All Progressives Congress in the Kogi East Senatorial State has added more twists to the controversy surrounding last Saturday’s inconclusive Kogi State Governorship election as it has nominated Mohammed Audu, first son of late Abubakar Audu, as replacement.
The decision was arrived at as leaders of the party in the senatorial district met in what was tagged a stakeholders and delegates’ meeting in Lokoja, the state capital, Thursday.
The development comes in the wake of running mate to the late Abubakar Audu, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 21 election, Abiodun Faleke’s decision to formally write the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) asking that he be declared winner of the poll.
Prince Abubakar Audu died, Sunday, as results of the election were being announced by INEC, leading to the electoral body to schedule a supplementary election for December 5 in the disputed areas of the state which the commission had faulted results.
Spokesman for the leaders, Mr Daniel Isah, who is the Vice Chairman of APC in Kogi East, said that the decision to present Mohammed, 43, was arrived at after due consultations.
According to him, they have resolved and are determined to back Mohammed to replace his father if the National Working Committee orders fresh primaries.
Isah thanked the Independent National Electoral Commission and the national leadership of the party for the opportunity given to them to find a replacement for Audu who died on 23 November at Ogbonicha, Ofu Local Government.
However, Faleke, in the letter through his lawyer, Thursday, Wole Olaonipekun, maintained that “the election had been concluded and completed in compliance with the provision of the constitution”.
He said INEC’s decision to declare the election inconclusive was “unconstitutional”.
“The election was held in all the 21 local government areas of the state: and to the best of our knowledge, information and belief, the said election was peaceful, and also in substantial conformity and compliance with the provisions of the electoral act, m2010 (as amended).
INEC had explained that the margin of votes between the two leading contenders was less than the number of cancelled votes, in contravention of a provision of the electoral act. Audu, who was leading the election, polled 240,861 votes, while his key opponent, Idris Wada, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), secured 199,514 votes. The margin between the two results was 41,353, while the total number of cancelled votes was 49,953.
Emmanuel Kucha, the returning officer, explained that supplementary election will hold across 91 polling units in 18 local government areas. Subsequently, INEC scheduled the fresh poll for December 5 and asked APC to replace Audu. But Faleke expressed dissatisfaction, saying he ran on a joint ticket with the deceased, and it will be improper to give the votes already cast in the substantive election to a fresh candidate.
“In law and logic, no new candidate can inherit or be a beneficiary of the votes already cast, counted and declared by INEC before that candidate was nominated and purportedly sponsored,” the letter read.
“Assuming without conceding that INEC is even right to order a supplementary election, the votes already cast, counted and declared on Saturday, 25th November 2015, were votes for the joint constitutional ticket of Prince Abubakar Audu and our client.
“Therefore, no new or supplementary candidate can hijack, aggregate, appropriate or inherit the said votes. “Our client believes that election to the office of governor of Kogi state had been conducted and completed in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. Therefore, INEC has no alternative or discretion other than to announce the result of the election and declare our client as the winner.
“INEC is enjoined to declare a winner of an election based on lawful votes cast. Thus, the cancelled results by INEC, for whatever reasons, and assuming without conceding that INEC could legitimately cancel such results, amount to unlawful votes.
“In effect, INEC cannot declare a well conducted election as inconclusive based on unlawful votes. INEC is inadvertently prompting an avoidable political and legal crisis. What INEC should do is to obey, respect and comply with the letters, spirit, intendment and tenor of the constitution, by not only declaring APC as the winner of the election, but by also declaring our client as the governor-elect.
” Already, the PDP has asked the electoral body to declare its candidate winner on the grounds that the death of Audu left the APC with “no valid candidate”. On the other hand, the APC in Kogi east has nominated Audu’s first son to replace him in the supplementary poll, while the leadership of the party is planning to hold a fresh primary, which about 27 APC candidates have declared interest to participate in,” the letter continued.