Kogi Guber: Court of Appeal Submerging Powers of Tribunal, Group Alleges

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The Northern Initiative for the Defence of Democracy and Justice has accused the Court of Appeal of overstepping its bounds by interfering with the authority of the Kogi State Governorship Petition Tribunal.

Nureeddeen Sadiq, the group’s coordinator, expressed concern during a press conference in Abuja, stating that such unchecked intervention could spell trouble for both the judiciary and the nation as a whole.

The organization stressed that the tribunal, being a direct fact-finding body, possesses the necessary authority to issue directives and orders regarding its operations in order to fulfill its responsibilities.

It cited several orders made by the tribunal on November 25, 2023, in favor of the petitioners—Muritala Ajaka and the Social Democratic Party (SDP)—including an order for the inspection of electoral materials used in the November 11, 2023, Governorship Election in Kogi State.

These orders noted by the group, were duly served on Usman Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by substituted means on December 18, 2023, along with the petition.

Additionally, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the first respondent in the petition, convened a meeting on December 29, 2023, with all concerned parties to discuss compliance modalities.

During this meeting, held at the INEC headquarters, agreements were reached to commence inspections on January 4, 2024. However, on January 1, 2024, J B Daudu, SAN, representing Ododo, stated that his client had instructed him not to participate in the inspection, claiming he had not been personally served with the inspection orders.

Despite this, Ododo’s lawyer filed a motion to set aside the inspection on the grounds of improper service.
The motion was opposed by the petitioners’ legal team, and the tribunal ultimately dismissed it.
Subsequently, Ododo appealed this decision at the Court of Appeal.

According to the group coordinator “The Nigeria judiciary is at it again, with the recent Appeal Court’s decision in Abuja attempting to revise and over-rule the earlier decision of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting also in Abuja.”

“The earlier decision of the tribunal was that all parties involved in the case should jointly inspect the materials used in the 11th November, 2023 governorship election, which should be a major path to determine the veracity of claims and counter-claims at the tribunal.”

“It came as a major surprise to many of us in the Northern Initiative for the Defence of Democracy and Justice who have been following the activities and openness of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.”

“This is just the first time in recent years that an appellate court will be meddling, interrupting and submerging the true powers of a tribunal and trying to distract it from performing its traditional role.”

“Our fear is that if such unhindered interruption is allowed then, the future is blink for the judiciary and the entire country.”

He added: “The appeal was duly heard, and judgment was delivered on the 1st of March 2024.

“In the judgment delivered on 1st March 2024, the Court of Appeal agreed that the tribunal was right to hold that Ahmed Ododo was duly served.”

“The court also agreed that the tribunal has the power to make the orders of inspections it made except orders G, K, and N. The Court of Appeal then ordered that inspections done be set aside and fresh inspections conducted with Ododo participating.”

The group however maintained that the orders granted by the Court of Appeal were never prayed for either in the motion filed on the 9th of January 2024 or in the Notice of Appeal filed on the 9th of February 2024.

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