Kogi Central: Tribunal Declares PDP’s Natasha Winner, Sacks APC Senator

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BY VICTOR BUORO – The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Kogi State has declared Natasha Akpoti-Uduagan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the February 25 National Assembly (NASS) election in the Kogi Central Senatorial district.

In a unanimous judgment delivered by the three-member panel, the tribunal nullified the victory of Senator Abubakar Ohere as earlier declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

According to the ruling read by the Tribunal Chairman, Justice K. A. Orjiako, Ohere’s results were inflated in nine (9) polling units of Ajaokuta Local Government Area in the said election.

The Tribunal further added that votes of the PDP candidate in the contested election were intentionally reduced in nine (9) polling units by the INEC Ward Collation officers.

Also, Justice Orjiako stated that three (3) other polling units results were deliberately not entered for the PDP candidate in the same LGA.

Additionally, the tribunal chairman said the PDP flag bearer’s result in the contentious nine (9) polling units of Ajaokuta LGA was 1,073 compared to the 77 that was recorded by the Ward Collation officers, noting that the votes recorded for the APC candidate was inflated to 1,553 against the actual figure of 1,031.

Consequently, the Judge declared thus; “The Tribunal is also convinced that the petitioner’s 996 votes in polling units 009, 046 and O49 polling units of Ganaja village of Ajaokuta LGA was deliberately not recorded at the Ward Collation centre.”

Furthermore, the tribunal held that it is not the duty of collation officers to reject results submitted by presiding officers from polling units in election that followed the electoral guidelines substantially.

“The issues raised by the petitioner is hereby resolved in favour of the petitioners and after making the proper correction, Natasha Akpoti-Uduagan (PDP) having polled 54,074 against Abubakar Ohere (APC), who polled 51,291, is hereby declared the authentic winner”, Justice Orjiako said.

Subsequently, the tribunal ordered the third respondent (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Ohere and issue same to the PDP Candidate.

The Tribunal also blasted INEC for deliberately going out of its mandate of conducting a free and fair election by conniving with political parties to subvert the will of the people.

It therefore ordered the Electoral umpire to pay the sum of N500,000 to the PDP candidate for “subverting justice” in the Senatorial election.

Responding to the Tribunal judgment, counsel to the PDP candidate, Johnson Usman (SAN) said justice has been done with the true winner of the Central Senatorial District poll now validated.

The Senior Lawyer told reporters that; “This is victory for people of Kogi Central Senatorial district, victory for Kogi on general and victory for the election processes”.

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