Kogi extra polls hold December 5
APC will substitute candidate, says AGF
AS the debate over the constitutional crisis generated by the inconclusive governorship election in Kogi State rages, the Minister of Justice and Attorney -General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) has charted a way forward. He noted that the All Progressives Congress (APC) would substitute its candidate.
There has been the debate as to what the options are for the APC and, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in view of the sudden death of the party’s Prince Abubakar Audu in the election, which though he was leading, was declared inconclusive by INEC.
Meanwhile, INEC has asked the APC to fill the vacuum created by Audu’s death in order to continue with supplementary election.
In a statement signed by the secretary to the commission, Augusta Ogakwu, on Monday, INEC also announced it would allow the conclusion of the election process by conducting supplementary election in the remaining 91 polling units where election was cancelled.
The supplementary election will hold December 5, INEC announced
Fielding questions from reporters at a forum in Abuja, Malami said the election which was declared inconclusive, had to be concluded.
Although he did not say whether or not Audu’s running mate, James Fakeye, would automatically be stepped up as the party’s substantive candidate, Malami said that APC would have to substitute its deceased candidate for the purpose of the supplementary elections.
The issue is very straightforward. Fundamentally, Section 33 of the Electoral Act is very clear and guarantees the right to substitute by a political party in case of death of its candidate.
And if you have a community reading of that section with Section 221 of the Constitution which clearly indicates that the right to vote is the right of a political party and the party in this case, the APC has participated in the conduct of the election. It is therefore apparent that the community reading of the two provisions does not leave any room for conjecture.
APC as a party is entitled to substitution by the clear provisions of Section 33 of the Electoral Act. Also Section 221 of the Constitution is clear that the votes that were cast were cast in favour of the APC.
“Arising from that deduction, it does not require any legal interpretation. The interpretation is clear: APC will substitute, which right has been sustained by Section 33 of the Electoral Act. So be it. ”
Asked if that substitution would automatically benefit the deputy governorship candidate, he said: “It all depends on the appreciation of issues arising from the primaries conducted before now. There was a first and a second candidate. That primaries that had taken place had not in any way been nullified. And it is recognised by law. But then a further consideration would be the idea of conducting fresh primaries but that is not envisaged in view of the sustainability of the first primaries.”
Meanwhile, tributes and condolences have continued for the late Audu with the state Governor Idris Wada, who was represented at the burial by his deputy, Yomi Awoniyi describing Audu’s death as “a painful loss not only to the state but the country at large.”
Wada who described Audu as a quintessential politician whose style of politics was about the people, added that he would be greatly missed at a time his services and counsel to the state were needed.
The governor commiserated with the people of the state, particularly the family he left behind and all members of APC, as he urged them to take solace in the fact that the former governor’s footprints on the sands of time remained indelible.