Tribunal sacks Kogi Speaker

  • Friday, September 21, 2007 - By EMMANUEL ADEYEMI, Lokoja
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Kogi State Election Petitions Tribunal on Tuesday, in Lokoja, nullified the election of Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Chief Clarence Olafemi, who was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for Mopamuro Constituency in the last general elections.

In his one hour ruling, the tribunal chairman, Justice Ibrahim Maiketa Bako, said that going by the evidences and testimonies presented by witnesses before the tribunal, it was clear that there were large scale irregularities in more than 50 per cent of the 10 wards, where voting took place in the constituency.
Also the tribunal chairman said that both the oral and written testimonies presented by the first respondent, Chief Clarence Olafemi, were laden with contradictions and could therefore not be relied upon by the tribunal.

Justice Bako also ruled that the tribunal, having studied carefully the evidence, discovered that the PDP witnesses were not consistent in their testimonies, adding that it was established that they lied to the tribunal.

It, therefore, nullified the election and ordered for a fresh election within 60 days after the ruling.
The Action Congress (AC) candidate, who is the petitioner, Chief Ben Abereoran, had, through his counsel, Mr. Job Ohieku, challenged the election of the PDP candidate at the election tribunal, arguing that the election was marred with widespread irregularities and prayed the tribunal to declare him winner.
Reacting to the ruling, counsel to the Speaker, Mr. Umar Mohammed, said his client was not bound to abide by the tribunal ruling, adding that the tribunal had no jurisdiction to rule on the matter since the petitioner had abandoned his case mid-way in the course of proceedings.

In a press statement signed by the Special Assistant to the Speaker on Media and Public Relations, Chief Kola Toluhi, the Speaker expressed willingness to appeal against the ruling, saying the mandate given to him by the people of his constituency could not be subdued since, according to him, his opponent only filed complaints in respect of four of the 52 units in the constituency.
Speaking with journalists, chairman of AC in Kogi State, Chief Mike Adeleye, said the tribunal’s ruling was just and fair and called for jubilation.

He commended the judiciary for standing by the truth, adding that with this ruling, the AC and Nigerians were more convinced that the judiciary remained the last hope of the common man.
"We are now assured that if the PDP steals our mandate, the judiciary will restore it back to us," he said.

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