A former deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in last November 21 election in Kogi State, James Faleke, has sent a list of basic issues for the state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, to determine.
The politician filed his petition on the controversy surrounding the election and APC’s governorship candidates.
Faleke was the running mate to Prince Abubakar Audu, who died shortly after casting his ballot.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the poll inconclusive and Alhaji Yahaya Bello was elected governor, following his nomination by APC’s leadership to replace the late Audu.
Faleke faulted the move, refusing to become Bello’s deputy governorship candidate.
The politician is among the petitioners urging the tribunal, which is rounding off its pre-hearing session, to determine the circumstances surrounding the election and the major candidates.
In a petition he copied to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the first respondent and Bello (second respondent), Faleke urged the tribunal to “determine whether, upon a careful reading and application of the clear provisions of sections 1(2), 179(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” among others, the INEC should have declared the election inconclusive instead of announcing Audu and Faleke the winners.
Section 179 (2a and b) of the Constitution states as follows: “A candidate for an election to the office of governor of a state shall be deemed to have been elected where, there being two or more candidates -(a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and (b) he has not less than one quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas of the state.”
But Section 187 (1) of the Constitution says: “In any election to which the foregoing provisions of this part of the chapter relate, a candidate for the office of the governor of a state shall not be deemed to have been validly nominated for such office unless he nominates another candidate as his associate for his running for the office of governor, who is to occupy the office of the deputy governor, and that candidate shall be deemed to have been duly elected to the office of the deputy governor, if the candidate who nominated him is duly elected as governor in accordance with the said provisions.”
Faleke urged the tribunal to also determine whether or not Section 181 (1) of the Constitution was not relevant to the Kogi scenario, where the candidate died after the election.
The Section reads: “If a person duly elected as governor dies before taking and subscribing to Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office or is unable for any reason whatsoever to be sworn in, the person elected with him as deputy governor shall be sworn in as governor and he shall nominate a new deputy governor who shall be appointed by the governor with the approval of a simple majority of the House of Assembly of the state.”
Faleke urged the tribunal to also determine whether or not by virtues of sections 1 (2), 179 (2) of the Constitution and sections 27, 69, and 75 of the Electoral Act 2011(as Amended), the results declared by INEC on November 22, last year, had not already produced a winner and that refusing to announce the winner by “declaring the said election inconclusive is not altogether unconstitutional and illegal”.
He urged the tribunal to rely on Section 187 (1) of the Constitution to determine whether or not Bello was qualified to contest an election to the office of the governor of Kogi State on December 5, last year. The petition added: “Can the votes legitimately cast for the joint ticket of the late Prince Audu and the petitioner (Faleke) in the governorship election of November 21, 2015, be transferred to the second respondent (Bello)?”
He also urged the tribunal to determine whether or not Bello “can constitutionally and statutorily assume office as governor of Kogi State pursuant to a supplementary election conducted in 91 polling units …on December 5, 2015”.
Faleke urged the tribunal to determine whether or not INEC’s return of Bello as governor of Kogi State on or about December 5, last year, was not “altogether unconstitutional, illegal, null and void”.
He said it was necessary for the tribunal to determine whether or not Bello, being an unregistered voter in Kogi State, was qualified to vote and be voted for and that notwithstanding the provisions of Section 187 (1) of the Constitution, he (Bello) was qualified to be declared winner of the December 5, last year’s election, even when he ran without a deputy.
INEC announced that Prince Audu and Faleke got 241,000 votes in the November 21, 2015 governorship election in Kogi State, beating their closest rivals, Captain Idris Wada and Yomi Awoniyi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who polled 199,000 votes.
Credit: The Nation