Kogi Election: CBN Governor Ordered to Appear in Court

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

According to NAN, the governor is to appear to give some explanations on the role of the apex bank in the November 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 occurred following an application by Alex Izinyon, SAN, counsel for Governor Usman Ododo of Kogi State, the second respondent in the petition filed by the Social Democratic Party, SDP, and its candidate in the governorship election in the state.

Recall 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 concerning the 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 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 that though the second respondent (Ododo) had planned to call his witnesses within five days, the issue of the subpoena must be dealt with before proceeding.

Izinyon, who said he expected an officer from the legal department of CBN to be at the tribunal on 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 the 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 first respondent; D.C. Demingwe, SAN, who appeared for All Progressives Congress, APC, the third respondent; and Pius Akubo, SAN, who represented the petitioners, aligned with Izinyon’s application.

Akubo, however, said that since Izinyon had hinted that the second respondent (Ododo) would be closing their defence on Tuesday, he urged the court to allow the third respondent (APC) to proceed with its 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 addressed 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 the 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 second 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 the second respondent’s team.

Earlier, Enesi Adavi Mohammed from Adavi LGA of Kogi, and Jimoh Onimisi Biodun from Okehi LGA, testified in defence of Ododo’s election victory.

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