By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Supreme Court on Friday gave a detailed explanation of why it dismissed the appeal of Chief James Abiodun Faleke, who ran with the late Abubakar Audu for the Kogi State govenor’s office under the All Progressive Congress (APC). The court said that the law was not on the side of Falake and therefore his request to be declared the winner of the state governorship election held last year could not be granted. The apex court, among others, said that Falake, whose joint ticket with Audu, had garnered 240,873 votes before Audu died, could not benefit from the votes or take the place of Audu because he did not meet the condition precedent: which is to be nominated by his party.
In the reasons given for the summary judgment delivered on September 20th, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun held that Falake did not obtain nomination form, did not participate in the primary election and as such, could not, under any circumstances, be made the governorship candidate to replace Audu. Besides, she said that before the sudden death of Audu, after the November 21 governorship election, the Independent National Electoral Commission had already declared the election inconclusive and that since the election had not been completed and the final result issued by the electoral body, Faleke, as a running mate, could not claim victory in the election. The apex court upheld the replacement of 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 candidate of APC, and legally sponsored by the same party, in the face of the law, could lay claim to the votes of 240,867 cast ffor the party in the November 21, 2015 election.
The court said that the provision of Section 221, was clear that it was political parties that canvassed votes and be voted for in the elections and that it was only candidates duly sponsored by political parties, that could lay claim to such votes of their parties. 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 could not 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 for Audu and his subsequent declaration by INEC as the duly elected governor of Kogi state.