By Chris Nomjov
The All Progressive Congress (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.
Meanwhile, the running mate of late Abubakar Audu, gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Late Abubakar Audu, in the November 21 election, Mr. Abiodun Faleke has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare him winner of the poll.
In a letter addressed to Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of INEC, Faleke argued that “the election had been concluded and completed in compliance with the provision of the constitution”. He faulted the decision of the electoral body to declare the exercise inconclusive, describing it as “unconstitutional”.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted election to the office of governor of Kogi state on Saturday, 21st November, 2015,” read the letter issued on his behalf by Wole Olanipekun, his counsel.
“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.
Hence, Emmanuel Kucha, the returning officer, explained that supplementary election will hold across 91 polling units in 18 local government areas. Thereafter, INEC scheduled the fresh poll for December 5 and asked APC to replace Audu.
However, 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”.