Kogi Guber: Tribunal Upholds Governor Ododo’s Victory, Dismisses Ajaka’s Petition


The Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Monday, May 27, 2024, affirmed the election of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 11, 2023 election inKogi State, Governor Usman Ahmed Ododo.

The three-member panel of justices, headed by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu, held that the petition filled by the Governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr Murtala Ajaka was bereft of substance thus, dismissed.

The panel of Justices also held that the petitioners; the SDP and its candidate, Murtala Ajaka, failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the allegations of over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2022 in their petition.

Accordingly, the Tribunal panel members unanimously held that all the witness’ evidence filed before it were incompetent and full of inconsistencies while the panel members agreed with the submissions of the respondents that the allegations of forgery raised in the petition were pre-election matters which ought to have been raised 14 days after the documents were submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).


Governor Ododo, the candidate of the APC was declared winner of the off-cycle election held in Kogi State on November 11, 2023 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after thrashing his closest rival, Ajaka of the SDP with a wide margin.

However, dissatisfied with the result of the election, the SDP governorship candidate, Murtala Ajaka filed a petition before the tribunal to challenge Ododo’s victory.

The case, which commenced in December 2023, climaxed to a critical stage on May 13, 2024 when the SDP and its candidate, Ajaka, the APC, Governor Ododo and INEC adopted their final written addresses, after which the tribunal reserved judgement in the petition for May 27, 2024.

The fixing of the judgement date followed the adoption of their final written addresses in the course of the proceedings by the parties.

Ajaka, in the petition listed INEC, Ododo and the APC as 1st to 3rd respondents respectively.

But, when the case was called on Friday, April 26, INEC, Ododo and APC’s lawyers opposed the move by Jibrin Okutepa, SAN, to lead a witness, Edidiong Udoh, a digital forensic expert in evidence.
This was just as Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, Alex Iziyon, SAN and Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, counsels to INEC, Ododo and APC respectively argued that the petitioners did not list the name of the witness in their proof of evidence, stressing that the witness statement on oath was not front-loaded alongside the petition.
The three Counsels contended that the petitioners served the reports of the witness’ analysis on them 20 minutes before the commencement of the proceedings.
In his submission, Counsel to the SDP Governorship candidate, Mr. Okutepa, SAN, said that the forensic expert was listed on Page 56 of the petition as item 10, adding that his statement was also front-loaded.

But, INEC, Ododo and his party, the APC prayed the tribunal to dismiss Ajaka and SDP’s petition in its entirety for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

The trio had, through their lawyers; Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN; Joseph Daudu, SAN and Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, respectively, prayed the tribunal while adopting their final written addresses and presenting their arguments against the petition.

However, Ajaka’s lawyer, Pius Akubo, SAN, urged the tribunal to discountenance the respondents’ submissions and uphold their petition which the members of the Tribunal turned down and dismissed the petition.

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