Court of Appeal Overturns Inspection Order Granted To SDP’s Ajaka

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The Court of Appeal has set aside the inspection order granted Murtala Ajaka, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP by the Kogi Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja.

The tribunal had, on Nov. 25, 2023, granted an ex-parte order, allowing the SDP and its candidate in the Nov. 11, 2023 governorship poll to carry out forensic examination of all the Bimordal Voters Accreditation System, BVAS used in the election, among other reliefs.

The three-member panel of justices led by Justice J.O.K. Oyewole, in a unanimous ruling, vacated the inspection order on the grounds that it went outside the provisions of the Electoral Act.

The appellate court held that while inspection is allowed under the Electoral Act, it must be jointly carried out with the respondents and the scope of the inspection should be within the strict limit allowed under the Electoral Act.

“The ex parte order made by the trial tribunal on the 25th November, 2023 at the instance of the 1st and 2nd respondents are within the jurisdictional competence of the said tribunal.

“However, paragraphs ‘g’, ‘k’ and ‘n’ thereof are beyond the scope of Section 146 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022. The said paragraphs ‘g’, ‘k’ and ‘n’ are hereby expunged.

“The inspection purportedly done pursuant to the said orders of the trial tribunal without the presence of the appellant violates paragraph ‘h’ of the said orders and it is hereby set aside,” the panel ruled.

Report says while the SDP was represented at the Court of Appeal by Pius Akubo, SAN; Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, appeared for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Governor Usman Ododo of Kogi was represented by J.B. Daudu, SAN, while the All Progressives Congress, APC was represented by Abdulwahab Muhammed, SAN.

Other members of the Appeal Court panel include Justices A. I. Banjoko and A.B. Mohammed.

NAN