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Kogi West: Appeal Court Reserves Judgment In Dino Melaye’s Appeal

The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Tuesday reserved judgment
in three separate appeals brought before it by Senator Dino
Melaye challenging the decision of the National Assembly
Election Petition Tribunal, which, last month quashed his
election as the Senator Representing Kogi West Senatorial
District at the National Assembly.
The three separate appeals were brought by the Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP), Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC ) and Dino Melaye, praying the appellate
court to set aside the majority decision of the tribunal and
restore the victory of Dino Melaye.
Justice Abubakar Datti Yahaya, who presided over the
three-member panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal that
sat on the appeals announced that the date for the delivery
of judgement would be communicated to parties as it is
PDP, represented by Jubrin Okutepa (SAN) in his final
argument prayed the Appeal Court to set aside the majority
decision of the tribunal against Melaye on the ground of
denial of fair hearing and refusal to evaluate evidence
adduced during the hearing of the petition.
The party claimed that the tribunal failed to evaluate the
testimonies of its witnesses while no reference was made to
all the documentary evidence it supplied before the tribunal
came to a wrong conclusion of over voting, even when the
petitioner did not tender voter register.
The party, on its platform that Dino contested and won the
election, urged the Court of Appeal to invoke section 16 of
the Court of Appeal Act and dismiss the appeal for lacking
in merit.
In the second appeal filed by INEC, through its lawyer, Kola
Olowokere, the Appeal Court was urged to dismiss the
allegation of mutilation of election results and favouring a
particular candidate as alleged by the petitioner, Senator
Smart Adeyemi.
The electoral body argued that finding of over voting by the
tribunal was wrong and baseless because the voter register
and result of election in 2015 tallied with the result in the
disputed area.
The electoral body alleged that the tribunal did not evaluate
the exhibits it tendered to prove that there was no over
voting and pleaded that appeal be allowed.
In the third appeal filed by Dino Melaye and argued by Dr.
Onyeachi Ikpeazu (SAN), the appellate court was urged to
set aside the over voting decision of the tribunal because it
was based on hearsay instead of polling units agents’ result.
Ikpeazu drew the attention of the Justices to the fact that
only three witnesses were called, adding that the evidence
of the three witnesses based on hearsay cannot justify the
cancellation of the senatorial election.
Melaye’s counsel further submitted that mutilation of result
sheet was untenable because the final result of senatorial
election was endorsed by agents of the candidates and the
parties, and that the petitioners failed to establish that the
alleged mutilated result substantially affected the final result
However, Senator Adeyemi and the All Progressives
Congress (APC) pleaded with the appellate court to dismiss
the tree petitions because the petitioners were not denied
fair hearing and that the tribunal based its findings on over
voting on the report of INEC which comprehensively
contained the number of collected voter cards, unit by unit.
Adeyemi and APC through their counsel, Adekunle Otitoju,
argued that INEC bridged an order of the federal high court
to the effect that the senatorial election result must be
collated and announced in Kabba, the senatorial district
headquarters and not in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital as
done by the electoral body.
They alleged that while their agents were in Kabba waiting
for the collation, the INEC officials and agents of the
appellants allegedly colluded and secretly moved the result
collation to Lokoja where the result sheets were allegedly
mutilated to favour Melaye.
They insisted that mutilation of results, dated February 25
instead of February 23, was so apparent and that over voting
was so established that the petitioners won with over
48,000 votes.
They therefore urged the court to dismiss the appeal and
uphold the majority decision of the tribunal.


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