Prominent Nigerian lawyers have on Sunday, November 22, disclosed to the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) that the death of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abubakar Audu does not warrant the invalidation of the on-going election in the state, urging the commission to allow the deputy governorship candidate of the APC, Abiodun Faleke, to conclude the on-going election. The Nation reports.
The former Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, Monday Ubani; a member of the Ogun State Judiciary Service Commission, Abayomi Omoyinmi and a lecturer of Law at University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Wahab Shittu said the process should be concluded.
According to Ubani: “Since the Electoral Act didn’t specifically provide for things like this happening in the course of an election, we would have to make recourse to the judicial pronouncement in the case of Rotimi Amaechi where the Supreme Court said in an election, it is the political party that is the beneficiary of election and not the candidate. That is why Amaechi that didn’t contest elections was sworn in.
“In this situation, the deputy governorship candidate would have to step in to conclude the process. If he wins the election, the APC would then decide on another deputy for him”.
Omoyinmi said: “In the eyes of the law, the deputy should ordinarily conclude the re-run election for the office of the governor and it is now left for him to pick a new running mate”.
Shittu, who disclosed that the case could be viewed from different perspectives, said since the election was declared inconclusive, the running mate should be allowed to step in and conclude the process of the supplementary election.
This, he said, has become necessary because the electoral law did not envisage such an incident (Audu’s death).
On the other perspective, he urged the party to replace the governorship candidate.
“Which means that election might be conducted afresh. The death of a candidate during the process of an election automatically voids the election. It is not a question of an election being inconclusive. The entire electoral process is now altered with the death of the governorship candidate,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kogi INEC is confronted with a situation whereby voting has taken place, results have been released, but the poll was declared inconclusive owing to the number of cancelled votes in select polling units and wards in 19 local government areas of the state that exceeded the margin of difference between the two leading candidates, thus necessitating supplementary elections in the affected polling units or wards.
ThisDay reports that INEC and its lawyers will be looking at a number of scenarios, which may prove quite challenging to resolve and require it to go court to seek legal interpretation.
•Scenario one entails Audu’s running mate, James Abiodun Faleke, insisting on being declared the winner of the election.
•Scenario two would entail Faleke, backed by the APC, insisting on concluding the election with him as the governorship candidate of the party and being allowed to chose a running mate/deputy governorship candidate.
•Scenario three could see Faleke, backed by the APC, contesting as the candidate of the APC in a fresh election as the governorship candidate with a running mate.
•Scenario four would entail the outright cancellation of the Kogi governorship election by INEC and APC nominating fresh candidates to contest in the new poll.
•Scenario five could also see Governor Idris Wada of the PDP insisting on being declared the duly elected governor on the grounds that he cannot be blamed for the death of Audu and he is the next substantive governorship candidate left in the race, as opposed to Faleke who is a running mate.