Controversy trails Appeal Court judgement on Kogi East senatorial seat

Court of Appeal Headquarters
Court of Appeal Headquarters

Controversy has trailed Monday’s Appeal Court judgement reportedly declaring the Kogi East senatorial seat vacant.

Journalists present at the courtroom and judicial officers said Justice Abdul Aboki who read the judgement declared the seat vacant, thus sacking the current occupier of the seat, Attai Aidoko.

Mr. Aidoko however says no such declaration was made by the judge and he remains the senator for the zone.

In a statement late on Monday from his office, the senator claimed the judge declined making any categorical statement on the seat and that “the information about a vacant seat in the region was mere rumour.”

The appeal court reportedly ordered Messrs. Aidoko and his challenger, Isaac Alfa, both of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to return to the Federal High Court for the court to determine issues resulting from the July 2016 re-run election.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had in the July election declared Mr. Alfa winner, after the commission said he (Alfa) polled 57, 575 votes to defeat five other candidates at the election.

After that declaration, however, Mr. Aidoko went to court, claiming that he was the authentic PDP candidate.

The All Progressives Congress, APC, was barred from participating in the re-run election, earlier scheduled to hold in February 2016.

INEC’s decision to exclude APC was based on a tribunal ruling nullifying the previous election into the seat, following the disqualification of APC’s candidate in the first election.

The first phase of the re-run election, conducted in February 2016 had Mr. Aidoko representing the PDP and leading the other contestants with over 34, 000 votes.

The election was later declared inconclusive, until a latter court decision in May 2016 declared Mr. Alfa the authentic candidate to have won the primaries conducted by the PDP in December, 2014.

Following the declaration of the lower court, presided by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, INEC continued the election on July 23 and and thereafter declared Mr. Alfa the winner of the seat, with over 57,000 votes.

But on December 14, 2016, the appeal court overruled the decision of the lower court, declaring Mr. Aidoko the authentic candidate for the PDP in the said election.

When the case got to the Supreme Court, the apex court ruled that it be treated afresh by the High Court.

On Monday however, the appellate court reversed its earlier decision. It asked parties to obey the Supreme Court and return the matter to High Court. It, however, also said the seat be vacant until the high court rules again, sources said. It is that later part of the ruling that Mr. Aidoko says was never made.

“If the judgement was contrary as contemplated by the defendant in the case, the window of stay of execution and appeal to the Supreme Court would have been explored to the fullest,” Abubakar Yusuf, a media aide to Mr. Aidoko, said in his statement,

PREMIUM TIMES intends to make further official enquiries to ascertain the true judgement by the court.

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