All Progressives Congress Disappoints James Faleke And Settles For Fresh Primary To Select The Late Abubakar Audu’s Replacement As PDP Disagrees
Dyepkazah Shibayan and Patrick Osadebamwen, Abuja
National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, yesterday said the party would conduct fresh primary election to select a replacement for the late Kogi State governorship candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu.
Chief Oyegun’s position shuts the door on the prospects of Audu’s running mate, Hon. James Faleke, stepping up to fill the vacuum.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Oyegun said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was in agreement with the views of the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami adding that the party had already received a letter from the electoral body to provide a candidate ahead of the conclusion of the election scheduled for 5th December in the affected 91 polling units.
According to him, any candidate to be chosen would purely be the decision of the “electors” (delegates), stating that the party would follow the law accordingly.
“It’s in the public space already, that the chief law officer of the republic has made his views known on how things should develop from this stage on.
“He has made a pronouncement to the effect that all that is required is for the APC to go through the processes of providing a substitute to our late candidate.
“The implication being that thereafter the supplementary elections to conclude the process of electing a new governor of Kogi state will begin to be put in place so as a party we are going to proceed with the process of organising primaries to provide a substitute candidate for Abubakar Audu.
“INEC is also in agreement with the views of the attorney general because we have already received a letter from them formally asking us to find a replacement for the vacancy that has been created by the passing on of Prince Abubakar Audu so that is what will engage the APC at this moment”, Oyegun told journalists.
Meanwhile, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed December 5 for the conclusion of the governorship election, begun last Saturday, in Kogi state.
A public notice signed by secretary of the commission, Mrs. Augusta Ogakwu, said the All Progressives Congress (APC), has also been permitted to fill vacancy created by the death of its candidate in the election, Prince Abubakar Audu.
It said INEC was formerly notified of Prince Audu’s death on November 23. According to the public notice, election will hold in only 91 polling units on Dec. 5.
Prior to the notice, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had said APC will be allowed to fill vacancy created by Audu’s death.
He however noted that the second runner-up at the party primary election may be called in to fill the vacuum.
Malami made the clarification Tuesday when he spoke at a seminar organised by the Nigerian Law Reform Commission on the reform of the National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (Establishment) Act, in Abuja.
According to him, the election has to be concluded. He argued that since the primary conducted by the APC prior to the election is still valid, the candidate that came second may have to be considered as replacement.
“The issue is very straightforward. Fundamentally, section 33 of the Electoral Act is very clear, that in case of death, the right for substitution by a political party is sustained by the provisions of section 33 of the Electoral Act.
“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 combination 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.
“The supplementary election has to be conducted along the line.”
Asked if that substitution should 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. Those primaries that had taken place over time had not by anyway been nullified. And it is recognized by law.
“But then a further consideration would be the idea of conducting another primary but that is not envisaged in view of the sustainability of the first primaries.”, Malami said.
…PDP Rejects Candidate Replacement
Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mallam Abubakar Malami has been asked to resign and immediately vacate his office for harrying and misleading the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) into arriving at an unconstitutional decision to allow the APC to substitute its candidate in the inconclusive Kogi state governorship election.
This demand was handed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at a press conference in Abuja.
The PDP said it was shocked that INEC, a supposedly independent electoral umpire could allow itself to succumb to the antics of the APC by following the unlawful directive of an obviously partisan AGF to substitute a candidate in the middle of the ballot process.
“We are all aware that the two legal documents guiding INEC in the conduct of elections; the Constitution and the Electoral Act, have provisions for electoral exigencies as well as empower the electoral body to fully take
responsibility for any of its actions or inaction without undue interference from any quarters whatsoever.
“We are therefore at a loss as to which sections of these two relevant laws, INEC and the AGF relied on in arriving at their bizarre decision to substitute a dead candidate in an ongoing election even after the timelines
for such have elapsed under all the rules.
“INEC as a statutory body has the full complements of technical hands in its legal department to advise it appropriately and we wonder why it had to wait for directives from the AGF, an external party, if not for partisan and
“Consequently, the PDP rejects in its entirety, this brazen move by the APC and INEC to circumvent the laws and
ambush the yet-to-be concluded election by introducing a practice that is completely alien to the constitution
and the electoral act.
“The clear implication of this action of the AGF and INEC is that the APC would be fielding two different governorship candidates in the on-going Kogi election, meaning that INEC would be transferring votes cast for late Prince Abubakar Audu to another candidate, scenarios that have no place in the constitution of the land.
“Whereas the PDP, in honour of the sanctity of human life and respect for the dead, had since Sunday refrained from making comments on the conduct of the election, we can no longer maintain such in the face of the barefaced attack on our democracy.
“This INEC under the leadership of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has shown itself as partisan, morally bankrupt and obviously incapable of conducting a credible election within our laws.
“In view of the foregoing therefore, the PDP demands an immediate resignation of the INEC Chairman, as the nation’s democracy cannot afford to be left in the hands of an electoral umpire that cannot exert its independence and the sanctity of the electoral process”, the PDP stated.