Kogi Tribunal News: INEC Responds to SDP, Ajaka’s Petition

Kogi Tribunal News: INEC Responds to SDP, Ajaka's Petition

Kogi Tribunal News: INEC Responds to SDP, Ajaka’s Petition

On Monday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) took a significant step in the ongoing electoral dispute lodged by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate, Murtala Ajaka, challenging the victory of Gov. Usman Ododo. Represented by counsel Uchenna Njoku, who appeared on behalf of Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, INEC, submitted various electoral documents before the Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja.

These documents pertain to the gubernatorial election held on November 11, 2023, in Kogi State, where Gov. Usman Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) emerged as the winner. The SDP and its candidate contest this outcome, initiating legal action against INEC, Ododo, and the APC.

Before a three-member panel of justices led by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu, INEC presented various crucial documents, including regulations and guidelines for the conduct of the election, manuals for electoral officers, and official forms. Additionally, lists of accredited agents for the SDP and ward agents and receipts of payment for forms were tendered as evidence. Following their submission, Justice Birnin-Kudu admitted the documents as exhibits.

Subsequently, INEC’s counsel requested an adjournment to allow the electoral body to call its witnesses on the next hearing date. The judge granted this request, setting the continuation of the hearing for April 16.

In an earlier observation, Justice Birnin-Kudu noted that the timeframe for the SDP’s petition would expire on May 29. Accordingly, adjustments were made to the schedule, reducing the period for the respondents’ lawyers to present their case from 10 to five days. However, the panel assured flexibility, indicating a willingness to extend the timeline if necessary.

During these proceedings, APC’s counsel, Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, appealed to the tribunal not to shorten the allotted time for the respondents to prepare their defense. Although he assured the respondents that he would cooperate, Ukala requested that the original hearing schedule remain unchanged. The panel clarified that any adjustments to the schedule were made informally, off the record.

Led by Joseph Daudu, SAN, Gov. Ododo’s legal team, and Jibrin Okutepa, SAN, representing Ajaka, the SDP and its candidate concluded presenting their case on April 5 after calling 25 witnesses.


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