The Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Monday, dismissed the case filed by the Social Democratic Party and its candidate in the last governorship election in the state, Natasha Akpoti, challenging the outcome of the November 16, 2029 election.
The petitioners had prayed for an order nullifying the victory of Governor Bello of the All Progressives Congress and order a rerun.
However, the three-man tribunal led by Justice Kashim Kaigama, in a unanimous judgment held that the petition failed woefully.
It awarded the cost of N100,000 to be paid by each of the two petitioners to each of the three respondents – the Independent National Electoral Commission, the APC and Bello.
The total costs to be paid by the paid by the petitioners amounted to N600,000.
Akpoti and her party had in December 2019, petitioned the tribunal seeking for the nullification of the election on the grounds that it was conducted in substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act and the electoral guidelines issued by INEC.
They alleged that the election was marred by corrupt practices, violence, and over-voting in all the polling units in the 21 Local Government Areas of the state.
The petitioners also alleged that Bello and his running mate, Edward Onoja, were unqualified to contest in the election on the grounds that Onoja gave false information in his Form CF001 submitted to INEC concerning the circumstances of his exit from the banking industry.
They also alleged that Onoja falsified his age and forged his educational certificate to aid his qualification to contest the said election.
In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Ohiamai Ovbiagele, the tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove the alleged corrupt practices and falsification of results by any credible evidence.
He added that the petitioners merely dumped their exhibits on the tribunal without linking them to the petition.
He also noted that none of the petitioners’ 15 witnesses gave any evidence concerning over-voting, implying that the allegation was abandoned.
It held that testimonies by many of the witnesses were “patently hearsay devoid of any evidential value”, while those of some others were “ludicrous”, “unreliable”, and “doubtful”
“They are all doubtful illogical and some instances patently unreasonable,” the judge added.
According to him, some of the witnesses failed to back their claims of violence with video evidence. They also failed to tender voter cards as proof that they participated in the said election among others.