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Tribunal gives Judgment in Favour of Bello

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The Kogi State governorship election tribunal in a 2 to 1 decision on Saturday, May 23 affirmed the election of Yahaya Bello of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as Governor of Kogi State, dismissing the petition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Musa Wada, challenging the election. Bello was declared winner of the November 16 election in the State following a flawed exercise, characterised by voter suppression, massive rigging and election violence. It will be recalled that several election observer groups called for cancellation of the election.

The majority decision delivered by Justice Kashim Kaigama, he held that the petitioners failed to prove the grounds of their petition, which included allegations of over voting, massive thumb printing of ballot papers, voter intimidation and other electoral malpractices. Justice Kaigama held that most of the evidence adduced by the petitioners were hearsay and unreliable, including the forensic evidence presented by one of the petitioners’ witnesses to prove over voting. Justice Ohimai Ovbiagele in a dissenting judgment upheld the petition by nullifying election results from seven out of 21 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the State and ordering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct fresh elections in the affected LGAs.

It is expected that the litigation surrounding the election of Governor Yahaya Bello will not rest until the Supreme Court rules finally on it. The election had been controversial. Nigerian and international observers had questioned the credibility of the election. The violence levels and deaths during the elections was unprecedentedly high.