Supreme Court on Monday upheld the election of Yahaya Bello as the winner of the last governorship election in Kogi State.
In two judgments delivered by Justice Uwan Abba Aji, the court’s seven-man panel, led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Mohammad, dismissed the two appeals decided on Monday.
The first was the appeal by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the November 16, 2019 governorship election in the state, Musa Wada.
The second was by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and is candidate, Natasha Akpoti.
In the first judgment, authored by Justice John Okoro and read by Justice Abba Aji, the court resolved the five issues identified for determination against the PDP and Wada.
It held that the appellants were wrong to have claimed that the Court of Appeal denied them fair hearing and that it determined their appeal on issues it raised suo motu (on its own volition).
The apex court also held that, as against the claim by the appellants, the Court of Appeal merely arrived at its conclusion that the forensic expert called by the PDP and Wada at the tribunal (PW19) was not a dactylographer from records of proceedings.
It upheld the position of the lower court on the issue.
The lead judgment in the appeal by the SDP and Akpoti was authored by Justice Abba Aji, who also read it yesterday.
In dismissing the appeal, the court resolved the two issues identified for determination against the appellants.
The court held that the appellants failed to prove their claims that Bello and his running mate were not qualified to have stood for election and that they made false claims about their qualifications to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The court awarded no cost to any party to the two appeals.
Besides Justice Muhammad (the CJN), Justices Okoro and Abba Aji, other members of the panel were: Justices Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, Sylvester Ngwuta, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun and Amina Augie.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday congratulated Governor Bello on his Supreme Court victory.
In a statement in Abuja by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, the party said: “This victory will definitely buoy Governor Bello to focus on his administration’s commendable effort to ensure peace and guarantee security for the people of the state. Kogi State under Governor Bello is already one of the frontline states leading the agricultural revolution.”
The Northern Governors Forum (NGF) also congratulated Governor Bello on his election victory at the apex court.
A statement in Jos by the forum’s chairman and Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong said: “The Supreme Court judgment affirming your election victory gives you an opportunity to settle down to serve your people and fulfill their aspirations without any distraction.”
Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola congratulated Bello, saying: “This is indeed a victory for democracy and the good people of Kogi State who freely gave Governor Bello the mandate to govern them for another term. This will also serve as a boost for the governor to continue to deliver dividends of democracy to his people.”
Main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) expressed shock over the Supreme Court verdict.
A statement by its spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan said: “Indeed, the judgment had not inspired hope in our national quest to ensure that our elections are violence-free as well as deter unpatriotic individuals, who resort to violence and killing, to gain access to power, as heavily witnessed in the Kogi election.”
“However, as a law-abiding party, we call on the people of Kogi State and Nigerians at large, to remain calm, yet undeterred in their quest for the entrenchment of credible electoral process in our country.”