An appeal court in Abuja on Friday has upheld the decision of the election petitions tribunal that nullified the election of Senator Dino Melaye.
Melaye was representing Kogi West until the sacking.
The court affirmed the ruling of the tribunal and, therefore, nullified the election of Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The Independent National Electoral Commission is to conduct fresh elections within 90 days from today.
Nigerian’s news recalled that Sen. Dino Melaye’s closest rival, Mr. Smart Adeyemi of the APC, had challenged his victory at the tribunal.
The Appeal Court had on September 24 reserved judgment in the three separate appeals filed by Mr Melaye.
The three appeals were filed by the PDP and Mr Melaye, praying the appellate court to set aside the majority decision of the tribunal which voided the election of Mr Melaye.
The PDP, represented by Jubrin Okutepa, SAN, in his final argument had prayed the Justice Abubakar Datti Yahaya-led panel to set aside the majority decision of the tribunal against Mr Melaye on the ground of denial of fair hearing and refusal to evaluate the evidence adduced during the hearing.
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 PDP further claimed that the tribunal turned the head of natural justice upside down when it based over voting used in cancelling the senatorial election on the number of collected permanent voter cards rather than voter register as required by law.
The PDP then urged the three-man panel justices to invoke section 16 of the Court of Appeal Act and dismiss the petition for lacking in merit.
In the second appeal filed by INEC, through its lawyer, Kola Olowookere, the Appeal Court was urged to dismiss the allegation of mutilation of the election result and favouring a particular candidate as alleged by the petitioner, Smart Adeyemi and the All Progressives Congress APC.
The electoral body argued that the claim of over-voting by the tribunal was wrong and baseless because the voter register and result of the election in 2015 tallied with the result in the disputed area.
INEC 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.
The third appeal filed by Mr Melaye and argued by Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, urged the Appeal Court to set aside the over voting decision of the tribunal because it was based on hearsay instead of polling units’ agents’ results
The counsel called 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 the 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 collation.
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