The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Tuesday, affirmed the election victory of Natasha Akpoti-Uduagan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the Kogi Central Senatorial election held in February.
The three-member panel, in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Hamma Barka, upheld the judgment of the state’s election tribunal and dismissed the appeal filed by Sen. Abubakar Ohere of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The court agreed with the submission of counsel for Akpoti-Uduagan, Mr Johnson Usman, SAN, for being meritorious.
The panel agreed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to give good reason why it did not collate the results in parts of Kogi Central Senatorial District, particularly Ganaja/Ajaokuta Ward in nine polling units where election was conducted.
The appellate court equally agreed that the results of PDP and its candidate, Akpoti-Uduagan, in about eight polling units where election was conducted and results declared at the polling units, were suppressed by the ward returning officer at the ward level.
The panel agreed that the votes ought to have been restored and that the state’s election tribunal was right when it restored those votes
Justice Barka, in the judgment, awarded the sum of N500, 000 against Ohere, the appellant in the appeal marked: CA/ABJ/EP/SEN/KG/35/2023 between Ohere and another Vs. Akpoti-Uduagan and two others.
Besides, the judge also awarded the sum of N500, 000 against INEC in the appeal marked: CA/ABJ/EP/SEN/KG/57/2023 which the commission filed against Akpoti-Uduagan and three others.
BRANDPOWER reports that the Kogi State National and State Election Assemblies Tribunal, had, on Sept 6, declared Akpoti-Uduagan the validly elected candidate for the senatorial poll.
The tribunal also invalidated the victory of Sen. Ohere, after the PDP candidate filed the petition at the tribunal to challenge Ohere’s declaration as winner.
The Tribunal Chairman, Justice Kemakolam Ojiako, delivered the unanimous judgment of the three-man panel, revealing that Sen. Ohere’s results were inflated in nine polling units in the Ajaokuta Local Government Area.
He added that INEC reduced Akpoti-Uduagan’s results in those areas and omitted the results of other polling units meant for Akpoti-Uduagan in the same LGA.
Following the necessary corrections, the court declared Akpoti-Uduagan as the winner of the election with 54,074 votes, surpassing Ohere, who garnered 51,291 votes.
But unsatisfied, Ohere approached the Court of Appeal seeking to upturn the election.
INEC had declared Ohere as winner of the senatorial election held on Feb. 25.
INEC returning officer for the district, Rotimi Ajayi, had announced that Ohere garnered 52,132 votes to beat Natasha who had 51,763 votes, with 369 votes margin.
Speaking shortly after the judgment, Mr Usman, who appeared for Akpoti-Uduagan, said justice had been done to the people of Kogi Central Senatorial District, who came out enmass to vote for his client on Feb. 25.
“It is called the people’s mandate and justice has been done,” he said.
Also speaking, Sen. Dino Melaye, the PDP Candidate for the Nov. 11 Kogi governorship election, described the judgment as “victory for democracy.”
Melaye, who congratulated Akpoti-Uduagan, said his party would replicate the victory in the Nov. 11 election