Revisiting The Kogi Polls

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However, in the present situation where an election had been concluded up to 97 percent, and Audu / Faleke received up to 240,867 votes in the main election whereas Yahaya Bello scored 6,885 votes in the supplementary election which is less than three (3) percent of the votes cast for APC, it amounts to a gross injustice and party dictatorship to yank off the votes cast for Audu / Faleke and credit them in favour of Yahaya Bello. This is a coup. It will not stand. The law courts will do what is right.

It should be pointed out that the party APC is a joint beneficiary with Audu / Faleke of the 240,867 votes cast. That goes to underscore the inevitable point that the APC had no right to decide who will be the ultimate beneficiary of these votes without the consent of Faleke who is an original and primary beneficiary of these votes (now that Prince Audu is no more). Most probably if the APC had presented Yahaya Bello ab initio as its governorship candidate, not withstanding who his running-mate might be, the incumbent governor would have had a smooth sail to victory. The most nauseating thing again about the Yahaya Bello ‘victory’ is that he distanced himself from the APC campaigns, avoided the Audu / Faleke ticket like a plague after he was defeated at the primaries.

What the APC did to Faleke is repugnant to justice according to equity, good conscience and also according to law. Amaechi suffered from party dictatorship and injustice when he was excluded from participating in the governorship election in Rivers State by the PDP, which fielded Celestine Omehia. The courts righted that injustice and Amaechi was sworn in as governor based on the results of an election in which he did not participate. Senator Ifeanyi Ararume was equally denied victory in the PDP primaries. He went to court and the courts ruled that Ararume was the validly nominated candidate of his party. PDP under former President Obasanjo instructed their members to campaign and vote for a rival political party (the PPA) which resulted in the victory of Ikedi Ohakim as governor.

In Adamawa State, a similar scenario was enacted when Abubakar Atiku was nominated as the vice-presidential candidate to Obasanjo after he had won the governorship election. Boni Haruna was the deputy governor-elect then. Their party (PDP) nominated another person as its governorship candidate after INEC had fixed a new election date (as a bye-poll). Boni Haruna went to court to stop any gubernatorial bye-election. The Supreme Court came to his rescue both equitably and legally when it ruled that the running-mate to a candidate is a joint-owner of the ticket, and that they of necessity will sink and swim together. They are inexorably Siamese twins. See sections 136 and 181 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

We must not lose sight of the fact that Nigeria has a political party system and our laws do not yet recognize independent candidates (like America) nor elections without candidates (like Britain). It therefore follows at logic that any vote cast in our elections is assumed at law to have been cast not only for the political party but also for the candidate. This means that the 240,867 votes cast during the Kogi governorship election on 21 November were for the benefit of the APC and Audu /Faleke as natural persons, who could have lost the election for their party (APC) if Kogi people did not like them or their agenda. Therefore, our electoral laws in their present form demand two broad requirements for  the validation of votes in any election. One is that there is a candidate (identifiable in his physical characteristics as an animate person as opposed to a chicken or cow or even a tree); and the second is that a political party must sponsor such candidate.

In the case at bar, the animate person(s) who met the first requirement were Audu and Faleke, not Yahaya Bello. In other words, the votes cast in the governorship election on 21 November, 2015 cannot be divisible between Audu / Faleke and APC, much less Yahaya Bello. Those votes cannot be transferred to Yahaya Bello either. Audu / Faleke and APC are inseparable and indivisible joint owners of the 240,867 votes cast. Equally, the 6,885 votes cast for Yahaya Bello and the APC. These votes cannot be transferred to James Faleke unless the courts regard Bello as an interloper which I assume he is. The courts will of course regard the supplementary election as part of the whole and so the results of the elections on the various dates will be taken together. Wada scored 195,514 plus 5,363 or 200,877 votes. Yahaya Bello scored  6,885 votes. Audu/Faleke scored 240,867 votes.

However, because Bello was not validly nominated, his votes should be credited to Audu/Faleke. Yahaya Bello was an invalid candidate on these grounds. First, there is no known law or constitutional provision that allows for the substitution of candidates once the election has commenced.  So,the attorney general, Malami, misled INEC.

Second, APC cannot field only one candidate in the person of  Bello. It should have  presented Bello with a running-mate. Section 187, subsection 1 of the constitution states;…. “a candidate for the office of governor of a state shall not be deemed to have been validly nominated for such office unless he nominated another candidate as his associate who is to occupy the office of deputy governor”. APC committed a blunder by not presenting Faleke as its governorship candidate after the death of Prince Audu. Most importantly, Hon. Faleke was smart enough not to have accepted to be the running-mate to Yahaya Bello.

— Diala is of ADC-LAW Project, Ghana


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