The Court of Appeal on Thursday upheld the election of Governor Yahaya Bello as the duly elected governor of Kogi State.
Governor Bello prevailed in the appeal brought against him by Hon. James Faleke, a member of the House of Representatives.
Hon. Faleke challenged the emergence of Governor Bello as Governor and asked the tribunal to declare him Governor because the election of late Abubakar Audu was almost concluded before he died.
Governor Bello was nominated by the APC to replace its late candidate, Abubakar Audu.
Hon. Faleke ran as Deputy Governorship candidate with Abubakar Audu and they were coasting to victory before Abubakar Audu suddenly died.
INEC declared the election inconclusive and asked the APC to nominate a replacement for the deceased. Gov. Bello was nominated and he nominated Mr. Faleke as his Deputy, an offer the latter refused.
But on June 6, the Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, dismissed Hon. Faleke’s petition, saying the lawmaker was unable to prove his case.
The tribunal said the fact that INEC declared the first election held on November 21, 2015 inconclusive meant no Governor or Deputy Governor-elect had emerged.
It also averred that all votes cast belong to political parties, “it is the political party, through the instrumentality of its candidate that runs for election.”
The tribunal said Hon. Faleke therefore lacked the locus standi to challenge the nomination of Gov. Bello to replace the late Abubakar Audu since he was never a Deputy Governor-elect.
The tribunal therefore, threw away his petition as lacking in merit.
“No right can accrue from an inconclusive election,” it said.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, Hon. Faleke headed to the appellate court, which has now thrown out his appeal.
It will also be recalled that the former Governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada who was the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, candidate in the November 21 governorship election in the state, had filed a petition before the Kogi State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, arguing that he be declared the winner of the November 21 and December 5 election, saying that he polled the highest number of votes after the demise of Late Audu.
Gov. Bello was nominated by the All Progressive Congress APC to replace late Abubakar Audu who died in the process of election. After his death, INEC declared the election inconclusive and asked APC to name a replacement.
The Late Abubakar Audu was in a clear lead before his death. Gov. Bello was named the replacement, and he defeated Mr. Wada in the supplementary election that held on December 5.
This was the detail judgement of the tribunal: Captain Idris Wada herein refers to as the petitioner who contests for election on the 21st November and 5th December 2015 not comfortable with the 3rd Respondent declaration of the 1st respondent as winner brought before this honourable tribunal for determination the following:
Preliminary objections raised by 1st, 2nd n 3rd respondents has been dismissed
Tribunal haven considered the issues raised by the 1st, 2nd n 3rd respondent on either the petitioner has right to bring before the tribunal issues bothering on pre-election matters.
Tribunal considered that thou the substitution of candidate is a pre-election but Haven occurs in the process of an election, the petitioner has the locus to bring this before this honourable tribunal.
The petitioner contended that the first respondent who did not participate in the Nov 21st election cannot inherit votes as he only score 6000 votes in the Dec 5th election.
The tribunal held that petitioner did not support with necessary fact as to qualification of the first respondent the 1st respondent met the constitutional provision for contesting the governorship election of Kogi state
Tribunal haven analyse the position of the petitioner on the substitution of the 1st respondent at the request of the 3rd respondent and since the election was declared inconclusive, the 2nd respondent was time bond to substitute the first respondent and considering that, the issue of 21days cannot apply here.
Since the 1st respondent is a member of APC and Haven came 2nd in the primary was correct to have been substituted.
On the vote belonging to the candidate and not political party raised by the petitioner, the tribunal held that considering authorities of the Supreme Court, the votes cast on 21st November and 5th December belong to the party. We so moved
On issue 4, tribunal Haven critically examine none compliance to the electoral act and irregularities raised by the petitioner, we held that as at the time of 5th Dec election, Faleke was still the deputy to the 1st respondent as his withdrawal did not meet stipulated law.
The petitioner’s witness admitted that the 2nd respondent scored the highest votes. The witness also failed to prove that he is an agent or collation officer. The petitioner also admitted that he relied on the result sheets by the 3rd respondent.
It is tribunal humble views that all materials brought before it is assumed dumped not withstanding marking them as it was not in any way linked to the petitioner’s claim.
Continuation of the forensic, the tribunal held that the witness did not show a convincing expertise. We so move
This tribunal held that the petitioner has failed to prove with substantial evidence his claim of none compliance and irregularities.
In line with the above, the case between Captain Idris Wada and 2 others, Yahaya Bello and 2 others is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit
It is time Hon. Abiodun Faleke and other good people of Kogi State allow Gov. Yahaya Bello to develop the State as he has chosen to remain intrepid and focused. Hon. Faleke should use his resources to team up with Gov. Yahaya Bello and take Kogi State collective Destiny in their hands and go forth excitedly to chart a New Direction for Kogi instead of heading to the Supreme Court.
Adewole Kehinde is a Journalist and Public Affairs Commentator based in Abuja. He can be reached via: [email protected]