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Tribunal To Deliver Kogi Gov Poll Judgment On May 27

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The Kogi Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, has scheduled May 27 to deliver its judgment on the petition filed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its governorship candidate, Murtala Ajaka.

The petition contests the election victory of Governor Usman Ododo of the All Progressive Congress (APC).

The three-member panel of justices, led by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu, announced the date on Thursday through its secretary, David Mike. This announcement was also communicated to the counsel representing the involved parties and subsequently made available to journalists.

The Kogi off-cycle election, held on November 11, 2023, saw Mr. Ododo secure victory over his closest rival, Mr Ajaka, by a significant margin. Dissatisfied with the outcome, Mr. Ajaka filed a petition with the tribunal, challenging the election results.

The legal proceedings commenced in December 2023.

During the final submissions, lawyers representing INEC, Mr. Ododo, and the APC—Kanu Agabi, Joseph Daudu, and Emmanuel Ukala, respectively—urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition.

Mr. Agabi argued that the petition was without merit and should be struck out based on recent appellate and Supreme Court rulings. He emphasized that the petition’s grounds were inconsistent and lacked sufficient evidence, citing a Supreme Court decision in a similar case involving Tonye Cole.

Mr. Daudu, representing Governor Ododo, asserted that the petition was statute-barred, claiming it was filed out of time.

He also argued against allegations of forgery, stating these issues were pre-election matters already decided by the Supreme Court in Gbagi’s case against INEC.

He further contended that the petitioner’s allegations of over-voting were inapplicable under Section 137 of the Electoral Act.

Supporting these arguments, Mr Ukala, representing the APC, also called for the dismissal of the petition, arguing that it lacked merit.

In contrast, Mr. Ajaka’s lawyer, Pius Akubo, urged the tribunal to disregard the respondents’ arguments and uphold the petition.

He countered Mr Daudu’s claim regarding the timing of the petition, insisting that it was filed within the legal timeframe, as confirmed by the respondents’ own witness.

The tribunal’s judgment on this contentious election petition is eagerly awaited and will be delivered on May 27.

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