*Dismisses SDP, PDP’s appeals
By Alex Enumah
The Supreme Court on Monday, upheld the election of Mr Yahaya Bello as Governor of Kogi State.
The apex court upheld Bello’s election after dismissing two separate appeals challenging the return of Bello as Governor for lacking in merit.
In a unanimous judgment read by Justice Uwani Abba-Aji, the Supreme Court held that the cases of the appellants were devoid of merit as they failed to prove allegations made in their separate petitions.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Bello winner of the November 16 governorship election having scored majority of votes cast in the election.
However citing substantial non compliance and other electoral malpractices, four contestants had approached the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal to nullify the emergence of Bello as winner of the November 16 governorship poll.
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its governorship candidate, Natasha Akpoti, in addition to claims of electoral irregularities that allegedly marred the election, sought for the disqualification of Bello and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on grounds of alleged forgery and falsehood by the Deputy Governor, Mr Edward Onoja.
Onoja was accused of giving false information of a fundamental nature as well as forging documents attached to his form CF 001 submitted to INEC in aid of his qualification for the position of deputy governor.
However both election tribunal and the court of Appeal had in their concurrent decisions dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit, forcing the appellants to approach the apex court to set aside the concurrent judgments that returned Bello as Governor.
However, the apex court in its judgment held that, “there was no reason to interfere with the judgments of the Court of Appeal and tribunal”.
According to the apex court justices, the appellants did not provide particulars of forgery to support claim of forgery against the deputy governor.
The apex court further held that there was no evidence of rigging nor evidence that the respondents connived among themselves to rig the election.
On the issue of exclusion, Justice Abba-Aji, noted that the appellants blew hot and cold at the same time when they in one breath said that the logo of the SDP was not on the result sheet while in another said, it was written in long hand.
The court had earlier dismissed the petition of the PDP.