Tribunal Update: Votes Yahaya Bello Inherited Belong to APC Not Abubakar Audu – Edward Onoja

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A defence witness in the Kogi State governorship election petition, Edward Onoja, says votes cast in the state governorship election are for the parties and not for the candidates.

Onoja, who is the Chief of Staff to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, told the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja on Tuesday that the candidates do not own votes.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that the election, held on November 21, 2015 and December 5, 2015, saw the emergence of Bello as winner.

NAN also reports that the All Progressives Grand Alliance and its governorship candidate, Goodman Akwu, had dragged Bello to the tribunal on the grounds that his election was illegal.

Akwu said the election of Bello did not follow due process as provided for by the law, hence his call for the tribunal to nullify the election and order a fresh one.

Onoja, while being cross-examined by the Counsel to APGA, Promise Ogbadu, at the resumed hearing of the petition, said: “The Kogi election ran from November 21 to December 5, 2015 although the November 21 candidate of the All Progressives Congress was the late Abubakar Audu.

“I am aware of the figure of votes got by APC and others in the November 21 election, the votes belong to the party and not the candidates.

“So, APC is our party and is the governing party in Kogi.

“I am also aware that no candidate was declared winner after the November 21 election.

“All I know is that APC is the owner of the votes of both elections cast in Kogi and that was why it was counted together.”

The Chief of Staff also told the tribunal that the process of the election was still on before the death of Audu.

He said Bello was substituted for Audu following Audu’s death during the election.

According to Onoja, votes for the supplementary election, which took place on December 5, were counted in the public glare and televised.

He said Bello, the APC candidate, won the election and was declared winner and was later sworn-in on January 27, 2016.

NAN reports that documents shown to the witness, which elicited questions from the petitioner’s counsel, included election result sheets, nomination form, certificate of return and INEC guidelines, among others.

Onoja, in his summation, called on the tribunal to dismiss APGA’s petition for lacking in merit.

Justice Halima Muhammad, the tribunal Chairman, adjourned filing of final written addresses for both parties till April 28.

Credit: NAN.

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