- Fagbemi: AGF should go to S/Court for interpretation
- Raji, SAN: Audu’s running mate should continue the race
- Keyamo: It’s strange and novel constitutional scenario
- Chaha: APC can present fresh candidate for supplementary poll
Amid boisterous constitutional crisis trailing the sudden death of Kogi State All Progressives Congress, APC governorship candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Monday said the family was yet to officially notify the commission about the death of the late politician. This is coming on the heels of differing opinions on the political logjam created by the sudden death of the man easily referred to as the father of Kogi politics.
According to INEC Deputy Director (Publicity), Mr Nick Zang, neither the family nor the All Progressives Congress, APC, has notified the commission of Prince Abubakar Audu’s death. Speaking further, Zang said “the commission was thinking of sitting to consider an appropriate date to conduct a supplementary election so that a clear winner will emerge before we heard about the unfortunate incident, but as we speak now we have not been notified by the APC since anybody can concoct a story; the party will send us a letter with the death certificate notifying us of his death.
On the inconclusiveness of the Kogi gubernatorial election, according to Mr Zang, the commission will sit and review the situation according to the provision of the Constitution and the Electoral Act, to enable it consider options ahead of the supplementary election.
“APC has to do proper notification, and accompany it with the certificate of death issued by a medical doctor,’’ he said, explaining that INEC would apply relevant laws and make a pronouncement on its position on the election immediately it received official notification of Audu’s death from his political party.
He said that there are legal provisions to address such incidents in the country’s electoral process. “When something like this happens, the party on which platform the candidate contested will need to notify the commission; of course, we have heard and read like everyone else but we need to be notified.
“Once the commission is notified, it will look at relevant clauses of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the Electoral Act 2010 as amended and also the Constitution of APC itself. All these relevant laws will be looked at with a view to determine what to be done to ensure that whatever is done subsequently is done within the ambit of the law.
He assured that, INEC as a law-abiding body will do everything prescribed by the law, adding: “Thankfully, we have a consortium of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, that provide counsel to the commission. We also have a very vibrant legal service department, headed by a SAN.”
The position of the electoral umpire however remains uncertain following looming constitutional lacunae and crisis trailing the demise of the former governor of Kogi state and the gubernatorial candidate of APC in the inconclusive election, with legal luminaries expressing grave opinions on what the scenario portends to the state and the country’s political development.
According to Section 181 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, “ if a person duly elected as governor dies before taking and subscribing to 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 state Assembly of the state.”
A former Director, Legal Services in the Nigerian Copy Right Commission who is now into private practice, Chief Sunday Fagbemi, yesterday held that there is no constitutional provisions or electoral act respecting what happened in Kogi state because the results were yet to be declared.
Chief Fagbemi further advised that as a matter of urgency, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Alhaji Abubakar Malami, SAN, should approach the Supreme Court for the interpretation of the constitution on the matter.
Similarly, a leading constitutional lawyer, Ahmed Raji, SAN told Nigerian Pilot that there is a constitutional lacuna on the Audu scenario. Said he: “The constitution has not addressed the issue expressly. However, the constitution being a living document, we can infer from other provisions how the problem should be tackled. It will seem that drafters of our constitution will prefer the Deputy to continue the race in a situation like this.”
Another constitutional lawyer, Barrister Kenneth Achabo said that there seems to be a vacuum, as our laws did not envisage this scenario, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC should take measures that will be guided by equity, good conscience and justice.
According to Achabo, the party was the beneficiary of the elections not the candidate, adding that Audu’s deputy will go ahead and carry on with the supplementary elections.
Also, an Abuja based lawyer, Barrister Henry Ahile Chaha was of the opinion that since the elections were inconclusive, the All Progressive Congress, APC, should be allowed to present a fresh candidate to run for the supplementary elections.
However, a constitutional lawyer and human rights advocate, Chief Festus Keyamo, said shocking as the sudden death of the late politician appears, “the real question agitating the minds of everybody is the legal implication regarding the inconclusive governorship elections at the time of his demise. To state it correctly he was said to have died after the announcement of the results by INEC and after INEC had declared the elections inconclusive. Admittedly, this is a strange and novel constitutional scenario. It has never happened in our constitutional history to the extent that when an election has been partially conducted (and not before or after the elections) a candidate dies. What then happens?
He explained that Audu’s demise is “a hybrid situation between what happened in the case of Atiku Abubakar/Boni Haruna in 1999 and the provision of section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2010. In the case of Atiku Abubakar/Boni Haruna [which is now a clear constitutional provision of section 181(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)] the Supreme Court held, in effect, that ‘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’.
“In the case of Section 33 of the Electoral Act 2010 it provides, in effect, that if a person has been duly nominated as a candidate of his party and he dies before the election then the political party has the right to replace him with another candidate and not necessarily the Deputy Governorship candidate.
“Now, does the Kogi situation fit into section 181(1) of the Constitution as quoted above or section 33 of the Electoral Act mentioned above?
My simple position is that the Kogi situation fits more into Section 181(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and as such James Abiodun Faleke automatically becomes the governorship candidate of the APC. This is because even though the election in inconclusive, votes have been counted and allocated to parties and candidates. As a result, the joint ticket of Audu/Faleke has acquired some votes already. James Abiodun Faleke is as much entitled to those votes already counted as much as the late Abubakar Audu. He has a right to cling to those votes going into the supplementary election.
“There is only one problem, though. Who nominates Faleke’s Deputy? Unlike Section 181(1) of the 1999 Constitution, he cannot approach the House of Assembly of the State to approve a nomination by him of a Deputy. This is because, in reality, he is not duly elected yet. Therefore it is only reasonable to conclude that it is APC (Faleke’s political party) that should submit the name of a fresh Deputy Governorship candidate to INEC for the supplementary election.
This is the only position in this situation that accords with reason and good sense,” he said.
Audu was a visionary leader, says Saraki
President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Monday
described as painful and shocking, the demise of the former Governor
of Kogi State and governorship candidate of the All Progressives
Congress, APC, Alhaji Abubakar Audu. He said the late politician died
a dogged and visionary leader.
Senator Saraki in a statement signed by his Special Adviser (Media and
Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, who expressed deep sadness on receiving
the news of Audu’s death condoled with the immediate family of the
deceased, the government and people of Kogi State and the national and
state executives as well as members of the APC over the irreparable
He recalled the tenacity of purpose and unwavering loyalty of the
deceased who he said remained committed to the course of his people
and his party to the very last moment of his life.
Saraki said: “He was selfless, steadfast and patriotic in his services
to the people of Kogi State and beyond. He was a visionary and
patriotic party faithful. All his life time, he lived for the people.
His death is extremely painful but we cannot question the will of the
Almighty Allah in the present sorrowful circumstances.
“Audu, was a leader in all ramifications. He died when his services to
the good people of Kogi State and Nigeria in general were most needed.
We cannot but recall how committed and firm he was to his policies and
pro-people ideology. His death is simply unbearable.
“As Muslims, we have taken his death in good faith because we strongly
believe that only God gives life and can as well take it when He
wishes,” he stated.
Saraki urged the people of the State to be calm and peaceful, saying
even at death, “all Audu wants for Kogi State is progress, peaceful
coexistence and development, “ while he prayed to Allah to grant
Aljanah Firdaus to the soul of the deceased, and the family the
fortitude to bear the loss.
Dalung condoles Kogi State
The Hon Minister of Sports and Youth Development Barrister Solomon Dalung has commiserated with the youth and people of Kogi state over the death of their Patriot and All Progressives Congress, APC governorship candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu.
The 68 year old politician died on Saturday after a brief illness.
In a a statement, Barrister Dalung described the news of Prince Audu’s death as shocking and unfortunate.
He called on the youth and supporters of the state and party to remain calm. “I am personally devastated by his death but God is the author of man’s destiny. I’m appealing to the youth of the state to be calm as they mourn the death of their party’s flag bearer”.
Barrister Dalung also prayed that God will comfort his wife, children and the family he left behind and grant him eternal rest.
Prince Abubakar Audu has since been buried in his hometown Ogbonicha-Alloma in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi state, according to Islamic rites.
PDP expresses shock over Prince Audu’s death
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has expressed shock over the sudden death of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC in last Saturday’s Kogi state governorship election, Prince Abubakar Audu.
PDP national publicity secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh said in a statement that Prince Audu’s demise and sanctity of human life has pushed all issues arising from the Kogi governorship election to the back seat.
“At this critical moment, the PDP refrains from comments on the conduct of the election. That is not important now. What is important at this point is the sanctity of human life. Our deepest thoughts and prayers go to the family of Prince Abubakar Audu and indeed, the APC fold.
On this note, the Acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus, charges all PDP members in Kogi and across the nation to keep Prince Audu, his family and loved ones in their prayers, as we mourn with them and the people of Kogi state over this monumental loss.
Buhari mourns Audu
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed shock over the death of Prince Abubakar Audu, the All Progressive Congress candidate in the inconclusive Kogi State governorship election conducted last Saturday.
The President according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said he received the news with an enormous sense of shock. “We are obviously devastated at the loss, “ he said.
President Buhari described the late Abubakar Audu as a talented politician, a loving family head and a respected community leader. “He was immensely courageous,” the President added.
“President Buhari condoles with the family of the late governor, the government and people of Kogi state as well as all our party members, men and women who stood with Audu in his bid return as Governor. He ran as the favorite in the election as the early results have clearly shown,” the statement read in part.
President Buhari prayed to Allah to repose the soul of Governor Audu, and to give his family, the people of Kogi State and the APC members all over Nigeria the fortitude to bear this loss.
APC mourns Audu, describes him as strongman of Kogi politics
All Progressives Congress, APC, has described the death of its Kogi governorship candidate in last Saturday’s election, Prince Abubakar Audu, as a big shock not only to the people of Kogi state but to all the APC family across the world.
In a statement issued yesterday by Acting National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Timi Frank, in Abuja, the party described him as strongman of Kogi politics and a loyal party man who chose to remain in opposition after losing his governorship seat in 2003, not minding the intimidations.
“To say that we are shocked and dumbfounded at Audu’s death is to scratch our pains on the surface as the Kogi Prince typified what a real democrat radiates. A politician who chose to remain in the opposition after losing his governorship in 2003, despite the intimidations on him but rather chose to see that the nation gets its deserved change in leadership.”
While commiserating with the family and the people of the state, the party maintained that if death did not take him at this time, he would have been the only governor who will restore all that the locusts have eaten in Kogi State.
“The APC commiserates with his family, relations, the people of Kogi State and indeed the APC family all across the world. We are hurt by his demise as we are sure that the late would-be governor would have emerged the best governor again and restored all that the locusts have eaten in Kogi State.
“We are exploring all known choices and alternatives to us in line with our party’s dictates and respect of the rule of law as is in conformity with laid down laws and rules of our country”, APC said.