Kogi: Appeal Court reserves judgment in Ajaka’s case against Ododo’s victory

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The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Thursday, reserved judgment in the appeal filed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s candidate, Muritala Ajaka, and his party in the Nov. 11 Kogi governorship election challenging the judgement of the State’s Election Petition Tribunal. The tribunal had, on May 27, affirmed Usman Ododo of All Progressives Congress (APC) as the duly elected governor of Kogi. A three-member justices of the appellate court reserved judgment in the appeal to a date that would be communicated to parties after the adoption of all their briefs filed in the matter. READ ALSO: Ododo hails Tinubu for appointing Sheidu Executive Secretary NPTF Earlier in his submission, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, while adopting the briefs filed on behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), prayed the court to dismiss the appeal filed by Ajaka and his party for lacking in merit. He said there were inconsistencies in the case of the appellants. He argued that the Appeal Court had decided that if the grounds of a petition were inconsistent with one another, and were not consistent with the reliefs, it should be struck out. He also argued that the evidence of the petitioners were grossly insufficient, citing a Supreme Court decision. The senior lawyer argued that once the evidence called is grossly insufficient, there is no evidence. He said the petitioners only called 25 witnesses out of the scores listed. He further argued that out of the 25 witnesses called by the petitioners, there was no single polling unit agent among them. Agabi also argued that the 1st prosecution witness (PW-1) did not file any witness deposition before hand as required by law and as such cannot give evidence in an election petition. Joseph Daudu, SAN, in his own submission on Ododo’s behalf, said no single evidence of the PW1 was admitted as evidence by the court on the ground that he failed to front load his witness statement before hand. Daudu said the tribunal was right to have expunged the evidence of PW1, having declared it inadmissible and added that the appellants failed to prove the allegation of over voting in their petition. He also urged the tribunal to dismiss the allegations of forgery against his client, saying it bordered on pre-election matter, which the apex court had decided in Gbagi’s case against INEC. Daudu, who said they failed to prove allegation of over-voting, also argued that Section 137 of the Electoral Act cited by the petitioners on allegations of over-voting did not apply in the instant petition. He urged the court to dismiss the appeal and affirm the judgement of the tiibunal which upheld the election of Ododo. Corroborating Daudu’s argument, Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, who appeared for APC, prayed the Appeal Court to dismissed the petition for being incompetent. Ajaka and his party, in the appeal, hinged on 31 grounds, insisted that they are the winners of the Nov. 11, 2023 governorship election and should be declared the rightful winner. While adopting the processes filed on behalf of his client, Pius Akubo,,SAN, urged the court to set aside the judgement of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and declare Ajaka as the governor of the state. According to Akubo, the judgement of the tribunal which affirmed Ododo’s election was a serious miscarriage of justice. READ ALSO: Kogi poll: Ajaka insists on stolen mandate, appeals tribunal verdict It would be recalled that the tribunal had, on May 27, affirmed the victory of Gov. Ododo of APC in the Nov. 11, 2023 Kogi governorship poll. The three-member panel of justices, headed by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu, held that the petition was bereft of substance and accordingly dismissed it. The tribunal held that SDP and Ajaka failed to prove the allegations of over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022 in the petition. The panel, in a unanimous, decision held that all the witness evidence filed before it were incompetent and full of inconsistencies. It also agreed with the submissions of the respondents that the allegations of forgery raised in the petition were pre-election matter, which ought to have been raised 14 days after the documents were submitted to INEC. Kogi had, on Nov. 11, 2023, held its off-cycle election in which Ododo of the APC emerged winner, beating his closest rival, Ajaka of the SDP with a wide margin. The post Kogi: Appeal Court reserves judgment in Ajaka’s case against Ododo’s victory appeared first on Guardian Nigeria News.

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