Kogi West: Appeal Court Reserves Judgment in Melaye’s Suit

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, yesterday reserved judgment in the suit filed by Senator Dino Melaye challenging his sack as senator representing Kogi West senatorial district.

A three-man panel of justices of the Appeal Court, led by Justice Abubakar Yahaya, announced that the date for judgment is reserved and would be communicated to parties as in the suit.

The Kogi State National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal had in a two-to-one majority judgment last month nullified the victory of Melaye in the February 23 Senatorial election for Kogi West.

The tribunal, in nullifying Melaye’s election held that there were evidences of substantial non-compliance with the electoral provisions as well as other Irregularities.

Dissatisfied, Senator Melaye had approached the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the tribunal and restore his mandate as representative of the people of Kogi West Senatorial District in the National Assembly.

Appeals in the suit reserved for judgment include that filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and Dino Melaye.

PDP, represented by Jubrin Okutepa (SAN) in his final argument prayed the appeal court to set aside the majority judgment on grounds of denial of fear hearing and refusal to evaluate evidence adduced during the hearing.

According to the PDP, the tribunal failed to evaluate the testimonies of its witnesses while it made no reference to all the documentary evidence it supplied before the tribunal, leading to the tribunal’s wrong conclusion of over voting, even when the petitioner did not tender voter register.

The PDP further claimed that the tribunal erred in law when it based its claim of over voting on the number of collected permanent voter cards rather than voter register as required by law.

The party therefore urged the three-man panel justices to invoke section 16 of the Court of Appeal Act and dismissed the petition for lacking in merit.

In the second appeal filed by INEC, through its lawyer, Kola Olowookere, the Appeal Court was urged to dismiss the allegation of mutilation of election result and favouring a particular candidate as alleged by the petitioner, Senator Smart Adeyemi.

The electoral body argued that finding of over voting by the tribunal was wrong and baseless