A team of Nigerian lawyers, numbering about 128, have offered to defend Senator-elect, Dino Melaye, who won the Kogi West Senatorial District election, but whose victory is now been challenged by his Peoples Democratic Party’s opponent, Smart Adeyemi, at the state election tribunal.
Among the lawyers who have offered free legal service to Mr. Melaye are Femi Falana, Rickey Tarfa and Festus Keyamo, and other 126 laywers.
Mr. Melaye revealed the offer of pro bono legal service to him to PREMIUM TIMES
Mr. Adeyemi, who is the incumbent Senator representing Kogi West in the Nigerian upper legislative chamber, contested the March 28 election as the candidate of the PDP.
Mr. Melaye was candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had returned Mr. Melaye winner of the election, with 41,120 votes as against Mr. Adeyemi’s 38,148.
However, dissatisfied with the outcome, the PDP candidate dragged his APC challenger before the tribunal sitting in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, alleging irregularities in the conduct of the election as well as the result declared by INEC.
In the petition filed by his counsel, J. O. Olatoke, Mr. Adeyemi averred he won the election, arguing he scored majority of lawful votes.
“Melaye was declared the winner of the election because of wrong and/or incorrect computation of lawful votes cast and intentional omission of collating results of the polling units won by the petitioners and counting of spoilt ballots,” Mr. Adeyemi said.
Further, he prayed the tribunal to hold that Mr. Melaye was also not qualified as at the time of the election to contest for the Kogi West Senatorial District by reason of substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), and therefore sought for his disqualification as the candidate for the election.
“This is not a matter of boast, I have defeated him and I will also defeat him, even if election is conducted 100 times, provided the election is free and fair,” Mr. Melaye said on Friday.
Mr. Keyamo confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES he has offered pro bono legal service to Mr. Melaye in defence of the challenge from Mr. Adeyemi.
Mr. Falana could not be reached for comments. He did not answer or return calls.