Kogi Tribunal: INEC Given 48 Hours to Release Election Materials

The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Kogi State has given the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) 48 hours to issue certified copies of electoral materials on the November 11 off-cycle election in the state to the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

It also ordered INEC to allow SDP’s forensic experts to examine some electoral materials.

The materials include the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS) and result sheets for Adavi, Okene, Okehi, Ogori-Magongo, Ajaokuta, Lokoja, Kogi and Bassa Local Government Areas.

The tribunal ruled on Saturday in Lokoja that the SDP requested the materials to prove its case in the petition it filed against the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the election.

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The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu gave the order following two ex-parte motions filed on November 19 by the SDP and by its governorship candidate, Alhaji Muritala Yakubu-Ajaka.

Justice Birnin-Kudu said the orders became imperative in view of the time constraints the tribunal had to discharge its mandate.

“The order is in compliance with Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution (as amended) and with the Electoral Act (2022).

“INEC is hereby ordered to produce all the documents being sought by the plaintiffs within 48 hours to enable proceedings to go smoothly and without hitches,’’ he declared.

SDP and Yakubu-Ajaka earlier filed seven ex-parte motions to support their demand but withdrew five and pursued two.

Lead counsel to the petitioners, John Adele (SAN), had earlier told the court that efforts made to obtain certified copies of materials used in the six local government areas from INEC had been fruitless.

“Time is of the essence in this matter, and that is why we filed the motions to your lordship to help to salvage the situation.

“Each time we approached INEC since November 13, its officials failed to avail us with even one of the electoral materials for which we requested.

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“We believe that if your lordship grants our application, INEC will do the needful to enable us to prosecute this case within the time limit,’’ he prayed the tribunal.

Justice Birnin-Kudu adjourned the case to Wednesday, November 29 for the submission of the report of compliance by INEC and continuation of the hearing.

The SDP and Yakubu-Ajaka are challenging the victory of APC and its candidate, Alhaji Usman Ododo at the election petition tribunal.

INEC declared Ododo as the winner of the election with 446,237 votes, while his closest rival, Yakubu-Ajaka got 259,052 votes.

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