Appeal Court Vacates Inspection Order Granted To SDP By Kogi Tribunal

The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Friday, set aside the inspection order granted to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate, Murtala Ajaka, by the Kogi State governorship election petition tribunal.

The tribunal sitting in Abuja had on November 25, 2023, granted an ex-parte order allowing the SDP and its candidate to carry out a forensic examination of all the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) used in the November 11, 2023 election, among other reliefs.

The three-member panel led by Justice J.O.K. Oyewole in a unanimous ruling vacated the order because it went outside the provisions of the Electoral Act.

Other members of the panel are – Justices A. I. Banjoko and A.B. Mohammed.

Justice Oyewole, who delivered the judgement, held that while the inspection was allowed under the Electoral Act, it must be jointly carried out with the respondents and the scope of the inspection should be within the strict limit allowed under the Act.

He said: “The ex parte order made by the trial tribunal on the 25th November 2023 at the instance of the 1st and 2nd respondents are within the jurisdictional competence of the said tribunal.”

“However, paragraphs ‘g’, ‘k’, and ‘n’ thereof are beyond the scope of Section 146 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022. The said paragraphs ‘g’, ‘k’, and ‘n’ are hereby expunged.”

“The inspection purportedly done pursuant to the said orders of the trial tribunal without the presence of the appellant violates paragraph ‘h’ of the said orders and it is hereby set aside,” the panel ruled

The SDP was represented in court by Pius Akubo (SAN) while Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) appeared for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The Kogi State Governor, Usman Ododo, was represented by J.B. Daudu (SAN) while Abdulwahab Muhammed (SAN) stood for the All Progressives Congress (APC).