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A critical appraisal of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Kogi State Governorship Election

By Davidson Obabueki on 07/10/2016

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Time and time again has come to show, perchance any little to go by the splitting dissatisfaction of election results in my dear country, it is that the aggrieved or grieving party always than not carry their grievance beyond the doormat of party settlement into the innings of election tribunals for resolution. It is such in most men’s nature not to acquiesce defeat, it is prime of them to rev up the propensity always ever for reprisals, however little.

In our case under review, it cannot be gain said to be good law to file an action before a competent tribunal to register ones dissatisfaction or displeasure of electoral results or the outcome of the election per se. It cannot be said to be blue law as a foregoing to go at another law and justice upon a perceived or actual assault of election results. If it be found to be brought under the purview of Section 133 of the Electoral Act (2010) regarding the 21 days ultimatum for filing any election petition against the declared election results, then will one be said equipped with an actionable cause.

The case of James Faleke and Yahaya Bello stands novel in the history of election cases in Nigeria as it has helped console the twittery constitutional crevice as none like ever had in its provisions regarding the demise of a candidate after nomination but, before the declaration of election results. One would have traced its tale to the usual election matters and its attendant trimmings in Nigeria, and just like flapping a coin it turned its other side, one above the ken of the Electoral Act and even the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

It is indeed commendable the rising judgment from such a case as the verdict came on the heels of a long haul protracted litigation from the aggrieved petitioner; Mr. James Faleke, who turned appellant after he picked holes with the judgment of the tribunal when he fell from grace. No little less than nine (9) months gone by just in time, the Supreme Court's verdict was given to lay to rest frayed nerves. Indeed, this novel circumstance brought to bear the wit of our Supreme Court judges.

The facts of the case were such that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the 21st of November, 2015 conducted the Governorship election in Kogi State. It was indeed keenly contested by various political parties, prominent amongst them was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that had Captain Idris Wada ostensibly the incumbent Governor of the state, don the party’s toga ably presented as the Governorship candidate, and the All Progressive Congress (APC) who had Prince Abubakar Audu and James Faleke as the party’s flag bearer for both governorship and deputy respectively.

The election results was declared on the 22nd of November, 2015 by INEC just a day after the main election. It had the APC polled 240,867 votes as against the 199,514 votes polled by the PDP with a 41,353 votes difference in APC's favour. That ordinarily would have had INEC

pronounce Prince Abubakar Audu winner of the election but, for the total number of registered voters in 91 polling units in 18 local government areas where the election was cancelled, it had to be declared inconclusive.

The state returning electoral officer Emmanuel Kuchi declared the said election inconclusive on November  22nd, 2015 and could not have declared Prince Audu winner because there were still outstanding registered voters of about 49,983 and the difference between the initial results notched up by both parties (41,353) could not have summed up Prince Audu’s victory as Wada still had a chance at the supplementary.

Upon a rescheduled date of December 5th, 2015 INEC conducted a supplementary election that produced the APC candidate as winner of both the supplementary and main elections with votes of 6,885 and 240,867 respectively with the resulting votes of 247,752, whilst the PDP polled in 5,363 and 199,514 respectively with the resulting votes of 204,877.

The candidate of the APC after the final results had been declared, emerged victoriously different in cloth and person as the initial governorship candidate Prince Audu died shortly after the main election was conducted and had to be replaced by the runner-up at the party’s primary, Yahaya Bello.

With Yahaya Bello as the authentic victor of the 2015 Kogi State governorship elections, the Deputy Governorship candidate who was nominated by Prince Audu as running mate for the APC could not have imagined himself dislodged by a Yahaya Bello who came from nowhere to

be governorship candidate. James Faleke dissatisfied with the process of Bello’s emergence, challenged the whole process at the tribunal through to the Supreme Court.

At the Supreme Court, the seven man justices headed by Justice Sylvester Nguta ruled in favour of the respondent and declared him winner of the Kogi State Governorship election. The ratio decidendi for the Supreme Court’s decision was that – the appellant having failed to comply with the provision of Section 141 of the Electoral Act (2010) made him lose the chance of being declared winner.

*To be concluded next week.

•The Legal Watchmen is a group of seasoned young writers who expotulate on legal and political issues in Nigeria. Kindly log for interesting articles.

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Source News Express

Posted 07/10/2016 5:39:04 PM


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