The Governorship election tribunal for Kogi State sitting in Abuja has upheld the election of Yahaya Bello as governor of the state for a second term.
The tribunal affirmed that Yahaya Bello polled 406,222 votes to defeat his closest rival, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate Musa Wada who polled 189,704 votes in the 2019 election.
The Governorship election in the State was largely marred by violence, ballot snatching and harrasment of voters by security forces led by the Police in the state.
At least two people lost their lives during and after the elections including a PDP woman leader who was burnt to death in her home and nephew of former senator Dino Melaye who was shot by ballot box snatchers.
The PDP candidate, Musa Wada challenged the outcome of the poll at the tribunal on the grounds that he won the most lawful votes.
Counsel to Wada, Jibril Okutekpa urged the tribunal to uphold his client’s petition and declare him as winner of the petition in place of incumbent, Yahaya Bello.
Jibril had also called 32 witnesses to the stand who testified that the election was marred with violence, voter fraud, ballot snatching and non compliance with the electoral act as well as the constitution.
Counsel to Yahaya Bello, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) Joseph Daudu argued that the petitioners couldn’t prove their case beyond reasonable doubt and urged the court to dismiss the petition.
The defendants presented only one witness throughout the hearing.
The National Electoral Commission (INEC) represented by Alex Izinyon also refused to produce a witness during proceedings.
Two out of three judges on the tribunal ruled in favour of Yahaya Bello while One, Ohimai Ovbiagele favoured PDP’s Wada.
The dissenting judge upheld the view that the election should be nullified and fresh elections be conducted in seven local government areas because the petitioners were able to prove their allegations of voter fraud, thuggery, intimidation of voters as well as other malpractices.
The majority Judgement, read by Kashim Kaigama however, stated that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations and ordered them to pay N500,000 to each of the respondents in the case.