Governor Yahaya Bello has hailed the Kogi State National and State Assembly Election Tribunal for nullifying the election that returned Dino Melaye as senator for the 9th National Assembly.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice A.O Chijioke, had on Friday in Abuja ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election after sacking Senator Melaye as the representative of Kogi West.
Concise News reports 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.
Reacting, governor Bello noted that the Tribunal had earlier upheld the elections of APC’s candidates in the Central and Eastern axis of the state where David Zacharias of Idah Federal Constituency and Hon Joseph Bello Asuku of Adavi/Okehi Federal Constituency had their victories affirmed.
He said that the decision further vindicated the judiciary as an unbiased, independent and impartial body.
This news medium understands that the governor is at loggerheads with Melaye.
“The court did not give its judgement based on whimsical grounds but acted on the basis of the merits and demerits of the case before it,” a statement from Bello’s media aide, Onogwu Muhammed, read.
“The election Tribunal and the entire Judiciary, therefore, merits our commendation for it has further strengthened the democratic and electioneering processes in Nigeria.
“For upholding the petition by Senator Smart Adeyemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and ordered that a fresh election be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the tribunal, led by Justice A.O. Chijioke has proved to the world that the people’s mandate was stolen in the last Kogi West Senatorial Election.”
Congratulating Adeyemi, Bello said he was hopeful that the Court of Appeal would uphold the judgment, insisting that the ruling had confirmed that the election which produced Melaye as winner was fraught with irregularities.
Reacting to the outcome of the judgment, Melaye said he would get judgment at the Court of Appeal.
”On Tribunal judgment. No cause for alarm at all. Even if it went my way they will still go to the Appeal Court. Our mandate can not be taken. We will get judgment at the Appeal Court,” he said.
”There will be a fresh election in Kogi West because I will be Governor. For my Senate mandate, no shaking.”
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.