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Court of Appeal affirms Usman Ododo as Kogi governor

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has dismissed the appeal filed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its governorship candidate, Murtala Ajaka, challenging the judgment of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.

The tribunal had previously declared Usman Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the November 11, 2023, governorship election.

The appeal, submitted on June 14 by lead counsel Pius Akubo (SAN), argued that the tribunal’s decision resulted in a miscarriage of justice.

Ajaka and the SDP contended that the tribunal had erred in its judgment and requested the appellate court to overturn the decision, declaring Ajaka the rightful winner of the election.

Despite these arguments, the Court of Appeal, in its ruling on Thursday, upheld the tribunal’s decision. The judgment reaffirmed Usman Ododo’s victory, dismissing the allegations of over-voting and questioning of Ododo’s eligibility to contest.

The Kogi State election, held off-cycle on November 11, 2023, was marred by allegations of rigging and vote-buying. Nevertheless, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Ododo the winner, listing him, INEC, and the APC as respondents in the petition filed by the SDP and Ajaka.

The appellants had also sought to overturn the judgment of the tribunal’s panel led by Justice Ado Yusuf Birnin Kudu, delivered on May 27. They requested that the appellate court restore the testimony of their first witness and other critical documents tendered to prove the alleged electoral malpractice.

Despite these efforts, the Court of Appeal found no merit in the appeal, thereby solidifying Ododo’s position as the duly elected governor of Kogi State.

The ruling marks a significant conclusion to the contentious electoral dispute and confirms the APC’s hold on the governorship seat in Kogi State.

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