The disqualified candidate of the Social Democratic Party in the Kogi State governorship election, Natasha Akpoti, has sued the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), demanding the disqualification of Governor Yahaya Bello for ‘double voter registration’.
Ms Akpoti is also praying the court to compel INEC to thoroughly investigate the violation and prosecute the governor for the offence as provided for in the Electoral Act 2010.
The suit has the APC as the first defendant and INEC as the second defendant.
Mr Bello was said to have registered first as a voter in 2011 in Abuja.
He was said to have procured another registration on May 23, 2017, at the Government House in Lokoja.
The commission had in 2017 accused Mr Bello of double registration and said he would have been prosecuted “but for his immunity.”
Nigerian governors enjoy immunity from prosecution under the nation’s laws.
However, three INEC staff were indicted, as two officials were dismissed, while an assistant director was suspended.
But in March 2018, Mr Bello applied for the transfer of his permanent voter’s card from Abuja to Okene and his application was approved, suggesting a shift in INEC’s position in the matter.
INEC had said that Mr Bello applied for the transfer of his registration details from Abuja to his Okene country home, noting that the application was “found qualified for transfer after it was subjected to legal scrutiny.”
But Ms Akpoti’s suit, which was filed on October 14 at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, with No. FHC/ABJ/CS/221/2019, submitted that Mr Bello’s double registration “was to scuttle the electoral process and so he is not fit to be voted for or occupy the office of governor.”
The questions for determination are whether Mr Bello, who is the candidate of the APC, has by his act of double registration, committed “a wrongful act capable of disqualifying him as a voter or person to be voted for,” having violated the provisions of section 24(e) of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.
Also, among other matters, whether Mr Bello is, on account of his double registration as a voter, “a fit and proper person to be sponsored as a governorship candidate by the APC and allowed by the INEC to contest as a governorship candidate in the forthcoming Kogi governorship election.”
Ms Akpoti is asking the court to make an order of mandamus “compelling and or mandating the INEC (2nd defendant) to thoroughly investigate the act of double registration as a voter made by Yahaya Bello, the candidate of the 1st defendant and to immediately prosecute him upon the expiration of his first tenure of office as governor of Kogi State in January 2020.”
She was earlier disqualified by INEC on the grounds that her running mate was underage.
Ms Akpoti believes that her disqualification is a ploy by the INEC and the APC to exclude her from the governorship contest which holds on November 16 and give the incumbent a clear advantage.
She is also in court challenging her disqualification. That case will be heard on October 22, about three weeks to the election.