The Appeal Court, sitting in Abuja, has thrown out an application by James Faleke, the running mate to late Abubakar Audu in the 2015 Kogi governorship election, seeking to nullify the nomination of Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as Governor of the state.
Bello was nominated by the APC to replace the late Audu following his death before the completion of the election, a decision which was contested by Faleke at the Election Tribunal.
Faleke had argued that the votes polled by the party in the election were his, since he was a joint candidate to Audu.
Halima Mohammed, Justice of the tribunal however dismissed Faleke’s petition declaring that he could not be declared governor because he did not participate in the APC primary.
Mohammed added that Faleke was not nominated by the APC as its substantive candidate in the governorship election and as such has no claim to the seat.
She stated that the APC was right to have nominated Bello to replace the late Audu as its candidate in the December 2015 supplementary election since he participated in the primaries.
The tribunal held that Faleke remained the valid Deputy Governor of the state because there was no evidence to show that he wrote to his party withdrawing his candidature as Deputy Governor, as required by law.?
Dissatisfied, Faleke approached the Appeal Court seeking to upturn the judgement of the tribunal.
But in his ruling, on Thursday, Justice Jummai Sankey noted that according to Section 221 of the Nigerian constitution, only the party could canvass for votes.
Sankey held that Faleke joined Audu after the primaries had been concluded, but Bello, whom the APC choose, participated in the primary election that produced Audu as candidate and was runner-up.
She declared that the constitution does not recognise independent candidature, adding that Faleke could not lay claims to the number of votes polled before the demise of Audu.
“So it may be said that he is not a candidate,” Sankey said.
“The nomination of Bello to replace the late Audu did not contravene the constitution or the electoral act.”