By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, on Friday, upheld the tribunal judgement that sacked Senator Dino Melaye from the National Assembly.
The appellate court, in a unanimous judgement by a three-man panel of Justices led by Justice Yahaya Dattijo, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to within 90 days, conduct a fresh election in Kogi West Senatorial District.
The appellate court said it saw no reason to set aside the August 23 judgement of the Kogi State National/State Assembly Election Tribunal that nullified the outcome of the February 23 election that was declared in favour of Melaye and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
It therefore struck out the appeal Melaye lodged to challenge the majority decision of the tribunal that voided his re-election to the Senate.
The embattled lawmaker had in a 23- ground of appeal he raised through his team of lawyers led by Chief Ricky Tarfa, SAN, insisted that the majority decision of the tribunal occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice against him.
It will be recalled that the three-man panel tribunal led by Justice A.O Chijioke, had in a split decision of two-to-one, ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election for the Senatorial District.
The judgement followed a petition the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its candidate, Smart Adeyemi, filed to challenge the outcome of the senatorial poll which they said was marred by irregularities.
Adeyemi who is a one-time Senator, had alleged that the election was characterised by widespread over-voting, contending that it was not conducted in substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
The tribunal, in its majority verdict, allowed the petition and ordered fresh poll for the district.
However, in the notice of appeal dated September 5, Melaye, prayed the appellant court to nullify the tribunal’s verdict and declare that he was duly elected.
Melaye further prayed the Court of Appeal to sustain an objection he raised for the petition challenging his victory to be quashed.
Cited as respondents in the matter were Senator Adeyemi, the APC, PDP, and INEC.
Among issues, he raised for the court to determine included, whether the person that was sued at the Tribunal, being Senator Dino Melaye, is same as the person who contested the poll and declared winner of the election as contained on Form CF001 – Melaye Daniel Dino.
According to him, “The provision of the law is that the name as used in Form CF001 is the only valid name that can be used to challenge the election of the Appellant.
“The principle of equity accepted and applied by the majority members of the Tribunal cannot override the provisions of the law in respect of the petition.
“The judgement of the Tribunal was perverse and against the weight of evidence before it”.
The appellate court, however, dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decision of the tribunal that Adeyemi’s petition was meritorious.
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