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Tribunal dismisses Ajaka’s petition, upholds Ododo’s election as Kogi governor

Tribunal dismisses Ajaka’s petition, upholds Ododo’s election as Kogi governor
May 27
14:02 2024

The Kogi governorship election petition tribunal has affirmed Usman Ododo as the duly elected governor of the state.

The three-member tribunal led by Ado Birnin-Kudu held that the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its governorship candidate, Murtala Ajaka, failed to prove their allegations against the respondents.

Birnin-Kudu said the election “was conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act”.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced Ododo, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the winner of the Kogi governorship election held on November 11, 2023.

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Ododo polled 446,237 votes to defeat Ajaka who came second with 259,052 votes; and Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 46,362 votes.

After the poll, the SDP and Ajaka filed petitions to challenge Ododo’s victory.

THE RULING

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Among the several issues raised, the petitioners contended that Ododo was not qualified to contest the election due to certificate forgery and that his sponsorship by the party was invalid and unconstitutional.

They also contended that there was over-voting and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

They asked the court to declare that the votes cast for APC and Ododo amounted to “wasted votes”.

They prayed the court to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Ododo and declare Ajaka the winner of the poll.

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Alternatively, the petitioners asked the court to order a supplementary poll in the affected polling unit and that the APC and its candidate should be exempted.

In its unanimous verdict, the court held that the issue of forgery and non-qualification is a pre-election matter.

The tribunal also held that the petitioners failed to adduce credible evidence to prove their allegations of over-voting.

The tribunal said the petitioners abandoned 96.4 percent of the case they set out to make.

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The court also faulted the petitioners for failing to call credible witnesses to prove their case, noting that none of the 25 witnesses called were polling officers or polling unit agents.

“The petitioners should have known the evidences and witnesses they need to prove their case,” the court held.

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The court struck our several documentary evidences and witness statements tendered for being “hear-say”.

“On the whole, my conclusion is that the November 11, 2023 governorship election of Kogi state was conducted with substantial compliance with the Electoral Act,” Birnin-Kudu held.

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“I therefore affirm the election of Ahmed Usman Ododo as the duly elected governor of Kogi state. This petition is accordingly dismissed.”

The other two members of the tribunal agreed with Birnin-Kudu.

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