Hon. James Abiodun Faleke, the deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 21 gubernatorial election in Kogi state has refused to let the dust settle as regards the final outcome of the ill-fated gubernatorial race in the state, which saw the veteran politician, Prince Abubakar Audu lose his life in unexplainable circumstances.
Mr. Faleke, accompanied by Mohammed Audu, the son of late Audu, and lawyers, filed a petition which he submitted to the clerk at the Kogi State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal at about 12.20pm in Lokoja on Monday, with INEC and Bello as first and second respondents respectively.
It should be recalled that Mr. Faleke had filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, earlier in December, demanding that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declare him the governor-elect of the state. This happened after the nation’s electoral body, had declared the November 21 election in the state inconclusive, following the sudden death of the APC flag bearer, Prince Abubakar Audu.
Trouble started when the APC national leadership refused to allow Mr. James Faleke, who was the running mate of the late Abubakar Audu to run as the party’s flag bearer but instead chose to adopt Alhaji Yahaya Bello as the party’s candidate in the supplementary elections scheduled for December 5, 2015.
Mr. Falekae was made an offer to retain his position as running mate in the supplementary election, but he refused the offer while challenging the electoral body’s decision to declare the election inconclusive.
In the petition filed before the tribunal by his counsel, he argues that the election had already been won and lost before the supplementary poll, and therefore is seeking 12 reliefs, including four orders compelling INEC to reverse its decisions concerning the November 21 polls.
Faleke argued that the November 21 governorship election in Kogi state was valid and that he should be declared the lawful winner with a Certificate of Return presented to him. With this claim, he alleges that the December 5 supplementary election was unnecessary and as such, Yahaya Bello needed not to have come on the scene in the first place.
According to the petition, Faleke noted that: “The first respondent did not publish any list of candidates who purportedly participated at the supplementary election held on December 5, 2015.
“The second respondent, who did not register as a voter, who did not vote at the election, who did not present himself to the electorate for votes at the election, who did not participate as a candidate at the election of November 21, 2015 and who did not nominate another candidate as his associate for his running for the office of governor, who is to occupy the office of deputy governor was declared the winner of the election by the first respondent on December 5, 2015.”
He continued by saying:
“The second respondent did not register as a voter in his ward and/or at all for the governorship election in Kogi State. He did not nominate or submit to INEC any candidate as his associate for his running for the office of Governor of Kogi State as mandated by the Constitution.”
Mr. Faleke’s petition to the tribunal desires that it (the tribunal) look into the matter and declare thus:
- That election to the office of Governor of Kogi State was already conducted, completed and concluded by the 1st respondent on November 21, 2015.
- That the 1st respondent’s decision and proclamation that the governorship election held in Kogi State on November 21, 2015 was/is inconclusive, are unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful, arbitrary, null and void, and ultra vires the powers of INEC.
That the 1st respondent was under a duty to declare and pronounce the winner of the concluded governorship election of Kogi State held on November 21, 2015 and make a return accordingly.
- That upon the death of Prince Abubakar Audu before taking the oath of allegiance and oath of office, the petitioner who was elected with him as Deputy Governor should be sworn in as Governor of Kogi State.
- That the 2nd respondent was at the time of the election to the office of Governor of Kogi State on November 21, 2015, not qualified to contest the election.
- That the 2nd respondent was not qualified to contest the office of Governor of Kogi State on December 5, 2015.
That the second respondent was not elected as Governor of Kogi State by majority of lawful votes cast.
That the return of the 2nd respondent by the 1st respondent on December 5, 2015 is unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful, undemocratic, arbitrary, null and void, and also ultra vires the powers of INEC
- An order setting aside the 1st respondent’s decision and declaration that the governorship election held in Kogi State on November 21, 2015 is inconclusive.
- An order setting aside the Certificate of Return issued by the 1st respondent to the 2nd respondent and dated December 7, 2015.
- An order mandating/directing the 1st respondent to issue forthwith, to the petitioner, a Certificate of Return as the person duly elected as Governor of Kogi State pursuant to the election held on November 21, 2015.
An order of injunction restraining the 2nd respondent from:
(a) Parading, representing or holding himself out as the Governor-elect
(b) Parading himself as Governor of Kogi State based on the Certificate of Return issued to him by the 1st respondent and dated December 7, 2015.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Owotunse, a human right activist has reacted to this latest move by Hon. James Faleke. He said that Faleke’s lawyers are misleading him and his actions are capable of destroying his political career.He advised Faleke to accept his party’s decision and move on because the people urging him on are feeding on his mistakes.
“Moreso, the fact that Faleke is a close ally of the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is raising concerns that the decision of Faleke to go to the tribunal may affect party cohesion as the National Working Committee will surely be disappointed by the new twist in the whole saga.
“I am not happy that Faleke is giving a wrong impression of himself. He set out to be deputy governor ab initio. Why and when did he become desperate to be the governor of the state? If the party gave him the ticket for the supplementary poll, the tribunal would have nullified his election because he never took part in the governorship primaries. Is he indirectly working for the emergence of PDP?” Owotunse wondered.