New Telegraph

Kogi Guber: Lawyers Uncover SDP, Ajaka’s Alleged Plan To File Petition Through Backdoor

…Call on Tribunal to fish out members allegedly contracted to execute plan

…Vow to challenge any move contrary to law with ‘incontrovertible facts’

Lawyers and activists from Kogi State have raised the alarm over what they described as a clandestine move by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its Governorship candidate to file their petition against the outcome of the November 11 election through the backdoor and backdated to circumvent the provisions of the Electoral Act.

The lawyers, under the aegis of the United Front for Democracy, raised the alarm on Monday, following the closure of the window allowed for the filing of the electoral petition with all allegations and petitions relating to the petition front-loaded, in line with Section 134 of the Electoral Act.

Speaking at a press conference in Lokoja, on Monday, the Convener, United Front for Democracy, Barr. Yetunde Olubunmi Shaibu, who spoke on behalf of the activists, said they had credible intelligence that the SDP candidate had yet to file his petition against the winner of the election, Usman Ododo of the All Progressives Congress, 22 days after the declaration of results.

The Activists noted that the 21-day window elapsed at midnight of December 3, 2023, saying, “Section 134 of the Electoral Act is very clear as to when an electoral petition can be filed with all allegations and evidence relating to the petition front-loaded.

“By virtue of Section 134 of the Electoral Act, the SDP has failed to file their petition within the period allowed by Law and should therefore be made not to waste the time of the Honourable Panel.”

They, however, alleged that they had been credibly briefed that the SDP and its candidate were still preparing their petition with the intention of filing same within the week and having it backdated so as to make it look like it was filed within the legally stipulated duration.

“This must not be allowed to happen in the spirit of justice, equity and fairness,” the lawyers said.

They, therefore, called on the Election Petition Tribunal for the Kogi State Governorship Poll to “switch on its lights to fish out staff members who have been contracted to mess up with the integrity of our highly respected judiciary. We are watching and the world is watching to ensure the right thing is done.”

Barr. Shaibu stated further: “As a Civil Society Organization, the United Front for Democracy is non-partisan. Our commitment is to protect democratic values and ensure that our judiciary is not slaughtered on the slab of political desperation and corruption.

“Our organisation has credible intelligence that the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) is yet to file his petition against the winner of the election, Alh. Ahmed Usman Ododo, 22 days after the declaration of results. The results of the election were declared on Sunday, 12th November, 2023. The 21-day window elapsed at midnight of December 3, 2023.

“Section 134 of the Electoral Act is very clear as to when an electoral petition can be filed with all allegations and evidence relating to the petition front-loaded. By virtue of Section 134 of the Electoral Act, the SDP has failed to file their petition within the period allowed by Law and should therefore be made not to waste the time of the Honourable Panel.

“The wisdom of the Electoral Act is that anyone with credible evidence should be able to put such forward within the legally stipulated period. We are however disappointed that the SDP is about to lose the opportunity to test the law with a competent petition. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the African Democratic Congress (ADC) opted to avoid the embarrassment of searching in futility for evidence by deciding not to challenge the election at the tribunal.

“Inasmuch as we would want to leave the determination of the validity of a petition filed out of time to the Honourable Panel to determine, we owe the populace a social and legal responsibility to expose a clandestine move by the SDP and its candidate to file their petition through the backdoor and backdate same to circumvent the provisions of the Electoral Act.”

“As a Civil Society Organization, our wish was to see elections challenged, but in a proper way that satisfies the requirements of administrative, judicial and legal procedures. Anything short of that will lead to a dangerous compromise and will be challenged with incontrovertible facts and evidence,” the lawyers/activists noted.

They also condemned the attack on the residence of the Resident Electoral Commissioner in charge of Kogi State, saying, “It is a dangerous trend that must not be allowed to stand. Those who superintend over our elections must be allowed to do their job without harassment or intimidation.

“Democracy must be protected by all as it remains the best form of Government to guarantee freedom and prosperity.”

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