The Supreme Court, has dismissed the Peoples Democratic Party’s appeal challenging the victory of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State at the November 16, 2019 governorship election in the state.
The seven-man panel led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, on Monday in a unanimous judgment, made this declaration in two judgments dismissing the separate appeals filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and the Socialist Democratic Party, and affirmed Bello’s election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.
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.
Justice Abba-Aji who was the only member of the panel present in court on Monday read the lead judgment prepared by her.
The apex court affirmed the earlier July 4, 2020 judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja and the May 23, 2020 majority verdict of the election petition tribunal, which had both upheld the Bello’s victory at the poll.
PDP and its candidate had insisted that governor Bello was not validly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
In their petition at the tribunal marked EPT/KG/GOV/06/2019, they sought the annulment of governor Bello’s re-election, alleging that he rigged himself back to office.
The appellants alleged that the election was invalid by reason of widespread electoral malpractices, violence and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
The apex court resolved all the five issues raised for determination in the appeal against the PDP and its governorship candidate in the disputed poll, Musa Wada, who jointly filed the appeal.
Resolving all the five issues in favour of Bello, his party, the APC, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, the apex court declared the appellants’ appeal as lacking in merit.
The apex court said it was satisfied that the Court of Appeal neither denied the Appellants fair hearing, nor wrongly evaluated their case against the outcome of the Kogi State governorship poll.
“The appellants failed to prove before this court why it should disturb the concurrent findings of the two courts below”, Justice Okoro held in the lead verdict.
The apex court stressed that the Appellants failed to substantiate their case, noting that they adduced evidence with respect to only 24 out of the 729 polling units in the state.
“It is abundantly clear that this appeal is devoid of any scintilla of merit and it is accordingly dismissed”, the court held.
Having resolved all the five issues against the appellants, it is abundantly clear that the appeal is devoid of any scintilla of merit and it is accordingly dismissed,” the court ruled.
Aside from the CJN, Justices Okoro and Abba-Aji, other members of the panel who also agreed with the lead judgments were, Justices Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, Sylvester Ngwuta, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, and Amina Augie.
The court will also deliver judgment on the appeal filed by the Socialist Democratic Party and its candidate, Natasha Akpoti, also challenging Bello’s victory at the poll.