Faleke protests as APC picks Yahaya Bello
• Nobody can inherit Audu’s votes, says Wada
• ‘Only Supreme Court can resolve logjam’
PEACE further eluded the crisis-racked All Progressives Congress (APC) of Kogi State yesterday as the party’s choice of Yahaya Bello was rejected by the late Abubakar Audu’s running mate, James Faleke
Flanked by Mohammed, the son of Prince Audu, and chieftains of the Kogi chapter of the party, Faleke insisted he remains the duly elected governor of the state.
Faleke who spoke to reporters at the party secretariat in Abuja, argued that going by the votes cast in the inconclusive Kogi governorship poll, he ought to have been declared governor -elect notwithstanding the fact that election in 91 polling units were cancelled by the independent national electoral commission ( INEC)
Saying he was left with no option but to approach the court to enforce his mandate, he disclosed that he has rejected the offer of once again vying as Bello’s running mate in the scheduled supplementary poll billed to hold in December 5, this month.
Stating that he had already sent communication to INEC over his latest decision, he expressed surprise over the decision by the APC to pick Bello without consulting him and other stakeholders of the Kogi APC.
The crisis raged as Governor Idris Wada declared that the re-run election would be unconstitutional without a fresh and legally conducted primary election by the APC.
Essentially, Wada is claiming that “votes scored by a candidate who died during an election cannot be inherited by or transferred to a person who was not a candidate at the said election and who did not participate in all stages of such election, for the purpose of concluding such election.”
Faleke is opposed to the decision by the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led APC to pick Bello as a replacement for his late father who was the candidate of the party in the inconclusive governorship poll.
Trouble started when dozens of Faleke’s supporters chanting “give us Faleke, give us Faleke” while accompanying him to the party’s secretariat were confronted by Bello’s supporters chanting “Kogi sai Bello, Kogi sai Bello.”
Faleke was at the secretariat apparently at the behest of members of the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) around 3:30 p.m. to meet with Bello in a bid to resolve the impasse that arose after the sudden demise of Audu.
In attendance at the parley held behind closed doors were Senators Dino Melaye, Mohammed Ohi and Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai of Kaduna State who oversaw the party’s “primaries” in which Bello emerged runner-up to Audu.
In the ensuing melee among the rival supporters, stones, woods and other weapons flew in all directions.
A detachment of heavily armed policemen deployed in the APC secretariat since 7:00 a.m. watched helplessly as the supporters inflicted severe bodily harm on one another. No death was recorded as calm was restored when more anti-riot policemen came to the scene.
Also yesterday, the National President of Okun Development Association, Ambassador Babatunde Fadumiyo, debunked a story allegedly sponsored from the South west to the effect that Okun elders have voiced their support for Bello as the candidate to fill the vacuum created by the death of Audu.
His words: “We have done a thorough check and we make bold to say that there are no persons with any credible claim to Okun leadership that go by the names listed in that report.
“The leadership structure in Okunland is well-defined under the umbrella body, the Okun Development Association (ODA), which alone speaks for the community.
“We reject the mischievous attempt by those behind the report to ascribe an ethnic colour to the governorship mandate freely given to the Abubakar Audu/Abiodun Faleke ticket by the majority of voters across the three senatorial districts of the state.”
He cautioned that no attempt should be made by persons or groups under whatever guise to fan the embers of disunity in the state.
Governor Wada said that the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to go ahead with the re-run governorship election, and with a substituted candidate for the APC was the ‘height of mischief’ that had only succeeded in putting the country’s democracy on trial.
In a statement issued yesterday by his Chief Communications Manager, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, Wada, who is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, said INEC should not have swallowed the directive of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) hook, line and sinker, contrary to the provisions of the constitution, alleging that it was part of a grand plot by APC to grab Kogi State at all costs.
In particular, he slammed the decision of INEC to allow APC to substitute its candidate in the middle of an election, saying such a directive was null and void as it was inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution.
According to him, INEC’s decision ignored the fact that its action could denigrate the commission – and indeed Nigeria’s democracy.
‘’There is something terribly awry in a system in which a body set up to uphold the rule of law and protect the sanctity of people’s votes is the same one that has gone ahead to undermine it,” the governor said in the statement.
He claimed that the Electoral Act was clear that in view of the death of Audu, Wada should be declared the winner of the election being the only surviving candidate with the majority of lawful votes cast in the election held on November 21.
Wada, who argued that whatever votes Audu scored in the election died with him, wondered why INEC, a body established to be the custodian of the rule of law would ignore the fundamentals of the rule of law in arriving at the decision not to issue him a certificate of return.
The National Chairman of the Progressive Peoples Alliance,(PPA), Peter Ojonugwa Ameh, said the constitutional crisis created by the death of Audu could only be resolved by the pronouncement of the Supreme Court.
Ameh, who gave the advice yesterday in Lokoja during the national convention of the party, called on the Atorney General of the Federation, (AGF), Mallam Abubakar Mallami, to urgently approach the Supreme Court for an interpretation to resolve the constitutional logjam.