Natasha Akpoti

The Independent National Electoral Commission has appealed the judgment of a Federal High Court in Abuja reversing the commission’s disqualification of the Social Democratic Party candidate, Natasha Akpoti, in the November 16 governorship election in Kogi State.

The Federal High Court presided by Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa, had on November 7, 2019,  ordered INEC to restore Akpoti as candidate of the SDP in the governorship election.

The court held that INEC had no power to disqualify any candidate for an election as contained in sections 31(1) and 83 of the Electoral Act.

But in an appeal petition filed by the commission at the appellate court, INEac said the Federal High Court erred in law and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice.

The respondents in the appeal were Natasha Akpoti, Adams Khalid, and the SDP.

The INEC added that without proper evaluation of the evidence of appellant, the court proceeded to grant the reliefs sought by the respondents.

In the eight-ground petition, INEC stated among others that the Federal High Court failed to put into consideration the fact that SDP had no validly nominated deputy governorship candidate at the close of the period for nomination on September 9.

The petition further stated that the invalidity of the deputy governorship candidate (Muhammed Bashir Yakubu) invalidated SDP’s nomination of Akpoti as its governorship candidate.

But reacting to the appeal, the SDP candidate alleged that INEC was biased by going ahead to conduct the election when there were issues.

She said, “INEC’s decision to appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court is simply to silence me at the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal. 

"They do not want anything Natasha in the courts with regards to the Kogi governorship election because they know that I will fight vigorously to the end. 

"I have sent in a petition to the tribunal asking for the cancellation of the entire election.

“Questions arising from INEC’s decision to appeal will include: what happens to the election? I recorded about 10, 000 votes, so what happens to these 10, 000 voices? Will there be another election? We would have 10,000 who have been deceived into voting Natasha?

“The judgment came nine days before the election, why did they not appeal against it and they would have gone ahead without me being on the ballot. 

"They also had the option of postponing the election and allow the courts to deal with this. Unfortunately, they did not do this. Coincidentally, SDP was not on any of the result sheets.”

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