The Kogi State National and State Assembly Election Tribunal has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election after sacking Senator Dino Melaye as the representative of Kogi West.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice A.O Chijioke, gave the order while delivering the judgment on Friday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
Concise News understands that the Tribunal delivered the judgment on the back of the petition filed by Smart Adeyemi, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the February 23 election.
Adeyemi, Melaye’s predecessor, had asked the Tribunal to nullify the election on the grounds that there were cases of irregularities including over-voting and non-compliance with the electoral act.
Kogi West election
Concise News had reported that Melaye polled a total of 85,395 votes to defeat his APC opponent, who scored 66,902 votes, according to INEC.
Melaye won in six of the seven local government areas that make up Kogi West. The areas are Lokoja, Mopa Muro, Kabba/Bunu, Ijumu, Yagba East, and Yagba West. Adeyemi won in Kogi/Koton Karfe.
But the APC candidate, Adeyemi, rejected the results, as he went on to challenge Melaye’s victory on three grounds.
The grounds were: irregularities, over voting, and non-compliance with the electoral act.
Interestingly, Melaye was in APC for the 2015 elections, while Adeyemi ran on the PDP platform. Both then switched parties for the 2019 polls.
Melaye, Adeyemi battle at Tribunal
At one of the sittings, counsel to the petitioner, Toyin Adeniyi, called three witnesses to further prove that Melaye did not win the election and should not have been declared the winner.
The witnesses were Adeyemi, who was the star witness, the Director-General, Adeyemi Campaign Organisation, Adoga Ibrahim, and the Kogi west zonal Chairman of APC, Ropo Asala, who were also cross-examined by the respondents’ counsels.
Adeyemi’s counsel said the change of collation centres gave room for all the manipulations, tampering, mutilations of results sheets and other irregularities witnessed in the election results.
He also prayed the court to admit the INEC letter of a certified true copy of the list of PVC distributions in the senatorial axis which indicate over voting in three of the challenged LGAs of Yagba West, Lokoja and Ijumu.
However, counsel to 2nd and 3rd Respondents, (PDP and INEC) asked the tribunal to reject the INEC letter of PVC distribution because it was not “listed or front-loaded” by the petitioners at the beginning of the petition.
Chairman of the three-man panel, Justice O. A Chijoke declined to accept INEC letter of PVC distribution, saying it should be marked as “tendered but rejected”.