INEC Tenders Electoral Documents in SDP’s Challenge Against Gov. Ododo’s Victory

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has taken a significant step in the ongoing election petition filed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate, Murtala Ajaka, against the election victory of Gov. Usman Ododo.

During the proceedings at the Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja, INEC’s counsel, Uchenna Njoku, presented crucial electoral documents in response to the petition. These documents, including the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of the Election, Manuals for Electoral Officers, and various forms, were tendered before the three-member panel of justices.

Among the key documents tendered were INEC Form EC8C, INEC Form EC8B, INEC Form EC8E, as well as lists of accredited agents and ward agents for the SDP. Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu, leading the panel, admitted these documents as exhibits after they were presented by Njoku.

Following the presentation of documents, Njoku requested an adjournment to allow INEC to present its witnesses on the next hearing date, which was granted by the judge. The matter is scheduled to continue on April 16.

Earlier in the proceedings, Justice Birnin-Kudu noted the timeline for the SDP’s petition, set to expire on May 29, and amended the schedule for the respondents to present their case and file final written addresses. The number of days was reduced to five, with the possibility of additional time if needed, stressing the importance of cooperation from all parties.

However, APC’s counsel, Emmanuel Ukala, requested the tribunal not to reduce the allotted time, emphasizing the need for sufficient time to prepare their defense. Ukala assured the tribunal of the respondents’ cooperation but pleaded against amending the order on the hearing schedule.

Notably, Joseph Daudu, SAN, led Gov. Ododo’s legal team, while Jibrin Okutepa, SAN, led Ajaka’s team. The SDP and Ajaka had previously closed their case on April 5 after calling 25 witnesses.

The presentation of electoral documents by INEC marks a crucial development in the election petition, highlighting the meticulous process of legal scrutiny underway in the pursuit of electoral justice.

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