- Constitutional crisis looms in Kogi
- What lawyers say
We are in a strange legal territory. The 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act do not envisage the unfortunate circumstance that Audu’s death foists. INEC had declared Saturday poll inconclusive, which makes S.181(1) CFRN 1999 irrelevant. S.36(1) Electoral Act 2011 isn’t applicable either. As it stands, a fresh election appears the only way out of this legal/constitutional conundrum
The sudden death of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC in the inconclusive Kogi governorship election yesterday, Prince Abubakar Audu has thrown up some constitutional issues which may need the intervention of the apex court in the land; the Supreme Court. Lawyers have described the issue strange and not quite envisaged by both the 1999 constitution and the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
Barrister Mahmud Abdul, President of Public Interest Lawyers League, PILL described the situation as a grey area that can only be interpreted by the Supreme Court.
“We are in a strange legal territory. The 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act do not envisage the unfortunate circumstance that Audu’s death foists. INEC had declared Saturday poll inconclusive, which makes S.181(1) CFRN 1999 irrelevant. S.36(1) Electoral Act 2011 isn’t applicable either. As it stands, a fresh election appears the only way out of this legal/constitutional conundrum,” Barr Abdul said.
He said according to Section 36 (1), “If after the time for the delivery of nomination paper and before the commencement of the poll, a nominated candidate dies, the Chief National Electoral Commissioner or the Resident Electoral Commissioner shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, countermand the poll in which the deceased candidate was to participate and the Commission shall appoint some other convenient date for the election within 14 days.” This apparently does not apply in the extant case, he argued.
Also on Section 181 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, which the lawyer would readily have readily applied, he argued that in the cureent extant case, it does not hold water.
The Section says, “If a person duly elected as Governor dies before taking and subscribing the 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.”
Another lawyer and secretary of Labour Party, Kayode Ajulo believes that the development is a special circumstance that needs special intervention. He said that “this being a natural occurrence, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, would have to factor it into account while scheduling for another election. He contended that the All Progressives Congress, APC could no longer rely on the primaries that brought Audu to pick whoever that came second as that had been overtaken by events.
How Audu died
According to a source close to the late Audu family, the deceased gubernatorial candidate had prepared for a trip to the state capital for the declaration of the governorship election results when his aide discovered him sitting awkwardly on a chair at his sitting room and was subsequently rushed to hospital but eventually gave up the ghost at about 7:57pm yesterday.
Another version had it that Prince Audu died in the early hours of yesterday at his country home in Ogbonicha in Ofu Local government of the state as a result of alleged complication resulting from food poisoning. This source added that the complication started Friday at his Lokoja home after eating a plate of food.
Thereafter, he was said to have started vomiting blood, adding that it was later put under control before he finally left for Ogbonicha on Friday evening to cast his vote.
At Ogbonicha, late Audu was said to have managed to cast his vote and retired to the family house to cool off as he was battling with the stomach ache.
This source added that a family source said that when it became obvious that they could not manage the complication, they resolved to move him out of the village for medical treatment on Sunday morning and that while he was about to leave his room, he slumped unto a chair and died
One of his security aides who confirmed this death said that the late politician was dressed for Lokoja but that as they were about to set out, he died while sitting on the chair. Equally, the Director General of his campaign organisation, Comrade, Isa Daniel confirmed his principal’s death, saying the state has lost its real hero.
Yet another dependable source said the man died from shock when he heard of the verdict of INEC over the Saturday election which it declared “inclusive”
At press time last night, mourners were said to have besieged late Audu’s Lokoja home while most of his political associates refused to talk about the development in total disbelief.
Prince Abubakar Audu, born on October 27, 1947 was 68 years and three weeks before his death. He was the first Executive Governor of Kogi state.
Though no official statement had been issued by his family at press time, Nigerian Pilot learnt that his remains would be buried today according to Islamic rites.