN), Joseph Daudu (SAN) and Ahmed Raji (SAN), relied on all processes filed as well as final written addresses in urging the court to discountenance the petition.
“Our submission is that the petitioners have failed woefully to prove statistics as required by law”, stated Iziyon (SAN).
The lawyers argued that there were seven Local Government Areas out of 21 in the state and 2,548 poling units involved in the dispute but the petitioners did not present more than 32 witnesses to prove cases of alleged election malpractice, substantial non-compliance to electoral rules and other forms of irregularities as alleged.
They also faulted the petitioner for presenting a witness who informed the court that the petition gave rise to the report he tendered in court.
According to the counsel, the implication was that the report was made when the matter was already pending in court.