The governorship battle in Kogi State has been laid to rest with the seven-man panel of the Supreme Court Monday affirming the election of Governor Yahaya Bello.
Led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, the panel in two judgments dismissed the separate appeal filed by the People Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Musa Wada and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate Natasha Akpoti.
The lead judgment which was authored by Justice John Okoro and read by Justice Uwani Abba Aji, held among others, that the appeal was without merit.
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.
Their verdict has therefore conferred validity on the November 16, 2019 governorship election in the State.
Recall that both PDP and SDP, along with their governorship candidates in the election, had alleged that the Kogi poll was marred by corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provision of the Nigerian Constitution, the Electoral Act and the Independent National Electoral Commission’s Electoral Guidelines.
Earlier, the July 4, 2020 judgments of the Court of Appeal in Abuja and that of the election petition tribunal had both upheld Bello’s victory at the poll.
Some of the grounds on which the appeal were filed were on the basis of 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.
Resolving all the five issues in favour of Bello, his party, the APC, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, the apex court declared the appellants’ appeal as lacking in merit.
“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”.