Electoral Act Amendment: Lawyer Wants Votes To Count For Candidate Not Party

ikechukwu-ikejiA Nigerian lawyer, Ikechukwu Ikeji, is of the view that votes in elections should count for the candidate of a political party and not the party.

Mr Ikeji said that with such clause in the Electoral Act, when any candidate of a political party dies, he should die with the votes he had gotten in the process of the election, as seen in Kogi State last year.

The candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the Kogi State governorship election, Mr Abubakar Audu, had died in the course of the election and his votes were transferred to another a ‘replacement candidate’.

The decision had triggered controversy within the APC and even within the political sector.

To address the situation should such occur in future, the Senate decided to amend the Electoral Act to give a period not more than 21 days to the parties to present a replacement or take whatever  decision that should be taken before the election would continue.

But Mr Ikeji believes the candidate should die with his votes.

“It is fair that votes to be attached to a candidate and not to the political party.

“Presently, as it is, votes count for the party not the candidate.

“By the intendment of the constitution, the vote belongs to the candidate,” he stated.

The Supreme Court while giving its ruling on a suit that was filed by one of the candidates in the Kogi election against the emergence of Mr Yahaya Bello as the governor, apportioned the vote to the political party, declaring Mr Yahaya, who completed an election that late Audu started the winner.

On the decision of the Supreme Court, Mr Ikeji said: “It was strange to me that the Supreme Court will lift vote belonging to one person and give it to another.

“Some people would have voted for Mr Audu because they wanted him and not Mr Bello while some, who would not have voted for Mr Audu, will vote for Mr Bello because he is their preferred candidate,” the lawyer pointed out.

He insisted that by the operation of law,”the Supreme Court ought to have either called for a fresh election or asked that the election be concluded in favour of the people who are already candidates”.

The Senate had amended the Electoral Act to ensure that a proper procedure is followed in situations where a candidate of a political party dies in an election.

Mr Ikeji welcomed the decision of the National Assembly to amend the law to settle such circumstances, pointing out that “law making is to cure mischief or apparent defects”.

Senate Continues Amendment Of Electoral Act

Senate Continues Amendment Of Electoral ActThe Nigerian Senate has moved to correct the lacuna in the Electoral Act which came to the fore in the Kogi governorship election on November 2015 where the governorship candidate Abubakar Audu died after the election but before the result was announced.

To address this controversy, the upper chamber is recommending that in the event a governorship or presidential candidate dies after an election but before the result is announced, the party shall conduct a fresh primary within 14 days to get a new candidate.

The Senate approved the recommendation as part of its amended electoral bill which also provides that INEC shall suspend the conduct of a new election for 21 days when the death of a candidate is recorded after the commencement of an election and before the announcement of result.

The Senate is also amending clause 10 of the bill, which seeks to amend the Electoral Act on the use of card readers.

The amendment insists on the use of card readers but makes allowances for likely failure of card readers.

The Senate is also amending the Electoral Act prescribing a five-year jail sentence for any presiding officer who intentionally tampers with election records.

Supreme Court Gives Reasons For Judgement On Kogi Governorship Tussle

Supreme Court, Kogi GovernorshipThe Supreme Court has given reasons why it upheld the election of Mr Yahaya Bello as the duly elected Governor of Kogi State.

The Court held that Mr‎ James Faleke, the deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 governorship election cannot be declared winner of the poll having failed to participate in the primary elections of the All Progressives Congress.

The apex court, among others, said that Faleke, whose joint ticket with the governorship candidate of the party, late Prince Abubakar Audu, had garnered 240,873 votes before Audu died, cannot benefit from the vote or take the place of Audu, because he did not meet the condition precedent.

In the reasons, advanced for the summary judgment, delivered on September 20, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, held that Faleke did not obtain nomination form, did not participate in the primary election and as such, cannot under any circumstances, be made the governorship candidate to replace 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 issued by the electoral body, Faleke, as a running mate, cannot claim ‎victory in the election.

The apex court upheld the substitution of Yahaya Bello to replace Audu 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.

Faleke’s Argument

Mr James Faleke of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had challenged the decision of the Kogi State governorship election petition tribunal which upheld the election of Yahaya Bello as the validly elected governor.

Mr James Falake was the deputy governorship candidate to late Abubakar Audu who died before the conclusion of the governorship election that was to see him elected as governor.

Yahaya Bello was then presented by the party, All Progressives Congress (APC) as replacement for Audu, a decision Mr Faleke challenged, arguing that he should have stepped into the position, having together with the late Audu gone through the election process.

He approached the Supreme Court after being dissatisfied with the judgement of the election tribunal and Appeal Court which both upheld Yahaya’s eligibility.

There had been four appeals against the Court of Appeal rulings with the Supreme Court expected to decide if Mr Bello should continue as Kogi governor or vacate office.

One of the appeals was by the immediate past governor of the state and candidate of the opposition PDP, Idris Wada.

The Supreme Court went ahead to uphold the election of Mr Yahaya Bello as the duly elected Governor of Kogi State.

 

Kogi Governorship: Bello Calls Victory “Act Of God”

Kogi, Yahaya Bello, Supreme CourtKogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has described his victory at the Supreme Court as an act of God, saying it shows that Nigeria honours democracy.

Governor Bello made the declaration in statement on Tuesday by his spokesman, Mr Kingsley Fanwon, after the judgement.

He said his victory at the Supreme Court was a big honour to democracy.

The Governor dedicated the victory to the people of Kogi State who believed in transforming the state from potentially great state to a really great state.

However, he warned his supporters against unbridled celebration, saying the moment was a challenge to the state’s residents to reflect on how to make the state great.

Governor Bello pledged to continue to pursue his cardinal goals of improving education, reinventing healthcare, boosting infrastructural development and raising the capacity of the state’s citizens to reinvigorate the economy.

He thanked the judiciary for raising to the occasion and standing firm with what he said was true and just.

Supreme Court Ruling

Earlier on Tuesday, the Supreme Court upheld the election of Mr Yahaya Bello as the duly elected Governor of Kogi State.

A seven-man panel headed by Justice Sylvester Ngwata affirmed the election after listening to the closing statements of all the counsel.

The court also said it would provide reasons for its decision on September 30.

In a swift reaction, the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Mr Idris Wada, said he was yet to study the judgement.

Mr Wada, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Strategy, Mr Jacob Edi, noted that he cannot make any comment until a copy of the Supreme Court judgement was made available to him.

Supreme Court Upholds Yahaya Bello’s Election As Kogi Governor

Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court has upheld the election of Mr Yahaya Bello as the duly elected Governor of Kogi State.

The seven-man panel headed by Justice Sylvester Ngwata affirmed the election after listening to the closing statements of all the counsel.

The court also said it would provide reasons for its decision on September 30.

There had been four appeals against the Court of Appeal rulings with the Supreme Court expected to decide if Mr Bello should continue as Kogi governor or vacate office.

One of the appeals was by the immediate past governor of the state and candidate of the opposition PDP, Idris Wada, while another was by Mr James Faleke who was the deputy governorship candidate to late Abubakar Audu.

Mr James Faleke of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had challenged the decision of the Kogi State governorship election petition tribunal which upheld the election of Yahaya Bello as the validly elected governor.

Mr James Falake was the deputy governorship candidate to late Abubakar Audu who died before the conclusion of the governorship election that was to see him elected as governor.

Yahaya Bello was then presented by the party, All Progressives Congress (APC) as replacement for Audu, a decision Mr Faleke challenged, arguing that he should have stepped into the position, having together with the late Audu gone through the election process.

He approached the Supreme Court after being dissatisfied with the judgement of the election tribunal and Appeal Court which both upheld Yahaya’s eligibility.

Law and Order

It is expected that Kogi State would be peaceful in spite of the judgment which would be met with different reactions by parties involved.

The Kogi State Police Command had warned that it would deal decisively, in accordance of the law, with anyone caught taking laws into his hands, as the Supreme Court delivers its judgment.

The State Police Commissioner, Abdullahi Chafi, gave the warning while addressing newsmen at his office on Friday.

The CP further stressed that intelligent report reaching the command revealed that some miscreants were planning to create crisis before, during and after the Supreme Court judgement.

While warning parents to caution their wards, political party heads and their supporters, he said that his command was fully ready to deal with whoever disobeys the law.

He also placed a ban on any kind of public celebration by anybody or groups after the court judgement.

Appeal Court Dismisses Faleke’s Appeal Against Yahaya Bello’s Election

James Faleke, Yahaya Bello, APC, Kogi State, Appeal Court
Mr James Faleke

The Court of Appeal  sitting in Abuja has dismissed the suit filed by Mr James Faleke, challenging the election of Mr Yahaya Bello as Kogi State Governor.

The 5-man panel of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja ruled that Faleke’s case lacks merit.

The appellate court had earlier reserved the judgment after hearing submission from all parties involved in the matter.

Counsel for Faleke, Akin Olujimi, had urged the Appeal Court to set aside the decision of the Kogi election tribunal and invalidate the election of Yahaya Bello on the ground that Bello was not properly nominated.

He submitted that Bello did not undergo all the electioneering processes as required by law before he emerged as his party’s candidate in the re-run election.

Yahaya Bello
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello

In his own submission, Joseph Daodu, who is counsel for Governor Bello, insisted that the issue of nomination of candidates for election was the sole responsibility of a political party.

Daodu submitted that Governor Bello, having been nominated by the APC in compliance with the existing law and authority of the party remained the candidate of his party in the election.

Counsel for INEC, Ahmed Raji, asked the court to uphold the election of Yahaya Bello on the ground that he was properly nominated by APC as a replacement to Abubakar Audu who passed away during the election.

The Tribunal

Mr James Faleke ran as deputy governorship candidate with Mr. Audu. It looked as though they were coasting to victory before Mr. Audu suddenly died.


INEC declared the election inconclusive and asked the APC to nominate a replacement for the deceased. Mr. Yahaya Bello was nominated and he nominated Mr. Faleke as his deputy, an offer the latter refused.

A three-man tribunal led by Justice Halima Mohammed, on June 6, held that Faleke lacked locus standi to challenge Bello’s election having never been sponsored by his party, the APC, as a governorship candidate in both the November 21, 2015 election and the December 6, 2015 supplementary poll.

The Chairman of the Tribunal, Halima Mohammed, who read the judgment in the petition filed by Mr Faleke, threw away the petition for lacking in merit.

She said the fact that INEC declared the election of November 21, 2015 inconclusive meant no governor or deputy governor-elect emerged, and Mr Faleke therefore had no basis to challenge the nomination of Mr Bello to replace the late Mr Audu.

 

Appeal Court Reserves Judgment on Kogi Election Petition

Appeal Court, kogi electionAppeal court Abuja division has reserved judgement in Kogi governorship legal tussle till a date to be communicated to parties.

The appellate court reserved the judgment after hearing submission from all parties involved in the matter.

The appeals were filed by James Faleke of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the decision of the Kogi State governorship election petition tribunal which upheld the election of Yahaya Bello as the validly elected governor.

Counsel for Faleke, Akin Olujimi, urged the Appeal Court to set aside the decision of the tribunal and invalidate the election of Yahaya Bello on the ground that Bello was not properly nominated.

He submitted that Bello did not undergo all the electioneering processes as required by law before he emerged as his party’s candidate in re-run election.

In his own submission, Joseph Daodu, who is counsel for Governor Bello, insisted that the issue of nomination of candidates for election was the sole responsibility of a political party.

Daodu submitted that Governor Bello, having been nominated by the APC in compliance with the existing law and authority of the party remained the candidate of his party in the election.

While counsel for INEC, Ahmed Raji, asked the court to uphold the election of Yahaya Bello on the ground that he was properly nominated by APC as a replacement to Abubakar Audu who passed away during the election.

Justice Hannatu Sankey, who presided over the sitting announced that the date for judgment would be communicated to parties in the matter.

Faleke Vows To Appeal Tribunal’s Judgment

James-FalekeReactions have continued to trail the judgment of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which dismissed a petition filed by Mr James Faleke, challenging the election of Mr Yahaya Bello as the Governor of Kogi State.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja on Monday after the Tribunal’s verdict, Mr James Faleke announced plans to appeal the judgment.

He said: “One thing I can say is that the judges have delivered their own judgment.

“I am going to consult my own lawyers and I am very certain that we will appeal the judgment.

“I think that there are certain sections of the judgment that I have seen on the Tv.

“I am not a lawyer, but I believe it is not in tune with our constitution.

“That I don’t have locus standi, is very interesting.

“It is interesting to say that a candidate that is empowered by the constitution does not have a locus standi,” Mr Faleke stated.

He said the Tribunal erred in law by dismissing his petition without examining the whole merit of his case.

“The judgment said that the party had the right to choose a candidate, but only limited to a period before the election.

“If it is before the election, which of the elections are they referring to?” he questioned.

Mr Faleke further pointed out that the judges did not look at the main subject of his petition.

He was the running mate of Mr Abubakar Audu, the initial candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the Kogi State governorship election.

Mr Audu was leading in the election before he died a day after the election was held.

He was, however, replaced with My Yahaya Bello, a decision that Mr Faleke strongly opposed, refusing to be the running mate of Mr Bello.

After Mr bello was sworn in as Governor, he filed a petition, claiming he was the right candidate to take over late Audu’s position.

Victory For Democracy

Meanwhile, Governor Bello, shortly after the declaration by the Tribunal, described his victory as divine and a victory for democracy and the people in the state.

He further told the political class in the state to join hands with him in building a virile state that would match other states.

The Governor also said that the victory was not a surprise, as it was destined by God.

 

“It is significant, as it came on the first day of Ramadan.

“Well, everybody has the right. Just like he has the right to go on the Tribunal, he has the right to go and appeal up to Supreme Court level.

“But I am only extending my hands of fellowship to him to come over. There is a lot to be done, both in the state and the National Assembly, instead of washing our dirty linen in the public,” Governor Bello reiterated.

Kogi Tribunal Dismisses Faleke’s Petition Against Yahaya Bello’s Election

James Faleke, Yahaya Bello, APC, Kogi StateThe Kogi State governorship election tribunal has ruled that the failure of Mr James Faleke to join INEC in his petition against the election of Governor Yahaya Bello is a major defect to the petition.

Tribunal ruled that James Faleke lacks the locus standi to challenge the substitution of Late Audu Abubakar having not participated in the APC primaries that produced Audu Abubakar

The Tribunal further held that the constitution does not recognize independent candidates as political parties are the ones vested with the power to nominate and sponsor a candidate for any election.

The Tribunal added that the APC was legally right to substitute its candidate due to force majeur as the November 21 election was declared inconclusive.

It is parties that win and lose an election and APC was duly invited by INEC to present a new candidate following the death of Prince Audu Abubakar.

Records before the court showed that Yahaya Bello participated in the APC primaries that produced Audu and emerged as the runner up.

Tribunal holds that there is valid material before it confirming the sponsorship of Yahaya Bello and having contested the primaries against Prince Audu, he was the best person to step into the shoes of the late Audu.

Tribunal also dismissed Faleke’s claims that the 240,687 votes of November 21 was transferred to Bello because it held that the votes belong to the APC and not Prince Audu.

Mr James Faleke of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had asked the Kogi State election petition tribunal to declare him as the authentic winner of the November 21, 2015 governorship election in Kogi State on the ground that the current Governor, Mr Yahaya Bello never participated in the said election.

The petitioner, Mr Faleke was running as the deputy governorship candidate under the late Abubakar Audu up until INEC declared the poll inconclusive after Mr Audu died.

INEC went ahead to ask the APC to nominate a replacement for the deceased.

Mr Bello was nominated and he selected Mr Faleke as his deputy, but Mr Faleke declined.

Mr Faleke thereafter approached the tribunal asking it to declare him governor-elect.

Kogi Governorship: Hearing On James Faleke’s Petition Continues

James FalekeThe Kogi State election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja has been asked to declare Mr James Faleke of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the authentic winner of the November 21, 2015 governorship election in Kogi State on the ground that the current Governor, Mr Yahaya Bello never participated in the said election.

At the hearing of the petition filed by Mr Faleke, he claimed that the election was wrongly declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and that the December 5, 2015 supplementary election was unnecessary.

He also told the tribunal that he was not aware that Governor Yahaya Bello is a member of the All Progressives Congress.

Mr Faleke, who adopted his written statement, further said that he had a joint ticket with the late Abubakar Audu and his death had nothing to do with the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission to declare the election inconclusive.

Hearing of the petition has been adjourned to the March 15 to enable the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) respond to the petition as the first respondent.

Simon Achuba Becomes Kogi Deputy Governor

Simon-ChubaSimon Achuba has been sworn in as the Deputy Governor of Kogi State.

His swearing in took place on Tuesday in Lokoja the capital of the north-central state.

Mr Chuba filled the vacuum in the deputy governorship position after Mr James Faleke refused to be Governor Yahaya Bello’s deputy.

Mr Achuba last year defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and he is a former Deputy Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly.

Mr Faleke wanted the position of the Governor after the governorship candidate in the election, Mr Abubakar Audu, died a day after the governorship election.

The election was declared inconclusive, with a supplementary election scheduled for a later date.

The APC was asked to substitute the late candidate, but Mr Faleke insisted that he should be the next in line for the position.

After the party was mandated to replace late Audu, it chose Mr Bello as the substitute, a decision that angered Mr Faleke, who subsequently refused to be Mr Bello’s deputy.

Supplementary election was held and the APC won the governorship seat, with the position of the deputy still vacant.

Contesting the results of the election, Mr Faleke filed a petition at the State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal to push his claims to the governorship position.

He is challenging the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in declaring the election of November 21 inclusive.

 

Lagos PDP Gives Faleke Ultimatum To Declare Polling Unit

falekeThe PDP in Lagos State is asking the leadership of the House of Representatives to exhibit non-partisanship by stating if Mr James Faleke is still a member of the lower chamber.

The chairman of the party, Mr Tunji Shelle, in a statement on Sunday, described Mr Faleke’s status in the House as that of a usurper.

The PDP said that this is because since Mr Faleke ran for election in Kogi State, he must have transferred his voting unit to Kogi State, which makes him ineligible to represent Ikeja of Lagos State in the House of Representatives.

The PDP argued that Hon. Faleke should not continue to represent Ikeja Constituency because he presently has his voting unit relocated to Kogi State.

The party then said that it was giving a 7-day ultimatum from Monday, December 21, to Honorable James Faleke to declare his present place of voter’s registration and for INEC to clear the air on the appropriateness of Faleke inter-changing polling units within a period of less than six months.

The PDP threatened, “If the demand is not met within the period of this ultimatum, we shall use all means permitted and effective to reclaim the seat for Lagos State.”

The PDP also asked the House leadership led by Mr Yakubu Dogara not to allow this situation it referred to as a contraption to stand.

The party said that the situation is politically immoral and illegal, and is an open assault on democracy.