The supreme Court of Nigeria, on Friday, stated why it affirmed the election of Yahaya Bello as the governor of Kogi State, as well as its reasons for dismissing all the appeals challenging Bello’s election in the 2015 governorship election held in the state.
The apex court had, in a unanimous judgment delivered on September 20, 2016, upheld the concurrent judgements of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal which affirming Yahaya Bello’s election and gave reasons for arriving at its decision.
According to the court, the deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), in last year’s governorship election in Kogi State, James Abiodun Faleke, cannot be declared the winner of the poll because the law did not support the request.
The Apex court, among others, said that Falake, whose joint ticket with the governorship candidate of the party, late Prince Abubakar Audu, had garnered 240,873 votes before Audu died, cannot benefit the votes or take the place of Audu, because he did not meet the condition precedent.
In the reasons, advanced for the judgment delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the court held that Falake, who did not obtain nomination form and did not participate in the primary election of the party cannot, under any circumstances, be made the governorship candidate to replace late Audu.
Besides, Justice Kekere-Ekun, said that before the sudden death of Audu, after the November 21 governorship election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had already declared the election inconclusive and that since the election had not been completed and the final result was not issued by the electoral body, Faleke, as a running mate, cannot claim victory in the election.
The Apex court, upheld the replacement of late Audu with Yahaya Bello because in the face of the law, Bello obtained nomination form, took part in the primary election and came second, unlike Faleke who did not meet that condition.
The Supreme Court said that by virtue of Section 221 of the 1991 constitution, Bello, having become the governorship candidate of the APC, and legally sponsored by the same party, can lay claim to the votes of 240,867 cast for the party in the November 21, 2015 election in the face of the law.
The Apex court said that the provision of Section 221, was clear that it is political parties that canvasses votes and be voted for in the Nigerian election and that it is only the candidate that is duly sponsored by a political party that can lay claim to such votes of the party.
In the instant case, the court insisted that Falake, having not being sponsored as a governorship candidate, by APC, in the supplementary election, of December 5, cannot lay claim to the votes of November 21 and the final result.
The Court therefore dismissed Falake’s petition for lacking in merit and upheld the nomination of Bello as a replacement to Audu and his subsequent declaration by INEC as the duly elected governor of Kogi state.