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Politics

Kogi Guber: Tribunal adjourns to March 14 as Court of Appeal sets aside inspection order

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The Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Monday, adjourned the hearing in the petition filed by Social Democratic Party, SDP and its candidate, Murtala Ajaka, until March 14.

The petitioners are challenging the election of Governor Ahmed Ododo of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

The development followed the Court of Appeal judgement that set aside the tribunal’s inspection order granted the SDP and expunged paragraphs ‘g’, ‘k’ and ‘n’ of the earlier ruling.

Upon resumption of hearing on Monday, counsel to the petitioners, Jibrin Okutepa, SAN, moved for the business of the day.

But the first respondent’s lawyer, Kanu Agabi, SAN, drew the attention of the tribunal to the decision of the Appeal Court and an affidavit to the effect.

This necessitated the adjournment for the tribunal to take the application.

Meanwhile, tendering of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, devices and others, scheduled for Monday, could not proceed in view of the appellate court’s decision.

The Appeal Court sitting in Abuja had, on Friday, set aside the inspection Order granted the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja.

The tribunal had, on Nov. 25, 2023, granted an ex-parte order, allowing the SDP and its candidate in the Nov. 11, 2023 governorship poll to carry out forensic examination of all the Bimordal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) used in the election, among other reliefs.

But the three-member panel of justices led by Justice J.O.K. Oyewole, in a unanimous ruling, set aside the inspection order on the grounds that it went outside the provisions of the Electoral Act.

The appellate court held that while inspection is allowed under the Electoral Act, it must be jointly carried out with the respondents and the scope of the inspection should be within the strict limit allowed under the Electoral Act.

“The ex parte order made by the trial tribunal on the 25th November, 2023 at the instance of the 1st and 2nd respondents are within the jurisdictional competence of the said tribunal.

“However, paragraphs ‘g’, ‘k’ and ‘n’ thereof are beyond the scope of Section 146 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022. The said paragraphs ‘g’, ‘k’ and ‘n’ are hereby expunged.

“The inspection purportedly done pursuant to the said orders of the trial tribunal without the presence of the appellant violates paragraph ‘h’ of the said orders and it is hereby set aside,” the panel ruled

Other members of the Appeal Court panel include Justices A. I. Banjoko and A.B. Mohammed.

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