Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has been declared as the duly elected Governor of the State by the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja in all the four appeal Cases filed by aggrieved parties in the last gubernatorial election in the State.
Delivery judgment in an appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the judgment of the Tribunal, the Appeal Court dismissed the election petition and awarded a cost of one hundred Naira against the appellant.
The PDP’s main claim was that the 2nd and 3rd Respondents did not win the Kogi State Election by a majority of the lawful votes cast.
The Court said “the declaration of elections by INEC are presumed correct unless proven otherwise. PDP which only pursued that one ground on Appeal has the burden to rebut the presumption arising from INEC’s declaration that Yahaya Bello and the APC won the last Kogi State Gubernatorial Elections”.
It started further that the appellants also needed to prove that the declared winners did not score the majority of the lawful votes cast.
“The results of any polling unit where overvoting is alleged and proven will be cancelled but new elections can only be ordered if it is further proved that the results of that polling unit, if removed from the overall results, will change the outcome of the election”.
“The appellants did not link their documents to their claims. They merely dumped it on the Tribunal. The Tribunal was right to treat them as having no evidentiary value”.
“They could not prove acts of alterations or how the alleged alterations affected the overall results of the election.”
“Multiple thumb-printing was pleaded under corrupt practices. That allegation was subsequently abandoned to all intents and purposes. Evidence in that regard goes to no issue, including that of PW19 – the expert witness.”
“Expert evidence is only required where the expert can furnish the court with scientific and other technical evidence which must be outside the knowledge of the judge. It is apparent that expert evidence may be admissible but not indispensable”.
“PW19 claimed to be acting on the order of the court but under cross-examination it became clear that he had been acting with the appellant long before the order of the Tribunal for him to get involved”.
“PW19 exceeded his mandate to determine fingerprints when he went over and beyond to engage in counting of ballots. He also admitted that he is not a fingerprint expert. Also none of the other so-called experts who allegedly examined the documents with him signed the report and no reason was given for this. The trial Tribunal was right in rejecting his report.”
The Appeal Court also dismissed the appeal filed by the Action Peoples Party, (APP), against the election of Yahaya Bello of APC, as Governor of Kogi State
The five man member panel of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal filed by Action Peoples Party challenging the election of Yahaya Bello as the Governor of Kogi State for lack of merit
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Mohammed Shuaibu, the court affirmed the decision of the tribunal which dismissed their petition.
The court also awards cost of One hundred thousand naira against the appellant.
The APP in its appeal claimed that INEC unlawfully excluded them from the 2019 governorship election in Kogi State.
Similarly, the Court of Appeal also dismissed the appeal of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) against the judgment of the Tribunal which earlier dismissed their election petition.
SDP’s claim that Edward Onoja should have been left as a party to the suit since allegations were made directly against him was upheld.
The Court of Appeal held he was denied his right to fair hearing when the Tribunal struck out his name to the petition. However, since the Tribunal has rounded up and is out of time and cannot be called back, there is nothing that can be done now.
SDP’s further allegation that their evidence of their witnesses were not given probative value by the Tribunal was considered by Court of Appeal and deemed as contradictory and empty.
“The PW3’s oral evidence was replete with glaring and blaring absurdities and totally unhelpful in proving the petition.”
“Their PW4 to PW13 were all unreliable. Their evidence collapsed totally under cross-examination.”
The Court of Appeal held that SDP as other appellants could not prove how the alleged misconducts and corrupt practices could have affected the outcome of election so as to invalidate the declarations by INEC.
The Court of Appeal equally dismissed the petitions of Action Peoples Party and thathe t of Democratic People Party.