Chief Niyi Akintola and Mr. Femi Falana, two Senior Advocates of Nigeria on Tuesday disagreed with Attorney General of the Federation, Malami, who asked the APC to replace the late Abubakar Audu with a new candidate other than his running mate, Abiodun Faleke.
Akintola, who charged Faleke to go to court if the APC failed to present him as its governorship candidate ahead of the supplementary election already fixed for December 5, said it was in the interest of the party to nominate the late Audu’s running mate in order to avoid a crisis.
He said, “If I were Faleke, I will challenge it in court. You cannot be a candidate without a running mate. Your ticket as a governorship candidate is joint and several with that of your deputy or running mate.
“That is the decision of the Supreme Court in Wammako and Dakingari to the effect that you cannot be a candidate without a running mate. In Amaechi’s case, the Supreme Court says it is the party that contests election. So it is in the interest of the APC to push for Faleke to avoid legal quagmire.”
He, however, commended the AGF for his opinion that the supplementary election should hold but faulted INEC for failing to declare the APC as the winner of the election, having led with 41,353 votes and the number of eligible voters with Permanent Voter Cards in the cancelled polling units was far less.
Falana, in a statement which he issued before the opinion of the AGF on the Kogi poll on Tuesday, said though INEC, having declared the election inconclusive, the APC no longer had the power to substitute candidate but to present Audu’s running mate as its candidate for the supplementary election.
He said, “Notwithstanding that there is no provision in the law for the death of a candidate in the middle of an election, the INEC is not totally helpless in the circumstance. Having declared the election inconclusive, the INEC is duty bound to conclude the election.
“As the APC cannot be allowed to substitute or replace the nomination of Mr. Audu at this stage of the electoral process, the INEC is legally bound to conclude the exercise. The question of falling back on the results of the primary election conducted by the APC does not arise as the proposition is in utter conflict with Section179 of the Constitution.
“Since the governorship and deputy-governorship candidates of the APC jointly contested the election, pursuant to Section 187 of the Constitution, the votes scored by the party in the inconclusive election remain intact and untainted.
“If the number of the disenfranchised voters is higher than 41,353, INEC should proceed and conclude the election, which may be won by either of the two parties. If the APC wins the election, the deputy governor-elect will become the governor while a new deputy-governor will be nominated by him and approved by the Kogi State House of Assembly.”
Excerpted From Punch News