*Dismisses 4 appeals challenging election
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Saturday upheld the election of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
Five man panel of justices of the Court of Appeal in a unanimous decision dismissed four appeals filed by the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) , Social Democratic Party(SDP), Democratic Peoples Party(DPP)and Action Peoples Parry (APP).
The four appeals had challenged the judgment of Kogi State Governorship Petition Tribunal delivered in Abuja on May 8, 2020.
While the tribunal in a split decision of two to one had upheld the return of Governor Bello in the petition filed by Musa Wads and PDP, it in a unanimous separate judgements dismissed the petitions filed by SDP, DPP and APP.
Dissatisfied with judgments the appellants have approached the Court of Appeal praying it to set aside the judgments and nullify Governor Yahaya Bello election on the grounds of electoral malpractices and exclusion from the election held on November 16, 2019.
Delivering the lead judgment on the appeal filed by Musa Wada and PDP, Justice H. T. Tsammani resolved the four issues raised in appeal against the appellants. He awarded a cost of N100, 000 against the appellants in favour of Governor Bello and All Progressive Congress (APC).
The Court of Appeal held that Wada and PDP failed to prove allegations of malpractices contained in their petition. The burden was on the appellants to prove that the election was marred by irregularities and malpractices.
It noted that the petitioners have abandoned their two grounds that deal with malpractices and can not turn round to ask the court to nullify Governor Bello’s election on the ground of multiple thumb printing or over voting.
Besides, the Court held that the tribunal was right in rejecting the evidence of PW 19 the expert that was subpoenaed because it’s report was biased suggesting he was influenced.
“PW 19, the expert witness was hired by the petitioners and the tribunal was not bound to accept his evidence. He was not an eye witness.
The expert witness admitted that he was given a copy of the petition and he was aware of what the petitioners were looking for.
He engaged in ballot counting contrary to the order of the tribunal. ” On the three other appeals the Court of Appeal held that they lacked merit and consequently dismissed them.
On the issue of exclusion from participating in the election raised by the petitioners, the Court of Appeal found that the Social Democratic Party candidate was not qualified to contest the election in the first place being an under age.