…Victory for democracy — Gov. Bello
…Jubilation in Lokoja over judgement
By Boluwaji Obahopo, Lokoja
The Kogi State National Assembly/State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal has quashed the victory of Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West Senatorial district and ordered for fresh election within 90 days.
Melaye (PDP), was declared a winner in the March election by INEC but Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC) approached the tribunal, challenging INEC declaration on three grounds of irregularities, over voting and non-compliance with the electoral acts.
While the Chairman of the panel, Justice A. O. Chijioke refused the petitioners prayers, the other two members of the panel accepted Adeyemi’s ground and ordered for another election in the senatorial axis.
Adeyemi’s counsel, chief Tony Adeniyi had, during the trial, asked the court to nullify the election.
Ground one: That INEC decision to collate and announce results in Lokoja against the Federal High Court judgement which stipulated Kabba (Headquarters of the senatorial district) was enough to show that the election negated the constitution and electoral acts, a substantial ground to nullify the election.
He stressed that INEC’s disobedience to the Federal High Court ruling when they did not appeal the judgement showed ulterior motives.
Ground two: Whether the presentation of the certified true copy of PVC distribution in Kogi West which revealed 48,200 excess votes in the result declared for the senatorial district was not enough to ground to nullify the election.
Ground three: That the court should also look into the extreme mutilation of votes that were visible in the result sheet, which he averred was occasioned by the change of venue of collation centres by the electoral umpire.
But counsel to the 1st respondent, (Dino Melaye) Prof. Joash Amupitan (SAN) asked the court to dismiss the petitioners’ prayer, arguing that the documents presented by the petitioners were “mere hearsay documents.”
Judgement, Miscarriage of Justice— Melaye
However, Senator Dino Melaye has described the ruling of the Kogi West election tribunal, nullifying his election victory in the March 22nd 2019, election and ordering for a fresh election as a total miscarriage of Justice.
In a statement personally signed by him, Dino said, “The judgement is full of importation of information that is alien to the case. I, however, commend the courage and moral strength of the chairman of the tribunal for resisting evil and standing on the part of justice.”
“I have confidence in the Appeal Court to right the wrongs as contained in the pronouncements of the judgement. I also want to tell those jubilating that their jubilation will be short-lived while appealing to my teeming supporters to remain calm as their mandate is safe and secure and cannot be taken through any mischievous means.
“However, our legal team is already working to appeal the judgement and I assure all that justice will prevail.
The state Governor Yahaya Bello said the judgement was a victory for democracy and a demonstration of the readiness of the judiciary to defend democracy.
“The people of Kogi West and the entire APC structure will be prepared for the election to right the wrongs of the past. We believe our candidate, Sen. Smart Adeyemi won the election and we are happy that the tribunal has finally granted us the justice we deserve.”