Lawyers To INEC: Death Of APC Candidate Does Not Invalidate Election
Lawyers yesterday told the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) that the death of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) does not invalide the on-going election in the state.
They urged INEC to allow the deputy governorship candidate of the APC, Abiodun Faleke, to conclude the on-going election.
The former Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, Monday Ubani; a member of the Ogun State Judiciary Service Commission, Abayomi Omoyinmi and a lecturerę of Law at University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Wahab Shittu said the process should be concluded.
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Ubani said: Since the Electoral Act didnt specifically provide for things like this happening in the course of an election, we would have to make recourse to the judicial pronouncement in the case of Rotimi Amaechi where the Supreme Court said in an election, it is the political party that is the beneficiary of election and not the candidate. That is why Amaechi that didnt contest elections was sworn in.
In this situation, the deputy governorship candidate would have to step in to conclude the process. If he wins the election, the APC would then decide on another deputy for him.
According to Ubani, the time to choose a candidate through primary election had lapsed for all the political parties and it is not possible for any of the parties to go for primaries anymore.
Omoyinmi said: In the eyes of the law, the deputy should ordinarily conclude the re-run election for the office of the governor and it is now left for him to pick a new running mate.
Omoyinmi said the kind of situation in Kogi was not envisaged.
Shittu said the matter could be viewed from different perspectives.
Shittu said since the election was declared inconclusive, the running mate should be allowed to step in and conclude the process of the supplementary election.
This, he said, has become necessary because the electoral law did not envisage such an incidentAudus death.
On the other perspective, he said since it is the ęparty that fields the candidate, and that since the election has turned this way, the party would have to replace the governorship candidate.
Which means that election might be conducted afresh. The death of a candidate during the process of an election automatically voids the election. It is not a question of an election being inconclusive. The entire electoral process is now altered with the death of the governorship candidate, he said.
Constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Malam Yusuf Ali said the situation in Kogi is very complex, because the election has been declared inconclusive.
He said: If he had won the election outright, it would have been a different matter, but with the way things are, it is very delicate.
Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN) said: There can be fresh election. INEC can only conduct supplementary election in the 91 polling units. The death of Audu cannot nullify the election. It was APC that contested the governorship election not Audu as an individual.
Akintola explained that it is left to the APC to pick another candidate from among those that contested the governorship primary with Audu or ask the deputy governorship candidate, James Faleke to take over.
The decision lies with the APC, he added.
The presidential candidate of the United Progressive Party (UPP) in the last general elections, Chief Chekwas Okorie, said it was a very shocking development that threw everybody off-balance.
He said: From every indication, it is a political party that wins an election; the result so far released suggests that the people of Kogi State are favourably disposed to an APC government to be in-charge of affairs in the next four years. What it therefore means is that the APC still has a chance, even his death, to govern the state, based on the result already declared.
So, they should follow up the supplementary election with the same atmosphere of peace that we witnessed in last Saturdays election. If their choice is the APC, then let the APC rule them in the next four years.