Kogi West: Adeyemi tenders evidence of over-voting

Senator Smart Adeyemi has closed his case before the National/House of Assembly Election Tribunal where he’s challenging the pronouncement of Senator Dino Melaye as the winner of the Kogi west 2019 senatorial election.

Counsel to Adeyemi, Chief Toyin Adeniyi before closing his case had called on three witnesses; Senator Smart Adeyemi (star witness), the Adeyemi Campaign Organization, director general, Mr Adoga Ibrahim, and the Kogi west zonal chairman of the APC, Mr Ropo Asala, who were also cross examined by the respondents’ counsels.

The former chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Senator Adeyemi had tendered the certified copies of the lists of Permanent Voters Cards for two local government areas to the Kogi National Assembly/ state Assembly Election Tribunal where he alleged over-voting took place during the senatorial poll.

The PVCs of the local governments tendered were those of Ijumu and Lokoja.

Adeyemi, who is battling Senator Dino Melaye at the tribunal for Kogi West senatorial district, also submitted a court judgment which ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to collate results in Kabba, which is the headquarters of the district.

Although the court judgment on Kabba was secured by Dino ahead of the 2019 poll, INEC collated and announced the results in Lokoja in defiance of the court order.

Adeyemi’s team, led by Chief Anthony alongside Barr Dapo Otitoju engaged the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and Melaye’s counsels,(Barr O. Jolaawo and Barr Olowookere) at the tribunal on two issues bordering on the admission of the Federal High Court ruling and the acceptance of the lists of PVCs.

Adeyemi’s legal team said: “The argument centred on the admissibility or otherwise of the ruling of the Federal High Court, Lokoja procured by the 1st respondent as to whether to collate the senatorial district results in Lokoja or in Kabba which is the senatorial district headquarters.

“Not collating and announcing the February 23rd National Assembly election results of Kogi west senatorial Ddistrict in Kabba, the senatorial headquarters amounted to a breach of not just the ruling of the federal high court, Lokoja but the 1999 constitution.

“The issue of Kabba being the headquarters of Kogi west senatorial district is a constitutional provision and the Electoral Act.

“Also the certified true copy of PVCs distribution from INEC office Lokoja indicates that the votes from two local governments were almost thrice the number of PVCs distributed. The two local governments where over-voting took place are Ijumu and Lokoja governments.

Under the cross- examination of Adeyemi, he told the tribunal that he alongside APC Kogi west senatorial chairman, Hon. Ropo Asala and other party agents were waiting in Kabba for the arrival of the Kogi west senatorial collation and returning officers of the results from the seven local governments in Kogi west senatorial district for the final collation and announcement only to be told that INEC officers had left for Lokoja.

The chairman of the tribunal, Justice A. O. Chijioke authorized the acceptance of the Lokoja federal high court’s verdict as evidence.

Adeyemi sought a “declaration that the Certificate of Return issued by the INEC to Melaye as the winner of Senatorial Election for Kogi West Senatorial District held on the 23rd of February, 2019 is null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”

He asked for an order “cancelling the results of the entire six local governments in the district, namely Lokoja local government, Kabba/ Bunu LGA, Ijumu LGA, Yagba West LGA, Yagba East LGA, Mopa-Amuro LGA, for non-compliance with the electoral act and for the 1st respondent not being elected by majority of lawful votes due to over-voting.”

He urged the tribunal to “direct INEC to conduct a fresh election into the seat of Kogi West Senatorial District.”

But Senator Melaye claimed that Adeyemi was suing a wrong person at the tribunal and asked the court to dismiss the application demanding the cancellation of his election. 

Only the petitioner’s letter requesting for INEC PVC distribution was regarded as “tendered but rejected” by the tribunal, but all certified documents of PVC distribution were accepted.

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