Kogi Guber: SDP’s Ajaka Begs A’Court to Upturn Ododo’s Tribunal Victory

The candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the November 11, 2023 governorship election in Kogi State, Muritala Yakubu Ajaka, has appealed the judgement of a three-member tribunal that affirmed the election of Ahmed Usman Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as governor of the state.
Ajaka and the SDP in the record of appeal compiled and transmitted to the appellate court through their lead lawyer, Pius Akubo (SAN), described the judgement of the Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal which affirmed Ododo’s election as a serious miscarriage of justice.

In the appeal filed on June 14, the appellants listed 31 grounds on which they argued that the tribunal erred in reaching their conclusions that the APC lawfully emerged as winner of the November 11, 2023 governorship poll.
They are therefore urging the appellate court to set aside the tribunal’ s decision and return them as the lawful winner of the last governorship election in Kogi State.

Besides, Ajaka and SDP are praying the appellate court to restore the testimony of their first witness (PW1) as well as the documents they tendered but were expunged from the records of the tribunal.
In addition, they want the Appeal Court to hold that Ododo was not even qualified to have contested the election into the office of Governor of Kogi State and that all votes ascribed and or allocated to him and the APC are wasted votes.
“An order granting the reliefs sought by the appellants in the petition and thereupon declaring him (the 1st Appellant) as the duly elected governor of Kogi State,” they urged the appellate court to so hold.
It would be recalled that shortly after the judgement of the tribunal delivered on May 27, 2024, Ajaka said that the long walk to freedom in Kogi State had just begun.

He maintained that throughout the entire process, their team of lawyers exhibited the highest level of professionalism and tenacity, adding that, “They meticulously gathered evidence, scrutinized data and presented a compelling case to the tribunal.
“Unfortunately, the tribunal, despite agreeing to the embarrassing over-voting and rigging exercise, struck our case out. I can assure you that this judgement will not stand the test of time. Yes, we may have lost the battle at the tribunal but the war is far from over. Our stolen mandate and our voice will not be silenced.
“We will reclaim our stolen mandate and restore the faith of our people in the democratic process,” he said.

In his reaction, counsel to the appellants, Pius Akubo (SAN) stressed that the tribunal agreed that Ajaka filed his case within the stipulated time and that the three-member panel of justices of the tribunal admitted that there was over-voting.
“But in their confusion they ruled that PW1 who displayed the documents with which they agreed there was over-voting is not clear to them. They claimed they did not know if he was INEC staff or not.”

The senior lawyer said, it was the tribunal that ordered INEC to provide the BVAS and someone who will power and display the BVAS in court and that PW1 came to the court with a certified letter from INEC stating that he was indeed the representative of INEC.

According to Akubo, PW1 was in the court with his ID card and other supporting documents to show he is INEC staff.

“Recall further that when the PW1 absented from the court, the tribunal ordered INEC to produce him or produce another person and they did comply to produce him yet the tribunal said they do not know him. What a contradictory judgement.

“I want to say that the election of November 11, 2023 in Kogi State was not conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act. 2022 as well as manual and guidelines involving the conduct of elections having regards to the numerous instances of over voting.”

He said, the appellants demonstrated in a graphic and tabular form before the tribunal that they scored the majority of lawful votes in the election and not the 2nd and 3rd respondents.

Akubo said, the appellants led evidence to the effect that if the votes affected by over-voting are deducted from the overall votes, the appellants and not the 2nd and 3rd respondents will have majority of lawful votes.

Clearly and unambiguously, he said, the appellants tendered all the necessary election forms and documents which completely demonstrated that the 2nd respondents did not score the majority of the lawful votes as claimed.

Akubo stated that, a serious miscarriage of justice has been done for not declaring the appellants winners of the November 11, 2023 governorship election in Kogi state.

Following INEC’s declaration of Ododo and APC as winner of the November 11 governorship election in Kogi State, the appellants citing non-compliance and other irregularities as reasons for the tribunal to nullify INEC’s decision.

But the tribunal led by Justice Ado Yusuf Birnin Kudu, in a unanimous judgement dismissed the petition for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

The tribunal had held that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations beyond reasonable doubt. 

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