Supreme Court rules in Yahaya Bello’s favour
The Supreme Court has affirmed Yahaya Bello, an All Progressives Congress (APC) Candidate, the governor of Kogi State in a judgment delivered on Monday in Abuja.
In a seven-man panel led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, the apex court dismissed two appeals against the re-election of the governor, saying the evidence presented before the court lacked merit.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Musa Wada and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate, Natasha Akpoti had filed appeals against the re-election of the APC candidate for his second term in office.
The Supreme court affirmed the previous judgments of the Appeal Court which sat in Abuja and verdicts of the election petition tribunal, which had both endorsed Bello’s victory at the Kogi state election.
The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Bello as the winner of the governorship election conducted on November 16, 2019, but the PDP and SDP alongside their candidates had disputed the results of the election and emergence Bello. They claimed that the election was marred by corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provision of the Nigerian Constitution, the Electoral Act and the Independent National Electoral Commission’s Electoral Guidelines.
The result of the election indicated that Bello scored the highest number of 406,222 votes defeating Wada and Akpoti, who scored 189,704 and 9, 482 votes respectively.
Following the filing of a case against the election, the tribunal on May 23, 2020, affirmed Bello’s election in a judgment of two-to-one.
The dissenting judgment by Justice Ohimai Ovbiagele nullified the election of Bello and ordered the electoral umpire to conduct fresh elections in seven local government areas where the petitioners proved their allegations of over-voting, thuggery, voter intimidation, massive thumb printing and other electoral malpractices.
But on July 4, the Court of Appeal dismissed Wada’s appeal and affirmed Bello as the governor of the state.
The appellate court also dismissed the appeals filed by SDP, the Actions Peoples Party (APP) and the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP). On the appeal filed by SDP and its candidate, the Court of Appeal held that Natasha Akpoti could not prove the allegations of corruption and voter intimidation against Bello.
Following this, the appellate court dismissed the SDP’s appeal.
On Wada’s appeal, the appellate court held that the allegations, which include multiple thumbprinting and result falsification, were not proven by the appellants.
The Court of Appeal then ordered Wada to pay N100,000 each to Bello, the APC, and INEC who were listed as respondents in the appeal.
Dissatisfied, the parties approached the apex court seeking to upturn the judgment of the two lower courts.
Reading the apex court’s judgment, which was prepared by Justice Inyang Okoro and read by Justice Uwani Abba-Aji on Monday, the court affirmed the earlier judgments of the two lower courts delivered on May 23 and July 4 respectively, which had both upheld Bello’s victory at the poll.
The apex court resolved all the five issues raised for determination in the appeal against the PDP and Mr Wada.