It’s been a turpsy turvy situation in the political sphere of Kogi State between SDP and PDP since its last elections. With SDP, the more aggrieved party especially with regards to the free and fairness, as well as the authenticity of the gubernatorial elections conducted by INEC, with regards to the said winner in the person of Yahaya Bello. As a result of these developments, various lawsuits had been filed and court cases had been on going such that there has been an atmosphere of uncertainty within the state.
However, with the reports making the news, there is now a twist in the tale as
the Supreme Court on Monday 31 August 2020, dismissed the appeal of the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Musa Wada, and his party, against the election of Mr Yahaya Bello as Governor of Kogi state.
BACKGROUND TO THE STORY:
On May 23, in a judgement of two-to-one, the tribunal affirmed Mr Bello’s election.
The dissenting judgment by Justice Ohimai Ovbiagele nullified the election of Mr Bello and ordered the electoral umpire to conduct fresh elections in seven local government areas where the petitioners proved their allegations of over-voting, thuggery, voter intimidation, massive thumb printing and other electoral malpractices.
But on July 4, the Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Wada’s appeal and affirmed Mr Bello as the governor of the state.
The appellate court also dismissed the appeals filed by SDP, the Actions Peoples Party (APP) and the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP).
On the appeal filed by SDP and its candidate, the Court of Appeal held that Natasha Akpoti could not prove the allegations of corruption and voter intimidation against Mr Bello.
Following this, the appellate court dismissed the SDP’s appeal.
On Mr Wada’s appeal, the appellate court held that the allegations, which include multiple thumb printing and result falsification, were not proven by the appellants.
The Court of Appeal then ordered Mr Wada to pay N100,000 each to Mr Bello, the APC, and INEC who were listed as respondents in the appeal.
Dissatisfied, the parties approached the apex court seeking to upturn the judgment of the two lower courts.
Apex Court’s Ruling
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Reading the apex court’s judgment, which was prepared by Justice Inyang Okoro and read by Justice Uwani Abba-Aji on Monday, the court affirmed the earlier judgements of the two lower courts delivered on May 23 and July 4 respectively, which had both upheld Mr Bello’s victory at the poll.
The apex court resolved all the five issues raised for determination in the appeal against the PDP and Mr Wada.
All the five issues were resolved in favour of Mr Bello, APC and INEC.
Subsequently, the apex court declared the appellants’ appeal as lacking in merit.
“Having resolved all the five issues against the appellants, it is abundantly clear that the appeal is devoid of any scintilla of merit and it is accordingly dismissed,” the court ruled.
On Ms Akpoti’s appeal, the apex court held that, “there was no reason to interfere with the judgments of the Court of Appeal and tribunal.”
The apex court also held that the appellants did not provide particulars of forgery to support the claim of forgery against the deputy governor, Edward Onoja.
The apex court further held that there was no evidence of rigging nor evidence that the respondents connived among themselves to rig the election.
If the above judgement is anything to go by, then it will be a victory not only for yahaya bello but also in the legal system, in its ability to critically uphold free and fair judgement.
Furthermore, this will also serve as a victory and belief in the fact that true democracy can be practiced and achieved in our country Nigeria, and valuable credit,given to the opinions and wish of the people in their choice for a political leader.
Gift Joseph Okpakorese