By Philips Sunday
Abuja, (AN24) – The Kogi State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, today, Tuesday, June, 7, 2016, dismissed a petition brought before it by the former governor of the state, Idris Wada, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, challenging Governor Bello’s election.
Giving reason for its judgment, the Tribunal held that Idris Wada, lacked the locus standi to question the nomination of Bello.
It would be recalled that Mr. Bello was nominated by his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, to replace Prince Abubakar Audu, who died before completion of the polls.
Recall during the collation of the November 21 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission , Prince Audu was in clear lead.
But unfortunately, the electoral umpire declared the election inconclusive due to Prince Audu’s death and asked APC to name a replacement.
The APC in turn, named Mr. Bello as the replacement, and he went on to defeat Mr. Wada in the supplementary election that held on December 5, 2015.
With this, Mr. Wada, the former governor of the state, challenged the outcome at the tribunal chaired by Justice Halima Mohammed. He alleged “gross irregularities”, and asked the tribunal to determine whether Mr. Bello was qualified to be declared governor-elect even though he did not take part in all the electoral processes that led to the supplementary poll.
He maintained that INEC contravened the electoral law by accepting to allow the APC to replace the late Mr. Audu with Mr. Bello.
He also argued that Mr. Bello former went into the supplementary poll without a valid running-mate.
The running mate to the late Audu, James Faleke, had declined to run with Mr. Bello saying that as the deputy to the late Mr. Audu, the poll was technically concluded on November 21.
His petition against Mr. Bello was earlier dismissed on Monday for lacking merit.
Mr. Wada’s petition followed same step as Justice Mohammed quashed his petition, adding that Mr. Bello’s nomination was in line with the Electoral Act and that Mr. Wada not being a member of the APC , had no right to challenge the process.
It would be recalled that Mr. Wada had also prayed in his petition that the tribunal reject the nomination of Mr. Bello as a replacement for the late Audu because it was done outside the 21-day period allowed by the Electoral Act.
But Justice Mohammed ruled today that the 21-day period for the substitution of candidate did not apply in the matter since Mr. Bello “is a member of the APC and having come second in the primary election earlier conducted by the party”.