Since the sudden death of Kogi’s gubernatorial election leading APC candidate, Abubakar Audu, many names have came up with claims that they are the right replacement with each one giving a constitutional basis for their arguments. To time to mourn the deceased as the power tussle for the ultimate seat overshadowed that.
A new twist has been introduced to the brouhaha as the running mate to late Prince Abubakar Audu last Saturday’s election in the state, Hon. James Abioun Faleke, has asked the Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC), to declare him governor-elect.
The All Progressive Congress, APC, on whose platform the late Audu and Faleke ran a joint ticket, is in the process of nominating a new flag bearer to contest the supplementary poll, which INEC has already slated for December 5.
Speaking for the first time since INEC fixed a date for the supplementary polls and permitted the APC to substitute its dead candidate, Faleke, in a letter dated November 26 and addressed to the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, said any attempt by the commission to go ahead with its current plan would be unconstitutional.
The letter written by his lawyer, former Nigerian Bar Association President, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said based on the outcome of the election, INEC was wrong to declare the election inconclusive in the first place.
He said since Audu died in an unexpected circumstance, he should be the beneficiary of the votes cast because it was a joint ticket as provided for by law.
“The election was held in all the 21 Local Government Areas of the State; and to the best of our client’s knowledge, information and belief, the said election was peaceful, and also in substantial conformity and compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
“In law and logic, no new candidate can inherit or be a beneficiary of the votes already cast, counted and declared by INEC before that candidate was nominated and purportedly sponsored.
“Assuming without conceding that INEC is even right to order a supplementary election, the votes already cast, counted and declared on Saturday, 25th November 2015, were votes for the joint constitutional ticket of Prince Abubakar Audu and our client.
“Therefore, no new or ‘supplementary’ candidate can hijack, aggregate, appropriate or inherit the said votes”.
In another letter to the national chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Mr. Faleke urged his party to distance itself from what he termed “Greek Gift” being offered to it to nominate a new candidate for a planned supplementary poll where according to him, “only about 25,000 PVCs are available; whereas the APC is already leading, by the announced results, with over 40,000 votes”.
He said, “Needless reminding Mr. Chairman that by the announced results, APC scored 240,867 votes, while PDP polled 199,514. The cancelled votes amount to 49,953. Under Section 61(c) of the Electoral Act 2010, once a Returning Officer announces and declares the result of an election, his declaration is final, and can only be reviewed or upturned by an election tribunal. In other words, the scores already announced for APC remain final and binding.
“Section 181 (1) of the Constitution again comes into play under the present circumstances, vis-à-vis the death of Prince Abubakar Audu. The section is all-embracing, as it covers all institutions and reasons. It mandates, in no unmistakable language, that the deputy governor-elect shall take over and be sworn in.
“By parity of reasoning, the APC shall be declared as the winner of the election by INEC, while our client is declared as the governor-elect”.