On Wednesday, the National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Kogi reserved judgment in a petition filed by Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against Abubakar Sadiku-Ohere of the All Progressive Congress (APC.
Ms Akpoti-Uduaghan, who lost the Kogi Central Senatorial seat to Mr Sadiku-Ohere in the February 25 polls by 369 votes, urged the tribunal to declare her the election winner.
When the case came up for adoption of written addresses before the tribunal led by Justice K.A. Ojiako, counsel to Mr Sadiku-Ohere, APC, and INEC, M.Y. Abdullahi (SAN), S.A. Abbas, and Dayo Akinlaja (SAN) as first, second, and third respondents, respectively, prayed the tribunal to dismiss her petition for lacking in merit.
Mr Akinlaja argued in his final written address that the petitioners, in paragraphs 31–44 of their petition, could not give concrete evidence as to their claims and therefore had only embarked on a mere academic exercise.
“My lord, in the absence of evidence in these crucial paragraphs, there’s no way this petition can stand. So l urge your lordship to dismiss the petition for lack of merit,” he argued.
Also, Mr Abdullahi, in his written address, alleged that no witness gave evidence to the claims of the petitioners, which means that they (the petitioners) only dumped documents on the tribunal without activating them.
“We pray that those paragraphs in which the petitioners couldn’t activate should be expunged and the petition be dismissed for want of evidence,” the counsel pleaded.
But counsel to Ms Akpoti-Uduaghan, Umeh Kalu (SAN), and Johnson Usman (SAN), in adopting their written address, debunked the claims of INEC and Mr Sadiku-Ohere and prayed the court to disregard their submissions and prayers and allow the petition.
Mr Usman said their address was explicit about their disagreement with the issues raised by INEC and Mr Sadiku-Ohere in their written addresses.
He sought that the court disregards the first and third respondents’ arguments.
“Again, the first and third respondents alleged we failed to activate our statements. What about Prosecution Witnesses (PWs) from the second to the 18th, who were eyewitnesses of all that happened at the polling units and came here and testified?
“Therefore, there are no other evidences that overshadow those of PW2-PW18. What’s even more concrete is that PW20 is an INEC official who gave evidence in this case.
“We have brought before this tribunal facts and figures, which your lordship only need to calculate and come out with the actual results of that election for the Kogi Central Senatorial seat.
“What’s more? We tendered three results on different occasions, and all these results are from the same origin and in contents, are clear as to our client’s victory, and mean that this petition stands unchallenged.
“If we just go by the results tendered and pick only one, which reads 751 votes that were suppressed, Akpoti-Uduaghan is a clear winner of that election.
“This is because they claimed Sadiku-Ohere won with only 369 votes. Consequently, if the 751 votes are added to Akpoti-Uduaghan’s, that one alone settles the matter and declares her the winner of that election,” Mr Usman argued.
After hearing from all the counsels as they adopted their written addresses with adumbrations, Justice Ojiako declared that the judgement had been reserved for a date to be communicated to all the parties involved.