A seven-man panel of the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mr. Tanko Muhammad on Monday affirmed the election of the governor of Kogi State, Mr. Yahaya Bello.
Te panel made the declaration in two judgments dismissing the separate appeals filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
In a unanimous judgment read by Justice Uwani Abba-Aji, the Supreme Court held that the appellants’ cases lacked merit as they failed to prove allegations made in their separate petitions.
The court affirmed the earlier July 4, 2020 judgments of the Court of Appeal in Abuja and verdicts of the election petition tribunal, which had both upheld Bello’s victory at the poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Bello winner of the November 16 governorship election having scored majority of votes cast in the election.
However citing substantial non-compliance and other electoral malpractices, four contestants had approached the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal to nullify the emergence of Bello as winner of the November 16 governorship poll.
The SDP) and its governorship candidate, Ms Natasha Akpoti, in addition to claims of electoral irregularities that allegedly marred the election, sought for the disqualification of Bello and his party, APC on grounds of alleged forgery and falsehood by the deputy governor, Mr. Edward Onoja.
Onoja was accused of giving false information of a fundamental nature as well as forging documents attached to his form CF 001 submitted to INEC in aid of his qualification for the position of deputy governor.
But both election tribunal and the Court of Appeal had in their concurrent decisions dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit, forcing the appellants to approach the apex court to set aside the concurrent judgments that returned Bello as governor.
However, the Supreme Court in its judgement held that, “there was no reason to interfere with the judgments of the Court of Appeal and tribunal”.
The court said the appellants did not provide particulars of forgery to support claim of forgery against the deputy governor.
It further held that there was no evidence of rigging or evidence that the respondents connived among themselves to rig the election.
On the issue of exclusion, Justice Abba-Aji, noted that the appellants blew hot and cold at the same time when they in one breath said that the logo of the SDP was not on the result sheet while in another said, it was written in long hand.
He said the appeal filed by SDP and its candidate, Akpoti, that the concurrent judgments of both the Court of Appeal and the election petition tribunal remained “unimpeachable”.