- Fails to agree on Audu’s replacement
- PDP to INEC: Declare Wada winner
- Adegboruwa in court, seeks fresh election
Efforts by members of the National Working Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC to arrive at modalities to conduct the fresh primaries to replace or substitute late Prince Abubakar Audu in the ongoing Kogi governorship election ended in deadlock in Abuja yesterday.
The development came just as Governor Idris Wada approached a Lokoja high court to declare him the winner of the poll. But in Lagos, human rights crusader, Olu Adegboruwa is in court seeking an order to compel Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to conduct fresh governorship election in the state.
Soon after the death of Prince Audu, who was coasting home to victory in last Saturday’s election was made public, the NWC of APC led by it national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun met and decided to conduct fresh primaries to elect Audu’s replacement.
This position apparently did not go down well with some members of the NWC who are rooting for Audu’s running mate, Hon James Faleke to take over the ticket.
There are also those who are clamouring for the runner up, Yahaya Bello, in the APC primary that Audu won to take over the ticket.
Yesterday’s NWC meeting was brief and ended abruptly without any official statement from the party as to how and when the proposed new primary would take place.
Rather the party’s national chairman said it was too early to comment on the process. However, inside sources said the meeting was deadlocked because of diverse and vested interests that clashed. When it was obvious that tempers would flare and tensions would rise, the national chairman who presided over the meeting brought it to an abrupt end.
Though Nigerian Pilot learnt that there was enormous pressure mounted from within and outside the NWC for Faleke to inherit the ticket, the party hierarchy however, was said to be very wary of the possible backlash from a section of the state, especially the Igala people who are not willing for power to shift, at least for now.
The development apparently made the Faleke option unattractive to the party, and living the party in a greater dilemma. Besides, the Faleke group insisted at the meeting that there was no need for fresh primaries to pick another flagbearer since Faleke was late Audu’s running mate and should naturally step into his shoes.
Also, some prominent members of the party from Kogi East clamoured for Mohammed Audu, the son of the late Abubakar Audu to inherit the father’s ticket. Though the party is believed to be looking at this option seriously, but there are those who strongly believe that it is going to polarise the party more and mar its bright chances.
Wada goes to court
Meanwhile, Governor Idris Wada, who scored the second highest votes in the inconclusive election, has approached a federal high court in Lokoja asking to be declared winner.
Also the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has concluded plans to go to court to ask it to declare its candidate winner as according to the party, APC no longer has a valid candiate and cannot in the eyes of law substitute a candidate outside the legally given time for such activity.
The Kogi scenerio has left APC in a great dilemma it never envisaged and depending on how it handles it, the party may end up snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Declare Wada winner – PDP
The last is yet to be heard on the crisis left behind by Prince Abubakar Audu as the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday said the All Progressives Congress, APC, has crashed out of the Kogi state governorship election, following Audu’s sudden demise. The APC candidate died before the announcement by Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of the inconclusive governorship election held on November 21.
This is coming as the PDP gave indication that it will be heading to the court to challenge INEC’s decision to allow APC present a new candidate who will inherit to votes cast in favour of late Audu.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the emergency National Caucus meeting held on Wednesday night where it appraised the logjam in Kogi state, the PDP said the Nigerian constitution and the Electoral Act (as amended) has no provision for the substitution of candidate in the middle of an election.
The PDP caucus raised an alarm that INEC will be setting a dangerous precedent if they allow candidates to be substituted in the middle of election as desperate people may cash in on this in future to assassinate anyone that is coasting home to victory during an election.
“The AGF, INEC and APC are creating a scenario where a loser in a primary will patiently wait for the winning candidate to finish election and then have him either poisoned or assassinated before the final collation of results.”
The party 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” that demanded that Governor Idris Wada be declared winner of the election.
“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.
“With the unfortunate death of Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC has no valid candidate in the election, leaving INEC with no other lawful option than to declare the PDP candidate, Captain Idris Wada as the winner of the election.
PDP noted that the combined reading of the provisions of the Constitution and Electoral Act does not in any way whatsoever support the substitution of candidates for election in the middle of the ballot process.
”If APC is allowed to substitute its original candidate, then the party would have fielded two separate candidates in the same election, a scenario that is completely alien to our electoral laws and to any known democratic norms and practice world-over,” the party said.
The PDP caucus observed that APC, “fully aware that it has no case before the law is now orchestrating confusion in the polity with a view to diverting attention from its glaring incompetence and failure of governance.”
The party also declared that the leadership of INEC as presently constituted under the Chairmanship of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has demonstrated that it is incapable of neutrality and as such cannot be vested with the conduct of the Kogi governorship supplementary election as well as the December 5 Bayelsa governorship election.
“As a result, caucus demands the immediate resignation of the chairman and all national commissioners of INEC to pave the way for a new non-partisan commission to conduct the forth-coming elections.
“Caucus also demands the immediate resignation of the Attorney General of the Federation, Mallam Abubakar Malami for deliberately misleading INEC into arriving at the unconstitutional decision of allowing APC to substitute its candidate in the inconclusive election.
It further noted, “that in order to save the nation’s democracy from imminent collapse, the PDP as a critical stakeholder will immediately challenge this unlawful and unconstitutional decision by INEC in the court.”
The PDP caucus also alerted that the AGF, INEC and APC are creating a scenario where a loser in a primary will patiently wait for the winning candidate to finish election and then have him either poisoned or assassinated before the final collation of results.
The party called on the international community to “prevail on the APC government to stop this ceaseless assault on our democracy.”
Lawyer seeks fresh poll
Meanwhile, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, a human rights crusader and lawyer, on Thursday filed a suit before a Federal High Court in Lagos, seeking the conduct of fresh elections in Kogi.
Adegboruwa, in his suit, prayed the court to order the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct fresh governorship elections in the state.
Joined as respondents in the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation, INEC, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressive Congress, APC.
Adegboruwa said, “Under Section 181 (2) of the 1999 Constitution, when it is impossible for the winner of an election to enjoy the benefit of his mandate, the proper position is to conduct fresh elections.’’
According to him, the Constitution does not recognise a situation whereby votes are preserved in memory of a dead candidate and subsequently transferred to a new candidate.
Adegboruwa also challenged the directive of INEC that APC should conduct fresh primaries to substitute the late Audu.
Meanwhile, the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1786/2015 has yet to be assigned to any judge for hearing
District nominates Audu’s son
In a related development, leaders of All Progressives Congress, APC, in Kogi East senatorial district have nominated Mr Mohammed Audu, 43, first son of late Prince Abubakar Audu, to replace him as the party’ s governorship candidate.
The leaders, stakeholders and delegates, who made this known in Lokoja on Thursday after a marathon meeting, said they arrived at the decision after due consultations. .
Their spokesman, Mr Daniel Isah, the Vice Chairman of APC in Kogi East, said they had resolved and are determined to back Mohammed to replace his father if the National Working Committee ordered fresh primaries.
Isah thanked the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the national leadership of the party for the opportunity given to them to find a replacement for Audu who died on November 23 at Ogbonicha, Ofu Local Government Area.
He appealed to the national leadership of the party to give their decision utmost consideration and approval in the overall interest of the party and the state.
Present at the meeting were Alhaji Lincho Ocheje, Hon. Hassan Omale, Hon. Benjamin Ikhani, and Sen. Emmanuel Dangana, among others.