In split judgement, tribunal affirms Yahaya Bello as Kogi Governor

The Kogi state governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja has affirmed Yahaya Bello as the winner of the 2019 election.

Musa Wada, governorship candidate of the PDP, had approached the tribunal to challenge the victory of Bello and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Jibril Okutepa, counsel to the petitioners, had urged the tribunal to uphold the petition and declare Wada as the duly elected governor of Kogi state.

Okutekpa submitted that his clients won the majority of lawful votes cast in the election.

They called a total of 32 witnesses to prove their claim that the election was marred by irregularities, violence, ballot snatching and non-compliance with the electoral act and the constitution.

Joseph Daudu, who represented Bello and the APC, said the petitioners were unable to prove their claims, and urged the court to dismiss the petition. Only one witness was called.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was represented by Alex Izinyon and no witness was called.

Delivering the judgement on Saturday, two out of three judges on the panel upheld Bello’s election as governor.

However, Ohimai Ovbiagele, one of the judges gave a dissenting decision in favour of Wada.

In a dissenting judgment, Ovbiagele nullified the election of Bello and ordered INEC to conduct fresh elections in seven local government areas where the petitioners proved their allegations of over-voting, thuggery, voter intimidation, massive thumb printing and other electoral malpractices.

In a majority judgment read by Kashim Kaigama, the tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove the allegations of over-voting, massive thumb printing, voter intimidation and other electoral malpractices.

The tribunal also ordered the petitioners to pay N500,000 each to INEC, Yahaya Bello and APC who are the respondents.