Kogi: I Was Not In Disputed Areas During Election, SDP Witness Tells Tribunal

The Social Democratic Party, on Thursday, presented one witness at the Kogi State Election Petitions Tribunal, who admitted that the SDP had agents across the polling units in the state.

The witness, Benjamin Ikani Okolo, from Dekina Local Government Area (Kogi East), tendered an inspection report and also adopted his deposition on oath before the three-member panel of justices, led by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu.

His confirmation that the SDP had agents across the polling units in the state, was of interest, considering the fact that only one polling agent, who said he couldn’t produce an evidence of his role, had been presented by the SDP as witness in the ongoing hearing.

The Respondents’ counsel had, in earlier sittings, asked why the polling agents were not complaining, while random voters were being produced as witnesses.

When he was being cross-examined, Respondents’ Counsel, Kanu Agabi SAN, said the witness, a former Local Government Chairman of Dekina, should tell the Tribunal how many polling units were being challenged in the petition, but he said he did not know.

He was shown INEC manuals, regulation exhibits, BVAS screenshots and other Electoral documents as earlier tendered by the petitioners, and he identified them, but admitted that he didn’t “make” any of them.

He noted that he only saw the result sheets and other documents he identified in court during inspection, adding that he did not also make any input to the BVAS devices.

When asked where he was during the governorship election in the state, he said he was in Kogi East, that he was not in Okene, Okehi, Adavi or Lokoja, where the results were being challenged.

According to him, there was no signature of INEC staff on the inspection report that he tendered.

The Respondents’ counsel pointed out one of the scores of the APC as indicated in the witness statement on oath, which was different from the one in the inspection report, in addition to other discrepancies found between the report and figures said to have been gotten from the BVAS.

While responding, the witness said he would not agree that a large portion of the report was not correct in view of the discrepancies found.

He agreed that some polling units were not stated in the inspection report even though they were stated in the petition but noted that this was because there was no over-voting in those polling units.

The Respondents’ counsel also asked, “Are you aware that INEC staff had come to show the figures in the BVAS to the Tribunal, and that the figures in the BVAS contradict what is in your deposition?”

He responded that he could not confirm that the figures in the BVAS were contradictory to what was in the deposition on oath because he didn’t see the figures in the BVAS.

It was also observed that the accreditation figures quoted in his witness deposition were at variance with what was contained in the BVAS as presented in earlier sittings.

The sitting was adjourned to April 5 2024 for continuation of hearing. While Pius Akubo SAN represented the petitioners, Kanu Agabi SAN appeared for INEC.

A.M. Aliu SAN represented Gov. Usman Ododo and E.C. Ukala SAN represented APC.

The SDP is challenging the victory of Gov Ododo in the November 2023 governorship poll in the state.

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