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Court reserves judgment in PDP’s Kogi guber appeal

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The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, has reserved judgment on the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the November 2019 governorship election in Kogi State, Musa Wada.

The Justice Adamu Jauro-led panel reserved judgement after listening to arguments by parties to the matter, including Governor Yahaya Bello, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Wada was challenging the election that returned Bello as governor and seeking to upturn the judgement of Kogi Election Petition Tribunal delivered on May 23. The May 23 judgment upheld the November 16, 2019 election and affirmed Bello as a validly elected governor for “inability of the petitioners to substantiate allegations of over-voting and violence in the election.”

The three-man panel had awarded the cost of N500,000 each against Wada and PDP to be paid to the respondents. But not satisfied with the judgment, PDP and its candidate headed for the Court of Appeal, where they prayed the court to upturn the decision of the election tribunal on the ground that the panel erred in its judgment that they failed to prove cases of violence and over-voting.

At the resumed hearing yesterday, counsel to PDP and Wada, Jibril Okutepa (SAN), prayed the court to declare Wada winner of the election, having met the constitutional requirement of majority of lawful votes cast and spread. Okutepa informed the court that Bello did not win by majority of lawful votes cast.

According to him, there was overwhelming evidence that the election was marred by electoral malpractices. But counsel to INEC, Alex Izinyon (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the appeal. The same prayer was made by counsel to APC and Bello, Joseph Daudu (SAN) and Ahmed Raji (SAN).

After listening to the arguments of the parties, Jauro reserved judgment to a date to be communicated to parties. Wada and his party had on December 14, 2019, approached the tribunal, urging it to disqualify Governor Bello for irregularities and violence that characterised the election that brought him back to power.

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