The running mate of the late Abubakar Audu, who was governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in theNovember 21 poll in Kogi State, Mr. James Faleke, has opposed the proposed supplementary election by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the state on December 5.
Audu died shortly after the commission declared the election inconclusive on Sunday.
In the Saturday election, the APC candidate had polled 240,867 votes, 41,353 votes higher than the Peoples Democratic Party candidate and incumbent state governor, Capt. Idris Wada (retd.), who scored 199,514 votes.
In separate letters on Thursday to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Faleke’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), sought the immediate declaration of his client as the governor-elect for Kogi State.
Olanipekun said to the best of his client’s knowledge, information and belief, the November 21 election, having substantially satisfied the requirements of the Electoral Act 2010, was deemed concluded.
He said Faleke saw no reason why INEC should have declared the election inconclusive, adding that the reason adduced by the electoral umpire for its action was alien and unconstitutional.
He believed that by directing the APC to conduct a fresh primary to elect another candidate for an election, which was already concluded, INEC was knowingly or unknowingly instigating political and legal conundrums, which the commission should have distanced itself from.
“We may draw Mr. Chairman’s attention to the clear and mandatory provision of Section 68(1)(c) of the Electoral Act to the effect that any result declared by the Returning Officer shall be final and binding, and can only be reviewed or upturned by an election tribunal,” Olanipekun stated in his letter to Yakubu.
“In effect, the results already announced by INEC are binding, not only on all the parties, but also on INEC itself.
“We want to believe that INEC is not unaware of binding decisions of our appellate courts on this issue. Furthermore, by the provisions of Section 181(1) of the Constitution, our client, who was the deputy governorship candidate and the associate of Prince Abubakar Audu at the already concluded election, constitutionally and automatically becomes the governor-elect of the state.’’
Faleke’s counsel added, “With further respect to INEC, cancellation of election results by it cannot be grounds for declaring any election as inconclusive. INEC is enjoined to declare a winner of an election based on lawful votes cast. Thus, the cancelled results by INEC, for whatever reasons, and assuming without conceding that INEC could legitimately cancel such results, amount to unlawful votes.
‘‘In effect, INEC cannot declare a well conducted election as inconclusive based on unlawful votes.
‘‘What INEC should do is to obey, respect and comply with the letter, spirit, intendment and tenor of the Constitution, by not only declaring APC as the winner of the election, but by also declaring our client as the Governor-elect.
‘‘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. Assuming without conceding that INEC is even right to order a supplementary election, the votes already cast, counted and declared on Saturday and Sunday, 21st and 22nd 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.’’
He added that any attempt to embark on the proposed supplementary election would be challenged by his client.
In his letter to Odigie-Oyegun, Olanipekun urged the APC not only to support Faleke in the actualisation of the mandate already given to him by the party but to also distance itself from the “Greek gift” being offered to it by INEC, to conduct a fresh primary with the view to producing a candidate for the scheduled supplementary election ‘‘where only about 25,000 PVCs are available; whereas the APC is already leading, by the announced results, with over 40,000 votes.’’
He said, “Needless reminding Mr. Chairman that by the announced results, APC scored 240,867 votes, while PDP polled 199,514. The cancelled votes amount to 49,953. Under Section 61(c) of the Electoral Act 2010, once a Returning Officer announces and declares the result of an election, his declaration is final, and can only be reviewed or upturned by an election tribunal. In other words, the scores already announced for APC remain final and binding.
“Section 181 (1) of the Constitution again comes into play under the present circumstances, vis-à-vis the death of Prince Abubakar Audu. The section is all-embracing, as it covers all institutions and reasons. It mandates, in no unmistakable language, that the deputy governor-elect shall take over and be sworn in.
“By parity of reasoning, the APC shall be declared as the winner of the election by INEC, while our client is declared as the governor-elect.”
Source: Punch Newspaper