• Kogi election: SDP had agents across polling units, witness tells tribunal

    Kogi election sdp had agents across polling units witness tells tribunal - nigeria newspapers online
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    Kogi election: SDP had agents across polling units, witness tells tribunal


    Published By: Ayorinde Oluokun

    By Taiye Agbaje

    Mr Benjamin Okolo, a witness of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) at the ongoing Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja, on Thursday, admitted that the party had agents across the polling units during the Nov. 11, 2023 governorship election.

    Okolo, who is from Dekina Local Government Area (Kogi East), told the three-member panel of justices, led by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu, during a cross-examination by the defence counsel.

    It would be recalled that the SDP and its governorship candidate, Murtala Ajaka, are challenging the victory of Gov. Usman Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Nov. 11, 2023 election in the state.

    The witness, a former Local Government Chairman of Dekina, tendered an inspection report and also adopted his deposition on oath.

    While being cross-examined, the defence counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi SAN, asked Okolo to tell the tribunal how many polling units were being challenged in the petition, but he said he did not know.

    He was shown the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) manuals, regulation exhibits, BVAS screenshots and other electoral documents, earlier tendered by the petitioners, and he identified them, but admitted that he didn’t “make” any of them.

    He said that he only saw the result sheets and other documents he identified in court during inspection, adding that he did not also make any input to the BVAS devices.

    When asked where he was during the governorship election in the state, he said he was in Kogi East.

    The witness said he was not in Okene, Okehi, Adavi or Lokoja, where the results were being challenged.

    According to him, there was no signature of INEC staff on the inspection report that he tendered.

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    The respondents’ counsel pointed out one of the scores of the APC as indicated in the witness statement on oath, which was different from the one in the inspection report, in addition to other discrepancies found between the report and figures said to have been gotten from the BVAS.

    While responding, Okolo said he would not agree that a large portion of the report was not correct in view of the discrepancies found.

    He, however, agreed that some polling units were not stated in the inspection report even though they were stated in the petition.

    This, he said, was because there was no over-voting in those polling units.

    The respondents’ counsel also asked, “Are you aware that INEC staff had come to show the figures in the BVAS to the tribunal, and that the figures in the BVAS contradict what is in your deposition?”

    He responded that he could not confirm that the figures in the BVAS were contradictory to what was in the deposition on oath because he didn’t see the figures in the BVAS.

    It was also observed that the accreditation figures quoted in his witness deposition were at variance with what was contained in the BVAS as presented in earlier sittings.

    The tribunal adjourned until Friday for continuation of hearing.

    While Pius Akubo, SAN, represented the petitioners, Agabi, SAN, appeared for INEC; A.M. Aliu, SAN, represented Gov. Ododo and E.C. Ukala SAN appeared for APC.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)


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