Court Clears SDP Candidate, Natasha Akpoti, To Contest Kogi Guber Election
The Federal High Court, Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to restore Natasha Akpoti as candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the forthcoming November 16 governorship election in Kogi State.
Ruling on Thursday, Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa said INEC had no power to disqualify any candidate for an election “as it is the exclusive reserve of a competent court of law.”
The judge granted reliefs one to seven of the plaintiffs and ordered INEC to include the names of the governorship and deputy governorship candidate of the SDP as well as the party’s logo on the ballot for the election.
Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa also said that the provisions of sections 31(1) and 83 of the Electoral Act which holds that INEC cannot disqualify or reject candidate nominated by a political party for an election was aimed at ensuring that it does not lie within the executive realms of INEC to determine who participates in an election.
The ruling followed a suit on October 3 by Akpoti, her deputy, Adams Khalid, and the SDP through their lawyer, Ola Olanipekun, to challenge their exclusion.
INEC had refused to accept the candidature of Khalid in replacement of the earlier nominated deputy governor, Mohammed Yakubu, on the grounds that Yakubu was not qualified in the first place to be fielded as a deputy governorship candidate in the election on account of his age.