By Boluwaji Obahopo
LOKOJA—The result of Kogi West senatorial district election was falsified by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to favour Senator Dino Melaye, the candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal heard yesterday.
Mr. Feinti Dada, who was the first witness called by Senator Smart Adeyemi, the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the election, said the poll was fraught with irregularities in 21 units of five wards in Lokoja Local Government Area of the state.
Dada was the agent of Senator Adeyemi in the election which INEC declared in favour of Senator Melaye.
Dada, who was first led in evidence by the petitioner’s counsel, Chief Lateef Fagbemi, said under cross examination by the respondent’s counsel, Francis Ani, that the result of the recount ordered by the tribunal showed that INEC recorded voided votes during the election in favour of Melaye.
Dada further told the tribunal that the APC never held a primary election before Melaye emerged as the candidate of the party, adding that some members of the APC went to court to challenge the emergence of Melaye as there was no primary.
He added that documentary evidence from INEC backed the claim that Melaye did not go through primary.
However, when counsel to INEC, Salako Adeolu, rose to cross examine the witness, Adeyemi’s counsel, Fagbemi, SAN, objected, arguing that since the commission withdrew its response to the petition, it should not cross examine Dada.
Fagbemi, who noted that INEC was given the opportunity to defend itself but chose to throw away the opportunity, prayed the tribunal not to allow the cross examination by INEC counsel.
But Salako told the court that since spurious and damaging allegations were levelled against the commission, he should be allowed to cross examine the witness, saying the only option available to the court was to strike out the petition.
The tribunal in its ruling, however, said as far as INEC was a party in the case, it had the right to cross examine the witness but could not call any witness on its own, since it (INEC) had withdrawn its response to the petitioner’s motion.