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Tribunal Affirms Ododo’s Election,Prince Audu Congratulates Him

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By Victoria Onehi

The Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Monday, affirmed the election victory of Gov. Usman Ododo of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 11, 2023 poll.

The three-member panel of justices, headed by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu, held that the petition was bereft of substance and accordingly dismissed.

The tribunal held that the petitioners; the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate, Murtala Ajaka, failed to prove the allegations of over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022 in the petition.

The panel, in a unanimous, decision held that all the witness evidence filed before it were incompetent and full of inconsistencies.

It also agreed with the submissions of the respondents that the allegations of forgery raised in the petition were pre-election matter, which ought to have been raised 14 days after the documents were submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Kogi had, on Nov. 11, 2023, held its off-cycle election in which Ododo of the APC emerged winner beating his closest rival, Ajaka of the SDP with a wide margin.

Ajaka, dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, had filed a petition before the tribunal, challenging Ododo’s victory.

The case, which commenced in December 2023, came to its highest point on May 13 when SDP, Ajaka, APC, Ododo and INEC adopted their final written addresses, after which the tribunal reserved judgement in the petition.

INEC, Ododo and his party, APC, had prayed the tribunal to dismiss Ajaka and SDP’s petition in its entirety for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

NAN reports that the trio had, through their lawyers; Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN; Joseph Daudu, SAN and Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, respectively, had told the tribunal so while adopting their final written addresses and presenting their arguments against the petition.

However, Ajaka’s lawyer, Pius Akubo, SAN, had urged the tribunal to discountenance the respondents’ submissions and uphold their petition. 

Meanwhile, the Minister of Steel Development, Prince Shuaibu Abubakar Audu has congratulated Governor Ododo for his victory at Election Petition Tribunal.

Prince Audu, in his congratulatory message, which was conveyed in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Lizzy Okoji, on Monday, described the Tribunal’s verdict as a testament to the choice of the people.

The Minister, who also served as the Director-General of the Kogi State All Progressives Congress (APC) Gubernatorial Campaign Council, also called on the opposition to accept the verdict of the tribunal as an act of God and work together with the governor for the peace, progress, and development of the state.

“I want to congratulate the Executive Governor of Kogi State, on this well-deserved victory at the Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal, which has further affirmed the free, fair, and credible polls that took place in the November 11 governorship election in Kogi State.

“As Director-General of the APC Gubernatorial Campaign Council, I want to use this opportunity to urge the opposition party, the SDP to come together and work with the Governor for the development of our dear state. Let everyone sheath their swords irrespective of their political, ethnic and religious differences, and give the governor all the support he needs to attain great success.

“I also want to congratulate our great party, the APC, for upholding its mandate in Kogi State. This is also a victory for the APC,” Audu stated.

Prince Audu also urged Governor Ododo to extend a hand of fellowship to the opposition party and work doubly hard to deliver on his campaign promises to the people of Kogi State while commending him on his achievements in his first 100 days in office.

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