Tribunal Affirms Bello as Kogi Governor, Dismisses Faleke’s Petition

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  • My victory is divine, says gov Faleke: Verdict not in tune with constitution, I will appeal

Alex Enumah in Abuja and Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja

The Kogi State Election Petitions Tribunal monday dismissed the petition filed by Hon. James Faleke challenging the emergence of Yahaya Bello as governor of the state.

The tribunal in its judgment delivered by Justice Halima Mohammed, held that Faleke cannot be declared governor of the state on the grounds that he was not nominated by his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) ,as its substantive candidate in the 2015 Kogi State governorship election.

The tribunal stated that the APC was right when it nominated Bello to replace the late Abubakar Audu as its candidate in the December 2015 supplementary election.

It further held that Faleke had no locus-standi to file the petition since he was not nominated by the APC as its governorship candidate.

“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,” the tribunal held.
The petition was therefore dismissed 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 the state.

Crisis started when the APC replaced Audu, its late candidate in the November 21, 2015 governorship election in the state with Bello.

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 the 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 today.

Meanwhile, Bello has described his victory at tribunal as God’s divine

Speaking with journalists yesterday in Lokoja shortly after the tribunal judgment, the governor noted: “Today being the first holy day of our holy month of Ramadan, is a confirmation that this divine mandate is from Almighty Allah.
“So anything from God is good and since this mandate is from Almighty Allah, I have no doubt in my mind that we are going to have this victory today, is a victory for the party and also for us.”

The governor who described Faleke as his brother, said it was not possible to have an opponent within the party.
“This judgment is between me and my brother, Faleke. Faleke is not my opponent, we belong to the same party. It is just an explanation that he sought from the court and the court has explain to him so that he can understand.
“He is my brother. He should come and join me. All those who want to create division in the party should drop the idea. They should come and let’s unite the party. They should come with their ideas so that we can all move the state forward,” he said.

Reacting to the verdict monday, Faleke promised to proceed to the appellate court, saying the judgment was not in tune with the constitution.

He assured his people to be calm as victory was guaranteed.
“My people, we are still on course, victory will be ours at the end.
He said: “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.
“I am not a lawyer, but I can say that it (the judgment) is not in tune with our constitution.

“Well,we will consult our lawyers. I can conveniently say to you here that we are going on appeal. They gave a verdict that I don’t have locus standi. I found that very unbelievable that a court will give a verdict that a candidate who was duly nominated and had won election will be said to lack locus standi in the same election. The tribunal seemed to be completely out of context with the grounds of our petition.

“We have no problem whatsoever with the supplementary election. Our ground unequivocally had been that the election was completed on the November 21, 2015, and that we won landslide. That victory was for the people of Kogi State and nobody can take it away

“My people, we are still on course, victory will be ours at the end.