Kogi Governorship Election Tribunal throws away Natasha’s petition against Yahaya Bello’s election

Natasha Akpoti

The Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on Monday dismissed the petition filed by Natasha Akpoti, the Kogi governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party, against the election of Governor Yahaya Bello.

Bello was the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the ugly election held on November 16, 2019.

Ruling on Natasha’s petition, the Justice Kashim Kaigama led three-man tribunal unanimously dismissed the petition and ordered Natasha and her party, SDP, to pay N100,000 each, to each of the three respondents (Bello, APC, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)).

The SDP candidate had asked for the nullification of the election which was evidently marred by wide violence and irregularities. She noted that the conduct of the election was not in compliance with the Electoral Act and the electoral guidelines issued by INEC.

Natasha in her petition alleged that the election was marred by corrupt practices, violence and over-voting in all polling units in the 21 Local Government Areas of the state, adding that Bello and his running mate, Edward Onoja, were not qualified to contest the election because Onoja gave false information in his Form CF001.

She also alleged that Onoja falsified his age and forged his educational certificate to aid his qualification to contest the election.

However, the justices noted that the petitioners failed to prove the allegation of corruption against the APC candidates.

The tribunal noted that the petitioners only dumped their exhibits on the tribunal without linking them to the petition, adding that none of the 15 witnesses called by the petitioners gave any evidence concerning over-voting.

The tribunal noted that the testimonies 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,” Justice Ohiamai Ovbiagele who delivered the lead judgement said.

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