Kogi Election: Wada, Faleke claim victory

FalekeTHE constitutional crisis over the declaration of December 5 by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a supplementary election in Kogi State deepened yesterday.

Governor Idris Wada of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was trailing Prince Abubakar Audu in last Saturday’s poll, said by virtue of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Prince Audu’s death, he should be declared winner. Also, Audu’s running mate, James Faleke, said he is the governor-elect . Prince Audu died last Sunday just before INEC declared the election inconclusive.

Demonstrating his seriousness yesterday, Faleke through his lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), wrote INEC and the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, asking the electoral umpire and the party to declare him governor-elect.

In a November 26 letter to INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Faleke insisted that under Section 187 of the 1999 Constitution, he was duly elected as deputy governor.

While expressing sadness over the demise of his principal, Audu, the deputy governorship candidate said INEC had no right under the law to declare the election inconclusive.

He accused INEC of deliberately creating what he called “legal conundrum” and urged the APC not to be aparty to the action.

“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,” Mr. Faleke wrote through Chief Olanipekun.

In another letter to Odigie Oyegun, Mr. Faleke urged his party to distance itself from the “Greek Gift” being offered to it to nominate a new candidate for a planned supplementary election in 91 polling units.

Also, the PDP said Wada should be returned to the Lugard House, Lokoja for another four years. INEC had ordered the rerun based on the advice of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami (SAN), an arrangement which the PDP rejected, saying it is unconstitutional.

The PDP National Caucus yesterday demanded for the declaration of Captain Wada as the winner of the election.

INEC, in a statement in Abuja, released on Tuesday and signed by its Secretary, Mrs. August Ogakwu, advised the 22 political parties that participated in last Saturdays election to prepare for the rerun.

But in its communique read to newsmen yesterday in Abuja by National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, the PDP claimed that the APC could no

longer replace its candidate, saying there was no window for substitution of candidate in the course of an election either in the Electoral Act or the Constitution. The communique reads in part:

“The National Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) met on Wednesday, November 25, 2015 in Abuja wherein it thoroughly considered the developments arising from the conduct of the inconclusive governorship election in Kogi State and resolved as follows;

“Completely rejects the decision of INEC in yielding to the unlawful prompting of a clearly partisan Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mallam Abubakar Malami, to allow APC to substitute a candidate in the middle of an election, even when such has no place in the Constitution and the Electoral Act.

“Insists that with the death of its candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC has legally crashed out of the governorship race as no known law or constitutional provision allows the substituting of candidates, once the ballot process has commenced.”

On their part, PDP members in the House of Representatives, at a Press conference presided over by the Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, said the AGF misled INEC and acted in the interest of his party, the APC, ahead of the nation.

While calling on the AGF to retract his statement which has generated mixed reactions? from Nigerians, they advised Nigeria’s number one law enforcer put the interest of the nation ahead of parochial and party sentiments.

“The laws that the AGF quoted have no relation with the various issues on ground. Section 221 orders clearly on the modality in which votes can be canvassed by the political party.

“Section 33 of the INEC Act states very clearly that where a candidate in an election or in a primary dies before the election, the option is there for the party to substitute that and that election will be held within 14 days,” they noted.

In a related development, the state chapter of the PPA has rejected the moves by the APC to bring in fresh governorship candidate to replace Audu in the supplementary election.

Speaking to journalists in Abuja yesterday, the PPA’s governorship candidate, Mr Emmanuel Ozigi, also called for a fresh election.

Mr Ozigi, however, insisted that it would be unfair to the people of the state and other parties involved for a fresh candidate to join the contest half-way.

Speaking on television yesterday in Lagos, Robert Clarke (SAN) had kicked against go- ing for a fresh election and use of a fresh candidate by the APC,

Meanwhile, APC leaders in Kogi East Senatorial District have nominated Mr. Mohammed Audu, 43, first son of the late Prince Audu, to replace him.

The leaders, stakeholders and delegates who made this known in Lokoja yesterday, said they arrived at the decision after due consultations.

Their spokesman, Mr. Daniel Isah, the Vice Chairman of APC in Kogi East, said they have resolved and are determined to back Mohammed to replace his father if the National Working Committee (NWC) orders fresh primaries.

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