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Kogi Tribunal Judgement: I Am Celebrating – Faleke

 James Abiodun Faleke and Mohammed Audu

“Please there is food, find something to eat. We are celebrating.”

Those were the words of James Faleke, running mate of the late Audu Abubakar, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 Kogi governorship election, shortly after the tribunal dismissed his petition‎ against Yahaya Bello, governor of the state.
The tribunal held that Faleke could not be declared governor because he did not participate in the APC primary.
But Faleke told journalists in his Abuja residence on Monday, that he would have to consult his lawyers before appealing against the judgment.
“I watched the verdict of the tribunal on TV, one thing I can say is that, the judges have delivered their own judgment, I will consult my lawyers, upon which I am very certain that we will appeal the judgment,” he said.
“I am not a lawyer, but I can say that it (the judgment) is not in tune with our constitution.”
He said that the tribunal was wrong to have ruled that he had no locus standi to file the petition.
Delivering her judgment, Halima Mohammed, justice of the tribunal, held that the APC was right to have nominated Bello to replace the late Audu as its candidate in the December 2015 supplementary election.
The judge held that Faleke had no locus-standi to file the petition since he was not nominated by the APC as its governorship candidate.
Mohammed further said that “votes cast in an election belong to a political party” which nominates‎ a candidate; hence it was lawful for the party to transfer votes polled by Audu to Bello.
She, thereafter, dismissed the petition for lacking in merit.
However, Mohammed held that Faleke remained the valid deputy governor of the state because there was no evidence to show that he wrote to his party withdrawing his candidature as deputy governor as required by law.
Faleke had petitioned the tribunal challenging the declaration of Bello as governor of Kogi state.
Faleke, who was the running mate of Audu in the election, felt slighted by the action of his party; he then asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare him winner of the election.
But INEC declined to oblige him.
He contended that he ought to have inherited the votes of Audu, who was leading in the election before it was declared inconclusive, since he was his running mate.
But electoral umpire went ahead to hold a supplementary election with Bello as a substitute candidate for the APC.
Bello’s argument was that he was duly nominated by his party to represent them in the supplementary election, and that he scored the highest number of votes in the exercise.
But Faleke maintained that Bello was unqualified to be governor of Kogi state.
Idris Wada, former governor of the state and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), also petitioned the tribunal asking it to declare him winner of the election‎.
He contended that Bello was an interloper who had no business with the exercise.
The tribunal will deliver judgment on his petition on Tuesday.
Credit: The Cable

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Yakubu Binuyaminu
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