Supreme Court affirms Yahaya Bello’s election as Kogi governor
NEWS DIGEST – The Supreme Court on Monday affirmed the election of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
A seven-man panel of the court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, made this declaration in two judgments dismissing the separate appeals filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and the Socialist Democratic Party.
The apex court affirmed the earlier July 4, 2020 judgments of the Court of Appeal in Abuja and verdicts of the election petition tribunal, which had both upheld Bello’s victory at the poll.
The Monday’s judgments affirm the validity of the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Kogi State.
Both PDP and SDP, along with their governorship candidates in the election, had alleged that the poll was marred by corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provision of the Nigerian Constitutuon, the Electoral Act and the Independent National Electoral Commission’s Electoral Guidelines.
But the apex court dismissed the appeals on the grounds that the allegations, including the charges by SDP against Bello’s running mate and now Kogi State Deputy Governor, Edward Onoja, that he falsified documents, submitted false information to INEC and not qualified to contest the November 2019 poll were not proved by the appellants.
The lead judgment on PDP’s appeal was prepared by Justice Inyang Okoro but read on his behalf by another member of the panel, Justice Uwani Abba-Aji.
Justice Abba-Aji who was the only member of the panel present in court on Monday read the lead judgment prepared by her.
The apex court affirmed the earlier July 4, 2020 judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja and the May 23, 2020 majority verdict of the election petition tribunal which had both upheld the Bello’s victory at the poll.
The apex court resolved all the five issues raised for determination in the appeal against the PDP and its governorship candidate in the disputed poll, Musa Wada, who jointly filed the appeal.
Resolving all the five issues in favour of Bello, his party, the APC, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, 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.
Justice Abba-Aji said of the appeal filed by SDP and its candidate, Natasha Akpoti, that the concurrent judgments of both the Court of Appeal and and the election petition tribunal remained “unimpeachable”.
Aside from the CJN, Justices Okoro and Abba-Aji, other members of the panel who also agreed with the lead judgments are Justices Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, Sylvester Ngwuta, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, and Amina Augie.