Kogi Election: SDP Candidate Natasha Akpoti Is Qualified To Contest, Court Rules

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday held that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was wrong to have disqualified the Kogi governorship election candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Natasha Akpoti.

Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa in her judgment says INEC lacks the power to disqualify any candidate for an election as it is the exclusive preserve of a competent court of law.

According to the Judge, the provisions of sections 31(1) and 83 of the Electoral Act which holds that INEC cannot disqualify or reject candidates nominated by a political party for an election is aimed at ensuring that it does not lie within the executive realms of INEC to determine who participates in an election.

Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa accordingly granted reliefs 1 to 7 of the plaintiffs as she orders 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 in the November 16 governorship election in Kogi State.

Akpoti and her running mate Adams Khalid had approached the court to challenge their exclusion from the 2019 Kogi State governorship election by INEC.

The electoral umpire had refused to accept the nomination of Mr Khalid in replacement of the earlier nominated running mate, Mohammed Yakubu.

Mr Yakubu was replaced on the grounds that he was not qualified to run as a deputy governorship candidate on account of his age.

Mrs Akpoti and the SDP were thus disqualified by INEC for nominating an unqualified deputy governorship candidate.

The Kogi Governorship election is scheduled to hold on November 16.