Kogi Governor Yahaya Bello Knows Fate In Court Tuesday

The Supreme Court will, Tuesday, deliver judgement on various appeals challenging the election of the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello.

Two of the appeals were filed by a former Governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada and the former deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, James Faleke.

The election was held in November 21, 2015 while the re-run was held on December 5, 2015.

The appeal of the candidate of the Labour Party in the election is among those pending in the nation’s highest court.

Wada, who contested the election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Faleke had approached the Supreme Court in August challenging Bello’s victory at the Court of Appeal.

The appellate court had upheld an earlier judgement in June by the Kogi State Governorship Election Tribunal, which gave victory to the governor.

Shortly after the November 21 election, Faleke approached the tribunal seeking to be declared winner of the poll, which was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

The commission had declared Mr. Bello the winner of the re run.

But Faleke argued that following the death of the former candidate of the APC, Abubakar Audu, to whom he was running mate, he ought to be declared winner of the election and sworn in as governor.

He faulted the decision of the APC to nominate Mr. Bello as replacement for the late candidate, who had the highest number of votes in the November election.

According to him, the election was “almost” concluded before Mr. Audu died.

The tribunal, however, thought otherwise. In the judgement read by its chairman, Justice Halima Mohammed, the tribunal said Mr. Faleke’s petition lacked merit and therefore threw it out.

The tribunal further held that the fact that INEC declared the first election inconclusive meant no winner had emerged.

It also said that all votes belonged to political parties and not the candidate who contested on their platforms.

It said Faleke had no locus standi to challenge Mr. Bello’s nomination by the APC to replace Mr. Audu as he (Audu) was not the governor-elect.

Dissatisfied with the judgement, Mr. Faleke filed a suit at the Court of Appeal.

The five-member panel of justices of the appellate court, in a unanimous judgement in August, said Mr. Faleke failed to provide credible evidence of non-qualification against Mr. Bello.

Justice Jummai Sankey, who read the judgement, said Mr. Faleke should not have litigated the substitution and replacement of Mr. Audu with Mr. Bello at the tribunal since it was a pre-election matter and therefore an internal affair of the APC.

The court, which resolved four out of the six issues for determination in the governor’s favour, however faulted the tribunal for holding that Mr. Faleke had no locus standi to challenge the election.

However, Justice Obande Ogbuniya gave a dissenting judgement in Mr. Wada’s appeal. He cancelled Mr. Bello’s election, saying the governor was not validly nominated following Mr. Audu’s death.

Ogbuniya also said Mr. Bello ran the election without a running mate.

He therefore ordered INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return given to the governor and conduct fresh election in Kogi State.

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