SEN. Adeyemi
Senator Dino Melaye and Senator Smart Adeyemi

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja

The Kogi State National and State Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, on Wednesday, affirmed Smart Adeyemi of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the validly elected Senator for Kogi West Senatorial District.

In a unanimous decision, the three-man tribunal that was chaired by Justice Isa Sambo, dismissed the petition that was lodged by candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Dino Melaye.

The tribunal held that Melaye and PDP, failed to prove that Adeyemi was wrongfully returned as winner of the Senatorial election held in the state on November 16, 2019, as well as the supplementary election that held on November 30, 2019.

The panel further held that the evidence that was adduced by the petitioners was not sufficient to sustain their case.

Justice Khadi Adamu Usman who delivered the lead judgement stressed that the petitioners were unable to prove that the election was not only characterized by manifest irregularities but was not conducted in compliance with the Electoral Act.

Specifically, the tribunal noted that whereas election was conducted in 173 polling units, the petitioners, merely called witnesses in respect of 48 polling units.

It further noted that aside from the fact that the petitioner did not lead evidence in respect of 125 polling units, out of 257 proposed witnesses, only 71 of them were bought to testify in the matter.

It held that most of the witnesses gave contradictory, conflicting, hearsay and unreliable evidence that was not capable of sustaining allegations the petitioners raised in their petition.

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Besides, the tribunal, rejected the evidence of the first petitioner, Melaye, saying it was contradictory and unreliable.

Dismissing the case for want of merit, the tribunal held: “The position of the law is that once an election result has been declared by the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the result enjoys the presumption of regularity of the result as the burden is on the person challenging the result or the return to lead evidence to prove that the result to disprove the result.

“The petitioners failed to discharge this burden by proving their allegation of irregularities in accordance with the requirement of the law.

“This tribunal is of the firm belief that Exhibits P39 (1) & (2) are the only results known to law regarding the election held on the 16th of November 2019 and that supplementary election held on the 30th of November 2019.

“Having meticulously perused the averments in petition, the replies filed by the respondent sand the replies on point of law filed by the petitioners, and all the testimonies of the witnesses called by the petitioners, and read the final written addresses filed by all the counsel and the replies on point of law filed thereon, the tribunal is convinced that the petitioners failed in discharging the burden of proving their petition.

“The tribunal finds that the petitioners failed to lead credible evidence to prove their allegations”, Justice Usman added.

Vanguard News Nigeria.

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