•Bello hails judgment
•Faleke heads for Court of Appeal
The Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja yesterday dismissed James Faleke’s petition against the victory of Governor Yahaya Bello.
Faleke challenged Bello’s victory and sought to be declared winner of the election on the ground that his joint ticket with the late Audu Abubakar won the election.
Delivering judgment, Justice Halima Mohammed held that Faleke’s petition lacked merit, the petitioner having failed to participate in the election to the end.
The tribunal opined that the initial part of the election, in which Faleke participated as running mate to the late Abubakar, was inconclusive and did not produce a winner.
It also held that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was legally empowered to nominate and sponsor a candidate for an election because the Constitution did not recognise an independent candidate.
It further held that Faleke was without the requisite locus standi (the right to institute a suit in court) to challenge Bello’s victory because “he was never a governorship candidate in the election.”
Before determining the main petition, the tribunal ruled on the preliminary objection by Bello. It upheld the objection and held that Faleke lacked the legal capacity to file the petition, holding that the November 21 election, which he claimed to have won, was inconclusive as declared by INEC.
The tribunal held that contrary to Faleke’s contention, the November 21 election was not conclusive and therefore, the right had not accrued to the petitioner to step into the late Audu’s shoes, going by the provision of Section 181(1) and (2) of the Constitution.
It noted that INEC is the only body charged with the responsibility of declaring an election conclusive or inconclusive.
The tribunal faulted Faleke’s argument that Bello’s election was invalid as he contested the December 6 poll without a running mate.
It held that contrary to Faleke’s argument, he remained the deputy governorship candidate in the December 6 supplementary poll, having failed to withdraw his candidacy as the running mate in the manner stipulated by law.
It noted that rather than send his withdrawal letter to his party, Faleke erroneously sent the letter to INEC.
The tribunal will today, deliver judgment in the petition by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Idris Wada, who is also seeking to unseat Bello.
Governor Yahaya Bello has hailed the judgment, describing his victory as divine.
He noted that the decision has further justified his election, saying the victory belongs to the people, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and all lovers of democracy.
Addressing reporters in Lokoja, the governor said: “Today, being the first day of the holy month of Ramadan was a confirmation that this divine mandate is from Almighty Allah.
“Anything from God is good and since this mandate is from Almighty Allah, I have no doubt in my mind that it is a victory for the party and for us.”
He described Faleke as his brother, saying it was not possible to have an opponent within the party.
“This judgment is between me and my brother, James Faleke; Faleke is not my opponent, we belong to the same party. It is just an explanation that he sought from the court and the court has explained to him so.
“He is my brother and so he should join me to make Kogi better.”
Bello said he held no grudge against any party who had approached the court to seek redress, saying that as a democrat, he will always respect the rights of the citizens.
Faleke: verdict not in tune with Constitution
Faleke has disowned the judgment. He said he would proceed to the Appeal Court for further actions.“I watched the verdict of the tribunal and one thing I can say is that, the judges have delivered their own judgment, I will consult my lawyers, upon which I am very certain that we will appeal the judgment.
“I am not a lawyer, but I can say that the judgment is not in tune with our Constitution.
“We will consult our lawyers and I can conveniently tell you that we will appeal. We are still on course, victory will be ours at the end,” he said.
Source @ thenation