The All Progressive Congress (APC) running mate of Late Prince Audu Abubakar in the Kogi state governorship election, Mr. James Abiodun Faleke has rejected the party’s choice of Alhaji Yahaya Bello for the supplementary election on Saturday, as a replacement for the late governorship candidate. This disclosure was made known in a second letter written by Faleke yesterday to the party’s national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
According to Faleke, he is not prepared to give up his ‘mandate’ for any reason whatsoever.
The election, which was basically won by the APC was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), following the inability of some registered voters to vote in 91 units, hence the organisation of a supplementary election.
In a letter to the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Faleke dissociated himself from the supplementary poll, which he insisted was unnecessary since the November 21 governorship election produced the candidates of the APC as clear winners. He continues to insist that he should be declared governor-elect instead. Faleke wrote:
Please take this letter as confirmation to dissociate myself from the unusual and strange supplementary nomination of my humble self as running mate to Alhaji Yahaya Bello, this also serves as a notice of rejection of the purported and illegal nomination of myself as running mate to Alhaji Yahaya Bello,”
He said it would amount to a betrayal of trust and injustice on the part of the party to pick Bello who, according to him, joined forces with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the APC during the election.
Aside that, Faleke faulted the APC for not consulting him before his name was forwarded as running mate to Bello.
“I wish to put it on record that I was neither consulted by anybody before my name was submitted as running mate to a man who has since the conduct of primaries, abandoned the party, took the party to court, worked for the PDP, thereby causing our party to lose his polling unit 80 votes to his ally party PDPs 116, repeating same feat at the Ward level with APC scoring 1,146 to PDP’s 2,058.
While it is true that the said Alhaji Yahaya Bello participated in our party primaries, its trite that party primaries are conducted to produce a candidate and once a candidate is produced, the congress, being an ad-hoc tool for that purpose, should automatically extinguish.
It is clear from this injustice, that our party is on the path of rewarding disloyalty and discourage loyalty through this act of impunity for which we all fought the PDP.
It may also interest you Mr. Chairman Sir, that the said Yahaya Bello, since the conduct of the primaries, had been aloof from party activities as it is on record that he did not attend a single meeting or campaign rally of the party.
Mr. Chairman Sir, I am sure that it is neither in your interest, nor that of the party in particular and the public in general to lord an illegality on the people of Kogi State.
Please, take note that I am not interested in surrendering the mandate the people of Kogi State bestowed on the Audu/Faleke joint ticket at the November 21 poll as I remain the governor-elect.
I believe in the leadership of our great party to resolve this in the shortest possible time, failure upon which I shall be forced to seek redress in the court of law.”
Faleke in the four page letter written by his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun and entitled –
RE: JUST CONCLUDED GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION IN KOGI STATE -APC SHOULD NOT SIDETRACK JAMES ABIODUN FALEKE OR SUPER IMPOSE ON HIM ANY OTHER PERSON OR CANDIDATE, said:
“While reiterating and adopting the position of our client as highlighted, expressed and conveyed in our first letter, permit us, most humbly, but frankly to add the following points on behalf and instruction of our client, that is to say:
(i) The Issue involved is that of constitutional, formal and legal imperatives, rather than political expediency. In the eyes of the Constitution and the law, our client is the governor-elect of Kogi State. There is no gainsaying this fact. It is a truism that cannot be discounted.
(ii) It is the duty of the APC to champion the actualization of its mandate, as well as that of our client. In this wise, we most humbly advise and caution that the party should be minded of the Ides of November, because the idea being sold to the APC by the INEC to go and hold a supplementary primary election for the purpose of bringing forth a governorship candidate to contest a supplementary election in 91 polling units is saturated with deleterious legal and constitutional landmines. We posit without any hesitation that at this stage, INEC and all the political parties that took part in the concluded election have reached a point of no return. Thus our client can neither be jettisoned by the APC, nor can a new or fresh candidate be imposed on him as his Principal. The law also does not recognize this type of supplementary election in 91 polling units, with total number of eligible voters with PVCs not more than 25,000 or thereabout. Otherwise, if the law and Constitution allow it, Kogi State would end up holding a supplementary election, which would also produce a supplementary governor. Put bluntly, there cannot be any legitimate Governor of Kogi State who would emerge from the supplementary election (outside our client) with a maximum of 25,000 votes, assuming all the registered voters with PVCs cast their votes for the anticipatory supplementary governor will also be likened to a Governor of 91 polling units. May we quickly draw your attention to Section 179 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution which states:
“(2) A candidate of an election to the office of Governor of a state shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being two or more candidates –
(b) He has not less than one-quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the state.”
Continuing, he said: “It was the contention of PDP that the then Deputy Governor-elect, Boni Haruna automatically became and assumed the position of governor-elect. The PDP took the matter to court and, at the end of the legal pilgrimage, the Supreme Court agreed with the PDP. Then the Deputy Governor-elect, Boni Haruna, not only assumed position as Governor, but spent two terms in office. With very high respect, we do not expect the APC to do less.
“When the late Umaru Yar’Adua was terminally sick, some leading members of your party in coalition with some decent forces in the country, bandying the ‘doctrine of necessity’ championed the cause of the then Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan to be appointed President. At the end of it all, the National Assembly acceded to this clarion call and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan metamorphosed to acting President. Thereafter, he became substantive President for six years. The point being made by us is that if we could rely on the doctrine of necessity and maximally utilize same to make Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, the sitting President, it then goes without saying that both INEC and the APC must submit themselves to the doctrine of constitutional imperative and/or necessity to allow our client to be Governor – elect of Kogi State.”
Some Itobe youths have also taken to violent protests on the same issue such that motorists were forced off the roads in the area. It got so bad that some travelers had to continue their journey using the waterways at Shintako.
The protesters who were mainly Igala-speaking said it would be unfair to have an Ebira as governor of the state when the Chief Judge and the Speaker of the state assembly are also Ebira.
A lawyer who was travelling to Odu in Dekina Local Government area said he had to make a detour to avoid running into the protesters.
He said, “I did not envisage this, but I had no option than to turn round and continue on my journey through Shintako. I had to pay N2, 500 to put my vehicle on the ferry across the water to Bassa, from where I continued”.
Efforts made to get response from the police on what it is doing to forestall the protest spreading to other areas of the state was unsuccessful as at the time of this report.
The Head of Media, Prince Abubakar Audu/Faleke campaign organization, Dr Tom Ohikere at a press conference in Lokoja warned the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, to avoid any act capable of setting Kogi State on fire.
According to Ohikere, the presidency and APC leadership cannot pretend to be unaware of the provisions of the law, where a running mate to a deceased candidate in an ongoing election steps in as the party’s flag bearer.
Let me open up to you now. Our political mentor and father, the late Prince Audu on his dying bed, gave instruction to us (his followers), that should he not make it, the baton must be passed to his running mate, Faleke, who he said is capable of carrying on with his vision.
I want to categorically tell you that the party/executive’s conspiracy started when they heard that Prince Audu was dead, and in an ulterior move to avoid a non-Muslim from stepping in, the INEC returning officer was quickly directed to declare the result inconclusive.”