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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Nigerians React As Kogi Gubernatorial Candidate Prince Abubakar Audu Died!

The candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the 2015 Kogi State Governorship election, Abubakar Audu, has died.
Former Kogi State Governor, Abubakar Audu; Photo credits: savidnews.com
Former Kogi State Governor, Abubakar Audu
Audu is said to have died earlier on Sunday, long before the election was declared inconclusive by the Nigerian electoral body INEC, but his death was kept secret by his family and associates.
Confirmed sources said the former governor suddenly took ill having suffered a stroke uponn returning from voting centre on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. He was being rushed to Abuja preparatory to being flown abroad when he passed on. It was not cleared if the late governorship candidate has been nursing any worrisome underlying health conditions.
Should the election not have been declared inconclusive by INEC, Audu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, would have be declared the winner of the election that was held on Saturday.
Prince Abubakar Audu, was the first Executive Governor of Kogi State and was born on 27 October 1947, to the family of his Royal Highness, the late Pa Audu Oyidi, Orego Atta of Igala Land and the paramount ruler of Ogbonicha-Alloma in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State.
He started his education at the then N.A. Junior Primary School, Alloma, and later N.A Senior School Ankpa, from where he proceeded to Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha. He later transferred to the Jos Commercial College where he obtained both the GCE O and A level.

INCONCLUSIVE ELECTION

The Independent National Electoral Commission has declared Saturday’s governorship election in Kogi State inconclusive.
The Returning Officer of the election, Prof. Emmanuel Kucha, said the reason for the decision was because the number of votes cancelled was more than the number of votes with which the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Abubakar Audu, was leading incumbent governor, Capt. Idris Wada.
Kucha said Audu polled 240,867 votes, 41,353 votes more than the 199,514 votes Wada got. However, the cancelled votes were 49,953.
Having declared the election inconclusive, supplementary elections are to be held at a date to be determined by INEC.

REACTIONS TO CONSTITUTIONAL POSITION OF THE SITUATION

According to Nigeria constitution chapter 6, part 1A sub-section 181:
(1) If a person duly elected as Governor dies before taking and subscribing the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office, or is unable for any reason whatsoever to be sworn-in, the person elected with him as Deputy governor shall be sworn-in as Governor and he shall nominate a new Deputy-Governor who shall be appointed by the Governor with the approval of a simple majority of the House of Assembly.

Political commentators and the people of Nigeria have since been expressing divert opinions on the position of Nigerian constitution on the matter of Abubakar Audu's death.
According to one of the contributors to a worldwide forum monitored by NUJ Europe "This opens another chapter in Nigeria's constitutional development. While the Constitution provides for situations in which a Governor-elect dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to take office, no provision seems made for cases in which a candidate dies right in the middle of the election. Nomination has since closed and the polling of November 21 is declared inconclusive, with an order to conclude the election at a date to be announced.

"By that date, the state opposition party All Progreaaive Congress-APC ( fielding a candidate expected to have maintained a lead in the November 21 Kogi guber election) will not have a candidate and the running mate cannot be substituted for the candidate midstream. Is the election going to be declared a walkover eventually?"

More reactions are trailing the eventuality of the election.

In his reaction, a  legal luminary, the founder of Egalitarian Africa, Barrister Olukayode Ajulo stated that , " as it stands now, APC has no candidate to stand the rest of election. Then, if at all they gather votes in the next election, it will constitutes what is called "wasted votes", as in case of Aregbesola v. Omisore." Stated Barrister Ajulo.
A policy analyst and communicator  Mr Adebayo Adeneye-Adejuwon gave an insightful analysis on the Kogi Election as follows:.
"S.181 (1) of the 1999 Constitution is very clear on this issue.Audu was not duly elected before he passed on and there is nothing for Audu's running mate to inherit at this point beyond the number of valid votes declared for him and his late principal by INEC.And considering that both late Audu and Wada must have met the condition of one quarter of the votes cast in two thirds of the state( I hope this is true) and also considering that Audu was ahead of Wada with 41,000 votes and now that INEC has voided 49,000 votes thus rendering the election inconclusive which means that no official winner yet in the election and now that one of the candidates is no more, what I think INEC should in the face of this constitutional lacuna is to seek legal interpretation from the Supreme Court on how to navigate this lacuna even as INEC get set to do any re-run to validate the 49000 voided votes. But even at that, there is another issue on whether or not the number of accredited voters is lower compared to the number of actual number of people who voted in the Kogi election.Should it be determined that the number of voters are more than the number of accredited voters, then there may be a bigger issue that has to be resolved with respect to Kogi election. Even S.36 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010( As Amended) did not anticipate what happened in Kogi. Unfortunately so".

The analyst also stated that "Section 33 of The Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended) states: A party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted pursuant to section 32 of this Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate."

"My Question is what will be the correct interpretation of S.33 of The Electoral Act with respect to the death of former Governor Audu, APC candidate in the Kogi election," Adeneye-Adejuwo further stated.

Another notable lawyer, Barrister Festus Kenyamo expressed his position on the Kogi situation, in his opinion made publicly Kenyamo asserted that legal implications of Audu Abubakar's death fits more into section 181(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and as such James Abiodun Faleke automatically becomes the governorship candidate of the APC.

"This is because even though the election in inconclusive, votes have been counted and allocated to Parties and candidates. As a result the joint ticket of Audu/Faleke has acquired some votes already. James Abiodun Faleke is as much entitled to those votes already counted as much as the late Abubakar Audu. He has a right to cling to those votes going into the supplementary election." Kenyamo admitted.

Commenting further, Barrister Kenyamo noted that "there is only one problem, though. Who nominates Faleke’s Deputy? Unlike section 181(1) of the 1999 Constitution, he cannot approach the House of Assembly of the State to approve a nomination by him of a Deputy. This is because, in reality, he is not duly elected yet. Therefore it is only reasonable to conclude that it is APC (Faleke’s political party) that should submit the name of a fresh Deputy Governorship candidate to INEC for the supplementary election."

"This is the only position in this situation that accords with reason and good sense", Festus Kenyamo opined.


By Lashley Oladigbolu

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