Nigerian Lawyer Argues Petition is Statute-Barred in Kogi Governorship Tribunal Filing Dispute

Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal hears arguments from parties involved in SDP's petition challenging Governor Usman Ododo's victory. Tribunal reserves judgment after listening to arguments on petition's competence and timeliness.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Nigerian Lawyer Argues Petition is Statute-Barred in Kogi Governorship Tribunal Filing Dispute

Nigerian Lawyer Argues Petition is Statute-Barred in Kogi Governorship Tribunal Filing Dispute

The Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, heard arguments on Saturday from parties involved in a petition filed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate, Murtala Ajaka, challenging the victory of Governor Usman Ododo in the November 11, 2023 governorship poll. Governor Ododo, his party the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition, citing incompetence and lack of merit.

Why this matters: The outcome of this tribunal's judgment will have significant implications for the political landscape in Kogi State and potentially influence the trajectory of future elections in Nigeria. A ruling in favor of the petitioners could set a precedent for challenging election results, while a ruling in favor of the respondents could reinforce the status quo.

INEC's counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi, argued that the petition lacked merit and was incompetent, citing recent judgments by the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. "It is our humble submission that your work in the determination of this petition is simplified in recent judgments by the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court," Agabi stated. He also contended that the evidence presented by the petitioners was grossly insufficient, referencing a Supreme Court decision in a case by Tonye Cole against INEC.

Governor Ododo's counsel, Joseph Daudu, raised a key argument that the petition was statute-barred and filed out of time, citing Section 122(1) and (2)(a) of the Evidence Act. "The petition was filed out of time... When it comes to filing, it is what the secretary of the tribunal says that determines the date of filing," Daudu asserted. However, Ajaka's lawyer, Pius Akubo, disagreed with Daudu's argument, describing it as a fresh argument.

The tribunal reserved the matter for judgment after listening to all parties. The petitioners called 25 witnesses out of the scores listed, with only 3.6% of their witness depositions adopted. The respondents argued that the petitioners failed to file witness depositions beforehand, contravening the Supreme Court's decision in Obungado's case. They also contended that the evidence contained in the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines fell short of what is required by law.

The Kogi State governorship election petition tribunal's judgment will determine the fate of Governor Usman Ododo's election victory. The arguments presented by both sides centered on the competence and timeliness of the petition filed by the SDP and its candidate. As the tribunal weighs the evidence and submissions, the decision will have significant implications for the political landscape in Kogi State.

Key Takeaways

  • Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal hears arguments from parties.
  • SDP and candidate Murtala Ajaka challenge Governor Usman Ododo's victory.
  • Respondents (Ododo, APC, INEC) urge tribunal to dismiss petition due to incompetence and lack of merit.
  • Tribunal reserves judgment after listening to all parties' arguments.
  • Judgment will determine fate of Governor Ododo's election victory and impact Kogi State's political landscape.