The running mate to late Audu Abubakar in the 2015 Kogi State governorship election, Hon. James Faleke, on Thursday again lost in his bid to oust Governor Yahaya Bello.
The Appeal Court, sitting in Abuja, upheld Governor Yahaya Bello as the duly elected governor of the state. The election tribunal had earlier dismissed Faleke’s petition seeking to nullify the nomination of Mr. Bello as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Bello was nominated by APC to replace late Audu Abubakar who had died on the cusp of victory shortly the conclusion of the election
Thursday’s appellate court ruling agreed with the election petition tribunal.
Justice Halima Mohammed, who led the tribunal panel had ruled that Faleke was not nominated by the APC as its substantive candidate in the governorship election, affirming that the APC was right to have nominated Bello to replace the late Audu as its candidate in the December 2015 supplementary election.
The panel, however, held that Mr. Faleke remained the valid deputy governor of the state because there was no evidence to show that he wrote to his party withdrawing his candidature as deputy governor, as required by law.
Mr. Faleke, not satisfied with the tribunal judgement, filed an appeal to contest the ruling.
Delivering the lead judgement on Thursday, Justice Jummai Sankey held that Section 221 of the Nigerian Constitution gave the political party the right of votes polled in an election and not the candidate as argued by Mr. Faleke.
He explained that the constitution in asserting the role of political party in an election did not recognise independent candidature and so, Mr. Faleke could not lay claim to the number of votes polled by the late Audu before the election was concluded.
“So it may be said that he is not a candidate,” she said, noting that Mr. Faleke as against his claim, did not also participate in all the process that led to the election but only got paired to late Audu after the primary, which Mr. Bello participated in.
Justice Sankey held that the APC, which nominated Mr. Bello to replace late Audu Abubakar, did not breach any constitution or the electoral act, hence, was in order.