Kogi: Election Tribunal Orders CBN Governor to Unfailingly Appear on Tuesday

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Olayemi Cardoso, on Monday, has been ordered by the Kogi Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja to unfailingly appear before it on Tuesday.

The governor is to appear to give some explanations on the role of the apex bank in the Nov. 11, 2023 Off-Cycle election in Kogi.

The three-member panel of justices, led by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu, also threatened to wield the big stick on the CBN’s Director of Corporate Service.

The development occured following an application by Alex Izinyon, SAN, counsel for Gov. Usman Ododo of Kogi, the 2nd respondent in the petition filed by Social Democratic Party (SDP) and its candidate in the Nov. 11, 2023 governorship election in the state.

It would be recalled that the tribunal had, on April 18, issued a subpoena to compel the CBN governor or any of its officers to attend the proceedings to give evidence in relation to allegation levelled by Gov. Ododo that the petitioners filed the petition against him outside the 21 days allowed by law.

Although the panel directed the CBN governor or its officer to appear on April 19 (Friday) to testify, no one represented the apex bank at the hearing.

Meanwhile, shortly after Paul Daudu, who appeared for the governor, led the witnesses in evidence on Monday and after they were cross examined, the lawyer told the panel that he was instructed by the leader of the team to hand over the case to him until the next adjourned date.

Izinyon then told the tribunal that those witnesses taken by Daudu were the ones they had for the day.

The senior lawyer told the panel that he was aware that the CBN management, in a letter to the tribunal, said they would not be available until Friday, April 26 pursuant to their application for subpoena.

He said though the 2nd respondent (Ododo) had planned to call his witnesses within five days, the issue of subpoena was an issue that must be dealt with before proceeding.

Izinyon, who said he expected an officer from the legal department of CBN to be at the tribunal Monday, described the letter written to the tribunal by the apex bank as “an act of contempt.”

He said subpoena, by nature, is in the name of the President and Commander-In-Chief of Armed Forces.

He said the CBN team should be at the tribunal on Tuesday to give evidence and if they failed to appear, it would be in the court record, going by the fact that the matter was time bound.

“If by tomorrow, we call our last witnesses and they (CBN officers) are not here, we urge my lord to look at our application in the interest of justice,” he said.

Aliyu Saiki, SAN, lawyer to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the 1st respondent; D.C. Demingwe, SAN, who appeared for All Progressives Congress (APC), the 3rd respondent, and Pius Akubo, SAN, who represented the petitioners, aligned with Izinyon’s application.

Akubo, however, said that since Izinyon had hinted that the 2nd respondent (Ododo) would be closing their defence on Tuesday, he urged the court to allow the 3rd respondent (APC) proceed with their defence after the governor must have called his witnesses, even if CBN officers failed to appear.

Delivering the ruling, Justice Birnin-Kudu held that the subpoena was to the CBN governor and director of Corporate Service of the bank.

According to him, it is a command in the name of the President, Commander-In-Chief of Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The judge held that the act of writing to the tribunal by the apex bank that its officers “will be available on April 26 is contemptuous and condemnable.”

The panel then adjourned the matter until April 23 for the continuation of the 2nd respondent’s defence and for the CBN to show cause.

Izinyon equally informed the tribunal that they had applied for the record of proceedings to be sure that what they had “is what is in the record.”

Justice Birnin-Kudu then said that the record of proceedings was ready and would be made available to 2nd respondent’s team.

Earlier, Enesi Adavi Mohammed from Adavi Local Government Area (LGA) of Kogi, and Jimoh Onimisi Biodun from Okehi LGA, testified in the defence of Ododo’s election victory.

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