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Emergence of Gov. Bello, an act of God, witness tells tribunal

Mr Edward Onoja, the Chief of Staff to Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi said on Tuesday that the emergence of the governor was an act of God.

Onoja, a witness, said this at the Kogi Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, while being cross examined by the counsel to African Democratic Congress (ADC), Mr Obah Maduabuchi.

According to Onoja, the condition on the ground at the time of the election necessitated the replacement of Prince Abubakar Audu after his death by Bello.

Onoja told the tribunal that a letter was written by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) informing it of the demise of its candidate, Audu.

The witness also said that INEC in its response to APC’s letter directed the party to submit the name of another candidate to replace Audu.

He said that there was another letter from the APC informing the INEC of its decision to substitute the late Audu with Bello.

“Bello is a candidate and he contested the election under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“The election he contested began on Nov. 21, 2015 and ended up Dec. 5, 2015.

“Bello was the 1st runner up in the Kogi primary election; the primary election was to pick a candidate of which Audu emerged before his death.

“I heard the announcement of Audu’s death like every other Nigerian, he died on Nov. 22, 2015; he died during the course of the election.

“Although, Bello was never a candidate before the Nov. 21; but he became a candidate when he completed the filling of his nomination form, which had been marked as exhibit by the tribunal,” he said.

Onoja said that Bello of the APC scored the highest vote and he was announced the winner and returned as the governor.

Also, while being led in evidence by the counsel to Gov. Bello, Mr Babatunde Daudu, Onoja called on the tribunal to dismiss the ADC petition for lacking in merit.

Earlier, the National Chairman of ADC, Mr Raph Okey-Nwosu, urged the tribunal to nullify Bello’s election and order for a fresh one.

Okey-Nwosu said during cross examination by Daudu that Bello’s election was devoid of the electoral rules; and that he was not duly elected by the majority of the votes cast during the election.

When asked if he was a registered voter in Kogi, Okey-Nwosu told the tribunal that he did not register his voter card in Kogi.

He said that the information gathered from people his party sent to the field during the election show that all was not well with the election.

“I am aware that INEC issued a public notice indicating the need to substitute the APC candidate after the death of Audu.

“I signed this petition, Bello was not duly elected by the majority of the valid vote cast,’’ said Okey-Nwosu.

When asked if he was aware that INEC is no longer a party in this petition, Okey-Nwosu told the tribunal that he was not aware.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Halima Mohammad adjourned till May 17 for the adoption of written addresses from the parties.

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