By Kunle Olasanmi, Abuja
The Kogi State Governorship Election Petirion Tribunal headed by Justice Kashim Kaigama, has dismissed a petition filed by Mrs. Natasha Akpoti, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) against the election of Governor Yayaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The tribunal affirmed Governor Yahaya Bello, as the duly elected governor of the state.
The SDP candidate and her party had filed the petition challenging Governor Bello’s victory on the grounds that irregularities marred the election.
In the disputed governorship election Akpoti polled 9,482 votes, Musa Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) polled 189,704 while the incumbent Governor Bello polled 406,222 votes to defeat the duo.
But while filing the petition, Akpoti had challenged the victory of Governor Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 16, 2019 governorship election held in the state.
In the judgement read by Justice Ohimai Ovbiagele, the tribunal held that the petition lacked merit and also unreliable.
Reeling out further, the tribunal insisted that the petitioner failed woefully to prove allegation of irregularities, alteration of election result and misconducts as contained in its petition.
“Petitioners must establish a nexus and substantial evidence on the ground on which any election must be cancelled. Also, the various allegations of misconducts and irregularities leveled by the petitioners are doubtful, illogical, contradictory and unreliable,” the tribunal held.
Consequently, the panel went ahead to slam a N100,000 on each of the two petitioners to be paid to each of the three respondents; the Independent National Electoral Commission, the APC, and Yahaya Bello totaling N600,000 to be paid by the petitioners.
Mrs. Akpoti had in 2019 filed a petition with the State Election Petition Tribunal expressing total dissatisfaction with the election that ushered in Alhaji Yahaya Bello as governor.
In the petition, she urged the Tribunal to ask Gov. Yahaya Bello to vacate the seat and order INEC to conduct a fresh election, pointing out that the election was marred by irregularities and violence.
She also added in her petition that there was no election held in the state on November 16.
She therefore sought the tribunal to declare the election as null and void ab initio following the omission of her name from some of the results sheets.
The SDP candidate also joined Chief Edward Onoja, INEC and APC as respondents in the suit.