Law News
Kogi West: How tribunal upheld Melaye’s election

THE National Assembly and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Lokoja, Kogi State, yesterday, upheld the election of Senator Dino Melaye as the winner of Kogi West Senatorial polls.

The Justice Akon Ikpeme-led tribunal while delivering judgement on the petition brought by Senator Smart Adeyemi challenging Melaye’s victory, said the petitioners failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the March 28 election was fraught with irregularities and conducted without compliance with the Electoral Act.

Ikpeme refused to grant  the petitioner’s reliefs that Dino was not duly elected with the majority of votes cast; that Smart Adeyemi scored the majority of vote cast and ought to be declared winner; an order to declare Adeyemi as the winner;  an order to withdraw and nullify the Certificate of Return issued to Melaye, and an order that Adeyemi be issue the Certificate of Return.

*Sen. Smart Adeyemi

She said though the report of the recounted votes ordered by the tribunal shows that there were 2247 invalid votes counted for Melaye as revealed by the recounting exercise, it is not substantial enough to cancel the result initially declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC,  as the petitioners failed to produce an alternative result sheets.

“The petitioners have not justified the arithmetic manner they compute their votes; the petitioners also failed to plead their case voting unit by voting unit, ward by ward. there are 562 polling units in Kogi West Senatorial axis, and only 56 polling units were disputed by the petitioners.

“The petitioner could not prove that they scored the majority of votes cast and the disputed figures in the disputed polling units are not substantial enough to affect the result initially declared by the 3rd respondent – the INEC.

“The onus lies on the petitioners to prove beyond reasonable doubt the issue of criminality in the conduct of election and the non-compliance with the conduct of the election by the 3rd respondent (INEC) in non-compliance with the electoral act”.

Dino Melaye

On the alternative relief sought by Adeyemi over the no-conduct of primary by the All Progressives Congress, APC before presenting Melaye as itsr candidate, Ikpeme said though the State INEC presented that there was no primary by APC, but it based its judgement on the submission of the Abuja INEC witness, Ibrahim Sanni Mohamed, who presented the result of the primary election.

She said the issue of presenting the primary election on ordinary paper by the witness could not be substantive as the result presented by the witness was duly signed by the APC electoral officer who conducted the primary election.

She said not admitting the statement of the Abuja INEC witness will amount to basing the case on technicality against the directive of the Appeal Court, which ordered for it to be heard on justice and merit.

Ikpeme therefore ruled that all the five reliefs and alternative reliefs sought by the petitioners are refused as they are lacking in merit and doing otherwise will amount to futile academic exercise.

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