The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Thursday upheld the judgment of the Election Petition Tribunal which gave victory to Gov. Yahaya Bello in the 2015 Kogi governorship election.
Five of the candidates and their political parties, who contested in the Nov. 21 and Dec. 5, 2015 governorship elections, contested Bello’s victory at the tribunal.
The appellants contended that Bello’s election as governor did not follow due process. The candidates were Mr James Faleke of All Progressives Congress (APC), and Capt. Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Others were Mr Phillip Salawu of Labour Party (LP), Akwu Goodman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), and Emmanuel Ozigi of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA).
It will be recalled that the tribunal had, between June 8 and June 12, delivered judgment against the candidates and their parties and held that Bello was validly elected.
The candidates and their parties proceeded to the Appeal Court to challenge the tribunal’s judgment.
Justice Hannatu Shanki on Thursday dismissed Faleke’s appeal for lack of merit adding that he did not adduce facts to support his argument right from the tribunal.
“No fact was pleaded to substantiate the issue of qualification and condition which the respondent must meet to contest for election as enunciated in sections 177 and 182 of the 1999 Constitution.
“The nomination of a candidate is outside the tribunal’s jurisdiction, so, it was right to dismiss the issue.
“The appellant was not right to raise the issue of qualification; it is a decision for the nominating party.
“No one can contest election without being sponsored by a party; therefore, relief sought by the appellant to nullify the election is hereby dismissed’’, Shanki said.
Justice Owoade Mojeed also dismissed the appeal filed by Capt. Idris Wada of the PDP, for lacking in merit. According to Mojeed, the evidences provided before the tribunal by the appellant’s witnesses were only based on hearsay and were not pleaded.
“The appellant is supposed to have related each document to specific points of his pleading; we are in the same page with the tribunal that the appeal lacked merit.
“A political party has no right to interfere in the activities of another party since he is not a member of that party.
“Therefore, there is no ground for the appellant to contest qualification in accordance with Section 177 of the 1999 constitution.
“Some polling agents did not only testify that they were present during the election but were in their various polling units.
So, the appellant did not satisfy the court in some of his allegations’’, Mojeed said.
However, Justice Ita Mbamba gave a dissenting judgment in the appeal filed by Wada seeking to over-turn the tribunal’s judgement that declared Bello winner of the election. Mbamba, in his judgement, nullified the election that saw Bello emerge as governor of Kogi and set-aside the Certificate of Return.
According to him, a fresh governorship election should be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) within 90 days.
Other appeals in the case before the court such as those by LP, APGA and African Democratic Congress were all dismissed on technical grounds and for lacking in merit.