As a result of the controversial and sudden death of the Kogi state All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Abubakar Audu, APC leaders summoned a meeting at Abuja today to sort matters out.
According to The Punch, the aim of the meeting is to devise ways out of the political bottleneck and legal stand-off his death has landed them into. It is expected that all members of the party’s National Working Committee and other national leaders will be present at the meeting.
It is also perceived that they may use the same platform to write to the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, to formally inform the commission of the death of the Kogi Governorship aspirant, Audu Abubakar.
Since the country’s 1999 constitution did not make a clear provision for the replacement of a dead political aspirant such as in this case, what to do next is still undecided. In fact, a top official of INEC told Premium Times on Monday in Abuja that the commission was in a ‘deep state of confusion’.
Section 37 of the Electoral Act, which deals with the withdrawal of candidates, merely explains how a candidate can be replaced if such a candidate dies after nomination. The section states,
If after the time of the delivery of nomination paper and before the commencement of the poll, a nominated candidate dies, the Chief National Electoral Commissioner or the Resident Electoral Commissioner shall, being satisfied about the fact of death, countermand the poll in which the deceased candidate was to participate and the commission shall appoint some other convenient date for the election.”
Also, Section 181 (sub-sections 1 and 2) explains what should be done if a candidate dies after he has been elected. It states,
If a person duly elected as Governor dies before taking and subscribing the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office, or is unable for any reason whatsoever to be sworn in, the person elected with him as Deputy governor shall be sworn in as Governor and he shall nominate a new Deputy Governor who shall be appointed by the Governor with the approval of a simple majority of the House of assembly of the State”.
However, according to the party leader, it is hoped that the legal officer of the party and other senior lawyers will advise the party on the alternative to the late Kogi politician and the current decision of INEC to declare the poll inconclusive. These were his words:
What I can tell you is that we are meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) and the secretary may be directed to write INEC informing it about the death of Audu. We will be waiting for the commission’s response, but on our own, we will invite some senior lawyers for advice on the issue.”
Although legal provisions for the situation at hand is not available now, the INEC has promised it will apply whichever available constitutional provisions that best suits the current situation.
Meanwhile, the deceased Abubakar Audu has been committed to mother earth in his residence at Ogbonicha, Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi state.