Kogi Lawmakers Insist On Audu’s Son
AS the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) prepares to conduct the supplementary election for the Kogi State governorship election next Saturday, controversy continues to trail the decision and who replaces the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in last Saturday’s poll, Alhaji Abubakar Audu, who suddenly died shortly after the exercise.
The crack within the ranks of the Kogi chapter of the APC over who takes Audu’s place widened yesterday, as 11 of the 25 members of the state House of Assembly threatened to impeach anybody other than the son of the late candidate, Mohammed, as governor of the state.
APC was clearly leading in the results already announced until the outcome was declared inconclusive by INEC.
This is just as Governor Idris Wada and his Peoples Democratic Party, who was trailing Audu in the result, yesterday prayed the Federal High Court, Abuja Division to declare Wada the winner of the inconclusive election, being the only surviving candidate with the majority of lawful votes cast.
He also prayed the court to compel the INEC to issue him with a Certificate of Return.
Named as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants, respectively in the Wada suit are INEC, the Attorney General of the Federation and the APC.
The plaintiffs also filed another application praying the court to restrain INEC from conducting the December 5 supplementary election.
Wada also asked the court to issue an order of injunction restraining APC from organising or holding a fresh primary election for the purpose of any supplementary or other election for the Kogi governorship election this year.
A member of the Kogi Assembly, Mallam Alfa Momoh Rabiu, who addressed reporters on behalf of the lawmakers after holding a closed door meeting with the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, claimed that their position enjoys the support of members of the party from the state in both arms of the National Assembly.
He asserted that Mohammed remains the best man to fill the vacuum left behind by his father, considering his pedigree as an intellectual and hardworking member of the party.
Expressing Mohammed’s readiness to retain Audu’s running mate, Mr. James Abiodun Faleke, Rabiu, who represents Ankpa 11 State Constituency, warned that dire consequences awaits whoever is imposed on the party other than Mohammed.
He said: “We told the national chairman that on no account should anybody be smuggled in to occupy that position, which we worked for, in conjunction with the late Audu, without who there will be no APC in Kogi State.
“We present to the national leadership, Mohammed, to replace his late father. It is not because he is the first son, but try him, he is very intelligent and equal to the task. With him, we will have the Kogi of our dream.
“We are the legislators and have told the national chairman our position that in case anybody is smuggled in, contrary to what we present to them, we know the best way to remove him. It is not a threat, but we told them that we have no intention of washing our dirty linen in public.
“Removing somebody is just a two minutes job for us as lawmakers in the state. We want the change we worked for and we want Kogi to be part of the moving train.
“We are the electorate and we know why we are here. There will be no solution to this problem without giving us listening ear. Audu was the man who went through primary before nominating Faleke as his deputy.
“We are not asking Faleke to stay away from the ticket. We equally worked with him during the campaigns. What we are saying is that it should be Mohammed Audu/Faleke ticket. The two of them must work together,” Rabiu said.
The lawmakers’ position came moments after two rival groups separately rooting for both Mohammed and Faleke took their protest to the party secretariat in Abuja in a bid to achieve their respective desires of having one of their own at the helm of affairs in Kogi.
Solomon Ogbadu, who led hundreds of party faithful in the protest march, urged the national leadership to hand out the party’s ticket to Mohammed in recognition of the sacrifice he made towards the success of the party in the election, saying he has the wherewithal to administer Kogi efficiently.
But Sunday Bello, who spoke on behalf of the pro-Faleke supporters, argued that it will be just and fair if Faleke takes the place of Audu as the party’s candidate.
Part of a petition presented to Odigie-Oyegun signed by the former acting governor of the state, Clarence Olafemi, on behalf of Faleke, contended that Faleke deserves to be handed the ticket since the mandate of the 240,000 votes scored by the APC is jointly held by both Audu and Faleke.
Another group, the Okun Development Association (ODA) also aligned themselves to the position of the protesters, saying Faleke should have been declared winner of the poll with the exit of Audu from the race.
Wemi Jones, who spoke on behalf of ODA, particularly argued that the choice of Faleke would be in tandem with the dictates of the rule of law.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gabriel Ofodile Okafor (SAN), a constitutional lawyer, said: “What appears like a constitutional impasse as a result of the sudden death of Audu demonstrates that no constitution in the world can adequately provide for every unforeseen event in the life of that country.
“This situation calls for understanding and interpretation of the constitution with the sole aim of achieving the desire of the law makers.”
On the way forward, he stated: “To proceed with election or to countermand the poll and start denovo?