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Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has reacted to the Tribunal judgement that dismissed a petition by Musa Wada, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), challenging his re-election.

Mr Bello of the All the All Progressives Congress (APC) said the judgement is a re-affirmation of his “landmark victory” of the November 16, 2019, election held in the state.

In a statement on Saturday by his spokesperson, Onogwu Muhammed, the governor said, “the landmark judgment affirming his landmark victory is a validation of the people’s mandate and an added impetus to his drive to do more for the good people of Kogi State.”

Mr Bello commended the tribunal for being “upright and just” and thanked the entire citizens of the state for their support.

“The Governor noted that with the majority ruling of the Tribunal dismissing the petition of PDP candidate Musa Wada today, the rule of law once again came to the defense of democracy by affirming the collective will of the people which was expressed on the 16th of November, 2019 when a vast, compelling majority of the electorate cast their votes for him to serve them for a second term,” the statement said.

“Describing the judgment as most comprehensive of outstanding thoroughness, reason, and stretch on the many issues presented before the tribunal, Bello noted that the judiciary remains the last hope of common man.”

The Kogi State Governorship election tribunal sitting in Abuja on Saturday had dismissed the petition brought before it by Mr Wada, challenging the re-election of Mr Bello as governor.

Mr Wada had approached the tribunal to challenge the re-election of Mr Bello and the APC.

In the election, Mr Bello polled 406,222 votes to defeat the (PDP)’s candidate, Mr Wada, who scored 189,704 votes.

The petitioners lawyer, Jibril Okutepa, had urged the tribunal to uphold the petition and declare Mr Wada as the duly elected governor of Kogi state.

Mr Okutekpa argued that his clients won the majority of lawful votes cast in the election.

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They called a total of 32 witnesses to prove their claim that the election was marred by irregularities, violence, ballot snatching and non-compliance with the electoral act and the constitution.

But Mr Bello and the APC’s lawyer, Joseph Daudu, said the petitioners were unable to prove their claims, and urged the court to dismiss the petition. Only one witness was called.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was represented by Alex Izinyon and no witness was called.

Tribunal’s decision

Delivering the judgement on Saturday, with one out of three justices dissenting, the court, led by, Kashim Kaigama, held that the petitioner failed to prove the allegations of over voting, massive thumb printing, voter intimidation and other electoral malpractices.

In his dissenting judgement, Justice Ohimai Ovbiagele, nullified the election of Mr Bello and ordered INEC to conduct fresh elections in 7 local government areas where the petitioners proved their allegations of over voting, thuggery, voter intimidation, massive thumb printing and other electoral malpractices.

The tribunal also awarded a cost of one million naira to be paid by the petitioners, PDP and Mr Wada to the respondents; INEC, Mr Bello and APC.

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