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Supreme Court seals Yahaya Bello’s victory during Kogi guber election

By Ibe Wada,

The Supreme Court has affirmed the election of Yahaya Bello as the duly elected Governor of Kogi State after dismissing appeal filed by People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Musa Wada, challenging Bello’s victory at the 2019 gubernatorial poll.

The Governor’s victory was being challenged after PDP and the Socialist Democratic Party candidates alleged that the election was marred by corrupt practices among other irregularities.

But, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad-led seven-man panel in its two judgments on Monday dismissed the separate appeals filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and the Socialist Democratic Party.

They ruled that the all allegations including that of falsified documents, false information to INEC among others against the Deputy Governor, Edward Onaja, not proved by the appellants, hence the appeals dismissal.

The apex court also affirmed the earlier July 4, 2020 judgments of the Court of Appeal in Abuja and verdicts of the election petition tribunal, which had both upheld Bello’s victory at the November 2019 election.

The lead judgment on PDP’s appeal was prepared by Justice Inyang Okoro but read on his behalf by another member of the panel, Justice Uwani Abba-Aji, and Justice Abba-Aji who was the only member of the panel present in court on Monday read the lead judgment prepared by her.

However, reacting to the apex court ruling, Bello said that the judgement was an affirmation of the landmark victory entrusted to him by the people of the state.

It would be recalled that the governor polled a total of 406,222 votes against his closest rival, the PDP candidate who polled 189,704 votes with a winning margin of 216,518 votes.

Through a statement by his spokesperson, Onogwu Muhammed, Bello said the judgement upholding his victory is an affirmation of the identical positions on the matters taken by the erudite jurists at the tribunal and the court of appeal.

“The governor praised the panel of 5 Justices led by Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammadu, the Chief Justice of Nigeria which heard the appeals and Hon. Justice Uwani Musa Abba Aji CFR who read this morning’s judgment alone. Appreciating the court for her uprightness and erudition, the Governor thanked the entire citizens of the state for casting their votes for him and joining him to defend same to the end. He assured them that his administration will continue to do more and more for them in line with his campaign slogan.

“The Governor used the moment to pay tribute to His Royal Majesty, Dr. Micheal Idakwo, Ameh Oboni II, the late Attah of Igala who passed on last week. He described the late traditional ruler as ‘a unifier’ who was a great supporter of his administration, a father and a wise counsellor. The Governor called on the other parties and their candidates to forgo all forms of bitterness and division and join hands with him to take Kogi to the next level,” the statement said.

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