Bello expresses readiness to defend alleged double registration

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state on Friday, told the Federal High Court, Abuja, that he was ready to defend himself in the allegation of double registration framed against him by the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Natasha Akpoti.

Akpoti had, in her suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1221/2019, with the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as defendants seek the court’s determination on the eligibility of Governor Bello in the Saturday’s election, having allegedly involved in double registration as a voter.

The governor, said, in a counter-affidavit filed by his lawyer, M.Y. Abdullahi that he did not engage in double registration as alleged by the plaintiff.

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The affidavit, deposed to by Khaliat Bello, a lawyer in Abdullahi’s law firm stated that on May 23, 2017, the alleged date of double registration, Bello was outside the country and couldn’t have been anywhere in Nigeria to do voter registration.

It further stated that copies of Bello’s travel documents which show the immigration exit and entry stamps are attached jointly as ‘Exhibit A” and that he is ready and prepared to defend the allegation of double registration framed against him by the plaintiff.

The court, at the hearing of the matter yesterday, granted leave to governor Bello to join the suit as the 3rd defendant since the reliefs sought by Akpoti were against his nomination, qualification and candidacy.

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Bello, who was represented at the court by Mike Enahoro, also sought an order of the court directing the plaintiff and the original defendants to serve him all the processes filed by them in the suit in the interest of justice.

He said the application was filed on Friday because he got wind of the suit the previous day.

Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who represented Akpoti acknowledged receipt of the motion yesterday morning and said that the motion sought to stop court’s proceeding on the matter and urged the trial judge to refuse the request since the election was Saturday.

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On his part, Counsel to the APC, Abdulwahab Mohammed, said he would need more time to study the motion.

However, Counsel to INEC, Alhassan Umar (SAN), said he had no objection to the motion and the court adjourned the matter till November 21.

The judge said though, the fact that the election would be held Saturday, would not stop the court from doing its business.

He gave the plaintiff two days to amend their processes to accommodate Governor Yahaya Bello as a defendant and also granted all the defendants, including Bello, two days to reply upon being served by the plaintiff.

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