2023 Kogi Governorship: SDP candidate Ajaka goes to Court of Appeal

Kogi State Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate in the November 11, 2023 election, Muritala Yakubu Ajaka, has gone to the Appeal Court, Abuja challenging the State Election Petition Tribunal judgement which affirmed Ahmed Usman Ododo of APC as elected governor of the state.
In the record compiled and transmitted on his behalf by lawyer, Pius Akubo (SAN), to the court of appeal in Abuja on 14/6/2024, the appellant stated emphatically that the judgement of the State Election Petition Tribunal which affirmed the governorship election of Ododo of the APC, was a serious miscarriage of justice.

He strongly insists that he and his party won the November 11, 2023 election and should therefore be declared the rightful winner.

He submitted thirty one grounds of Appeal comprising five (5) grounds over the Tribunal ruling itself, (10) ten grounds on competence of their witnesses, (10) grounds in respect of over voting, five (5) grounds on non-qualification of Ododo and one (1) ground for prayers with consequential orders.

The appellants who are dissatisfied with the decision of the Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal headed by Hon. Justice Ado Yusuf Birnin Kudu, Submitted the petition vide No EPT /KG/GOV/ 03/2023 of 14/6/2024. The summary of the appeals are:

a. An order allowing the appeal
b. An order setting aside the judgement of E.P Tribunal.
c. An order restoring the testimony of P.W 1 as well as all documents tendered by the Appellants but expunged from the records.

d. An order that the 2nd respondent was not even qualified to have contested the election into the office of Governor of Kogi State held on 11/11/2023 and that all votes ascribed and or allocated to the 2nd and 3rd Respondents are wasted votes.

e. An order granting the reliefs sought by the appellants in the petition and thereupon declaring him (the 1st Appellant) as the duly elected governor of Kogi State.
f. Such further orders as this Honourable Court may be inclined to make by virtue of it’s power under section 15 of the Court of Appeal Act.
It will be recalled that shortly after the controversial judgement of 27/5/2024, Ajaka said that the long walk to freedom in Kogi State has just began.

In his reaction ,Ajaka said, “despite the outcome of the Tribunal I am proud to say that we have a team of brilliant lawyers who did an outstanding job in proving the case of over-voting during the November 11, 2023 election”.

He maintained that throughout the entire process our lawyers exhibited the highest level of professionalism and tenacity.

According to him “They meticulously gathered evidence, scrutinized data and presented and presented a compelling case to the tribunal. Unfortunately, the tribunal despite agreeing to the embarrassing over voting and rigging exercise, struck our case out.

“These lawyers did not fail us. We are very optimistic that they will be vindicated by the end of the petition. I can assure you that this judgement will not stand the test of time. Yes we may have lost the battle at the Tribunal but the war is far from over. Our stollen mandate and our voice will not be silenced.

We will rise from the ashes of this defeat, stronger and more determined than ever before. We must be encouraged to pursue justice and keep our faith unwavery. We are the authors of our own destiny and we have the power to shape the future of our State. Let us rise above this setback and together let us reclaim our stollen mandate”.

He further stated, “we must remind ourselves that the fight is not just winning the election, it is about standing up for what is right, what is just and what we believe in. Our opponent may have won this first round of battle but they have not won the war. We will take this fight to the very end where justice will prevail. We will reclaim our stollen mandate and restore the faith of our people in the democratic process”.

He maintained that “the violence, aggression and intimidation we face from our opponent during the campaigns, election and it’s aftermath did not stop us. We will not be deterred by temporary setbacks because our spirit is unbreakable”.

In his official reaction, the lead legal team of the appellants Pius Akubo(SAN) stressed that the judgement of 27/5/2024 agreed that Ajaka filled his case within the stipulated time frame.

Also, the Tribunal Judges admitted that there was over voting. But in their confusion they ruled that PW1 who displayed the documents with which they agreed there was over voting is not clear to them.

They claimed they did not know if he was INEC Nigeria staff or not. Meanwhile It will be recalled that the Tribunal judges was the one who ordered INEC to provide the BVAS and someone who will power and display the BVAS in court.

It corecalled also that the PW1 came to the court with a certified letter from INEC to stating that he was indeed the representative of INEC. recall also that the PW1 was in the court with his ID card and other supporting documents to show he is INEC staff.

Recall further that when the PW1 absented from the court it was INEC the Tribunal ordered to produce him or produce another person and they did comply to produce him yet the Tribunal said they do not know him. What a contradictive judgement!
I want to say that the election of November 11, 2023 in Kogi State was not conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act. 2022 as well as manual and guidelines involving the conduct of elections having regards to the numerous instances of over voting.

In his words, ” the appellants had demonstrated in a graphic and tabular form before the tribunal that they scored the majority of lawful votes in the election and not the 2nd and 3rd Respondents.

The appellant led evidence to the effects that if the votes affected by over-voting are deducted from the overall votes, the appellant and not the 2nd and 3rd Respondents will have majority of lawful votes. Clearly and unambiguously the Appellants tendered all the necessary election forms and documents which completely demonstrated that the 2nd Respondents did not score the majority of the lawful votes as claimed. I believe strongly therefore that a serious miscarriage of justice has been done for not declaring the appellants winners of 11/11/2023 election.

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