From Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
The Supreme Court on Tuesday in Abuja fixed August 31 to deliver final verdict in the long drawn legal battle that will determine the fate of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and other contestants to the governorship seat of the state.
A seven man panel of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, fixed the date to deliver judgments in two separate appeals challenging the victory of Yahaya Bello shortly after taking the submissions of lawyers to parties in the separate suits.
The two appeals fixed for judgments are that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Engineer Musa Wada; and that of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate, Barrister Natasha Akpoti.
At the hearing, PDP and Wada’s lawyer, Mr Jibrin Okutepa SAN, pleaded with the apex court to allow the appeal to succeed and to grant the reliefs sought by his clients.
However, Governor Bello’s lawyer, Mr Joseph Daudu SAN and that of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Dr Alex Izinyon SAN opposed and urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
Daudu specifically pleaded with the apex court to affirm the concurrent decisions of the Court of Appeal and the State governorship election petition tribunal.
The CJN after taking arguments announced that the court will deliver judgment in the matter on Monday August 31.
In the second appeal filed by the SDP and its governorship candidate Natasha Akpoti, the apex court also announced its decision to give final verdict on the same day with that of the PDP.
While arguing their briefs, the two appellants had pleaded with the panel of the apex court to set aside the findings of the Court of Appeal and the tribunal and allow their appeal to succeed.
Counsel to INEC, Dr Izinyon SAN and Paul Daudu in their separate arguments pleaded for outright dismissal of the appeal.
Meanwhile the appeal filed by the Democratic Peoples Party DPP and its governorship candidate, Mr Usman Mohammed was dismissed after it was withdrawn by the appellants.
The appeal was sequel to the Court’s prompting on the eligibility of its candidate who was said to be 31 years during the election as against the mandatory 35 years prescribed by the 1999 constitution of the country.