BREAKING: Kogi tribunal upholds Governor Ododo’s victory, dismisses SDP’s petition

Murtala Ajaka, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) governorship candidate in Kogi State, has suffered a setback as the Kogi Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja ruled against his petition challenging the election victory of Governor Usman Ododo.

The tribunal delivered its judgment on Monday, May 27, dismissing Ajaka’s petition. 

The petition had been filed in the wake of the off-cycle election held on November 11, 2023, which was marred by allegations of rigging and vote-buying.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the contentious election. 

Ajaka and the SDP contested the outcome, citing irregularities and seeking to overturn the results.

In a crucial hearing on Friday, April 26, legal representatives for INEC, Ododo, and the APC opposed the move by Ajaka’s lawyer, Jibrin Okutepa (SAN), to introduce Edidiong Udoh, a digital forensic expert, as a witness. 

Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), Alex Iziyon (SAN), and Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), representing INEC, Ododo, and APC respectively, argued that the forensic expert’s name was not included in the initial proof of evidence and that his witness statement was not submitted alongside the petition.

Furthermore, the respondents contended that they were served the expert’s analysis report only 20 minutes before the commencement of the proceedings, which they argued was insufficient notice.

Despite Okutepa’s insistence that the forensic expert was listed on Page 56 of the petition as item 10 and that his statement was indeed front-loaded, the tribunal ruled against the petitioners.

The tribunal’s ruling marks the end of this particular legal battle, although it remains to be seen whether Ajaka and the SDP will pursue further legal options at the Court of Appeal. 

The article was originally published on Politics Nigeria.

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