By Alex Enumah
Any moment from now, legal contenders to the seat of power in Kogi State — Governor Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) alongside Mrs Natasha Akpoti of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Musa Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — would know their fate following the reservation of a date for judgment by the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
A five-man panel led by Justice Adamu Jauro had on Monday reserved judgments to a date to be communicated to parties in two separate suits challenging the decision of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which upheld the election of Bello as Governor of Kogi State.
In the first appeal, Akpoti and SDP submitted that the tribunal erred in law by not taking into consideration the evidences and exhibits that were tendered as proof that the petitioner was excluded from the Kogi State governorship election held on November 16, 2019.
But lawyers to the respondents, Joseph Daudu (SAN) for Bello, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN) for APC and Mallam Ahmed Raji (SAN) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in their separate motions challenging the competence of the appeal, urged the court to hold that the entire appeal is incompetent and should be accordingly dismissed.
Responding, the appellants’ lawyer, Mr Reuben Egwuaba, asked the court to dismiss the respondents’ preliminary objections for lacking in merit.
On the main appeal, which was filed on June 19, 2020, Egwuaba prayed the court to allow it and upturn the decision of the tribunal.
Izinyon, while adopting his brief of argument, urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit. Same with Raji and Daudu, who prayed the court to dismiss the entire appeal for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
In the other appeal by Wada and his party, PDP, their lawyer, Mr Jibrin Okutepa, prayed the court to upturn the decision of the tribunal and in the alternative cancel the election.
He said that there were overwhelming evidence that the election was marred by electoral malpractices, which they claimed the tribunal ignored.
However, the respondents through their lawyers, urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
According to them, the petitioner had failed to substantiate their allegations of electoral malpractices before the tribunal.
After listening to the submissions of parties in the two different appeals, Justice Jauro announced that judgments have been fixed to a date that will be communicated to parties.