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Yahaya Bello Won Kogi Election, Supreme Court Rules

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The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the election of Yahaya Bello as Governor of Kogi State.

A seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Tanko Muhammad, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, dismissed separate appeals filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) challenging the election of Bello.

The lead judgment on PDP’s appeal was prepared by Justice Inyang Okoro but read on his behalf by another member of the panel, Justice Uwani Abba-Aji.

Justice Abba-Aji who was the only member of the panel present in court on Monday read the lead judgment prepared by her.

Both PDP and SDP, along with their governorship candidates in the election, had alleged that the poll was marred by corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provision of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended) and the electoral guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

But the apex court affirmed the earlier judgments of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, and the Kogi Election Petition Tribunal, which had both upheld Bello’s victory at the poll.

The apex court also dismissed the appeals on the grounds that the allegations, including the charges by SDP against Bello’s running mate and now Kogi State Deputy Governor, Edward Onoja, that he falsified documents, submitted false information to INEC and not qualified to contest the November 2019 poll were not proved by the appellants.

The apex court resolved all the five issues raised for determination in the appeal against the PDP and its governorship candidate in the disputed poll, Musa Wada, who jointly filed the appeal.

“Having resolved all the five issues against the appellants, it is abundantly clear that the appeal is devoid of any scintilla of merit and it is accordingly dismissed,” the court ruled.

Justice Abba-Aji said of the appeal filed by SDP and its candidate, Natasha Akpoti, that the concurrent judgments of both the Court of Appeal and the election petition tribunal remained “unimpeachable”.

In addition to Chief Justice Muhammad, Justices Okoro and Abba-Aji, other members of the panel who also agreed with the lead judgments are Justices Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, Sylvester Ngwuta, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, and Amina Augie.

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