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BREAKING: Tribunal affirms Ododo as Kogi governor, dismisses forgery allegations

The Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Monday, has affirmed Usman Ododo as the authentic Governor of Kogi state.

The tribunal dismissed the petition filed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its governorship candidate, Murtala Ajaka.

The verdict was passed by the three-member panel of the tribunal, led by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu.

Naijaonpoint previously reported that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared the candidate.of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Usman Ododo, as the winner of the keenly contested November 11, 2023 Kogi State Governorship Election.

The state Returning Officer, Prof Johnson Urama, who is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics) of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, announced Ododo as the winner at 10:23 pm on Sunday, November 12, 2023.

According to the announced results, Ododo polled 446,237 votes, to beat his closest rival, Murtala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), who scored 259,052, while Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) polled 46,362 votes.

However, the petitioners approached the tribunal seeking an overturn of the election results and an order directing INEC to conduct a fresh election in about five LGAs.

If the tribunal agrees with the petitioners to order a rerun, it implies that taxpayers’ money will be used in conducting fresh elections.

Ajaka’s legal team led by Joseph Okutepa(SAN) had challenged the poll on the grounds of alleged forgery, voting and non-compliance to the Electoral Act.

The petitioner called 25 witnesses from the five Local Government Areas including Adavi, and Okene LGAs, and they challenged the results from the disputed polling units.

The petitioners alleged that over-voting occurred in 5 local government areas of Kogi state including Adavi, Okene, Okeyi, and LGAs.

They claimed that Ododo tendered false information to INEC.

However, the APC legal team led by Emmanuel Ukala challenged the competence of NAIJAONPOINT es presented by the petitioner.

Counsel for INEC, Kanu Agabi (SAN) maintained that NAIJAONPOINT es presented by the petitioner are incompetent because “they are not the makers” of the electoral documents submitted as exhibits.

The respondents maintained that the exhibits touching on forgery and overvoting are “mere photocopies” that cannot be relied upon by any court.

But Pius Akubo, who represented the petitioners during one of the proceedings, argued that the allegation that his clients did not call the makers of the exhibits is misleading, adding that the documents are certified true copies from respective institutions including INEC.

But Pius Akubo, who represented the petitioners during one of the proceedings, argued that the allegation that his clients did not call the makers of the exhibits is misleading, adding that the documents are certified true copies from respective institutions including INEC.

Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu held that from the decisions of the Supreme Court on the 2023 presidential and governorship elections, statements of witnesses must be filed along with a petition, not during a petition.

“The petitioners have failed to file their witness statements (of PW1) on oath along with the petition, within the given time,” the judge said while expunging the exhibits tendered by the petitioners.

He added that “the piece of oral evidence made by the petitioner’s witnesses are “hearsay evidence” as they are not the makers of the exhibits tendered before the tribunal.

The tribunal dismissed the petition and affirmed the election of Ododo while holding that the petitioner could not prove that the governor presented a forged certificate.

The judge held that NAIJAONPOINT es presented by the petitioners were not polling unit agents or INEC presiding officers.

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