Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
A governorship aspirant in Kogi State, Natasha Akpoti, has filed a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja praying for the disqualification of Governor Yahaya Bello as a candidate in the forthcoming November 16 governorship election in the state.
Akpoti, in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/122/2019 filed on Monday, anchored her prayer on Bello’s alleged double registration as a voter in 2011 and 2017.
Apart from disqualification, the plaintiff also asked the court to bar Bello, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the forthcoming poll, from contesting the governorship election or election for any public office for 10 years.
She also prayed for another order compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission to “thoroughly investigate the act of double registration” and “to immediately prosecute him upon the expiration of his first tenure of office as governor of Kogi State in January 2020.”
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), contended that Bello’s act of double registration as a voter grossly violated section 24(e) of the Electoral Act.
Ozekhome argued that as part of the grounds of the suit that “by his wilful act of making double registration, Bello as APC’s candidate, “is not a fit and proper persons to be allowed by the 2nd defendant (INEC) to vote or be voted for in the forthcoming Kogi State governorship election, having committed acts of electoral fraud.”
In the affidavit she deposed to in support of the suit, Akpoti said she contested the March 23, 2019 Kogi Central Senatorial election but lost.
She noted that she had emerged as the Social Democratic Party’s candidate in the forthcoming governorship election in the state but was unjustifiably disqualified by INEC.
She alleged that Bello first registered as a voter in Abuja in 2011 and procured the second voter registration card in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, in May 2017.
She added that as a confirmation of the alleged infraction by Bello, the governor subsequently transferred his Permanent Voter Card from Abuja to Lokoja while the second registration done in Lokoja was still subsisting.
She stated, “The transfer was carried out and his permanent voter card was issued to him on February 26, 2018, while his second registration at the Government House, Lokoja was and is still subsisting.
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“That the 2nd defendant had severally threatened to prosecute Mr Yahaya Bello, the candidate of the 1st defendant for the said act of double registration with the commission (2nd defendant), but failed to take any discernible action in stopping him from contesting the office of the Governor of Kogi State.”
Akpoti also sought another declaration that Bello “is liable to be disqualified and/or barred from contesting, participating and/or voting in the forthcoming election being organised by the 2nd defendant on account of his wrongful violation of section 24(e) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended.”
She sought “an order to disqualify or bar” the governor from contesting the forthcoming election “or for any political office for the 10 years pursuant to his violation of the provisions of the section 24(e) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended.”
The suit has yet to be assigned to a judge for hearing.
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