• As APC, INEC, PDP await court ruling
From CHRISTIANA EKPA, Lokoja
There are emerging threats that the Kogi State Governorship Supplementary Election scheduled for Saturday, December 5 may not hold as the crises within the All Progressives Congress (APC) deepens with James Faleke rejecting the party offer of deputy governor. Faleke also threatened to boycott the election if APC insists on him remaining deputy governor. He subsequently, proceeded to take legal action. The uncertainty is further deepened by suit filed by Governor Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja seeking to be declared winner of the election as the runner up in the inconclusive election. There is rising phobia in Kogi State since the court fixed Friday, November 4, to make judgment in Wada’s suit.
Faleke has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to declare the election conclusive and declared him the winner.
Faleke in a suit filed by his lawyers, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and Femi Falana (SAN), faulted the decision of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the election was inconclusive and asked the court to restrain it from proceeding with its planned supplementary election.
Faleke had approached the Federal High Court, seeking a declaration that election to the Office of Governor of a state can only be conducted in the manner expressly stipulated in section 179 (2), (a)(b), (3)(a)(b), 4(a)(b) and (5) of the constitution.
Among other reliefs, he also wants “A declaration that by the combined reading of section 179 (2)(a) and (b) and 181(1) of the constitution, upon the death of a person duly elected as the governor of a state, the person elected with him as Deputy-Governor is to be sworn in as the Governor of the state”.
The Federal High Court has fixed Friday to determine whether or not the INEC should go ahead with the planned supplementary governorship election in Kogi State.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole who heard four separate suits challenging the legality of the scheduled run-off poll, said there was need for the court to take a position on the matter “so that INEC will not conduct the election under a grave shadow of doubt as to the legal or constitutional validity”.
Also, Justice Kolawole combined the four suits, even as he persuaded lawyers to the various plaintiffs to distill out three central issues for the court to determine.
The first suit was lodged before the court by the Kogi State Governor, Captain Idris Wada (retd), the second suit was filed by the governorship candidate of the People for Democratic Change, in the state, Hon. Emmanuel Daikwo.
While the third suit was filed by a legal practitioner, Mr. Johnson Usman, the fourth suit was filed by two plaintiffs, a member representing Ahiazu Ezinaehitte Mbaise Federal Constituency of Imo State at the National Assembly, Hon. Rafael Igbokwe, and an electorate from Omala Local Government Area in Abelijukolo Ife of Eche ward in Kogi State, Mr. Stephen Wada Omaye.
Even though Wada had in his originating summons, prayed the court to declare him winner of the November 21 governorship election, the other plaintiffs sought for the nullification of the election, as well as an order compelling INEC to conduct a fresh poll.
Nevertheless, sequel to the directive of the court, all the plaintiffs, led by Mr. Goddy Uche, SAN, narrowed the three issues for determination to include: “Whether having regard to the provisions of sections 31(1)(2)(4)(5)(6)(7) and (8), 33, 34, 36, 85 and 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, as well as sections 178-181 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, INEC, can lawfully conduct a second/supplementary election into the office of Governor of Kogi State on December 5, 2015, or any other date at all let alone accepting the nomination/substitution by the APC of any candidate on the basis of votes computed and credited to the deceased candidate of the APC when the new or substitute candidate was not part of the original election”.
Before adjourning the case to Thursday for all the parties to adopt their final addresses, Justice Kolawole warned the lawyers to limit themselves to issues of law.
He stressed that since the substantive fact of the matter with regard to death of the APC governorship candidate, Abubakar Audu, is not in dispute, “counsels should, therefore, be moderate, brief and concise in their addresses by limiting argument to the three issues distilled from the four Originating Summons listed on the cause list.
“This is because time is of the essence, as the court has to consider all the issues and deliver its judgment on Friday. The addresses should not be more than 10 pages and maximum of 15 pages. This case is hereby adjourned toDecember 3 for adoption of addresses,” he declared.
“Counsels are to file and exchange their addresses within 48 hours”, Justice Kolawole ruled.
Meanwhile, INEC has reiterated its preparedness to conduct a free, fair and credible election in the supplementary Governorship Election in the state.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Hussaini Haliu Pai, at a stakeholder’s conference at INEC office, Lokoja, revealed the commission has dispatched about 56,000 voter’s cards for the supplementary election this Saturday.