Much to the risk of preemptive submission here, the Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja is set to give judgement and it is my gut feeling that the incumbent, Governor Yahaya Bello and his deputy, Chief Edward Onoja would take the day at the end of the tribunal’s pronouncements.
Remember the case was instituted by the candidate of PDP, Musa Wada.
Let’s walk each other through the timeline of the hearing thus far.
Recall that immediately after the election of Yahaya Bello and Edward Onoja in an election believed to be free and fair by all democratic standards, a total of 8 petitions were prepared for the tribunal by aggrieved candidates, including SDP’s Natasha Akpoti, seeking for either the nullification of the election or outright declaration of the petitioners as duly elected.
In the course of the Tribunal sitting, 7 of such frivolous petitions have being trashed for lack of merit and substance. The most pronounced of all the petitions was that instituted by Ms Akpoti who asked the Tribunal to nullify the November 2019 poll on the grounds of corrupt practices, violence, and over-voting in all the polling units of the 21 local Government Areas of the state.
They also alleged that Bello and his running mate, Edward Onoja, should be disqualified 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.
The Election Petition Tribunal led by Justice Kashim Kaigama in a unanimous judgment dismissed all the prayers of Natasha and SDP and affirmed that the petition lacked merit as such failed woefully.
The last case before Justice Kashim Kaigama as regards the November Kogi governorship election is that brought by Engr Musa Wada and PDP.
In their petition to the Tribunal, Engr Musa and PDP had prayed for the following relieves:
An order nullifying the Certificate of Return issued to Bello by INEC and in addition, issue an order nullifying the entire governorship election conducted in the state on reason of substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Constitution and extant Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
Wada wants an order declaring that he scored the majority of votes cast at the election and that having fulfilled the requirements of section 179(2)(a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria 1999, (as amended), he is the winner by majority of lawful votes cast and thus returned elected.
An order directing INEC to conduct supplementary election in the polling units where elections were cancelled; the margin of lead between the 2nd respondent and the first petitioner being less than the registered voters in the cancelled polling units.
Wada and PDP relieves as controversial as they seem are also ambiguous in nature. A candidate seeking for the nullification of an election he termed fraudulent and marred with irregularities shouldn’t be seeking to be declared winner of such election.
All the relieves sought by Engr Musa Wada and PDP are not different from the relieves sought by the 7 petitioners that had their petitions dismissed by the Tribunal for lack of merit.
With the precedent of the Tribunal on the cases already dismissed, it would suffice here to state that the stage is set for the victory of Gov Yahaya Bello and his deputy Edward Onoja. It is my belief that the tribunal will dismiss the petition of Engr Musa Wada and the PDP against their election this morning.
– Samuel Obochi writes from Lokoja.