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How APC Rejects Victory in Kogi Guber Election Featured

Tuesday, 01 December 2015 00:00 Written by  Published in Politics Read 770 times
Alhaji Yahaya Bello, APC's replacement for Late Alhaji Abubakar Audu Alhaji Yahaya Bello, APC's replacement for Late Alhaji Abubakar Audu

It is obvious that the All Progressive Congress (APC) did not want to be declared winner in the ‘inconclusive’ gubernatorial election of Nigeria’s north-central state of Kogi for trivial tribal reasons. Writes Oladimeji Amuda.

Facts have begun to seep out on how the All Progressive Congress (APC), the party that was in the lead in Saturday 21 November 2015 gubernatorial election in Nigeria’s north-central state of Kogi, deliberately stalled its pronouncement as winner in the poll it has clearly won. Why would a party do this to itself?

APC’s candidate in the election, Price Abubakar Audu, 68, died before the electoral process was concluded, even though votes have already been cast, counted and declared by the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), and Audu was cruising to victory when INEC pronounced the election “inconclusive”.

INEC said the total number of registered voters in the state was 1, 359,883; the total number of votes cast was 479, 157; Audu’s score was 240, 867; Idris Wada of the Peoples Demecratic Party’s score was 199, 514. However, 49, 000 votes were cancelled in 91 polling units. Since the number of cancelled votes exceeded the margin of victory between Audu and Wada (41, 000), a winner could not be declared.

INEC however failed to take into consideration other more germane issues. For instance, although the number of voters in the cancelled 91 polling units was 49, 000, the total number of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) available in the areas was 35,785, while the actual number of people accredited in the 91 polling units was 19,178.

The question to ask from the above figures is whether 35,785 can ever be more than 41,000. If, not, INEC would have to explain to Nigerians the logic behind its declaration of the election inconclusive. This would be so because the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate, Abubakar Audu, had 41,000 votes more than his closest rival, Governor Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.   In addition, Audu scored the constitutionally required 25% in, at least, two thirds of the local government areas of Kogi State. The state has 21 LGAs and Audu met the constitutional provision in 16 LGAs, thereby making him the undeclared winner – he satisfied the provisions of Section 179 of the Constitution and Section 69 of the Electoral Act, EA. And the number of accredited voters in the 91 polling units where elections are to be held is even less than the number of PVCs available.

Section 179 – 1 and 2 – says  a person shall be deemed to have been elected if he scores the highest number of votes and has, at least, 25% of votes cast in, at least, two thirds of the state.

Section 1(3) talks about the supremacy of the 1999 Constitution. Section 189 says a person deemed to have been elected, if he dies or cannot be sworn in, the person with whom he jointly went in as a ticket shall take over.

But the Returning Officer relied on an election guideline of 2015, that INEC has the power to make under Sections 73 and 153 of the Electoral Act which is a subsidiary instrument to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Act. His reason was that the margin of votes between Audu and Wada was not in excess of the number of registered voters.

Do registered voters determine elections? Certainly not! According to “Those who do are voters who have their PVCs and have been accredited and have also gone ahead to vote. One can be registered and not have your PVC; you can have your PVC and not go out to participate in election; and you can go out, participate in accreditation and refuse to go and vote. So, on that score, INEC was wrong.”

Sources within the APC revealed to National Review magazine in Lokoja that certainly the late Audu died much earlier than the time INEC announced the results. “They knew of his death early enough and they concealed it. You see, between the Returning Officer, Professor Kucha, and the INEC chairman in Abuja, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, the co-coordinating National Commissioner for INEC who was in Kogi during the election, Dr. Amina Zakari, there was a grand conspiracy. They collectively agreed that the election should be declared inconclusive. They did this after consulting with the APC hierarchy. The declaration of INEC was meant to stop James Faleke, Audu’s running mate, from becoming governor since a declaration that the election was conclusive would have automatically handed Faleke the governorship.”

Unfortunately, the statement by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, was grossly unguided in the matter. As if to betray partisanship, he carelessly said that the matter was only for the APC to choose another candidate who will continue from where Audu stopped and that INEC would have to complete the election. Commentators have criticized him on the ground that such personal opinions are below his position as AG of the federation and Justice Minister. More than ten political parties were involved the said election. Incidentally, INEC came out hours after the AG’s statement to make pronouncements that are exactly in tandem with his, giving the impression that the two are acting in concert.

Meanwhile, James Faleke does not seem unaware of the plans to keep him in the cold. Having sensed that his party hierarchy does not want him to inherit his joint mandate with the late Audu, he had braced up to challenge the vested interest within the party.

In a November 26 letter to INEC chairman, he insisted that under Section 187 of the 1999 Constitution, he was duly elected as deputy governor of Kogi State. While expressing sadness over the demise of his principal, Abubakar 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’.

“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 his counsel, Wole Olanipekun, adding that“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 APC Chairman, John 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. He said the election had already been won and lost, and that the party should rather support him in actualizing the mandate already given to APC and its candidates.

He Stated that the election to the office of the governor is regulated by sections 178 and 179 of the Constitution while nomination to the office is regulated by Section 187 of the document, Mr. Faleke insisted the election had been completed in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.“Therefore, INEC has no alternative or discretion other than to announce the result of the election and declare our client as the winner”.

Meanwhile, constitutional lawyer Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) has lent his voice to the issue, arguing that while he support the decision of the Independent

National Electoral Commission to conduct a supplementary governorship election in Kogi State, he  believes the deputy governorship candidate, James Faleke, should replace the late Abubakar Audu in the run-off because, according to him, the election has already been held.

Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana holds similar view. He said, “Having declared the election inconclusive, the INEC is duty bound to conclude the election within seven days in line with Section 179 of the Constitution. It is submitted that once the results of an election have been declared, whether conclusive or not, the INEC has no power to cancel same, as the power to cancel any result so declared is vested exclusively in the governorship election petition tribunal. As the APC cannot be allowed to substitute or replace the nomination of Mr. Audu at this stage of the electoral process, the INEC is legally bound to conclude the exercise.

“The question of falling back on the results of the primary election conducted by the APC does not arise as it conflicts with section 179 of the Constitution. Since the APC which sponsored the late Prince Audu is deemed to have led the PDP by 41,300 votes there is no legal basis for cancelling the results of the election as both the party and the PDP are

competent to take part in the supplementary election to be conducted by the INEC.”

As it is presently, PDP’s candidate in the ‘inconclusive’ election, Idris Wada would not wait for APC to finish messing itself up before he moves to compound the troubles of a party bent on strangling its own fortune. Wada and PDP have headed to court, asking that he be declared the winner of the election he believed was wrongly declared ‘inconclusive’.  They want a Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the December 5 supplementary poll already fixed by INEC. 

In a Motion on Notice filed at the registry of the court by his counsel, Chief Chris Uche (SAN]), Governor Wada is contending that being the only surviving candidate with majority of lawful votes cast at the governorship election held on November 21, 2015, he is the winner of the said election and ought to be issued a certificate of return by the INEC.

He further asked from the court, an order restraining the All Progressives Congress [APC] or its officers and members from organising and / or holding a fresh primary election for the purpose of any supplementary or other election for the Kogi State governorship election 2015.

In the alternative, the plaintiff prayed the court to declare that by reason of the death of Prince Abubakar Audu, the candidate of the APC, the Kogi State governorship election held on November 21, 2015 and declared by the INEC [1st defendant] as inconclusive has been rendered aborted, cancelled, null and void and of no legal effect whatsoever.

The plaintiffs further asked the court to declare that having regards to the provisions of section 141 of the Electoral Act, 2010 [as amended], votes scored by a candidate who died during an election cannot be inherited by or transferred to a person, who was not a candidate at the said election and who did not participate in all stages of such election, for the purpose of conducting such election.

Besides, the plaintiffs asked for a declaration that INEC public notice dated

November 24, 2015 for the holding of a supplementary governorship election for Kogi State on December 5, 2015 is unlawful, null and void and of no legal effect whatsoever.