Yahaya Bello
Yahaya Bello

Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja yesterday dismissed the petition filed by the deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the November 21, 2015, governorship election in the state, James Falake, challenging the election of the incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello.
The three-man tribunal led by Justice Halima Mohammed held that Faleke lacked locus standi to challenge Bello’s election, having never been sponsored by his party as a governorship candidate in both the November 21 election and the December 6, 2015, supplementary poll.
Earlier in the judgment read by Justice Mohammed, the tribunal had upheld Bello’s preliminary objection to the petition to the effect that Faleke lacked legal capacity to file the petition, as the November 21
election which he claimed to have won having not been concluded.
The tribunal re-affirmed while considering the petition on merit that Faleke was never a governorship candidate of the APC at any stage of the election and did not participate in the primary leading to APC’s choice of governorship candidate, either for the November 21 election or the December 6 supplementary poll.
It held on the other hand that there was evidence that Bello participated in and emerged as the first runner-up in the primary from which the original governorship candidate of the party emerged.
It also held that the issues contended by Faleke bordered on the power of a political party to nominate its candidate, a decision which Justice Mohammed ruled that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to.
The tribunal added that Faleke, having not participated in the said primary, lacked the locus standi to challenge Bello’s nomination by the party.
It added that going by the Supreme Court’s decision on PDP vs Okorocha, the votes polled on November 21 belonged to the various political parties, the APC thus lacked the power to replace its flag bearer upon the death of its original candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu.
Faleke was the running mate to the late Audu, who was coasting to victory but died after the election was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Faleke had therefore filed a petition asking the tribunal to declare the substitution of Bello as the governorship candidate following Audu’s death in the December 6 election as unlawful.
He urged the tribunal to declare that the election was already conducted and concluded on November 21 before Audu’s death, and that he had already emerged as the deputy governor-elect.
He therefore asked the tribunal to declare him the valid substitute for the late Audu and should be returned as the governor-elect.
But delivering its judgment on Faleke’s petition, the tribunal held that contrary to his contention, the November 21 poll had not been
concluded and thus the right to challenge the outcome of the poll had not accrued to him going by the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The tribunal also held that Faleke remained the deputy governorship candidate of the party in the December 6 supplementary poll having failed to withdraw his candidacy as the running mate in a manner stipulated by law.

READ ALSO  Kogi guber: Protests threaten Audu’s candidature