DESPITE the declaration of Mr. Yahaya Bello of All Progressives Congress (APC), as the governor-elect of Kogi State by INEC on Sunday, December 6, 2015, after the supplementary elections, the political impasse created by the sudden death of Abubakar Audu, has not been resolved by the party.
Mr. James Abiodun Faleke, who was Audu’s running mate in the Saturday, November 21, 2015 governorship election before his (Audu) demise, has vehemently refused to accept Mr. Bello as his principal. He has insisted even before the supplementary elections as being the right candidate to replace the late Abubakar Audu in the election.
He has, through his lawyers, Mr. Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and Femi Falana (SAN), gone to court to say that he was the candidate that should have replaced the late Abubakar Audu.
Faleke, through his lawyers had argued that by the results announced by INEC, the election was conclusive and that INEC was wrong to have refused to announce the candidate of the APC, who scored the highest votes as the winner.
He also faulted INEC’s directive to his party (APC) to substitute its governorship candidate in the election, following the death of its earlier candidate, Abubakar Audu and would hold a supplementary election on December 5, 2015.
He asked the court to order INEC to “make a return following the already announced results in the governorship election held on November 21, 2015.
Faleke, in a separate letter to his party also rejected the party’s submission of his name as deputy governorship candidate to Yahaya Bello, saying that he would remain committed to the ticket, which defeated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He maintained that, in the face of the law and the constitution, he is the candidate of the party.
However, on Friday, December 4, 2015, Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, threw out Faleke’s suit on the ground of jurisdiction. He said since it has to do with election matters, it can only be handled by Election Petition Tribunal.
Thus Faleke and his legal team have shifted their case, to Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal. All entreaties by the party leadership to Hon. Abiodun Faleke did not yield any positive result.
ENCOMIUM Weekly gathered that the party through Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State personally appealed to Hon. Faleke to accept Yahaya Bello as his principal but he refused. He insisted in not betraying the Audu family by making sure he did not relinquish the mandate they won together before his death.
Faleke was also said to have argued that the party is trying to make Bello to reap from where he did not sow at all. He said Bello did not only try to bring late Abubakar Audu down through his campaign of calumny but did not partake in the party campaign either personally or financially.
It is certainly not the issue of Hon. James Abiodun Faleke that APC will have to resolve in the Kogi debacle. There is also the issue of people of Kogi East senatorial district, where the late Abubakar Audu came from. They are also not happy with the replacement of the man by Yahaya Bello and they are spoiling for war too.
From the look of things, the impasse in Kogi State may not be settled until the Supreme Court decides.
The Supreme Court will certainly now decide on its own until one of the parties takes it there. And this may not happen very soon.
It is very sure that Yahaya Bello will be sworn in as governor of Kogi State on January 27, 2016. But whether it is with Abiodun Faleke as deputy is what is not certain,
Faleke, as a matter of fact has said he should be counted out of the January 27, 2016 swearing in and the party chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun has responded that if Faleke refused to be sworn in on January 27, 2016, the party will find an alternative