SC Upholds Bello’s Election, Dismisses Wada, Faleke’s Appeals

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By Tobi Soniyi

The Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed the return of Mr. Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress as the elected governor of Kogi State.

In unanimous judgments in four separate appeals, the apex court held that Bello was properly substituted to replace the late Abubakar Audu as the candidate of the APC during the 2015 governorship election in the state.

In the first appeal filed by James Faleke who was the running mate to the late Abubakar Audu,  the court held that his appeal was un-meritorious and it was subsequently dismissed on that ground.

In the judgment delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun , the apex court rejected the arguments of the counsel to Faleke, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN).

The court however did not give detail explanation for its position but fixed Friday, September 30, 2016 to give reasons for its decision.

The second appeal filed by the immediate-past governor of the state, Capt. Idris Wada was also dismissed.

Justice  Nwali, Sylvester Ngwuta who delivered the judgment of the court in that appeal held that the appeal lacked merit.

The court refused to order  a fresh governorship election in the state as prayed by the appellant.

The Supreme Court said that section 141 of the Electoral Act 2010 relied upon by the former governor to pray for fresh conduct of the election was no longer a law in Nigeria, having been set aside in 2011 by a Federal High Court in a matter between the Labour Party, the Attorney General and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In two other appeals filed by African Democratic Congress (ADC) and the Labour Party (LP), the court in a similar way dismissed them for lacking in merit.

Justice John Iyang Okoro  who gave judgment in ‎the appeal by ADC held that the appeal was devoid of merit.

In the matter of Labour Party, Justice Musa Dattijo Mohammed upheld the preliminary objection of governor Bello against the appeal and struck out the appeal for being incompetent.

The apex court upheld the concurrent findings of the Court of Appeal delivered on August 4, 2016 and that of the state governorship election tribunal delivered on June 6, 2016.

Reasons for the four judgments will be given by the court on September 30, 2016.

Earlier, Olanipekun who stood for Faleke had urged the court to invoke section 187 of the constitution to declare his client winner of the election on the combined effect of his joint ticket with late Abubakar Audu and that the election had technically been concluded at the time Audu died.

Wada in his submission by Chris Uche (SAN) had urged the to invoke section 141 of the Electoral Act against Governor Bello on the grounds that he (Bello) did not participate in the stages of the election.