Breaking News: Natasha Akpoti Drags INEC, APC to Court Over Gov. Bello’s Double Registration, Demands Disqualification

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Kogi state Social Democratic (SDP)
governorship candidate, Barr. Natasha
Akpoti, has filed a suit before the Federal
High Court, Abuja praying for the
disqualification of Governor Yahaya Bello
of APC as a candidate in the forthcoming November 16 governorship election in the
state.

Akpoti,in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/
CS/122/2019 filed on Monday, anchored
her prayer on Bello’s alleged double
registration as a voter.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Chief Mike
Ozekhome (SAN), who filed the suit on her behalf, contended that Bello’s act of
double registration as a voter grossly
violated section 24(e) of the Electoral Act.
Apart from disqualification, the plaintiff
also asked the court to bar Bello, the
governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the forthcoming
poll, from holding public office for 10
years.
She also prayed for another order
compelling the Independent National
Electoral Commission to “thoroughly investigate the act of double registration”
and “to immediately prosecute him upon
the expiration of his first tenure of office as
governor of Kogi State in January 2020”.
Her lawyer, Ozekhome, in the Originating
Summons, argued as part of the grounds of the suit, that “by his willful act of
making double registration”, Bello as
APC’s candidate, “is not a fit and proper
persons to be allowed by the 2nd
defendant (INEC) to vote or be voted for in
the forthcoming Kogi State governorship election, having committed acts of
electoral fraud”.
The senior lawyer also maintained that
Bello underwent double voter registration
as a voter in gross violation of the
electoral law, and that INEC had sacked two of its employees who allegedly
“aided and abetted Yahaya Bello in his
act of double registration as a voter”.
Only Bello’s party, the APC, and the
Independent National Electoral
commission are made defendants. In the affidavit sworn to by Bar Natasha
Akpoti, in support of the suit, she said she
contested the March 23, 2019 Kogi Central
senatorial election but lost.
She noted that she had emerged as the
Social Democratic Party’s candidate in the forthcoming governorship election in
the state but was unjustifiably disqualified
by INEC.
She described herself as “an indigene of
Kogi State, a legal practitioner, an astute
politician, a political reformer, a pro- masses advocate, a philanthropist and one
deeply involved in and concerned with the
parlous state of affairs of Kogi State people
and Nigerians alike.”
Akpoti alleged that Bello first registered as
a voter in Abuja in 2011 and procured the second voter registration in Lokoja, the
Kogi State capital in May 2017.
She added that as a confirmation of the
alleged infraction by Bello, the governor
subsequently transferred his Permanent
Voter Card from Abuja to Lokoja while the second registration done in Lokoja was still
subsisting.
The plaintiff also said INEC had severally
threatened to prosecute Bello for the said
act of double registration with the
Commission but failed to take any discernable action in stopping him from
contesting the governorship election.
Akpoti stated, “The transfer was carried
out and his Permanent Voters Card was
issued to him on February 26, 2018, while
his second registration at the government house, Lokoja was and is still subsisting.
“That the 2nd defendant had severally
threatened to prosecute Mr. Yahaya Bello,
the candidate of the 1st Defendant for the
said act of double registration with the
Commission (2nd Defendant), but failed to take any discernable action in stopping
him from contesting the office of the
Governor of Kogi state. Online newspaper
publications of the statements of the 2nd
Defendant to prosecute the candidate of
the 1st defendant are herewith attached and collectively marked as Exhibit NAT –
3.”
She therefore sought among other
prayers, a declaration by the court that
Bello, “has by virtue of his double
registration as a voter violated the provisions of section 24(e) of the Electoral
Act, 2010, as amended”.
She also sought another declaration that
Bello “is liable to be disqualified and/or
barred from contesting, participating and/
or voting in the forthcoming election being organised by the 2nd defendant on
account of his wrongful violation section
24(e) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as
amended, which act of violation robs him
of the capacity or vires to contest the
forthcoming Kogi State governorship election.”
She sought “an order to disqualify or
bar” the governor from contesting the
forthcoming election “or for any political
office for the 10 years pursuant to his
violation of the provisions of the section 24(e) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as
amended”.
The plaintiff also sought “an order of
mandamus compelling and or mandating
the Independent National Electoral
Commission (the 2nd defendant) to thoroughly investigate the act of double
registration” allegedly made by Bello
“and to immediately prosecute him upon
the expiration of his first tenure of office as
governor of Kogi State in January 2020”.
The suit has yet to be assigned to a judge for hearing.

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Daniel Onimisi

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