The Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja on Monday, dismissed the petition filed by the deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the November 21, 2015 governorship election in the state, James Falake, challenging the election of the incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello.
The three-man tribunal led by Justice Halima Mohammed held that Faleke lacked locus standi to challenge Bello’s election having never been sponsored by his party, the APC, as a governorship candidate in both the November 21, 2015 election and the December 6, 2015 supplementary poll.
It dismissed the petition for lacking in merit.
Earlier in the judgment read by Justice Mohammed, the tribunal had upheld Bello’s preliminary objection to the petition to the effect that Faleke lacked legal capacity to file the petition, the November 21 election which he claimed to have won having not been concluded.
The tribunal re-affirmed while considering the petition on merit that Faleke was never a governorship candidate of the APC at any stage of the election and did not participate in the primary leading to APC’s choice of its governorship candidate either for the November 21 governorship election of the December 6 supplementary poll.
It held on the other hand there was evidence that Bello participated in and emerged as the first runner-up in the primary from which the original governorship candidate of the party, the late Abubakar Audu, emerged as the party’s flag bearer.
It also held that the issues contended by Faleke bordered on the power of a political party to nominate its candidate, a decision which Justice Mohammed ruled the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to interfere with.
The tribunal added that Faleke having not participated in the said primary, lacked the locus standi to challenge Bello’s nomination by the party.
It added that going by the Supreme Court’s decision on PDP vs Okorocha, the votes polled on November 21 belonged to the various political party, the APC thus lacked the power to replace its flag-bearer upon Audu’s death.
Faleke was the running mate to the APC’s original governorship candidate, the late Abubakar Audu, who was coasting to victory but died after the November 21, 2015 election was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Faleke had therefore filed his petition asking the tribunal to declare the substitution of Bello as the governorship candidate following Audu’s death in the December 6, 2015, was unlawful.
He urged the tribunal to declare that the election was already conducted and concluded on November 21 before Audu’s death, and that he had already emerged as the deputy governor-elect.
He therefore asked the tribunal to declare him as the valid substitute for the late Audu and should be returned as the governor-elect.
But delivering its judgment on Faleke’s petition, the tribunal held that contrary to Faleke’s contention, the election the November 21 poll had not been concluded and thus the right to challenge the outcome of the poll had not accrued to him going by the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The tribunal also held that Faleke remained the deputy governorship candidate of the party in the December 6 supplementary poll having failed to withdraw his candidacy as the running mate in the manner stipulated by law.